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article imageInterview with writer and blogger Lisa Jakub Special

By Adrian Peel     Dec 9, 2013 in Entertainment
The former child actor, a star of such films as 'Mrs. Doubtfire' and 'Independence Day', chats to Digital Journal about life in and out of the spotlight.
Since giving up acting at the turn of the century, Lisa Jakub, a TV and film regular from a very young age, has actively pursued a second career as a writer. Aside from her own website and blog, the busy Canadian - now based in Virginia - is also working on a book.
"It is a memoir," says the keen traveller and yoga fanatic, outlining what we can expect from the upcoming tome. "It's about growing up in the film industry and then making the decision to leave that world and try to find something that I was a little bit more passionate about, that felt a little bit more authentic..."
"It's not really a 'tell-all' sort of book, in the way that a lot of those are," she continues. "I think there are a lot of shocking things that can happen when you're in the film industry and I am trying more to focus on the day-to-day life of what it was like growing up in that world...
"Really, it was kind of normal for me. There were some crazy things that happened, but it was more like a regular job and a regular life and that's what I'm trying to focus on."
In 1993, the enthusiastic wordsmith, a regular contributor to the Hello Giggles website, starred alongside Robin Williams and Sally Field in the biggest cinematic event of that year - after Jurassic Park - Mrs. Doubtfire.
One of the film's three child actors (Matthew Lawrence and Mara Wilson were the other two), Lisa played the part of Lydia Hillard, eldest daughter of maniacal family patriarch, voice-over artist Daniel Hillard (played by Williams). What are her memories of the whole experience?
"It was a crazy time. I was 14, so it was all a little bit overwhelming that the response was so huge. I don't know that any of us really expected it to be that big, but it was an honour to have been involved with something that people felt so connected to."
And was working with the film's much-loved protagonist - who enjoyed a string of hits such as Hook, Aladdin, Jumanji, Good Will Hunting and Patch Adams in the 1990s - exactly like one would imagine it to be?
"On set, Robin is pretty much as you would assume he would be... He has incredible energy and his improv skills are astounding, so he's definitely a lot to keep up with. But when you're off-set, he's a really nice down-to-earth quiet sort of shy guy, so he definitely has his 'on and off' switch.
"But I was very nervous about doing improv - I was not an improv actor, I was not a comedic actor. That was very intimidating and I quickly learned that every time Robin went off-script, which was 90% of the time, I couldn't panic and look over at the director and freak out because I didn't know what to do... I had to take a deep breath and learn how to go with the flow a little bit more."
"Mara Wilson and I are still close," replies the committed animal-lover, who graduated from the University of Virginia in 2010 (due to her heavy workload, Lisa never actually finished high school), when asked whether she's still in touch with any of her fellow co-stars.
"She is wonderful and she and I really bonded during the movie... We lost touch for quite a while after that, but we've recently reunited and it's fantastic. She's such a wonderful woman and a great writer, so I'm really glad to have her back in my life. But other than that, I really left the LA life behind."
Lisa began acting at the tender age of four and I wondered how the star of other well-received films like Rambling Rose (with Robert Duvall) and George Lucas In Love, initially came to enter the notoriously 'cut-throat' world of showbiz.
"I was in a mall with my parents in Toronto," she recalls. "We were walking through and there was a man there who had written a commercial and he wanted me to be in it. He approached my parents and talked to them about it and he gave them a card.
"My parents were totally freaked out by him and didn't do anything about it until several weeks later when they called just out of curiosity and it turned out he was not some random pervert, he actually was legit.
"He asked if I would be interested in coming to a casting and meeting the producers and I was. So I met with them, they sent me to a talent agent, the talent agent sent me out on more auditions and it all snowballed and all of a sudden, I had a career."
And what made the actress who, as mentioned earlier, also popped up in the highest-grossing film of 1996, Independence Day, decide to turn her back on the profession to which she had given so much 18 years after being 'discovered?'
"It wasn't really a particular incident... I think it was something that evolved slowly. I always knew that it could be a pretty brutal industry and you had to have a pretty thick skin. I think I slowly realised that I no longer had a passion for it... I saw a lot of my friends who were actors and they really deeply loved it, and I didn't.
"So at a certain point, I realised it was not the contribution to the world that I wanted to be making. I could imagine myself being happy doing something else, and because I started acting when I was four years old, it was the only life that I had known and I was really curious to know what else was out there."
"I think if there's anything I miss, it's the people," surmises the now married soon-to-be-35-year-old. "I really did meet some incredible people and get to travel to some amazing places. The kinship of being on a set is fantastic, people get very close very fast and it is a family feeling. That was really important to me because when I was growing up, I didn't have the chance to go to school very often.
"So to be able to have that community on set was great. I miss that feeling and I miss the chance to be able to travel so much for work. Other than that, I feel I was very lucky to have that opportunity, but it's in the past and I'm good with that."
For more information, visit Ms. Jakub's official website.
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