Meet Damon Owlia
Damon Owlia is an actor and producer focusing on civic-minded storytelling and navigating the intersection between art and technology.
Tell us something you’re currently excited about.
I was always pretty intimidated by cooking beyond the basics. My girlfriend and I moved in together recently and she bought me a cookbook called "Simple" by Ottolenghi. As we began working through recipes together, I started to invite friends over to try what we made. My friends and I were never good planners when it came to hanging out. Now, we create space to be together and share a meal.
How does your MENASA identity inform your artistic work?
Up until the second half of the second semester of my senior year in college, I was certain that I was going to be a doctor. I stumbled into acting because of an arts requirement for my Spanish major. After college, I surrounded myself with artists whose work felt tied to their identity, which lead me to the MENASA community.
In my first couple years in New York, so many of the stories that I worked on never made it out of a rehearsal room. I reframed my thinking about what being an artist meant to me. I decided I wanted to make space to produce as well as act, so these worthwhile projects would reach an audience. I started producing work that I believed in, whose commercial trajectory was unclear. My heritage is Iranian and Italian-American. By being multicultural and walking the line of different identities, I was open to a broad range of work that often incorporated conflicting perspectives.
Do you have a bucket list project?
I'm dying to make a movie against the backdrop of Hartford, Connecticut, as it went from a place of limitless wealth potential to being on the brink of bankruptcy.
What are the big questions you're preoccupied with right now?
Institutional buy-in vs. bypass. How to participate in our institutions while staying intellectually, physically and emotionally engaged in challenging and competing with those institutions.
What’s the weirdest thing about you you’re willing to put in print? Or anything else you want to tell us!
When I was a kid, my sisters (both older) were obsessed with teen dramas. My dad had a video camera and they’d set it up so we could act out their favorite shows. At 8 years old, I played the hunk in Melrose Place who had multiple lovers. That was my on-screen debut.
Any upcoming projects you want to tell us about? I'm really excited to release more episodes of The Accidental Wolf, starring the immensely talented Kelli O'Hara. I produced the series and created a business plan focused on the opportunity for independent producers to innovate serialized content through premium, short form series. Kelli's work on our first season was nominated for an Emmy. Season 2 expands the world and sees Kelli's character grow in thrilling directions.
Photo Credits: Headshot by Jenny Anderson; I Call My Brothers by Jonas Hassen Khemiri, directed by Erica Schmidt (2014); Poster for The Accidental Wolf by Ligature Creative (2019).