July 28, 2021 #MINNAatHome
#MINNAatHome with Jaime Ray Newman
By Sara Berks
Tell us about you.
I’m originally from Detroit, Michigan. I went to college for two years at Boston University, then transferred to Northwestern University in Chicago where I got my BA in English. I’ve been acting professionally since I was ten doing theater in Detroit. I knew from that age it’s what I wanted to do for the rest of my life. When I graduated from college I moved out to LA and have been gratefully working ever since. My first job was on General Hospital for a few years, and it all kind of unfolded after that. I feel very lucky to be a working actress going on two decades now, but I work my tail off, and it’s a constant hustle.
I’ve always wanted to be a producer. In high school and at Northwestern I produced plays that were controversial that I knew to get them made I’d have to be scrappy and resourceful (like using my Bat-Mitzvah money to pay for my first play I produced!). When I met my husband, Israeli filmmaker Guy Nattiv, ten years ago, I really met the producing partner of my dreams. The first short film we made together (he wrote/directed, I produced), called SKIN, we literally spent our retirement money on, shot parts of it in our garage. It was a proof of concept for a longer feature. By some miracle we won the Academy Award for best short film in 2019. It was surreal. I still can’t comprehend it.
Guy and I have a production company called New Native Pictures, and have been
working together since the day we met, cultivating ideas and books, true stories and fiction, to turn into films or TV. We have about 15 projects in various stages of
development now. It’s a full time job alongside being an actor, and I feel privileged to be able to work every day to bring stories I’m passionate about to life.
How would you describe your home and your approach to making it feel like home?
I am totally and utterly obsessed with interior design. Just scroll through who I follow on IG, and you’ll see! But I have zero talent for it. I wear two left shoes when it comes to interior design. I need someone to show me their vision and then I can kind of decipher what I’m drawn towards.
Guy and I have been desperate to convert our broken down garage into an office/guest house since we bought our home 8 years ago. When we finally pulled the trigger, I enlisted brilliant designers Madelynn Furlong and Haley Weidenbaum to design the space. Our mandate was to try and use as many small businesses as possible. Madelynn turned me on to MINNA, and I immediately wanted everything! But alas, I had to narrow it down...
When I come home I breathe a deep sigh of relief. Home is an essential place for one’s mental health and I’m very aware of that. I tried my best to make our house cozy and yummy and stylish, a sanctuary of sorts. But we also have two young kids, so sometimes that all goes out the window!
What are three words to describe your aesthetic?
Eclectic, romantic, and functional.
At MINNA we believe in creating beautiful, ethically made products and using business to do good. How do these concepts relate to or inspire you?
Well, I think once we took our first daughter home, I realized how much needs to be consumed for a child. Every month that they have a new developmental growth spurt, something is being thrown at you to buy to help them overcome that. So I'll put it out there with other friends who have kids, “Hey, is there anyone who has a bouncy chair that's sitting in their garage?” And then once our kids grew out of things, I have a friend that I gift on to. I think that the whole concept of upcycling, of recycling, is so important now.
Knowing where products come from, who the communities that you're supporting are, and who makes these products—it's just so important. Contributing to female-owned businesses is part of how we walk the walk, right? I'm a beneficiary of all of the women who came before me, who don't make me think twice about being a producer, don't make me think twice about being a director, don’t make me think twice about teaching the kids. So any small thing I can do, like supporting a company like MINNA, that's part of my contribution to paying it forward. In our household, it is all about paying it forward, because people have paid it forward for us.
What is a favorite memory of yours in your home?
Our house is almost 100 years old and I love to think about all the history it has hidden in its walls. For me, bringing both of our daughters home after they were born are certainly extraordinary memories. Both girls were delivered via our wonderful surrogate, as we struggled with infertility for many years. And my littlest, Mila, was born 3 months premature. She was in the NICU for 80 days. Carrying both these little miracles of science and love, as we call them, through the threshold of our home to start a life together are moments I treasure forever.
What's the best piece of advice you've ever received?
Art is a guarantee of sanity.