St. Joseph’s College gave Lisann Valentin ’01 the tools she needed to go on to law school — and later, the insight to know she was unhappy as an attorney.
Valentin spoke at SJC Brooklyn on Oct. 5, sharing her career journey as a Latina lawyer-turned-actress and contributor to The New York Times bestselling anthology “Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It: Life Journeys Inspired by the Bestselling Memoir.” Valentin spoke about having the courage it takes to chase your dreams.
Forging Her Own Path
After graduating from SJC Brooklyn, Valentin was living what had been her dream: working as a personal injury attorney in New York City. She had it all: a well-paying career, a family that cared for her and a loving partner.
Still, she knew she wasn’t happy.
A friend recommended Valentin read Elizabeth Gilbert’s “Eat Pray Love,” a book about a woman who discovered herself through a transformative journey across the globe. After reading the novel, Valentin would take to her own writing, blogging for several years until being published in the compilation “Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It.” That success was enough to convince her to quit her job and pursue her passion — acting.
“Find that thing that makes you YOU. Forge your own path,” Valentin said. “One person that did that, who I admire, is my mom. She came here from Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, and she was able to put herself through college. She retired as a computer engineer.”
“I was comfortable — comfort can kill you,” Valentin said, discussing the successful career she held. “That’s great, if your’e happy with that, but if that’s not making happy, listen to that voice telling you there’s more out there.”
Valentin knew she wanted to be an actress, but wasn’t sure where to start. She sought the advice of fellow SJC alum Thomas Hoefner ’00, who suggested she start taking acting classes.
“That wasn’t a job to me,” Valentin said. “So finally when I allowed myself the trust and the confidence to say ‘you know what, that could actually be my career if I wanted it to be’.”
Taking the Leap
Now, Valentin’s acting resume includes television and movie roles. She recently completed a show called “Kovar,” which is set to be released this winter, and stars in the film “Some Last Day” with well-known actor Adrian Martinez.
“If you sit back and wait, you’re going to wait forever,” Valentin said. “You have to make things happen. Ask questions. Talk to people. Help find your way of what you’re trying to get into. As you’re chasing your dream, you meet other people along the way that will help.
“This is not a story of how I’m famous. This is a story about somebody who works very hard and is still working very hard. That’ll be my story for the rest of my life.”