Lisa Ann Walter – #30Voices30Days

by | Jun 16, 2024

SAG Award winning actress, comedian, New York Times Best Selling author, advocate, ally extraordinaire, and a joyous light in this world, Lisa Ann Walter, lends her voice to Gurus’ Magazine inaugural initiative #30Voices30Days.

Being of Sicilian descent, Walter has “been loud [her] entire life and… [she’s] not going to slow down.” Walter started touring all across America in the late 80s as a standup comic, which she would later use as the inspiration for the shows she co-created, produced, and starred in Fox’s “My Wildest Dreams” and ABC’s “Life’s Work,” the highest-rated new show on ABC for the season averaging 19 million viewers per week. It is no wonder that people began to take notice – namely, the illustrious E.G.O.T. winner Whoopi Goldberg. Goldberg hand selected Walter to co-star alongside her in the feature film, Eddie, recognizing her incredible wit.

Though Goldberg saw it early, Walter’s next role as “Chessy” in the 1998 “The Parent Trap” would not only make everyone notice her, but leave an indelible mark on fans’ lives. To this day, “people write [me and say] ‘You were my gay awakening.’ ‘I felt accepted by you.’ ‘I didn’t tell anyone else my truth when I was young, but Cheesy would love me.’”

Walter’s ability to connect and touch the lives of many is in full form,  both on screen and off. As founder and publisher of Gurus Magazine, Derek Warburton, noted in Walter’s interview, she is “successful as a human [and] successful in her career.” Significantly, her role on screen as Melissa Schemmenti on ABC’s #1 show Abbott Elementary garnered her a SAG Award, while off screen she was awarded the Ally for Equality award by the Human Rights Campaign.

However, Walter is most proud of being a working mom of four with “One foot on the Red Carpet … The other at Costco.” Walter was “very honored to be a part of this auspicious group,” so she sat down with Warburton to discuss #30Voices30Days.

Lisa Ann Walter - #30Voices30Days Caplet Look

Who is the true you?

“You know it’s funny…because I was given this moniker by the community” as she gestures to the word “Mother” proudly embroidered in pink across a hat given to her by a fan, “I think I have self-identified as a mother for my entire adult life. I have been a mother as long as I have been a grown-up. I got pregnant the year after college. And in those days, most women who were college educated” and classically trained “weren’t pumping out kids.”

Though even before her four kids, Walter reflected on how she was a caretaker for her chosen family. Going to clubs as a young person, she felt mutually embraced as a mother figure noting, “If someone had the nerve to say ‘Who’s the fish?’ FISTY CUFFS! So, I have been close to the community as long as I can remember and in a very nurturing and caretaking way.”  This inner caretaker is also manifested today in her advocacy for LGBTQ+ community’s and women’s rights – in both big and small ways. “I just love people and I love them for who they authentically are. I feel bad for people who write to me, because so many do. I always try to write back every time. [The letters say] ‘My family hasn’t accepted me.’ ‘I feel like I can’t be me around them’ and I say ‘maybe they need a little more time, but every minute they miss of your true, authentic, and beautiful self – I feel bad for them.”

 

What is your passion?

“Being truthful and authentic. And I’m not just saying that for the publication – stand up has always been what was true in that moment. Telling stories about being pregnant, being a young mother, living in a relationship…the balancing act we all do…I tell the story now of my husband coming out to me and that we are best friends now. Two days a week we watch trash, garbage television – and I couldn’t not be happier. That is my primary relationship with a dude.”

Though Walter has quite a few passions, from cooking to dancing, there is none more so for her than comedy. As a woman in comedy “being a representative voice, for an underserved community,” is her calling. “When I was coming up, there were maybe a dozen female comics across the entire country. We were not represented. It’s not like it is now. I wanted to tell the truth of what women were doing in those days. I’m still doing it. I have a whole hunk of my act that’s about reproductive rights. It’s done in a very funny way, but if we don’t get out there and say what we have to say…people need to be hearing it. Humor does that for people. They might not be able to hear it in a preacher’s message, or in a political speech…but if it’s funny, they’re not feeling attacked and they can maybe take it in. Which is why it’s so important. They are lighthearted dumb jokes. And people [may not] politically call [themselves] what you are, but I got to be able to hear what’s truthful in the nugget.

 

When do you feel the most authentic?

“I think it’s with my kids. With my chosen family. With the people I know that if I’m making a joke and cutting up, that I’m entirely accepted. I’m a Leo. I take a lot of joy in being on! In performing, in being in front of people, and that doesn’t mean that I have to be on a stage. Even at a party, your interactions [are] all [about] embracing them. It’s inclusive. I’m giving love out and I’m happy to bring it in. So that dialogue, whether it’s in front of people, on stage, or on a [sound] stage on our show, I just love…the energy. [It’s simply] me with the people I’m in front of – connecting.”

 

Why is it important for YOUR voice to be heard?

“As I age in this business, it’s better, there’s more diversity across all spectrums (race, gender, sexuality…). It is better, but there are still some of the same problems going on. As I age, I still need to hear the true experience of women – of what my group is. When I’m 90, I’m still going to be saying ‘I don’t hear enough about 90 year olds.’ I want to be able to keep telling the truth of that underserved community – women. Everything is centered around men – white men in particular. Gay, straight, bi, trans, we center what we’re supposed to be through the male gaze. We might think ‘I talk so much – I’m bossy’; something I was told my entire life growing up.”

Walter is now in a place to understand those comments were meant to diminish her voice and her light. Something that she will not do for herself or to others for the rest of her life, which is why advocacy is so integral to who she is. “The truth is, I’m really involved.” Noting that she, like fellow #30Voices30Days cover star, Joely Fisher, is, “really involved in fighting for the rights of people who don’t have an easy time fighting for themselves. Those on the call sheet who don’t have a number next to them. I’m involved in the entertainment community fund and the Equal Rights Coalition. We’re still trying to get equal rights for women under the constitution; which, young women don’t even know we don’t have…There’s a reason they’re making all these laws about women – because they can! We don’t have the same rights. All the stuff I’m involved in politically, and fighting for all of us to have better laws, more representation and all of that; not everybody is going to be as involved as I am and as other people, but you do what you can.”

 

Gurus Magazine presents #30Voices30Days is proudly benefitting GLAAD all month long – please donate here!

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