Putting Wonder in Wonderful with Lisha Yakub-Sevanian
Lisha Yakub-Sevanian is bringing wonder to Santa Clarita. The Valencia High School alum is the founder of Calgrove Media, a Valencia-based production company cultivating family entertainment with exciting projects on the horizon. “Our motto is ‘Find the Wonder’. It’s both my business and personal motto, because when you’re passionate about something it’s everywhere,” she explained. “I feel like we’re so spoiled with technology and information, that we don’t always take the time to wonder and figure things out. It’s in that space where your imagination really lives.”
No stranger to the entertainment industry, Lisha filmed her first commercial for Colgate at the age of five, after moving to California from New York and being discovered in her kindergarten class. Lisha’s years of experience in front of the camera, as well as her law degree, are just some of the tools she’s using to build Calgrove Media. Their next big project is producing three films based on the popular book series, The Popchunk Chronicles, written by Canadian educator, Paul Toffanello. Filming is slated to begin in Santa Clarita next spring, and will star Jet Jurgensmeyer from the TV movie adaptation of “Adventures In Babysitting”.
The trilogy takes place at summer camp, and focuses on 12-year-old Neil Wybred and his two best friends. “A friend of mine who’s a screenwriter knew the author of the Popchunk Chronicles, and she suggested the books to me when I was getting ready to launch Calgrove Media,” Yakub said. “Then by chance I was meeting with Jet Jurgensmeyer’s parents in my office and I gave him the books to read. He was totally engrossed in them and was cast pretty early on in the production process.” The popular series has an element of magical realism that Yakub looks for in the content she hopes to create with Calgrove Media, following in the footsteps of film makers she admires like Steven Spielberg and Kathleen Kennedy.
Lisha is also gearing up to bring interactive theater to the SCV, as well. “I wanted to do something uniting that could bring people together,” she said of the project she hopes will be sponsored and supported by various groups within Santa Clarita. “I came up with an idea to do a mash up of Hans Christian Andersen fairytales outside in an exaggerated scale flower garden. There are no seats and the audience wanders through the garden where the characters are just existing, and you can choose which character you want to follow.” Lisha is working with the City of Santa Clarita on the production, and predicts the choose-your-own-adventure theater experience will be ready sometime next year.
From graduating with a BA in theater and economics from USC, to completing law school and passing the bar, it seems only natural that Lisha would tackle the challenge of being an entrepreneur. The humble but bubbly over achiever admits determination is key in the entertainment industry. “There are so many reasons to not do something. It’s an industry that has the hardest barrier of entry, but without requiring certification. Anyone can wake up tomorrow and say they’re a director or producer. So you have to prove yourself,” Lisha said. But she doesn’t let challenges and setbacks deter her. “You can’t let ‘no’ be a stopping point for you. It should be educational. There’s a reason things don’t work out sometimes, and you can take it as feedback instead of a hard line stop.”
Excited for what lies ahead, Lisha exclaims, “Every day feels like Christmas Eve!” At the ripe old age of 32, Lisha already has a long list of accomplishments to be proud of. With her sense of wonderment and determination, she’s bound to bring a lot to the entertainment industry, as well as the Santa Clarita Valley.