Real as Hell: Family Life in the Entertainment Industry

Real as Hell: Family Life in the Entertainment Industry

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Julia Brenner
Aug 11, 2016
(Image credit: Julia Brenner)

A few key takeaways I learned from my time with the amazing Lucky Diaz and Alisha Gaddis: you can have both an Emmy and a Grammy and still have to scramble to find new housing when your lease is cut short. You can have a hit bilingual TV show and still ride your bike to an afternoon meeting. You can field phone calls about the Latin Grammys one minute and the logistics of your baby shower the next. You can be called "beyond brilliant" by LA Weekly and still feel uncertain as to whether you're doing the whole Adult thing correctly. Long story short: Life in the entertainment industry is, as the kids say, real as hell.

Lucky and Alisha met at The Comedy Store in LA and it happened like this: After a long day in the recording studio, Lucky (not a usual frequenter of comedy clubs) was dragged by his friends to "some comedy show," which he agreed to attend mostly because he really just wanted to relax and have a drink. The headliner of the show? Alisha Gaddis. While watching her perform, Lucky felt he was witnessing something special. And that's when things started cooking. Lucky hung around the club after Alisha's set. They met. They talked. They knew. Because sometimes life is funny that way.

And now, years later, they are married and have joined forces as life partners, creators, performers, and producers. They have an extensive portfolio of award-winning work (listed below), a bright and charming home in South Pasadena, and a new baby girl. But it's no cake walk. The highs of their success have happened alongside projects that don't get off the ground, many setbacks, and constantly having to hustle.

Spiffied up at the Latin Grammys
(Image credit: Alisha Gaddis)

I'll refrain from going full-on Hallmark card, but Lucky and Alisha have a special dynamic. If I knew the exact formula, I'd bottle it and sell it and get rich and retire to Iceland. But the specialness is a bit more ethereal than that—I think it involves going about the business of life with a lot of humor, grounded optimism, dedication to work you care about, and a genuine openness that is hard to maintain as adults. While talking about navigating their work life with a new baby, Alisha delivered one of my favorite lines about adulthood, "Does anyone really know exactly what they're doing all the time? 'Cuz I feel like I'm making this up as I go along." I wanted to hug her when she said this because, I mean, talk about speaking the truth.

Here's life with Lucky and Alisha...

Alisha & Lucky ...and introducing, Indiana Maven

Alisha, Lucky and Indiana Maven
(Image credit: Alisha Gaddis)

Location:

We live in South Pasadena, California, and work in L.A. when we're not traveling.

On set of their bilingual PBS show, Lishy Lou and Lucky Too
(Image credit: Lishy & Lucky)

Jobs:

What exactly do we do? (Our parents keep asking us that too…) We own the production company Rainy Day Dimes. One of our main projects together is a bilingual children's TV show that we co-created and star in, Lishy Lou and Lucky Too. (Author's note: the show has been nominated for three Emmys and Alisha won an Emmy for Best Performer!) The show airs on PBS as part of the Emmy Award winning show, The Friday Zone.

We also have our band, Lucky Diaz and the Family Jam Band. (Author's note: they are Latin Grammy Winners & two-time nominees.) Our band has released 7 albums, over 15 #1 hits on Sirius XM, and tours over 6 months per year (we are so grateful that we get to do this part together).

We've recently launched Artist Life Consulting to help working artists and entrepreneurs achieve their goals in the real world—because the day-to-day challenges of life don't stop when you're pursuing your dreams.

Alisha: I am an author and humorist with a six-book monologue series for Hal Leonard and Applause Books. I also guest write for numerous magazines and blogs.

Lucky: Lucky is a songwriter, having produced work for numerous commercials, films, TV shows, and other artists. His song "Falling" was Coca-Cola's national ad campaign song for three years!

Biggest news to date:

Their baby girl! (*Alisha was seven months pregnant at the time of the photoshoot.)

(Image credit: Julia Brenner)

How long have you lived in your home?

Just about 7 weeks!

How did you find your place?

We have both lived in L.A. for many years now, and together for 7. We loved our old home and garden in L.A., but we were made to move in a rush and had to look beyond our usual stomping grounds to find something that worked for our growing family. We searched near and wide—friend referrals, websites, driving around. No rock was left un-turned. Lucky discovered this home and acted fast. South Pasadena was VERY unknown to us. We hadn't even really been here before. But we are only 12 minutes from downtown L.A., 18 min from Los Feliz (our old hood), and 2 miles from our fave museum, Norton Simon. It all fell into place and we feel very fortunate.

What do you like most about your living situation?

South Pasadena is spacious and stunning. It is a hidden gem, moments from the pulse of the city. It's almost weird! There are giant oaks, gorgeous craftsman homes, jaw-dropping Spanish style homes and purple mountains. There is a small town center with sleepy shops, cafes, the most divine farmer's market in the county. It feels safe and homey. We are about to bring our new baby home and this feeling of ease was really important to us. But we can't move away from the true hustle and bustle. It is the perfect balancing act.

What do you wish you could change about it?

Lucky: The mini blinds. They're awful and we need to address them ASAP! Alisha: I can't wait to finish our outdoor space with seating, lighting, more foliage, and a new easel! But one thing at a time.

(Image credit: Julia Brenner)

What's a typical night at home?

Lucky: Alisha and I spend a lot of time creating, so it may come as a surprise, but we spend our evenings cooking and watching Hulu or Netflix. We love documentaries and comedies. We love "Fresh Off The Boat" and "The Goldbergs." Alisha: Lucky does all the cooking (I have pretty much been banned from the kitchen). He is a divine chef and I am VERY fortunate. While he cooks, I usually read or prep our business work or clean. We really try to have family dinner around the table as much a possible—device free.

(Image credit: Julia Brenner)

Favorite meal to cook at home:

Lucky: Luckily, my mom constantly sends me peppers, honey, and cinnamon from the town our family comes from in Mexico called Zacatecas. So I make a lot of Mexican food. We recently made some incredible enchiladas with those ingredients. Alisha: Lucky makes the best Beef Bourguignon, mussels in cream sauce, and gourmet grilled cheese EVER. Seriously, most nights in our home are a taste sensation. And whatever he cooks, I'm eating (and grateful).

(Image credit: Julia Brenner)

What are your favorite parts of your home?

Lucky: I love my Wurlitzer 200a Piano. It's a rare bird these days. I traded a guitar I had for it. A friend of mine had a few of them, and I asked him if he'd be interested. Luckily for me, he agreed. Unfortunately, it was a basket case when I got it. We spent a bit of money and elbow grease getting her back into fighting shape. I also really adore our Japanese advertisements. Alisha and I found them in Tokyo. We were on a walk and both saw them in café. We asked the owner if he would sell them, and with some coaxing he agreed. He then took us to a huge store full of wonderful B-movie posters and books. We got them back stateside and had them framed at Greygoose here in LA. Interestingly enough, we found out they are ads for a women's magazine on how to be a good housewife. Hilarious.

(Image credit: Julia Brenner)

Alisha: I adore our "You, Me, Oui" sign in the dining room. I had this sign on my Pinterest wall for ages, and I had looked everywhere for it. Turns out, it was a one-of-a-kind art piece in a gallery. Unbeknownst to me, my husband took the image and designed a near replica with a local neon sign shop. His meticulous nature combined with his amazing creativity made this sign mine! He gave it to me on our wedding anniversary. I was floored. I love that it is fun and funky, but at nighttime gives off a sexy Parisian glow.

(Image credit: Julia Brenner)

I love our Mexican paper doll, who we have named Suzetta. We acquired her on a recent family trip to San Miguel de Allende. (Have you been there? It is magical.) I was fawning over a collection of handmade, hand-painted dolls and Lucky's dad started laughing at me. I had no idea why. Turns out, the dolls I was admiring were used for prostitution! The women would leave the dolls at their window sills when they were 'available' for business. Crazy. I carried Suzetta across Mexico and eventually home in my carry-on. She is retired.

(Image credit: Julia Brenner)

We both love our new baby's room. We tried to make it breezy and comfy and filled with art. We've been incredibly fortunate to have been given so many things for her nursery. We really treasure the yarn wall hanging made by our friend, Shelly Sazdanoff.

(Image credit: Julia Brenner)

We also adore the litho prints from our friend Kristin Loffer Theiss, who owns KLT Works.

Favorite local restaurant recommendations?

Lucky: We are discovering so many places in our new neighborhood. Everything from high brow to no brow: Gus's BBQ, Communal—a recent farm-to-fork favorite, and Bahn Mi My Tho in Alhambra for the best Bahn Mi sandwich in Los Angeles county. Alisha: I love this little spot in Pasadena, Central Park Restaurant. It's perfect for eggs, toast, and dark drip coffee. I am a sucker for a good diner.

Lucky's corner.
(Image credit: Julia Brenner)
Oh, nbd, just hanging out with Mom while she's being interviewed.
(Image credit: Lucky Diaz)

Thank you, Alisha and Lucky!

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