Editor’s Note: They are leaders. They are inspirational. They are mentors. They are visionaries. They are, quite frankly, badasses. They are our 2022 REEL WOMEN. During Women’s History Month, you will be able to meet these incredible personalities in Advertising, Entertainment, Media and Production. Get ready, because women like Larissa Berringer are making “Herstory.”
When Larissa Berringer walks into a room, you know she means business. Show business, that is. Effectively acting as a dating app for matching creative talent and production needs, she fuses a forward-thinking view on the industry with a no-nonsense approach for getting things done.
Desperate to wear open-toe shoes and ditch the suit, Larissa left a career in Finance and moved into the Creative world of Production. Larissa got her start as a production assistant on the hit (pun intended) Showtime series Weeds. Trading the sunny, temperate weather and crime of Los Angeles for the relentlessly unforgiving winters and crime of Chicago and transitioned into the VFX industry.
As Executive Producer at Vitamin Pictures, she split her time between babysitting the artists with the transportation of the company from a scrappy startup to a high-end creative boutique ripe for acquisition. She made the move to The Mill as Senior Producer before taking on the role as the U.S. Executive Producer of Design at Framestore, building the company’s design offering nationally.
Outside of being a badass lady boss, Larissa spends her time chasing her two young children and staying zen with yoga and outdoor exploration.
What’s your origin story?
I graduated from the Indiana University School of Business and originally wanted to pursue a career in finance. After college, I worked at RBC Dain Rauscher as an Investment Associate before making the pivot to production.
How did you get into animation/production?
I was living in Los Angeles working in finance and I really wasn’t fulfilled, so when the opportunity to be a PA came along, I jumped on it. Things kicked into full gear right away while working as a production assistant on the Showtime series “Weeds.” I immediately fell in love with the creative process, seeing the creative team develop the characters and watching them film the series.
I worked on set as a PA and moved back to Chicago and continued to do production work but moved into the post production side, getting a job at an animation studio in Chicago. While I was there, I also started to produce more VFX work. I learned a lot early in my career working in smaller studios; you are constantly wearing multiple hats and it gives you a better holistic understanding of all of the pieces that make up the business.
That foundation really helped me even when I transitioned into working for bigger studios where my role was a bit more focused. Being able to bring to the table an in-depth understanding of the needs on every side of the process is invaluable in being able to make complex decisions and create big-picture strategies.
Who were your mentors?
My mom has always been a huge mentor for me. She always set such an inspirational example as a working mom and I knew that I was going to do that someday. I saw her balance family and work so well while continuing to be really successful in her career. When I got into the production industry, I was fortunate enough to work with Jenji Kohan on Weeds and not only was she a tremendous mentor for someone starting out in the industry, but she was a masterclass on creative collaboration.
She was incredibly smart, a brilliant writer, and created such a smart, funny show. It was my first experience being in a working environment that was really more of a cohesive creative family, with everyone lifting each other up and making the whole better than the sum of its parts.
ALSO READ: MORE REEL WOMEN
While there will be others, what do you consider your biggest achievement to date?
My ability to continue to evolve my role and how I can be creative at my job is something that I’m really proud of. Originally coming from the production side and coming over and learning about animation and now taking that knowledge and stretching it further to develop long-term and strategic growth planning for ATKPLN is really exciting for me. I always want to be evolving my process and approach.
What drives you to create?
The challenge of figuring out something that appears difficult or unrealistic is interesting to me. I get to be creative on how we are going to make an impossible project come to life or how we are going to put our own unique twist on it.
What shows are doing the best job of portraying strong women on TV?
Right now I’m watching Shameless and Ted Lasso. I think both shows have unlikely female role models. In Shameless Fiona plays the eldest sibling of six. She takes on the role of primary caregiver after being all but abandoned by both parents.
She is not a stereotypical role model in that she falls down a lot, but she is a smart, ambitious woman working hard to not only do right by her siblings but also to break the cycles of her highly dysfunctional family and better her station in life.
In Ted Lasso, the team’s owner, Rebecca, is a recent divorcee dealing with the fallout of her ex-husband’s high profile philandering. I’m just getting started on the show (late to the party, I know) but I’m enjoying watching her begin to open up, and how that vulnerability is actually making her character stronger. I’m also loving the blossoming friendship of Keely (played by Juno Temple) and Rebecca, as it’s a great example of women lifting each other up and having each other’s backs.
Coffee, Lunch, or Happy Hour. Name a famous woman you would like to attend each function with.
Coffee: Michelle Obama
Lunch: Brene Brown
Happy Hour: Patty Smith
What is the biggest challenge to women in your industry?
100% unequivocally balancing family and work. There have been big strides for working mothers but until men and women are given the same amount of maternity/paternity leave and share the same responsibilities for childcare, mothers will always fall behind. The pandemic was life-changing for me being home as a mom, and I hope this new work from home model also helps get us closer to balance.
When you’re not creating, what do you do in your off time
Hanging out with my kids, family, and friends. I also like yoga and listening to music. Catch up on as many movies and TV shows as I can.
Predict your future! Where are you in 5 years?
I hope that I will be living in Oak Park with my family and continuing to grow and build ATKPLN as a studio.