Comedic & Real: Lailani Ledesma

Interview — Photography by Ali Lapetina 

How did you start acting?
My mom was initially the one to suggest I try theatre in grade school, but at that age I was pretty shy and intimidated quite easily. I never thought I could match the type of energy the drama students had in my school. So, I waited until college where I eventually met an incredibly eccentric and talented women who was my theatre professor, and who I had the pleasure of working alongside with while she worked on her production of “Tribes.” 

I had learned so much from her and really everyone involved in the entire production. There was this great sense of support, love, and community that I hadn’t really felt in any of my classes throughout college. Acting made feel unfiltered, bold, and constantly inspired by these fellow actors who were from all walks of life. I realized i was exactly where I needed to be career-wise, but just not in the right city. So I moved back to Detroit where I stumbled into an opportunity with Comedy Central, to be in Detroiters.  

You're in almost every episode of Detroiters. How did you land such a big part?
I guess you could say I was discovered at my job, Antietam. I was caught totally off guard when I was called by one of the producers I had served the previous night and asked if I wanted to audition for this big role. I said, “Okay, why the hell not? But, I want you to know I have absolutely no idea what I’m doing.” The first audition turned into a callback, and the callback landed me the role, and the next thing you know, I’m working alongside some seriously famous people. It was five days of filming, and then back to reality, but it was a different reality: it had instilled a sense of drive and creativity in me that I didn’t know existed. I had a real hunger and it felt so damn good! 

The callback landed me the role, and the next thing you know, I’m working alongside some seriously famous people.

So what keeps you in Detroit?
There is so much that keeps me here. When I first started working here, I immediately felt this gripping energy that exists in Detroiters (especially in the art community) that is so captivating it makes you never want to take a moment to blink. Every significant moment I’ve had with someone or something in this city has me shed these barriers I felt I’ve had built throughout my life, getting me closer to who I really am, and my purpose as a human on this earth, in this life, and with this community that surrounds me. From the music, to the food, paintings, photography, writing, activism and all of the people behind them, it is all so real and inspiring. The enriching, artistic expression that I believe we rely on so deeply as a community and as individuals will never become stagnant. This Detroit life is just so delicious, y'all.

What are your favorite places in Detroit?
For the food? Lupita’s Taqueria in Mexicantown — the best tacos in Detroit! I’ve been going there since I was a kid. For the music? Motor City Wine is my jam - ridiculous house music with so much amazing energy — love, love, love that place. You’ll mostly likely catch me there.

FieldAlex Trajkovski