This interview has been lightly edited and condensed for clarity.
I’m Diane Gaeta, that I’m really sure about. What do I do? I am an actress. I’m an artist. I’m a producer. I’m a mom. And I like to bake cakes and decorate homes.
I’ve been interested in art since I was little. I always explain it like, you know how some people can just sing? I’ve always been able to just draw. It was funny, actually—driving over here to do this interview, I was on the phone with a guy friend of mine and he was telling me about how microdosing can be good for adult attention-deficit disorder. I said I was nervous to try it because it’s not something I feel like I would do. I’ve heard that it can mess with your depth perception and my depth perception as an artist is really important to me. I actually said on the phone to him, “If I don’t have art, I have nothing.” So, I guess I’ve always been interested in art. It’s just something that feels like an organic part of me. I can’t imagine not being drawn to creative art-things because it’s very much a core part of who I am.
When did you know you could do this for real?
I think I still struggle with that now even as an adult. I do do it for real, but I think part of the artistic process and journey is uncertainty. Being comfortable with that uncertainty is really something that I think is the journey of the artist. Because it is a career that isn’t linear and it has a lot of ups and downs. There will be moments where you’re so alive and flush with the muse and creativity, and then there are times when you wake up and you’re just bereft and it feels empty. Sometimes I’ll start a painting and no matter how great my last piece was, I will get to the canvas and it will feel like I’m an absolute beginner. And then other times, it will feel like I know exactly what I’m doing and I will be mentally congratulating myself on my own genius. [Giggles]
My best guy friend from New York, Jamie, used to always say something to me. After we would traipse around the city and wake up late, sometimes when I was hungover, I’d be sad. And he used to always say to me, “As an artist, Di, you’ll always have a little bit of melancholy. So you need to make friends with the melancholy and learn to really see the colors that it shows you, because there’s a lot of depth there and it sort of goes hand in hand with being an artist.” I think doing it for real life and having the journey is getting comfortable with all the parts of yourself that contribute to your artistic ability and your creative drive. Because you are your own work.
“...I would say to worry a lot less and to be less self-conscious. To relax and enjoy yourself more. You don’t have control over the way that things are going to work out and really, there isn’t some secret formula. There’s nothing to figure out. Nobody knows more than you do, we’re all winging it.”
Can you imagine a life without art or creativity?
I can’t imagine a life where I couldn’t make art and be creative. This sounds really dark, but I guess the first thought I had was, I would kill myself. That is obviously extreme, but I think the freedom and ability to create art and express... [Laughs] An old boyfriend of mine—I’ve talked about a lotta guys already—an old boyfriend of mine used to say that all artists have this energy inside of them. And if you don’t put it out during the day, it will boomerang back to you and hit you in the face. That’s where it can become self-destructive, this creative drive that I think all artists have. It’s kind of how some of them slide into addiction and alcoholism and those things. If you don’t get that creative energy out and express it in some way, it is like a boomerang and by the end of the day, it will hit you back in the face.
Energy is a real thing. It has to go somewhere. If you don’t put it out externally, it can become destructive. So a life without art, for me, would mean I wouldn’t have anywhere to put everything that is inside of me. I would probably be incredibly self-destructive because I would be bottled up and things would not go well.
What would you say to young Diane?
Oh, I would say to worry a lot less and to be less self-conscious. To relax and enjoy yourself more. You don’t have control over the way that things are going to work out and really, there isn’t some secret formula. There’s nothing to figure out. Nobody knows more than you do, we’re all winging it. There’s really no “there” to get to. Even people that you think are so incredibly successful and wealthy, they’re still striving for things. There are still things they’re not getting. They still have obstacles. There’s no there-there. It really is just the journey. I’d say to really root in more, to let go of those concerns about how things were going to work out, and to be present in the moment.
“I feel like creativity in its most initial spark is the urge to connect.”
What does creativity mean to you?
Hmm, creativity means to me… I guess it means the act of sharing. I often will feel things and I need to talk them out with people. I need to connect with people to put it somewhere, to feel it, to be like, “What’s this feeling?” And I like empathizing with other people. I like hearing their stories and learning about them. I feel like creativity in its most initial spark is the urge to connect.
What makes you come alive?
I guess it’s a combination of things. Obviously, the people I love make me come alive, and getting to have moments with them makes me come alive. I can socialize too much. I like people a lot. [Laughs] But yeah, my art is a place of solace, truly. It does make me come alive, because when it goes well—whether it’s a scene or a painting—it has the same sort of feeling as falling in love or going on a great first date. But my art has also saved my sanity. Like, it makes me come alive, but it also saves me. Because when I feel like I don’t have control over things, or I feel really antsy in my skin or kind of rudderless, I’ll make myself sit at the canvas. I sit at my easel and I make myself paint. It’s really almost my form of meditation. It transports me and it grounds me.
Art can give me my own sense of purpose, and there’s a lot of waiting on other people to give you a sense of purpose in this world. Can you give me this job? Can you ask me out? Can you do this for me, can you? Waiting on other people to provide you something that you can provide yourself, I think, through art… I feel like that’s what my art provides for me. It does make me come alive, but it also provides a sense of purpose.
The pandemic and you.
I think what the pandemic really taught me was how many worlds you can create in your own space. Sort of like Bo Burnham’s Inside, just the idea that you kind of create your own worlds. It taught me I need less from the external world and less validation than I thought I did. And that I need to be more disciplined if I’m going to be successful in my artistic pursuits. They never tell you this, but as an artist, you have to make your own schedule. You have to be your own boss and you have to be your own taskmaster. If you don’t do those things, you don’t produce any work.
The pandemic taught me that I needed to make sure I carve out the time and treat it as important and valid and special. That when I’m focused on my work, to give myself permission to take myself seriously, because I think a lot of artists almost feel like they need to apologize or it’s hard to own your space. The pandemic taught me to make my own schedule, and to be sure to take that time to focus on the work; that I need less external validation; and that there’s lots of magic to be made inside, even in your own home.
“I think what the pandemic really taught me was how many worlds you can create in your own space... It taught me I need less from the external world and less validation than I thought I did.”
What does the near future hold for you?
I would like to be really working as an actress, which I’m working towards and things are going well and blah blah blah… You’re not supposed to talk about things, so I’m not gonna talk about things. And I want to have my own art show. I think I’m going to start with an art website. I want to make a place available where people can buy prints and original work instead of having to DM me on Instagram. I want to own my own house, for how relevant that is. [Laughs]
I guess I just see myself really working, really pushing it more and being very autonomous, and working as an artist in terms of acting. I’m producing a TV show right now. It’s in the beginning phases, but things are going really well. I love producing. I love the energy of putting creatives together and watching something come to life, and having all of those tops spinning simultaneously in a very un-shiftable way. A way where I feel like there’s some certainty. I’m still looking for that certainty, even though I just told you there is no certainty. [Laughs] I would like to feel some certainty of my prospects, simultaneously going all in tandem in the future.
This interview was conducted on November 3, 2021 in Los Angeles, California.