Meet Lisann Valentin, the Lawyer-Turned-Actress Inspired by 'Eat Pray Love'

Inspiring Latina: "Eat Pray Love"-Inspired Lawyer-Turned-Actress, Lisann Valentin
Lauren Toub

Lisann Valentin always wanted to lead a life that made her Latino parents proud, one that realized their “American Dream.” So the New York-based puertorriqueña got to work early, setting a career for herself in elementary school – law – and creating a life centered on meeting that goal.

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Valentin achieved her childhood aspirations and, for years, had a very successful career as a personal injury attorney. She was, in many ways, living the dream: accomplished in a field she worked so hard to get into, a family and partner that loved her, and enough money to pay bills and feed her Coach bag obsession.

Still, the accomplished mujer wasn’t happy. In fact, she was miserable. She loathed her job and felt guilty for having such feelings over a career she had begged God for and lost sleep to attain. Dejected, quitting still wasn’t an option for Valentin.

That is until someone recommended that she read Elizbeth Gilbert's "Eat Pray Love," a book about someone who found their lives off track and embarked on a journey that would transform them forever. Unbeknown to Valentin then, the novel would be life-changing, the catalyst she needed to let go of the vida she had worked so hard on for the one that would give her real joy.

Valentin, now an actress whose story from the boardroom to the small screen was published in the recently released anthology, “Eat Pray Love Made Me Do It,” spoke to Latina about her inspiring journey. Here’s why Valentin is an Inspiring Latina:

What was it about the book “Eat Pray Love” that had such an impact on your own life and career?

I think the thing that got me, and what gets everyone, about “Eat Pray Love” is understanding that at any point in your life you can change everything around. The notion that we have to be on one single path for the rest of our lives is ingrained in a lot of us, so, when something is telling you, “no, you can change course,” it feels new.

As you said, this book inspired countless people. So why did you want to submit your own “Eat Pray Love” story to the anthology?

I’ve been blogging about my experience for many years, even before I actually quit my job as a lawyer. I had been writing about changing my life and what that would look like when I stumbled across an Instagram post asking for a call for essays for this anthology. I wanted to submit my story to this because, honestly, Liz, the author, was the first person, outside of my mom, who lived out the notion of “I’m going to live this life because of me.” I will say, however, that before I turned in my essay, a part of me was doubting myself, saying “you think you’re going to get this? “You’re not good enough.” But there was another voice, a smaller and calmer one, that was saying, “no, you got this.” I said, I’ll go with the second one and clicked send. It took some time for me to hear back from them, so much so that I was at peace with my story not being selected. But then I received my congratulatory email, and I was balling, just overwhelmed with emotions.

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