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August 22, 2016

Badass Ladies You Should Know: Lygia Day Peñaflor

Kate Hart
headshot of Lygia Day Peñaflor

This week's Badass Lady is Lygia Day Peñaflor, teacher to the stars and author of UNSCRIPTED JOSS BYRD, a debut YA novel releasing tomorrow -- don't miss your chance to win a signed copy!


chairs and a table inside Lygia's on-set school trailer
Kate: Describe your career(s) and/or current projects. What path(s) and passions led you there?

Lygia: I’ve been teaching child actors for ten years. I love the job, but I always wanted to be a published author. When I first started working in the film industry, I was struck by how young and accomplished everyone was—directors, producers, writers, and crew, not to mention my own students who had Tony awards and Oscar nominations. As I got to know everyone, I realized they weren’t any different than I was, and this motivated me to write seriously. I figured, if these young people could achieve their goals, so could I. I wrote UNSCRIPTED JOSS BYRD during my commute, during lunch, and on breaks. Eventually, I had a book about a child star that was the direct result of my surroundings and experiences.

Lygia's remodeled kitchen
Kate: Do you have any (other) creative outlets? How do they influence/affect your main work (if at all)? 

Lygia: I love home renovation and design. I recently remodeled my kitchen. Unfortunately, it directly affected my writing because it’s pretty much impossible to write a novel when walls are coming down and you’re living in a dust cloud. But I lived through it, and now I can write again. Check out my kitchen reveal here!

Kate: What's your biggest challenge?

Lygia: It’s a challenge to remember to write for me first before worrying about what my agent or editor or readers with think. Sometimes it’s hard to keep my head down and block out expectations. There was a luxury when writing a first novel in that no one cared about it but me. That gave me a certain level freedom and courage that’s hard to recapture now.

Kate: What's the best compliment you've ever gotten?

Lygia: When I was in 9th grade in an all-girls school, everyone was being particularly mean and cliquey, so our theology teacher had each of us say something nice about someone in the class. A girl I barely knew said, “Lygia doesn’t need a group to know that she’s cool.” That stuck with me all these years and is still the greatest compliment I’ve ever heard.

Lygia and her mom on their way to the premiere of Boardwalk Empire
Kate: Did you have any defining moments that galvanized your understanding of and/or commitment to feminism? How does it inform/inspire your work?

Lygia: When I started dating, my mom told me that I should always have money on me so that I could leave on my own if I wanted to. As an adult, this translated into being able to live independently at any point. In UNSCRIPTED JOSS BYRD, Viva is a single mother raising her child star daughter, Joss. More than anything, Viva wants Joss to be able to stand on her own someday. Viva’s methods may be controversial, but her intentions are good.

Kate: What are the best ways to support other women?

Lygia: Be present for each other during times of success as much as moments of difficulty because success comes with new stresses and pressures. Celebrate achievements together. And here’s a personal plea: don’t use the word “bitch” as a term of endearment.

Kate: What is your advice to aspiring badasses?

Lygia: Know exactly what you want, down to the outfit you’ll be wearing when it happens and the song that will be playing in the background.


Win a signed finished copy of UNSCRIPTED JOSS BYRD!
[this giveaway is now closed]
US only


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Lygia  Day Peñaflor is a YA author and academic teacher to young actors on television and film sets. Her debut novel, UNSCRIPTED JOSS BYRD, about a child star struggling through a demanding shoot, releases August 23rd with Roaring Brook/Macmillan. Her students have included cast members of Gossip Girl and Boardwalk Empire, as well as I Am Legend. She lives on Long Island where she is an avid equestrian and old-school roller skater. Lygia is represented by Molly Ker Hawn at The Bent Agency.

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