Elizabeth Brettschneider: The DLG-Proust-Actors Studio Questionnaire*

by Joseph McKeown

Born and raised in the tiny town of Columbia, Connecticut (next to where Ashley Emerson grew up. Their mothers also go to the same gym, they discovered at the holiday party two years ago), Elizabeth Brettschneider comes from a long line of Connecticutters. She knows they’re called Connecticutters because one summer she worked for the State of Connecticut’s Department of Travel and Tourism (“All day I asked for people’s addresses so they could be sent a travel brochure about Connecticut,” she says). She had a “happy and relatively uneventful” childhood, which might partly explain her bubbly and persistently optimistic personality (seriously, I’ve never seen her in a bad mood).

Liz Updated Photo.jpg

One year as a Girl Scout she won the cookie-selling contest, but: “I wasn’t into the Girl Scouts like other people were," she says. "However, I really wanted to win the contest. What I did do my whole childhood was play soccer. Since kindergarten all the way through college I played. On both my high school and college soccer teams I was the captain. That was the focus of my childhood. I broke pretty much every finger. I broke my wrist. I broke my jaw. The goalie punted it—this was in high school, sadly—and I went to chest trap it and it went up and hit my jaw.”

She attended Bryn Mawr College where she majored in history. “That’s sort of how I decided to became an immigration lawyer,” Liz says. “I took an Immigration and Ethnicity class through my history major. I loved that class. We had a guest speaker who was an immigration attorney. She came in and talked about what she did, and I remember that light bulb moment. She was such a good speaker, you got a sense of what she did on a daily basis, and how she got to meet people from different ethnicities, different countries. It felt like it was a profession where you could help people and concretely see that help.”

After college she went on to the University of Connecticut School of Law and during her summers clerked at Avirom and Associates, an immigration law firm in downtown Manhattan. Avirom hired her after graduation, and in January 2012 she joined Daryanani Law Group.

There’s a knock on the door. It’s Protima. “Sorry to interrupt,” she says. “But we should make sure to say that she prefers Lizzie B. as her main name.”

Liz laughs. “No!”

“Also if I was going to make a comment about Lizzie B., I’d say, ‘She’s an excellent travel companion but a very light sleeper.’”

Liz laughs again. She and Protima traveled together to the Balkans in 2011. She has traveled to many other countries as well (a highlight was Rwanda and Uganda, where she saw gorillas). Along with this wanderlust, she has run three marathons; she plans to run her last in New York City this year.

My last question for Lizzie B.: “Soccer was such a huge part of your life. How does that experience translate into being an immigration attorney?”

“I have that fighting spirit; I’m very competitive,” she says. “I always want to win.”

*Questions taken from and/or inspired by the Proust/Inside the Actors Studio/Bernard Pivot/AnOther Magazine questionnaires

What is your favorite word?

What is your least favorite word?

What turns you on creatively, spiritually or emotionally?
When everything falls into place.

What sound or noise do you love?
Birds chirping in the morning.

What sound or noise do you hate?

What profession other than your own would you like to attempt?
Travel Agent.

What is your idea of happiness?     
Sitting in front of a fireplace with it snowing outside and knowing I have no RFEs pending.  

What is your idea of misery?
Feeling powerless.

If not yourself, who would you be?     
An awesomer version of myself.

Where would you like to live?     
Any place with a view of snow-capped mountains.

Who are your favorite prose authors?     
Jane Austen, Jhumpa Lahiri, and Leo Tolstoy.

Who are your favorite heroes in fiction?     
Mr. Darcy and pretty much any British detective protagonist.

What would your last meal be?     
Buffalo wings, passion fruit, soft cheese on delicious bread, and Molly Moon’s Salted Caramel Ice Cream with hot fudge.

What do you hate the most?

What natural talent would you like to be gifted with?

What is your present state of mind?    

What are you thinking of right now?
Buffalo wings, passion fruit, soft cheese on delicious bread, and Molly Moon’s salted caramel ice cream with hot fudge.

What makes you laugh?
Ricky Gervais’ laugh.  It’s ridiculous, I know.  But it’s so contagious.  

What makes you cry?

What do you consider to be the greatest invention?

Where do you feel most at home?
At home.

What is your proudest achievement in life?
Completing a marathon.

What do you most like about the age we live in?
Access to information and refrigeration.

Whatʼs the best advice youʼve been given?
Try it with Sriracha!

What is the biggest risk youʼve ever taken?
Saying “I love you.”

What is your earliest childhood memory?
Building pillow/blanket forts in the living room.

If you could wish for one change in the world what would it be?
Fewer jerks.