It’s hard to walk around with a last name like “Spielberg” and not have fame nipping at your heels, want it or not. And for a while, Sasha Spielberg did want it. She saw her dad being, well, Steven Spielberg, and she saw her older half sister, the actress Jessica Capshaw, landing roles in shows like “Grey’s Anatomy,” and it all seemed so glamorous.
“But I also was so afraid of it,” the 30-year-old says. She inherited stalkers, which led to paranoia when she was younger, as well as a deep sense of imposter syndrome, despite any individual talents — of which there are many — she may possess.
“I do see myself the way probably most people do, which is like, ‘Oh, celebrity kid making music. Great.’ I felt like I’ve had to prove myself forever, and that’s why I can put myself down and why I constantly do. And it’s humorous, but it’s almost like I can’t walk around feeling myself, ever,” Spielberg says. “I have to always put myself down in some way, because I want to say what everyone else is probably thinking first.”
Despite all of this, Spielberg is giving it a go in the entertainment world, self-doubt be damned, and today releases her debut full-length album, “Spoiled Love,” under the moniker Buzzy Lee. The album is almost entirely inspired by one past relationship — so long ago now that the man has since had a baby — but seen through new light these years later, Spielberg finds it to be a representation of her coming to terms with herself. One of the songs, “Strange Town,” is about the Northern Californian town they used to visit while together, where she slipped into pretending to be the “version of the woman he wanted,” she says.
“Wrapped in woven blankets, no makeup, just us throwing the stick on a beach to the dog, but then there’s no matcha, there’s no Pilates, there’s no martinis with friends.” Now she sees more clearly about the woman she was then, and it doesn’t hurt her to recount through the songs.
“Now I’m just telling a story. I’m not wrapped up in the relationship anymore. I’m just sort of telling stories,” she says.
Growing up in Los Angeles, Spielberg was always “obsessed” with music, but suffered from stage fright, her voice cracking and hands shaking every time she tried to perform for family around the fire pit on the Fourth of July. She took this as a sign that she didn’t have a future in music, and tried her hand at acting. After arriving at Brown University, where she studied literary arts, she realized her heart wasn’t in acting and joined a band instead, finding strength in numbers.
One summer while home from school, she and her brother Theo started writing music together. Their parents heard one, “Opossum,” and encouraged them to record it. Next thing they knew friends had sent to friends who sent to a friend at NPR, where it wound up being the song of the day. Working as a duo called Brother/Sister, they garnered some attention and set out on a micro tour, which didn’t suit Spielberg.
“My biggest fear was touring. I was so afraid of touring for some reason because I’d seen ‘Almost Famous’ and I thought, ‘I’m so not a night owl. I can’t really drink a lot. I can’t party. Tour is just going to be a bunch of scoundrels partying and missing our departure times,’” she says. And that, by the way, is kind of what it was. “So it felt just so annoying when we toured.”
Band life not for her, she started to develop her own sound as Buzzy Lee, where she can also make the rules about what life on the road looks like (whenever that may resume). The moniker, by the way, is a “mini nickname” mixed with the name of her now-deceased grandmother, with whom she had a “soul connection.” It also serves as a good shield from the child-of-famous-parents thing.
“Well, Spielberg’s sort of taken. I obviously am constantly trying to hide from that, the last name. In pharmacy lines, in TSA, I feel like I’m constantly avoiding the name,” she says of wanting to use a pen name. “I’m so shy about it, and so I wasn’t going to use Spielberg, but also I couldn’t do it because there is a Russian YouTube star who has millions of followers named Sasha Spilberg. So I couldn’t even take my own name if I wanted to.”
Despite listing a number of insecurities, Spielberg seems very in her own skin — and sure of what she wants from a career with potential for spotlight.
“I want to make dog portraits. I want to do music. I want to do [my Twitch show] ‘Gearhead.’ I want to work a lot. I really want to constantly be working,” she says. “What I will say is if I’m out somewhere and someone stops me and they say they love my music, I am so shocked by that. I feel so happy, like I did something right on my own without any help. And that feels great. So if that’s fame…I don’t know. I think I want respect for sure.”
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