When I’m told that Sasha Spielberg’s earliest availability to chat with me is between 11am and 5pm on the Saturday of Labor Day weekend, I let her publicist know that I can do noon—which still allows me to make a morning class at the gym, while also not entirely ruining the first day of summer’s last hoorah for me. Besides, I’m certain she’s going to cancel the moment she realizes that September 4th is a holiday weekend.
In fact, I’m so certain I will be receiving an “I’m so sorry to do this to you…” email from her publicist at 11:55am that day, that as I dial her number, I’m already rehearsing the voicemail I’m going to leave when she doesn’t answer. Except for that she does. Almost immediately. And she’s refreshed, prepared, and expecting my call.
The warmth and sincerity in her voice—and the fact that she answered at all—catches me off guard. Shouldn’t she be spending her summers on the Spielberg yacht? Or doing something else fabulous? Why is she working over Labor Day?
It turns out, this singer, songwriter, painter, and podcast host, isn’t just the daughter of one of the most famous Hollywood couples in history, she’s her own person too.
“I probably practiced my Oscar speech a million times in the mirror when I was growing up,” says Spielberg. “I’m kidding. Ugh, can you imagine?” Of course, the 31-year-old grew up for a time thinking she wanted to pursue acting, but it was more painting and music that bit her. “My dad always had a video camera with him when I was a kid, so there was part of me that liked performing in front of a camera, but I was also super shy. Really, it was painting with pastels when I was five that was my first artistic passion and then singing shortly after.”
In fact, her bat mitzvah was her coming out party in more ways than one. “I really, really wanted to belt out ballads like Mariah or Christina, but it was my bat mitzvah, and you can’t really belt out Hebrew, so I did it in a softer voice. No one had heard me sing like that before, and it ignited something,” she says. “Also, I couldn’t sing like Mariah or Christina, so there was that. But, at the party, someone asked me if I had ever heard Joni Mitchell. I hadn’t, and they later sent me a bunch of her records, which showed me that there were so many different ways you could sing.”
The way she throws out “someone,” is endearing, and my mind admittedly wanders as to which guest at this ca. 2003 event told her about Joni Mitchell… Leo? Tom? The other Tom? But she’s so self-aware about her circumstances, that I feel bad prying.
It wasn’t until college at Brown though that she really came into her own as an artist. “For the first two semesters, I don’t think I really spoke to anyone, because I was so terrified of sounding dumb, and I felt like there was this pressure to prove myself and show that I got into school on my own merit,” she says. “But I eventually got over that and started making music with friends.”
Earlier this year, Spielberg released her first album under the name Buzzy Lee—a combination of her childhood nickname and an ode to her grandmother/kindred spirit—with a second one already in the works. She’ll also paint your pet, and for a very reasonable price of $150. (The website is bysashy.com, and the portraits—as well as their captions—are good.)
“I went through a lot of waves during Covid, and at one point, I was just really inspired by dogs’ faces and would get lost in that. Of course, sometimes I’d also get lost in Below Deck Med, but I ultimately would make it back to the dogs,” she says. What started as a hobby, painting her friends’ pets, is now a legitimate side hustle she devotes most mornings to, creating roughly two works a day.
Additionally, what started out as a way to promote her album, has turned into a legitimate new creative endeavor. “It was originally just a spoof podcast I did on Twitch, where I speak in an Australian accent and I’m this character who knows nothing about gear but pretends that she does and interviews a bunch of different musicians about it,” she says, adding that she had so much fun doing the first four—guests have included Chrome Sparks, Dev Hynes, HAIM, and more—that it led to her becoming a Twitch partner, with more episodes in the works.
But for now, she’s most excited about getting to perform and tour again. “I have a show at the end of September, and I haven’t performed in two years,” she says. “I’m totally nervous, but excited to be back in the groove of things.”