Living in Playa Vista means ICANN attorney Linna Hsii really can have it all
Story By Stephanie Case | Photos by shilah montiel
Before moving to Playa Vista, Linna Hsii was a Beverlywood-born Angeleno who rarely ventured south of the 10.
Now, seven years later, the neighborhood has become the center of her world. Playa Vista is the place she’s built her family, raised her one-year-old son, and converted next-door neighbors into close friends.
It’s also where Hsii is now building her law career. As one of the newest members of the legal team at ICANN — the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, an international nonprofit that sets rules for the World Wide Web — Hsii supports the legal needs of ICANN.
It’s a realm that is constantly evolving; just last year, ICANN added more than 1,200 possible generic top-level domains, expanding the size — and the possibilities of the internet at large.
“The idea is to create more avail-ability in the internet space. The New gTLD Program allows for the expansion of the domain name system. Before it was .coms and .nets, now you can have .law, .vacations, .condos, or even .ninja. That’s a large part of what we do here, which is really amazing.”
Her home in Brookfield’s Camden neighborhood being just three minutes away from ICANN’s Playa Vista headquarters, Hsii can dig into internet policy and look after her toddler in a single afternoon, without breaking a sweat. Her dual roles — attorney and mom — aren’t at odds, making her a rarity among the many working parents who struggle to find the ideal work-life balance.
For Hsii, it took time to get that balance just right.
Two years ago, while pregnant with her son, Hsii worked at a downtown L.A. law firm — one she says was strict when family life entered the equation.
“I worked on a team of predominantly men [who] weren’t very forgiving. It was hard for me to ask for time off, and I felt guilty asking to go to appointments during the work day” — even necessary trips to the doctor to monitor her pregnancy. She soon realized: “In all of these big firms, it’s hard to be a woman.”
After her son was born, it got even harder. Many evenings, she’d come home late from her long commute to see him already asleep, then leave so early the next morning that she’d miss him again.
One night, Hsii chatted over dinner with a few other female friends who were facing the same problem. One told her that after a string of days of continuously not seeing her young daughter, the lack of facetime caught up to her.
“At some point, her daughter didn’t recognize her,” Hsii recalls. “[Hearing] that was a turning point for me, where I was like, ‘I don’t want my son to not know who I am.’”
Hsii started spending her nights hunting for a new workplace — one not only closer to her home in Playa Vista, but also with a different set of values.
“I knew that in my next job I wanted to be in a place where people had other priorities besides their career,” Hsii says.
When she started at ICANN last winter, the difference was palpable.
“Mostly everybody at ICANN has families,” Hsii says, and they understand when those families come first. When her son was hit with an intense allergic reaction to peanuts during work hours, completely swelling his face, her boss let her rush out of the office, no questions asked.
“As a woman, I often feel so guilty because I’m not being a good mom or I’m not doing my best work,” Hsii says. “That’s what I felt like [at my old job], that I couldn’t give 100% to everything.
“But I feel like [being] in Playa Vista — as cheesy as it may sound — really allows me to have it all. I feel like I can fulfill my role contributing to society being at work at ICANN, but also come home and be a good mom and be a good spouse. I don’t know why, but being here has allowed me to be a better person, in all my various roles,” she says.