We had the good fortune of connecting with Dawn Olivieri and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dawn, we’d love to start by asking you about lessons learned. Is there a lesson you can share with us?
TRUST….Trust that you will win what is meant for you and you will have to let go of what is meant for another. Trust there is a design to it all. Trust that when nothing seems to be working and you feel as if you are having to give up, trust that what is meant for you, will always find its way back. Trust that this whole wild breathing beast is always aimed in your favor even when its dragging you through the muck and the mire. Trust you have the power to create how you perceive your reality. Trust that a flower can appear overnight from the mud. Our careers are the poetry of our life. We are all artists, make it what you wish and don’t forget to take a step back and gaze in awe at everything you have created even if its a pile of sh#$*. Even that is something to the soil that grows the microorganisms that feeds the plants and animals that sustain life on this planet. Sometimes the sh%#% is the most important step of all.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I have always struggled to fit in. I lived in big cities for most of my twenties and thirties but always dreamed of the wild. I experienced some extreme hardship a few years back and chose to finally make the jump. Being an artist is feast or famine. Waiting for the lottery is a trick. If not now when? I searched “acres” and that was that. with no partner and no nest egg I moved onto an off-grid cabin on 20 wild acres at the start of winter. I had two big dogs to keep the bears away and some chickens for eggs and a will to make it work. It was hard. REALLY hard. I felt like a real-life frontiers woman. I would drag my exhausted body into modernity looking like a mountain lion feeling farther and farther away from a cosmopolitan perspective. I was breathing wild air and fighting for my life and it changes you. Then covid hit and if it was hard to book work before, this was it. The end. I packed up and moved East. I came to terms that acting as a profession was a luxury and maybe that job wouldn’t be possible anymore so I let go of it, and started to build a content company with my long-time best friend Carla DiBello in Saudi Arabia called Arabia plus. Working on a lot of it virtually and remotely, we managed to make a handful of run and gun documentaries. In between trips to the Middle East, I sent in a tape here and a tape there as I moved around living on a wild mustang ranch then a double wide trailer then a tiny cabin on a national forest boundary. Suddenly, from the edge of the woods, I got an offer for a role on a show called HOTZONE. How could that be happening? I let that identity go. I was ok if acting was a story I told of the life I had lived. But here it was. Coming back around. I shot that in Canada for three months and my heart started beating deeper again. I am an artist and I was born to be an actress. From there I did a tape for Taylor Sheriden for a really small role in some show he was doing called 1883. I was bummed it was so short but I quelled my desire for more and resolved to make it the strongest two episodes I was capable of and that was that. I am very proud of what I did with that part and so was Taylor. So much so that he wrote me into the biggest tv series on the air. His American west mega hit YELLOWSTONE. I moved away from the land of mirrors and found myself in a new way. I walk with a light and a strength that comes from my core. I am stronger and I don’t need to use a mirror to tell me what I am. Basing myself off reflections always gave me a skewed perspective. Take all the mirrors away and see what is left. There is a death of identity, a humbling, but what washes back in with the tide is a strength and a clarity that you couldn’t imagine. Get to the source as soon as you can. Act like your life depends on it. because it does.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I would start in Topanga, maybe fish tacos at the LIVING CAFE nestled against wild sage bushes. We would visit one of my long time friend’s house where she fires her pottery for EARTH and ELEMENT. Maybe make a flower inlaid tea bowl and catch up. I would head out to the edge of town to visit my animal loving photographer/actress friend Nikki Reed and ride horses and kiss the baby goat Dalilah I raised with her this past year. Then into the city proper for more tacos from ESCUELA TAQUERIA (the best tacos in Los Angeles in my opinion) the Langostino taco is my top choice and the owner is a rad guy that I met years ago caravaning across the United States to protest that pipeline they tried to run through Indian lands in the Dakotas. We fought during an exhausted push through frozen badlands but came out as friends on the other side of life. I would definitely make a stop at the MASION D showroom to see what my fellow artist Deborah Michelle has coming down the pipeline of next level hand bag couture. I am a self nominated bag groupie for all her designs. My character Sarah Atwood in Yellowstone actually rocks one on the show. My next stop would be to see my sister the “death doctor”. Her company is FUREVER WITH ME where she works as a mobile vet and bereavement councelor in LA that comes to your home and puts your fur baby to sleep when you want a more intimate, in home passing. Can you imagine doing this job everyday? She says it’s a truly beautiful moment to meet people, In their most vulnerable spaces. I would end the trip deep in the hills somewhere at a friends house for a tea ceremony. There is a tea community that thrives beneath the buzz of a superficial lime light where women and men gather in backyard gardens sipping ceremonial tea from a zen master’s center in Taiwan called Global Tea Hut. I get all my tea from a long time friend Colin Hudon, a Chinese medicine practitioner in Telluride Colorado and founder of livingtea.net who travels into the mountains of tea country and hand picks the most beautiful, old growth organic tea in the land. life is like this for me in Los Angeles. There are beautiful people everywhere if you know how to look.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I want to thank my family who has never stopped supporting me thoughout all my oscillations in life. I would also like to that the animals, a realm of unending love and lessons on death. They drive me deeper and deeper to the center of myself.