We had the good fortune of connecting with Dolores Cruz and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Dolores, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Art is an expression of one’s soul. It is a passion embedded deeply inside each one of us. Whether the art is expressed through paint, music, dance, theatre, or any other form, what comes forth is the true self. My artist’s soul has had the opportunity to express itself and appreciate art all around me from the very beginning of my life. I grew up in a family of artists. My mother was a violinist who eventually had to set her violin aside to help keep the books for my dad’s business and raise me and my four siblings. Aside from my mother’s violin, we all expressed ourselves artistically in one or more ways through piano, guitar, drums, music composition, painting, ceramics, Mexican Folklorico dance, ballet, tap dance, jazz dance, choreography, theatre, poetry, and writing. Between my mother’s occasional practices on her violin when she had a few spare moments, my brother’s daily work on the piano and guitar, and the soundtrack of my ballet classes, music of all types, especially classical music, was everywhere. Even after my dad retired his business, he went back to college and pursued a degree in art, finally discovering his own inner talents. The artwork created by my sister, brother, and dad covered the walls of our home.
Why did I pursue a creative career? I don’t feel I chose a creative career so much as it chose me. I believe, first of all, that we are all artists. The fine arts and performing arts are but a few ways to express our creativity, and some of us are more aware of these gifts than others. But creativity is expressed in a multitude of ways and in all facets of life – architecture, construction, landscaping, fashion design, photography – just to name a few. The list goes on. We are creative beings, and we are here to do just that – create. The objective is to find the manner of creation that is unique to you, that expresses the true essence of who you are.
Writing has been my main form of expression for only the last 5 years. Previously (and still today) I expressed my inner self through theatre. Even as a young child, there was nothing that fulfilled me more than standing on a stage and having permission to put forth my deepest emotions. I have continued this pursuit throughout my life, taking a long break while raising my 4 children and working as an elementary school teacher. Even while working with students, I encouraged and guided them toward discovering their own artistic creativity. And I have been fortunate to be able to work with amazing teachers and other actors as I continue to build my acting skills.
But after the unexpected passing of my youngest child, my 24-year-old son, in May of 2017, I was launched onto a journey like no other. I took all my grief and despair, my pain and confusion, my questions about God and life, and put them all into a book about healing and hope. I needed to express this unspeakable and unexplainable experience I had just had. I needed to share with anyone who wished to read this book not only the story of my pain and healing, but also the story of my son, a gifted drummer and musician in his own right, and a kind and compassionate human who made the world a better place. And in doing so, I hoped to help others who may have gone through this same experience. I needed to bring this conversation out of the shadows and into the light because most people don’t want to talk about it. Yet death, after all, is part of life.
After some encouragement, I started a blog where I share my thoughts about deeper questions regarding life and spirituality. I am always grateful for the email or message I get from others who have read my book or blog entry, thanking me and telling me it was helpful. If I can help even one person, I have done my job. To create is to share, to touch another person.
You see, I do believe we are here to help each other along this journey called life. I believe that when we create we help ourselves, and through the expression of our creations, we help others, we offer another perspective, we may even offer hope. And I do believe all this translates into love. Hence, we create love. And when we do this, we can find a peace like no other because we are expressing and honoring our true selves.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
In my younger days I created and expressed through movement and dance. I have since created with words. I have used these words as an actor on a stage, and as an author, poet, and blogger. I am very proud of the fact that once I decided to write a book, it happened. It was easy in that the words and ideas flowed to me. It was challenging in that I often had to ignore the voice of doubt that told me I couldn’t do it. I had to put that voice aside and trust that I could. I have learned that, while it is important to listen to others, to hear advice, to join workshops and seminars, when all is said and done, all that I need is within me. Trust it. Go for it. The truth is, you have nothing to lose.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
I love the outdoors and spend a lot of time at local botanical gardens and natural areas. Be sure to hit up the L.A. County Arboretum in Arcadia, Huntington Gardens in San Marino, Descanso Gardens in La Canada Flintridge and Eaton Canyon in Pasadena. Time spent with Mother Nature always brings so much peace of mind. And of course spend some time at one of our many local beaches, walking, biking or sunbathing. There are tons of great eateries In L. A. which reflect its varied cultures. Authentic Mexican food can be found all around East Los Angeles and Boyle Heights, too many to name. Be sure to spend time at Olvera Street, the birthplace of Los Angeles which has various shops and restaurants in the spirit of historic Los Angles. For great Armenian food we would check out Raffi’s Place in Glendale. And Porto’s Bakery and Cafe which offers Cuban cuisine (and more) is extremely popular, as the daily long lines clearly suggest. Best food ever!
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?
There have been so many people in my life who have encouraged me to express my creativity, starting with my own parents, Lillian and Leo Salazar, who very much supported my creative interests. My many acting teachers over the years – Jacquie Cowgill, June Chandler, Todd Babcock, and Sean Rose – have helped me to get out of my own way and allow my inner truth to flourish. My husband, Joey Cruz, has always supported me in all my creative endeavors. And to those who have taken the time to read my writings and provide me with, not only feedback, but huge amounts of encouragement and support, I offer my deepest gratitude.
Other: Blog – https://doloreslookaround.blogspot.com/
Adam Sheridan-Taylor, Joey Cruz, Linda Hinojosa Schannuth, Todd Babcock