We had the good fortune of connecting with Holly Sidell and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Holly, what are you inspired by?
I’m inspired by people. By their stories. By their will and spirit and goodness. By seeing people get through, and overcome, painful situations and tragedies and transform through them – and still be kind to others. Those inspirations then come to me as little seedlings of ideas about what to write about; stories of human connection, especially since COVID hit and it’s so much harder for humans to connect with each other. I’m inspired by how people’s hearts and bodies can be broken, but they heal that brokenness and re-build, and it becomes something new, even better than before, and beyond what they ever originally imagined. And, I’m inspired by whispers from the universe that are so blatant they can’t be coincidences.
How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
Being born creative, being born an artist, with that passion and purpose in your soul is not easy, as all artists know! Finding a balance between making a living/supporting yourself, and still pursuing and living your passion and making your art is the key, and when those needs coincide and collide, that is the moment of true oneness.
I have found that the times in my life where I tried to silence that part of myself, or not feed it, was like half of me gone. Like I was existing, but not actually living. It is crucial to always find time and space for our creativity and passions. I have always struggled with what my “brand” is. This has been the biggest hurdle for me since day one, when I had a healing practice in Santa Monica which incorporated Reiki, Homeopathy, personal training, spiritual coaching, mediation, and group classes. I wasn’t able to put those all together in a marketable box for myself, just as now, I focus mostly on writing and a performing, but I’m not just those things either. The words “writer” and “performer” can’t capture what my brand is, because I perform and write with a purpose, with intention, only if I feel it can bring value to others, and positively contribute.
I am a breast cancer survivor and ovarian cancer “previvor” (thanks to the BRCA gene mutation), and even though sharing that journey is part of what I write about, that is not my brand either… it’s only a part of my story. So, I have tried to put myself in boxes countless times over the years to fit into a marketable brand – Holistic Healer. Actress. Head of Content. Writer. Storyteller. Spiritual Fitness Teacher, but none of those things ever felt right, and I felt like I was betraying myself, it didn’t feel authentic, because who I am and what I aim to do can’t be properly defined by one word or label.
Therefore, through all of that, what I have come to see is that my brand is simply this: I share my struggles and how I overcame them, I share my journey and my own healing process, as a means of helping people through their own, hopefully letting them know they are not alone, empowering them, and offering acceptance, compassion, and humor… there’s always gotta be humor thrown in there! And the way in which I do that has, and can, take many different forms: Sometimes in the form of writing (anything from plays to articles to blog posts), sometimes in the form of creating and heading up the content for someone else’s company or brand, sometimes in the form of performing, or teaching a workshop, or speaking, or one on one connection. My brand is just me. And having to learn to accept that has been hard, but I’ve come to see that there isn’t just any other way.
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’m going to answer this as though there are no COVID restrictions and shutdowns, lol, as it will be more fun. I’m a history nerd, so the Queen Mary in Long Beach, or anything historical, really, especially the “Old Hollywood” spots, like the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel and Dan Tana’s restaurant, just for starters. Walks near the beach, followed by sunset cocktails by the ocean. A show at The Hollywood Bowl, hiking (anywhere, really), The Magic Castle (if we have an “in,” hint hint), Inn of the Seventh Ray in Topanga, the Lake Shrine in the Pacific Palisades, a pub trivia game night, a day trip to the Santa Barbara wineries. I love going to the Palm Desert area; two days there for me feel like 2 weeks, so maybe we would go there to just rest and recharge. And, most importantly, Disneyland! I was an annual passholder for years, and there is nothing to me like the magic and wonder one can feel when walking through those gates.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
We can’t succeed unless we have someone in our corner rooting for us; I am blessed to have that with quite a few… so, this is so hard, because I feel like everyone who has come into my life has touched it in some way. But always, first and foremost, the support and love of my family, since the beginning. My mom who finally gave in to her little daughter, begging her to let her please perform, and spent a good chunk of her time driving me (and my sister) to countless auditions, to sets, to singing and acting classes, and all over the state to perform, and who now acts as my brilliant go-to proofreader and editor. And as an adult, the support and encouragement of my mom, dad, sister, and their significant others, allows me to keep on going.
I wouldn’t have been able to get through cancer and any other of life’s ups and downs without my tribe of friends. And Since the beginning of the lockdown, there are a few friends I really want to recognize, who have been my lifeblood during this time of COVID. They pick me up when I’m down and help put me back on track when I question my direction and purpose in life (which, not going to lie, has been pretty often during this past year). And, huge shoutout to my “breasties,” fellow breast cancer warriors who I never would have met otherwise, but am so glad I did. I would never would have even created, and subsequently mounted, my solo show Deconstructing Holly – which premiered March 9, 2020 and had only two performances before COVID shut theatre down – without the support and guidance of the Soaring Solo community, headed by the awesome Jessica Lynn Johnson. Major shoutout to my incredible director Jonathan Fahn for bringing the show to life with me and pushing me to go places I didn’t know I had in me. I don’t think I have ever trusted a director so implicitly.
And, last, but definitely not least, shoutout to my theatre homes, Pierson Playhouse/Theatre Palisades and Force of Nature, for their constant support, encouragement, belief in me, and for giving me the opportunities to stretch myself creatively, step out of my comfort zone, and a place where my soul can live its joy and passion and fly free!
Performance shot: Patricia Maureen Photography