I don’t remember how I was introduced to Olivia (I have a feeling it was Ellie Berry) but, I do remember absolutely loving her work. Since then, I have had the privilege of getting to know Olivia, and I can assure you that she is as friendly as she is talented. Not only is she a stage manager and child supervisor working in musical theatre, she is also a talented designer and hand-letterer. I loved having the opportunity to talk with her for Like A Girl and I am excited to share her interview with you today. Enjoy! – Catherine.
Tell us about yourself.
I’m a 24 year old NYC-dweller. I love eating sushi, stopping in the street to say hi to puppies, and binge-watching tv. (I am currently in the middle of a 15 season ER journey.)
What do you do?
I work in theatre, both as a stage manager and a child supervisor, and I am also a freelance designer specializing in handlettering.
When did you first become interested in hand lettering?
I can remember in school always being very conscious of handwriting, both my own and others’. I would change how I wrote based on what I saw and liked, and was always so particular about having aesthetically pleasing notes. Later on in college, I found out that there were people who devoted careers to typography and lettering, and I immediately fell in love.
Who are some women that inspire you in your life and work?
I have a huge family full of strong and inspiring women, including a mom who’s working full time, taking care of our family, AND going to grad school. In my 20s I’ve really found myself surrounded by like-minded lady friends pursuing their dreams, like my best friend in Toronto putting her whole heart into her school’s film program. I know she can achieve whatever she wants, and she’s always there if I need a reminder of what I want to be creatively. Another big inspiration for me is my friend, mentor, and all-around lovely human, Laura Benanti. I admired her for years before getting to know her, and she’s become such an invaluable source of support for my creative endeavours.
What are you passionate about?
I’m passionate about supporting the women around me, and about using my experiences to mentor others. I’ve been fortunate enough to have women invest in me both professionally and personally, and I think that it’s so important to take the time to pass that on. Also, anything fighting to dispel the myth of female competition is great in my book!
What is the most helpful piece of advice someone has given you?
The first thing that comes to mind is something Laura told me once. “Don’t dull your shine to please other people.” It’s really stuck with me as a reminder to not keep myself from going after what I want just because of what I’m afraid people will think.
Why do you do what you do and what do you love most about what you do?
I do what I do because I can’t imagine going through life and not feeling creatively fulfilled. Something I’ve loved most about lettering is the opportunity it’s given me to connect with other people. Whether it’s getting to know someone while designing their wedding invitations, or bonding over lettering I’ve done of a Gilmore Girls quote, I just love the chance to meet new people.
Are there challenges you have faced in your work specifically because you’re a woman? If so, how did you overcome them?
I think in general, there’s a challenge when it comes to getting people to take creative professions seriously, and I believe even more so when it comes to female creative freelancers. It can be really common to be viewed as hobbyists playing around with an Etsy shop, rather than successful creative professionals.
Are there any particular people who you would absolutely love to collaborate with on something?
It would be phenomenal to collaborate with Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls. I think the work they do is so extremely important, and goes right along with my passion to use creativity and visual arts to mentor young girls. Plus, Amy Poehler is an all-time of hero of mine. Whenever I’m feeling down, I know that doodling will help, and I almost always end up lost in one of her quotes.
What would be your advice to girls and women?
I would stress the importance of finding your “people”. Surround yourself with those who make you better, support you, and push you to achieve your goals. They’ll propel you, and also be your safety net. Take the time to seek after those like-minded souls.
Any stray thoughts?
Not at the moment! But I’m sure they’ll come to me in the middle of the night, and some lucky friend will be on the receiving end of an insomniac’s stream of consciousness.
I’m a recent NYC transplant whose happy places are being in the audience of a musical or being in a onesie watching Netflix. I’ve been known to google “Connie Britton’s hair secrets”, and can’t resist buying a shirt if there’s a picture of food on it. I love any chance to FaceTime with my dog in Maryland, and I spend a large amount of my free time handlettering hilarious tweets (mostly from @LauraBenanti, but you probably already knew that)