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Interview: Felicia Day Teaches Us How To ‘Embrace Your Weird’! (Interview)

Image: Christina Ganolfo

Actress Felicia Day has appeared in numerous TV shows and films, including hits such as Supernatural, The Magicians, and Mystery Science Theatre 3000, yet she is best known for her skills in the web video world. Ms. Day created and starred in her own seminal web series The Guild (2007-2013) and also co-starred in Joss Whedon’s Internet musical Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, which won an Emmy in 2009. As if that weren’t enough creative talent to fill one person, Felicia is also a New York Times bestselling author with her memoir, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) published in 2015.

Well, guess what? Felicia Day is back at it with her latest book, Embrace Your Weird. I not only had the opportunity to read this incredibly motivational and inspiring book, but I was also given the distinct pleasure of interviewing the creative wizard behind the wisdom.  Check it out…

 

Linda: Hi Felicia.

Felicia: Hello. How are you?

Linda: I’m good. How are you?

Felicia: I’m great. Thanks for taking the time.

Linda: Oh, thank YOU for taking the time. I was just telling Jeremy, that I finished reading the book yesterday.

Felicia: Oh great. Yay.

Linda: It was amazing, a really great book! I read all the time and this was just so inspiring and motivating, I loved it. I really did.

Felicia: That means so much. You’re one of the first people I’ve heard feedback from. So you’ve made my day.

Linda: Yay, yay, I’m so glad. What made you realize the importance for everyone to crack open and explore their creative sides?

Felicia:  Well, when I wrote a memoir several years back called, You’re Never Weird on the Internet (Almost) and I shared my journey, from weird homeschool girls to self-made media person. The biggest feedback I got from that book was people telling me that they started becoming more creative because of my journey and they got help with their anxiety and depression and it was so meaningful to see my work impact other people. I just wanted to do more of that in a way that was more about the audience than myself. So I took a year and wrote this book and as someone who struggled a lot getting my voice out there in the world, I just want to encourage people of all ages and backgrounds to be more expressive with who they are. Be more creative because it’s really important for your mind and your soul.

Linda: I agree 100 percent. What I love about the book as well is that you give tools and activities for people to explore their own self. 

Felicia: It’s a little bit of a hybrid book in that I wanted to make it interactive because the online world is so important to me and my fans always have a dialogue with me back and forth kind of one on one. And so the book has a sort of unusual format where I’ll talk about something and then I’ll offer an exercise immediately about that. Just because I think when you do it immediately you can maybe absorb it a little bit more. And I wanted to have that interactive quality to the book.

Linda: Yeah, I think that’s great. And how did you come up with those exercises?

Felicia: They were just brainstorming. It was all just me kind of playing around. I had been doing some coloring books with my baby, and I was kind of inspired by the idea that when you draw, even if you’re not particularly good at it, it actually makes you tap into a different part of your brain. I love quizzes and things like that. Personality quizzes from magazines. So I incorporated all the things I love. I also love self-help books. A lot of them have gotten me to where I am today, but a lot of them are a little more serious. I wanted to do a funny version of a self-help book in a way that just encouraged people to be more creative and embrace themselves.

Linda: You had some like cheeky exercises, but then you had some exercises that force you to look deep. It is a great balance.

Felicia: I think it could be one of those books where people read all of it and then go back and do the exercises, especially every single problem. The book kind of encourages you to dig deep and really define yourself and your voice and then also really define what you’re drawn to creatively. And then it gives you tools to overcome the enemies that might stand in your way. Like procrastination, or fear of failure, or jealousy, and all of those don’t necessarily apply to all of us but I think when you read the book, the reader will kind of gravitate towards certain areas that might apply to them. And really, that’s all it is about, self-discovery in a way.

Image: ‘Embrace Your Weird”

Linda: Yeah. We’ve all run across those roadblocks and need to find ways to strip them away.

Felicia: Yeah.

Linda: Did you do the exercises yourself?

Felicia: Oh, for sure. Yeah. I mean, I brainstorm them and I made sure that they were fun to do. The book was probably at least 50 percent longer at one point and so I had to kind of cut it down. And, you’re right, the book is kind of playful and fun, but also can be deep and encourage people to face some demons in a sense. And the tone is all over the place, but hopefully it unifies in a way that makes people know how fascinating each of us are and [that] we have so much more inside than we give ourselves credit for. Giving people that space to start digging deep was my motivation.

Linda: Did the process of writing this book actually help you write the book?

Felicia: That’s a wonderful question. That is 100 percent accurate. Taking five steps away from it after finishing it now, I realize that the book helped me kind of put myself back together after I had a baby. Because your identity shifts a lot and it forced me to give up some things but also find new things about myself that I wanted to spend my time on.

“I think throughout our lives we need to move on from who we are and become new people.”

We don’t have to abandon everything, but we need to make room to be able to grow and become more complicated. It was really a process for me in writing it, to rediscover who I am as an artist and a person. So hopefully that journey will apply to a lot of people too.

Linda: That’s amazing. I mean, you’re helping other people and you helped yourself along the way. I think you’re right, we change, we grow. I loved the whole example with the tree and pruning the branches to make room for other things.

Felicia: Yeah, thank you.

Linda: What did you find the most challenging in writing the book?

Felicia: Taking complicated problems that we kind of let rule our lives that [we] don’t know how to pinpoint, and making them simple and apply to a lot of people. Also digging, relaying anecdotes that are universal for people. I had a very strange upbringing and I really wanted to be able to [have] this book appeal to all ages, all genders. Hopefully it doesn’t matter how old you are, you can always start finding a passion and creativity in your life that fuels you and makes you want to get up in the morning. Right? And encourages you to be yourself. Because I think the world does not encourage us to be our weirdest. And in fact, when you’re weird, that’s when you’re putting your best foot forward, especially creatively. That’s what I want to encourage people.

I guess, being honest with myself and some of the motivations that I’ve done… some of the ways I’ve pursued creativity in the past maybe weren’t as organic to who I am inside. They were more for external reasons and especially overcoming procrastination and perfectionism. Those are two huge things in my life and anxiety. I think those were really the core of the book. All those tools, formulating them and kind of making them simple for other people to read really helped me actually adjust in my own body better. So thank you.

Linda: It’s a very relatable book. Is there something weird about yourself, that you have not mentioned to anyone?

Felicia: I mean I certainly have made a career in the things that make me different and being kind of unapologetic and putting them forward. I think some, there is an impulse, being a mom now, some of those things I don’t embrace 100 percent, as far as publicly because, it’s sort of like pigeon hole… Being a mom, it sort of alienates some people because you feel like you don’t have a lot to associate with if you don’t have a child. I was kind of like that when I was a childless myself. I feel like, oh I don’t really have as many touchstones with this person.

So really as a woman and a geek, I feel like I’m still the same person. I just have a little less time to focus on some of the more geeky things. But at the end of the day, I was just as excited about a new Fallout game as anybody. So sometimes, as far as psychology, and kid stuff, I don’t wave my flag but I am definitely a geek about parenting and making sure that my baby becomes the person that she’s meant to be, not the one that I want her to be.

Image: Embrace Your Weird

Linda: That’s great. I also like to ask your feelings towards social media just because it’s such a prominent aspect of everyone’s life. How does it impact our ability to embrace who we truly are?

Felicia: Yeah. I think, I talked about this a lot in my memoir also. I mean, I believe the roots of the internet, the idea that we can connect with people around our passions regardless of where we physically are, is a wonderful thing. But I also believe that there is sort of a social cost to always living online, to looking at your online persona as something that’s more important than your in-body persona. We tend to kind of only portray the things that we want people to see in us versus what we genuinely are.

It’s very curated and maybe not so honest all the time. So I kind of give the analogy…  when I see somebody taking a picture of a sunset, I really honestly think are they absorbing that for themselves or are they bypassing themselves in order to kind of give that picture to the world as a reflection of who they. That’s why I encourage people when they’re doing the book to kind of stay off social media as much as they can. Because what’s important is who you are inside, what you would say regardless of whether people are consuming it or approving of it.

“And creativity, if you want it to be honest and real and true, needs to happen regardless of whether people will praise you for it.”

And I think that’s important and something to consider whether you’re doing a book or just being in life.

Linda: That’s a perfect analogy and I love that phrase you just used, ‘consume’, versus ‘approve’. How many concerts do you go to where everybody’s holding up their phone and they’re recording it rather than taking it in and watching it. I see that all the time. 

Felicia: Yeah, no, I noticed when I scroll down Twitter and I read a bunch of stuff and then I log off and I’m like, what did I actually take away from that? That improved me as a person or do I actually retain any of that knowledge? And I realized, I’m just kind of skimming the world in a way that doesn’t really add to who I am inside. So now I’m a little bit more cognizant. I’m like, okay, if you spend 15 minutes on Twitter, did you learn something? Are you a different person? A little bit? Do you want to reach out to one of those people and connect in person? I tried to really be more conscious, but very, very tricky.

Linda: Oh yeah, I agree. What would you say is the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given? With anything.

Felicia: Honestly, there’s a couple that stand out. One of them I actually list in my book is, my acting teacher told me…

“The way you do one thing is the way you do everything.”

Linda: That’s right, yeah.

Felicia: And I think, that is the thing that really makes me conscientious of parking correctly, or changing the toilet paper roll in a public restroom, or just doing my work to the best of my ability and creating order where there’s chaos in my life. It kind of spreads from there. And the other piece of advice is, someone took me to lunch when I first moved to Los Angeles and said, “Whatever it is that makes you stand out or different, make sure [you] don’t give that up just to be part of Hollywood.”

And I didn’t really listen to that advice as much as I could have in the beginning. I was a violinist and I could’ve done violin more to have that be the thing that makes me different from everyone. And I certainly went back to that advice, but I think it’s the best advice and that’s kind of the heart of my book.

“What makes you different really is the thing that will give you the ultimate fulfillment in life.”

So never abandoned it because people make you conform.

Linda: I love it! So when is your next book?

Felicia: I would really love to do a fiction book next. I’m working on a couple of other writing projects as it will be in other media for now, but my next goal is doing a fiction book because I certainly don’t have a lot more to say about myself.

Linda: I didn’t mean to put you on the spot there. But I’m like, I’m just going to throw it out there.

Felicia: Not at all. I love the fact that you [did]… yeah, it’s great. I love writing. I actually enjoy writing fiction more than screenplays really. Because I can kind of stretch my legs.

Linda: That’s awesome. Before I wrap it up, I did notice you’re going to be at New York Comic Con. I will have to stop by and see you.

Felicia: Yes, please do. I will be doing a couple of signings and my bookstore is posted so I’ll be going across the country. So whether you’re at New York City Comic Con itself or an offsite in New York, I definitely have a couple of signings there in early October.

Linda: Thank you so much for your time. I really appreciate it. I look forward to catching up with you in New York and best of luck, this is going to be great. I know it’s definitely on my gift list for everybody. Everybody needs to read this!

Felicia: Oh that is so sweet. Thank you so much.

Linda: I truly mean that. It’s an incredible book. Congratulations on it. Much success to you.

Felicia: Thank you so much. Thanks for the time.

I would like to thank Felicia for taking the time to chat and to help me reflect on my own creative blocks. Have you ever been hesitant to pursue your unique passions? I think we all have. Perhaps it’s time to Embrace Your Weird! Be sure to pick up your copy when it hits bookshelves on October 1st! Also, meet Felicia face to face as she goes on her Embrace Your Weird Book Tour in cities across the US. 🙂

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