For the past three months I have been involved in a play called Penelope, a retelling of Homer’s The Odyssey by Edna Walsh, at Rogue Machine Theatre in Los Angeles.
I was asked to play the role of Penelope, the faithful wife of Odysseus who keeps her suitors at bay (in this version, the suitors are 4 Irish men of varying ages, all in Speedos). Throughout the play, Penelope does not utter one word.
I took the role because I loved the language of the play (the playwright, Enda Walsh is remarkable) and I was interested in a role that was completely silent. Perhaps it brought up issues from my past – that of working for years to find my voice.
I wasn’t a beautiful little girl. I was very shy and quiet and wanted so much to be liked. By fourth grade, I was tall, and skinny, with crooked teeth that needed braces and eyesight so bad I needed glasses that were true “Coke-bottles.” I was a straight A student, but that never really figured into who I was; and if it did, it was only to support the fact that I was a smart girl who was nerdy and ugly.
It was such a painful period in my life and has been with me ever since. That time in my life silenced me for many years.
I am aware of the pressure the media puts on girls and women. I have experienced it and carry the scars. How can we be strong and forceful out in the world, when we are judged primarily by how we look? How do we find our voice?
I believe we find our voice by not giving in to how we’re supposed to be or look or act. We push back. There are more and more examples of this all the time, from Dove’s Campaign for Real Beauty, to the fabulous video Like a Girl, produced by Always, to my idol, Beyonce, with her song Pretty Hurts.
Yes, I believe things are changing. My desire is to be part of that change.
I am creating a new show called Holly, The Hollywood Beauty Detective. By looking at what people find beautiful and reframing what beauty is all about, I have found my voice.