Holly Cinnamon is a professional actor, singer and songwriter. Her recent acting credits include playing Julie in Season 3 of Marvel’s Daredevil currently streaming on Netflix and appearing Off-Broadway in Dear Jane at the Clurman Theatre. She was featured in the film The Girl Who Cannot Speak, which was honored as a “Coup de Coeur” selection at the 2018 Cannes Festival.
In addition to acting, she teaches yoga classes and Alexander Technique to actors in midtown Manhattan (currently online).
Credits: David Noles
Can you tell us a bit more about yourself and your career journey?
I grew up in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, where I did my undergrad in theatre at the University of Alberta, and then created and directed shows with my theatre company and taught yoga for a while, before moving to Montreal to attend the National Theatre School. I then went to do my MFA at the Boston Conservatory, where I also trained in Alexander Technique. Scattered throughout that time I acted in regional theatre productions in Canada and the US before moving to New York, where my focus shifted onto TV and Independent Films, most recently being featured in Season 3 of Marvel’s Daredevil on Netflix and in the film The Girl Who Cannot Speak, which was selected for a Coup de Coeur award at the Cannes film festival. I teach Alexander Technique and Yoga in Manhattan, journey back to Alberta to teach twice/year at Reset Wellness and in the Opera Nuova program and I’m now offering online classes during this global crisis.
Holly, you are Alexander Technique Teacher and professional actor, singer and songwriter, how do you manage to organize your time and achieve everything while being successful in all fields?
That’s a great question! That’s one of my biggest challenges, as I have so many interests. I’m actually writing a children’s book now too! I think realizing that I am a multipotentialite helped me accept how my brain works and accept that I will always have multiple projects on the go. I keep a to-do list in the notes in my phone, in which I number and star things in terms of priority. I try to split up my day between projects and give myself breaks from screen-time, though that is harder now due to social distancing. I recently started time-tracking, an exercise in which I write down literally everything I do all day, so I can track how many minutes I spend at each activity and check in if that aligns with my values and goals. Apps help a lot if you are an independent, self-driven creative!
Credits: Kevin Goggin
Can you tell us more about Alexander Technique?
Alexander Technique is a tool for changing habits and patterns in your life that no longer serve you – whether those are physical habits of posture and movement, mental habits in your thinking, your concept of yourself, your concept of your body or emotional habits or blocks, which could be related to trauma or stress. Essentially, it is a method of self-transformation, which can be applied to any problem, pain or practice. I specifically focus on a few areas, depending on the needs I see in the world and the communities I would like to serve. I’m currently offering a class to help people feel less eye-strain now that we are on our computers so much more, to practice conscious depth perception and orienting to our physical surroundings, which our computer screens can actually lead us to shut down. I offer classes for actors to make clearer choices and have more “presence” on stage and on camera, as the mechanism of “presence” can be learned and revealed through the tools of Alexander Technique. I help many clients discover errors and misconceptions in their concept of their own anatomy, which is causing them pain, strain or over-working, and I help them change their concepts of their bodies to more accurate maps, so that they have more freedom and ease and less pain.
Credits: Jared Doyle
What do you like most about doing Alexander Technique and Yoga?
Essentially, I like helping people. I like witnessing the transformation in my clients. I like watching the joy that it brings people to discover a whole new sense of freedom, ease, pleasure and ownership in the way they move, live and in the activity they are trying to improve in. It’s quite amazing to witness how simple changes of perspective can have a profound and transformative effect on someone’s performance, as well as their feelings of wellbeing, safety and empowerment. Often, clients don’t realize how much extra effort or stress they are unnecessarily adding to an activity until that stress is no longer there, and that’s such a joy to feel and to witness!
What inspired you to take up acting?
When I was 14-years-old, I saw Barbra Streisand in the film version of Hello, Dolly! and my jaw dropped. I was awed by her power, her poise, her ownership, her incredibly strong and radiant voice. I decided that I wanted to be like her when I grew up. She was my initial impression of what a strong, empowered woman could look like and she is the reason I had the confidence to stand on stage and let myself be fully seen and heard as myself. I think visibility and vulnerability are really inspiring. Today, I am a huge fan of Brene Brown’s work on The Power of Vulnerability and I do think this is why I am an actor. Vulnerability has the power to connect us and bring us together, to examine who we are as individuals and as a collective culture. I love the power that theatre and film/tv have to allow us to examine our identities in how we relate to the characters we see on stage and screen, how we have empathy for their experience, and the possibilities those stories offer about who we can be, who we don’t want to be, who we decide to be. Storytelling, from the beginning of time until now, has been a cultural practice of identity-reflection and identity-shaping. We craft narratives that reflect the world as we see it and then the world imitates those narratives, just as the narratives imitate the world. I find that conversation between storytelling and reality very compelling.
Credits: Monica Czuprynski
How does it feel when you put a mask on your actual character or personality?
I absolutely love playing different characters, developing a character, researching and observing other humans and how they work, how we are different and the same. Humans each have a unique structure and architecture. We all have unique patterns and habits and systems that we develop and identify with. I find it all fascinating. Acting is not about deceiving, but about exploring and revealing aspects of ourselves, both as individuals and as a collective. I love exploring identity, playing with a character’s mask, how they operate, the idea they have of themselves, who they really are, how they think, how they move, How they interact with others, what their perspective and assumptions are… There is infinite possibility but there are more interesting choices, given the limitations of the script, the world of the project, and the life of the character. Discovering the most interesting choices is what motivates me.
Credits: ABC / Marvel / Netflix
You starred in the Daredevil, tell us about that experience, how was It?
That was a great experience! It was actually my very first TV audition in New York, so I was thrown right into that show and it was such a blessing. It was amazing to work with such outstanding actors like Vincent D’Onofrio and Wilson Bethel. I really enjoyed the fire that the writers gave to my character Julie – that she took charge of what she wanted and was bold both in her flirtation and also in her escape, once her instincts were triggered about Dex. One of my favorite things to record was the voice-over work I do when you hear Julie’s voice inside of Dex’s head haunting him. It was fun to play with how much of my character was real and how much of what you see and hear is actually Dex’s skewed perspective of her.
In a biographical film of your life, who would you like to play you?
Haha! That’s a funny question! Well, I know that I would love to play Tori Amos in a film about her life. I would also love to play Julie Power – the bisexual Marvel superhero. I have been watching Anne with an E on Netflix, and AmyBeth McNulty who plays Anne is really good. Perhaps she could play me one day!
Credits: Krystalla Pearce
To what do you attribute your success?
I never stop working. I am obsessed with the many things I do, and I find it impossible to give up or quit. I simply just work incredibly hard all day every day, and I try to balance that with self-care and time with my family and my cat. Honestly, I think perseverance is an asset that goes a long way. If you are passionate about something, you have to be prepared to not quit. Sometimes, that involves outsourcing inspiration when I am feeling low on it. I know myself very well and I can listen to myself well enough to know what I need to stay motivated and keep working. I am also incredibly privileged, and I have a lovely and supportive family that has tirelessly supported all of my creative endeavors. I truly could not achieve anything without a network of support.
If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
Remember why you do what you do. Remember what that spark is. Remember what drives you. You will be offered a lot of opportunities and opinions and criticism on the way, so hold onto the reason you chose to do what you do. That is your candle, your flame, your inner light that needs to shine and share itself with the world. When you know what is driving you, it is easy to make hard decisions and let negativity roll off your back.
Credits: Ryan Parker
What motivates you to keep working on your business to achieve further success?
People. Love. Passion. Excitement for ideas. Continuous learning. Curiosity and discovery. I love helping people and I love learning along the way. It feels good to be visible and to do something that feels natural and worthwhile and useful in the world. I want to share my gifts with a larger and larger population, so that motivates me to expand and to do the business tasks that I might not enjoy so much, like managerial tasks. I am motivated by my pure desire to share my work and to help other people and to offer whatever I can to those who find it useful. If I stick to that, then it feels less selfish or manipulative when I approach things like “business models” and “client funnels” and marketing, which are less in my comfort zone that my work as a teacher itself.
Name something you love, and why.
I love my cat, Patty. I love her because she is totally honest and totally herself and completely present all the time. She doesn’t overthink anything. She doesn’t worry about things. She knows her boundaries and she defends them. She always knows what she wants. I admire those qualities in her a lot. I think animals can remind us of the simple things and really help us when we get overwhelmed or start to spiral into useless instead of useful thoughts.
Credits: Justin Schuman
Is there anything else you would like to share with our readers, any advice?
You are valuable to the world because of who you truly are. It is truly your uniqueness that makes you valuable and necessary to the world. So, figure out what it is that only you can do, what gifts that you can share, what perspective that you can offer, and don’t be afraid of it. Sometimes, as entrepreneurs and creatives, I think we are actually afraid of embracing the power and potential for success that we do have, often even more than we are afraid of failure. Don’t be afraid of success. It will require all of you. So, decide what is worth committing all of you to. And then do it. Oh. And it’s okay if you need time to figure out what that thing is for you. It took me 30 years, and every day I’m still learning about myself and about what I truly want to share with the world. But I now trust my creative spirit and let her guide me more than I used to.
Alexander Technique and Yoga with Holly Cinnamon:
Holly Cinnamon: https://www.hollycinnamon.com