Creativity and Career:
Can you tell us about your career journey to date?
I grew up in a small village of 12 houses in rural Communist Russia. My world consisted of my parents, my brother, and the magic of the woods that surrounded us. Both of my parents are forest rangers and taxidermists by trade; we lived off the land and respected nature for all of her abundance. I could write a book (I actually am) about my wild upbringing in the woods and the magic that lead me to dream a life that allows me to time travel and “be“ other people for a living.
My family immigrated in 1992 to the United States and started our life in the land of opportunity. My mother enrolled me in a modeling competition at the age of 12 as a way to boost my self confidence and I won representation by agencies in California. My first job was a Disney Channel commercial where I had a speaking role. I remember getting my hair and makeup done, hitting my mark, saying my lines. I got my SAG card that day and knew this was my path. I met kids that were from different walks of life and realized that I was treated like the “adult” I had felt like for years. I loved telling stories and being a conduit of time travel for others. Having the power to transform the space and help others dream gave me the sense of fulfilment that I still have today, 24 years later.
From then on I was a Disney kid... one movie led to another which lead to being in the High School Musical franchise changing my life forever. Now countless films and tv shows later I’m happy to say that choosing acting as my life path has been the best journey. The ups and downs and all of the circus acts in between.
Did you always know you wanted to pursue/be a actress and author?
I followed the feelings that made me feel good. Creating made me feel good, being in control of my choices made me feel good, and working with people always made me feel like peace was possible. All of those elements live in acting. I work with 200+ people on a production from all walks of life, for months on end, creating a single art project. It’s like being in a bee hive. We all have to put our differences aside for the sake of art... and when done right... pure magic happens. Once I felt it, I knew I would want that feeling for the rest of my life.
What has been your biggest ‘pinch me’ moment as a creator?
The places I have been able to travel and the people I have met. Creating content whether it is film/ tv/ social media images that resonate with thousands of people around the world still blows my mind daily. That we can connect on that level, the beauty of that is a pitch me moment. Then there are the Hollywood moments like attending the Oscars and sitting behind Leo DiCaprio, watching my friends on stage at the Emmys, winning a Team Choice Award.... MIchelle Pfeiffer once kissed me on the forehead and gave me the sweetest advice. None of that would have been possible especially for a little girl from a village with no running water if it wasn’t for me being a creative.
What inspires you to create?
I’m inspired by lighting and the mundane... for example the way the curtain blows in the wind catching the last rays of the days light. That simple elegance of life and having the attention to catch it. That inspires me. Then there is always the concept of love and connection, like all poets, I write about love. Love for nature, for the wild at heart, the pirates out at sea searching for the next horizon, the lighthouses that guide us home.
What does a typical day look like for you?
I wish I had a typical day... my career is one that changes my timeline and schedule without much consideration to what I was already doing. It makes it impossible to plan anything more than 3 months ahead.
Right now: Tea and emails, mediation with Lacy Phillips via To Be Magnetic, prep lunch for my man and I (and the baby), creative time and shooting content for IG etc, evening catch up with friends and finishing work obligations, make out session with the husband/ check in on our “hearts” and a general self care routine that helps me tune out the never ending “to do list” that keeps growing.
Talk us through your creative process. Where do you start?
My creative process starts when I receive the script in my inbox. I make space in my home for neutral energy to flow, allowing my mind to stays clear to pick up on the small details that lay hidden between the words. I carefully read the script front to back, sometimes twice, and then literally sit with it. I take a few minutes to allow the words to create images in my mind. What shot would this scene be? How would it be lit? Once I have the “picture” of the scene set... that’s when my character will start to emerge. Her dress, mannerisms, tone of voice... I allow my imagination to fill in the gaps. I choose her favourite colour, her earliest memories, the moment she fell in love etc. For me it’s not memorizing the lines, it’s creating the human. The lines come easily once I get to “know” her. Then it’s just simply existing, listening when the other characters interact with me, and relaxing into the “play” of it.
What’s been the most challenging lesson you’ve learned so far in your career?
I loved the experience of being a Disney Channel kid. It gave me the opportunity to travel the world, win Emmy’s, attend the Oscars, and yes I’m on a platinum record (I am NOT a trained singer ). Dreams that are wilder than any I could have ever imagined happed because of the entertainment industry. I love it and I wish I knew more of the “business” aspect sooner. You learn later how much money you make for others, how you’re a product and you are sold. It was a different time then and the youth in the industry now are much savvier and have more information. When I started I had to fill out actual paperwork for my LLC (limited liability corporation) and had manager handle my finances etc. Now you can simply read how to do it online and cross reference. The challenge was learning that I was the boss, not my agents, not my current employer, not my managers... me. At the end of the day it’s me who’s got my own back and makes the magic happen. Trusting my own instincts and not being so “nice”; polite yes but firm in my opinions.
Do you have any advice you’d give to your younger self or someone looking to pursue acting or the creative industry?
Don’t be a muse. It’s lovely if people are inspired by your talent, look, energy etc but muses don’t get paid and you can only live off fairy dust for so long. Be careful who shares in you energy, if you want to share it professionally make sure that they compensate you for it. Know your worth and bill people for it. Especially as a woman, you have a place and power in this world. The energy must be an even exchange.
When do you feel at your most creative?
When my house is clean, my laundry is done, taxes paid on time, and I’m sipping some organic wine. In all seriousness, it is the simple things... the to do lists... that keep my imagination tethered to the ground. When those “life” things are handled my mind and soul have space to play together. The older I get the more I tend to find peace and harmony in my home and surroundings ( friends, interactions) because it is when that’s in alignment I feel that my creative juices have room to grow.
How do you balance your career with being a wife, friend and soon to be mother?
I don’t really. I’m trying to figure it all out still. It’s the first time in my life where I am putting the life jacket on myself first before assisting others. It’s a big change and the benefits for everyone around me are incredible.
What are your favourite pieces in your home?
We just moved to Yosemite National Park and now live in a beautiful home in the mountains. Prior to I lived in Los Angeles for 15 years. This home is a retreat in more than one way. We have a wonderful fireplace in the heart of our home and we use it daily. I reminds me of growing up in Russia where we used the fireplace every day to heat our home/prepare our meals. Where there is warmth there is life.
What is your favourite Moss Living pieces?
Everything. I want it all.
How did you find us?
Our mutual friend Katie founder of Silk Laundry. She posted about her sheets and I swooned.
Do you have any special décor pieces you’re looking to add to your space?
We have it! I’ve wanted a claw foot bathtub in our master and my husband found one! It’s currently hanging out in the front yard under an olive tree waiting to be installed! When I was a child my mother would bathe me in a similar tub outside. She would warm the well water by starting a small fire under the tub. It makes me feel regal and wild at the same time.
What does home mean to you?
Safety and Peace.
How do you practice self-care every day?
Good food (organic and clean); gentle movement like yoga and pilates; deep inhales outside; positive self talk example “body you are incredible; your skin is so soft, you are doing such a good job at keeping everything healthy and vibrant”.
What inspires you?
Nature, my mothers never-ending sense of wonder and curiosity, my husbands strength and heart, the incredible friend group I have been lucky to acquire, a great book. My little potted rose bush... she’s been on the verge of death so many times and still somehow manages to come back and bloom.
How would you describe your personal style?
Chic and sustainable. I love rich fabrics and high quality which usually tends to be more expensive and sustainable. I choose less but pay more for a reason. I want timelessness on my body. I go from “mountain woman” to “ big city” with nothing in between. It’s like my closet belongs to two very different women.
What are the best words of advice you’ve ever received?
“Enjoy life” said by my mother. We have had a hard/full/abundant/thrilling life... and when you live like that sometimes we forget to slow down and just enjoy the dang thing. It’s all so fleeting and quick. If we “enjoy” it then our spirits have an opportunity to do the work they came down here to do.
What are 3 things you can't live without?
- Silk Laundry 90’s Slips (Silk Laundry)
- Good Cashmere Sweaters (Naadam; sustainable and organic)
- An Eileen Fisher wool cocoon coat
- A good pair of Chelsea boots and some shoe polish.
- That’s 4 but I do need all of them.
- I think I could live in that combo for the rest of my life.
- Go to coffee order?
No coffee sadly. Matcha.
- Your star sign?
Pisces... but I’m more of a Taurus in all the ways.
- Favourite cocktail?
Biodynamic White Wine or Cognac
- First thing you reach for in the morning?
My husband and dog; then I take my mouth guard out.
- Favourite local café or restaurant?
Chateau de Sureau. It transports you to France and it’s 2 miles away
- Your self-care ritual...
Bath with Epson salts and a facial massage
- What are you currently listening to?
James Blake, Bon Iver, Big Red Machine, Ben Howard... it’s moody cabin vibes over here.
- What are you currently reading?
The Hidden life of Trees
Zen Mamas: Finding Your Path Through Pregnancy, Birth and Beyond, It Didn’t Start with You
- What are you currently watching?
Just finished “Maid” on Netflix. As a survivor of domestic abuse I felt seen and it actually helped me emotionally to see her story on the screen. It was beautifully done and I loved every second of it.
- My husband and I also watch The Kardashians on Thursdays ( I love Kim), the new show “The First Lady” on Sundays. Documentaries in between and then some Netflix comedy shows.
Find the beautiful Olesya on Instagram here.