Olivia Leigh Nowak: Today’s Notable Young Professional

Today’s Notable Young Professional is actress and filmmaker Olivia Leigh Nowak, who’s currently working on an incredible project to bring her late mother’s inspiring journals to life. Here’s how she started on her career route and where she sees herself in five years…

Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
I’m an actor and a filmmaker. As an actor, my job is to be emotionally present and available. It’s not about mimicking or acting emotional; it’s about committing to your behavior in that specific moment. You have to own up to it and not feel ashamed of the emotions that arise. You must live moment to moment to help express your character’s life. Live truthfully, follow your instincts, and focus your attention on doing – and not showing.

As a filmmaker, I strive to share truthful and inspirational stories. My latest project was inspired by the loss of my mother five years ago. She gave me permission to read her journals upon her passing and this experience guided the project. She was a fearless woman, leaving home at the age of 17 to walk the hippie trail in India and falling in love with a heroin trafficker named Tom. A small clip of the documentary ‘Looking for Bayard’ can be viewed on my website at www.olivialeighnowak.com. It is still in production as there is still a lot to be discovered.

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
My father was an ad man back in the day and he always had a camera around, and my mother worked in fashion. My parents decided to sign me to an agency at three years old and have been supportive of my career choice since the beginning. I owe it to them for giving me the inspiration, the drive, and all the love in the world.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis? The most challenging part?
The best part of being an artist is not knowing where you are going to be in the next year, the next month, and sometimes the following week. This career path is unpredictable and you are often faced with obstacles, and extreme highs and lows. The most challenging part is, ironically enough, never knowing what the next challenge will be. But it’s this uncertainty that drives me as an actor. You find a way to balance the best and the worst, and it becomes the reason why you want to be an artist for the rest of your life.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
In LA continuing to do what I love.

What does success look like to you?
Success is being completely satisfied with what you have. I don’t have to be a millionaire, as long as I am happy, comfortable with my life, and I can work as an artist.

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Moving to Toronto, and now making the move to LA. It’s a fresh start with more opportunity and more artists to collaborate with.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Don’t doubt your dreams. I was blessed to have a family that encouraged me with everything I’ve ever done. If you work hard and believe in your ability, you can and will succeed. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

For young artists in particular, just keep working and creating art. Even if you are not getting monetary compensation for the art you are creating, just know that you are getting paid with experience, and that is worth more in the long run. It will be your turn to shine soon enough once people see your dedication and confidence.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
I participate in and raise money for the Weekend to End Breast Cancer and Cystic Fibrosis Canada, which are two causes that are very dear to me. I have also travelled to Nepal and volunteered to teach English at a school for indigenous children.

What to you is notable?
The HeforSHe Campaign by UN Women/Emma Watson. The gender equality campaign has brought much needed attention to the role of gender in development. This highlights the importance of using the craft of acting for greater good by bringing much needed attention to an important issue. 

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
iPhone, but I don’t really mind. 


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