Tell us a bit about yourself! Where are you from originally, and what brought you to New York?
I was born in New York City but I moved to Costa Rica at a very young age and spent my whole life there. My parents run a bed and breakfast and coffee farm in a town called Heredia, near the cloud forest. It was very rural and very fun; I spent most of my childhood with animals: horses, dogs, cats, rabbits and a pet squirrel called Sammy. I came to New York right after college as I was interested in film and theater, and haven’t left since!
What was your favorite subject in school?
I loved literature, both English and Spanish. I lived in a pretty vivid fantasy world as a kid and reading was always my favorite way to fully inhabit those worlds and make them my own.
Is there a particular lesson or concept that you remember learning very clearly, either because of the way that it was taught, the way you came to understand it, or the way it changed the way you look at the world? Tell us about that experience.
I had an English teacher in high school who spoke mostly in spoonerisms and never taught what was on the rigid curriculum. At the time, most of my classmates thought that he was a little looney, but the truth is that he was teaching us to think about language in a different way. We were encouraged to read and write in the most creative, expressive way possible and to make up words if they were part of the world we had created. In a system that often teaches language in a very rigid way, having a teacher who talked to us about the meaning of life and used language in a way that demonstrated other means of expression, really opened me up to appreciate literature and philosophy in a way I might not have without him. Mr Goldfinch was indeed loony, but only because he wanted to create a generation of free thinkers and totally unique loony creatives.
What is your favorite book?
I have so many favorite books but I love anything by the author Wallace Stegner. Other favorites include Justine by Lawrence Durrell, Middlemarch by George Eliot and I have a lot of love for great fantasy novels I read in my youth like, The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman, The Chronicles of Narnia and anything by Ray Bradbury.
What’s one piece of advice you’d like to give to every student reading this?
Express yourself however you can! Whether it is through writing, reading, acting, singing - finding something that is all your own and not dependent on the validation of others is the best way to really figure out who you are and what makes you happy! Spending time coming up with stories, no matter how weird, is also great for your critical thinking!
What’s your favorite word?
Oh, that’s a hard one! I guess I love the word HALCYON. It sounds mythical, like a half bird-half human… and the word feels warm. I also like LANGUID and SANGUINE; I guess I just miss the slow-moving optimism of the summer (also, I love the sound of those liquid ‘u’s).
Imagine a prominent author has been hired to write your biography: what would the title be? Write us a one-sentence tagline.
“Living Life Out Loud (and in Technicolor)”
Captivated by the human experience, Olivia has spent her life learning from and exploring a wide array of cultures, mediums and and flavors in an attempt to Live Out Loud!
How do you spend your free time?
I love to act, both in theater and film and I love to write. When I’m not tutoring I am watching movies, dancing, reading, eating and going on auditions for various projects!
What does learning mean in your life?
For me, life is learning - I approach everything I do as learning and in this way am always excited about new experiences, new people and new hobbies. The thought of having a conversation with someone from a totally different background and upbringing is incredibly exciting to me- I want to be pushed to think about things in new ways and to learn about humans across all walks of life.