Part of MyCity4HER’s evolving mission is to tell women’s stories. One of the most courageous, inspiring and dynamic female entrepreneurs in our region is actress and teaching artist Alex Hewett. We recently caught up with the mermaid, ok – she’s not exactly a mermaid, but when you are in her presence, depending on the day she does tend to sparkle and light up a room. Alex is pursuing her Baltimore dream and in doing so, we asked her to share HERstory and tell us a little bit about her journey in the hopes of inspiring others.
Where were you born?
New Brunswick, New Jersey
Are you a Mom?
Yes. I have two absolutely amazing young men. Ages 15 and 11. They are truly the loves of my life. Kind, super intelligent, fun, sweet, creative, handsome, generous human beings. I am extremely proud.
What did you go to school to learn how to do?
I learned how to listen to people with out judgement, to be empathetic and be able to connect fully and have them trust me. My degree from Loyola University is a MS in Counseling Psychology, I did some post-grad work at Villanova University and have a certificate in Aging from John’s Hopkins University. I studied theatre, in particular the Meisner Method in New York for a few years with a small theatre group. I learned similar things as in grad school, those listening and trust skills but learned to be brave on stage.
What do you do today?
I’m a self employed actor / teaching artist. I’ve been doing more film and commercial work. I teach theatre, improv and writing as a creative therapy at Sheppard Pratt Hospital. After almost 20 years as a therapist, I left the private psychology practice where I saw patients, because I felt it was time to focus solely on creative endeavors. I teach a Summer theatre camp for the New Century School and am a teaching artist for Chesapeake Shakespeare. I’m also a storyteller, have performed in the Stoop here in Baltimore and Story League, DC. Recently Mortified, has been my story telling addiction. It’s where adults share their high school and adolescent diaries, poetry, etc. on stage. I have two different stories I have performed in Baltimore, DC and NYC, and soon Chicago. I am now a producer and story consultant for Mortified DC / Baltimore.
What made you decide to follow your dream?
I spent 20 years or so as a psychotherapist, spending many hours with people that were so very unhappy. I heard over and over how much people hated their work, and they didn’t know who they were or that their life didn’t have meaning. And that’s a miserable way to live. I’m finding creative ways to love my life. My work isn’t work. It’s who I am, and what I do comes from my heart. It all feels very authentic. I just want to find more ways to travel, to create more, collaborate more with brilliant artists. It’s not always easy, it takes much self motivation, determination, energy and flexibility. But living the life you want is worth the struggle. To paraphrase a quote from Tennessee Williams, one of my favorite playwrights, life is a struggle, and you know when you stop struggling, you are dead. So I chose to live happily and creatively.
What is the best advice you’ve ever been given and why?
I grew up not very far from NYC, and I remember in 2nd grade, a girl in my class was in the Broadway production of Annie. I remember coming home and announcing to my father that I wanted to be an actor, he told me that was a terrible idea, that I would be poor and unhappy if that was my career path. He said I should learn to play golf, so I could make great business deal on the golf course. I was seven. The discouragement just fueled me to follow my dreams. Today I am an actor. And a teaching artist. I am extremely happy, perhaps exuberant. All this creativity makes me very rich! The money will come one day…
What scares you?
That in this word there are people that hate and make judgements about others. What if we all regarded each other as people, regardless of gender, race, religion, ethnicity. What if we all were just people? And we could all find love and respect for one another.
What motivates you?
I believe everyday we have another chance, another shot to be better than we were the day before. I’m motivated by the challenges life presents. Bring it on…
How do you describe what you do?
I’m a storyteller and teach others to tell stories. I am authentic and free on stage or behind the camera and feel most comfortable in that vulnerable space. When I teach, I try to helps others find comfort in doing scary things. To find confidence in themselves and to connect fully with another human being.
What do you think is the biggest challenge facing women today?
Woman are not respected, they are valued on their appearance, not recognized for their accomplishments or intelligence. Balancing being a mother with everything else is a challenge. Being a mother doesn’t mean you have to give up being a person or following your dreams. Having more flexibility in the workplace for parents to raise great adult is a challenge. When doing it all, something has to suffer, you have to make compromises. Having a great partner to be your home base I would think could make this more achievable. I’m a single mother, so mostly I have put my boys first over work opportunities.
What are you most proud of and why?
My amazing sons and the great young men they are becoming.
When you get stuck, what do you do?
I allow my self to be in that stuck moment, whatever the cause, fear, sadness, anxiety, and embrace it fully, write about it, talk about it. But I find creative ways to move onward, I don’t stay stuck for very long. Life is too short and I’d rather be moving forward or hanging upside down than being stuck.
What causes are important to you, and why?
Causes that support education, because our children are our future. The arts because art and our stories connect us as human beings. The environment because our world is beautiful, we need to protect it and keep it beautiful. Also mental health awareness and education. I grew up with a mother who suffered from mental illness, and I teach in a psychiatric hospital. I believe mental illness should be treated like all other medical issues, and there should be no shame in seeking treatment. The more awareness, the less stigma there will be around it.
What is your favorite food?
Baby Coconuts. Eating one transports me to the tropical island in my imagination. Go to Plant Bar in Belvedere Square, they’ll crack one open for you!
Also dark chocolate, avocados, mangos, cherries.
When you aren’t working, how do you like to spend your time?
Doing fun things with my children, my friends. I practice yoga most days of the week. And I love running. Going to movies, theatre, improv. I love books, stories. Writing. Cooking. Traveling. Trying new things, and discovering new places. I’m always listening to music and / or singing. I wish there was Life is a Musical Day!
What are some of the favorite places to go in your city and why?
- The Baltimore Museum of Art. I live nearby, I can walk there. The sculpture garden there, takes my breath away, I like to sit on a bench and people watch (the greatest acting lesson) or write.
- Camden Yards. I LOVE baseball.
- Chesapeake Shakespeare. I always say WOW when I walk into that theatre space. It truly is the Globe, right here in Baltimore.
- The Pagoda in Patterson Park. What a view of the City!
- Charm City Yoga Midtown and Bikram Yoga Hampden, where I get my energy and flexibility of mind and body.
How do you define success?
Success is being your authentic self. Living your dreams not society’s or another person’s expectations. A successful person does things that makes the world a better place.Success is being your authentic self. Being aware of who you are, what you want, not letting disappointments or failures knock you down, but embracing them to define who you are through creative means.
About Alex Hewett
Alex Hewett grew up in South River New Jersey. She is a mother of two amazing sons. She is an only child. She is an actor and teaching artist living in Baltimore. Her last television role was the lead in the Investigation Discovery series, Kidnapped, House of Horrors. Her 2014 Baltimore 48 hour film team won the Best Acting award for the film “What Does it Matter.” She is a storyteller and has performed in Mortified, NYC, DC and Baltimore, and is a producer / story consultant. As well as Stoop Stories in Baltimore and DC Story League. She is a teaching artist with Chesapeake Shakespeare, and The New Century School in Fells Point. She teaches theatre, improv and writing at Sheppard Pratt Hospital as a creative therapy to children and adults. She is a yogi and prefers not having her feet planted on the ground, upside down is so much better.