Akisha Holland is another professional I have had the pleasure of having a conversation with. She is an active model, actress, writer, and a teacher. According to her teaching ratings, a pretty well liked one at that. After emailing with her back and forth, I can understand why. She is very professional, but also very interesting. It was a pleasure corresponding with her and interviewing her. Check out our interview below. Her answers are in bold.
I ask this question a lot, but my readers are curious, where do you call your hometown?
My hometown is Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. However, my parents swapped houses with my aunt twice in Abington, PA (a suburban area outside of Philadelphia), so I consider both of those places my hometown.
You are a model and an actress, did you act in any High School plays? If so, what’s a favorite role you had?
No, I never acted in any of my high school’s plays; however, I was a paid extra in Oprah Winfrey’s movie ‘Beloved’ during high school. On set, I met a handful of actors and actresses during that time and received advice about the entertainment industry from people, including Oprah Winfrey, Danny Glover, Kimberly Elise and Irma Hall. I also, modeled in a fashion show at my high school.
You studied English Language and Literature and went to get a Master’s degree in Creative Writing, what kind of things do you like to write about? Do you lean more fiction or nonfiction?
I like to write scripts for sitcoms, children’s books which I’d like to turn into Disney movies, poetry and inspirational books. I lean on both fiction and nonfiction because I use real life people or experiences and blend them into an imaginary world.
I am curious, most writers will tell you they were readers first, what are some of your favorite novels, stories, or authors you like to read?
My favorite novel is Breathe, Eyes, Memory written by Edwidge Danticat. My favorite author is Bebe Moor Campbell. Bebe was not only a best-selling author who was featured on Oprah Winfrey’s talk show, but she was also a very close childhood friend of my mother’s. They were even in a singing group together as kids.
Your profile says you are a scriptwriter. Tell us a little bit about your latest script.
Yes, I am a scriptwriter. The latest full script I wrote was for a new episode of a show that is no longer on the air called “Girlfriends.” My latest script is a comedy drama that focuses on a group of friends with different issues coming together, such as a sex addict, a socially anxious character, a neat freak who is borderline OCD and a “perfectionist” whose life is far from perfect. All four characters meet each other outside of the therapist’s office, then eventually form a bizarre, rare and close friendship.
Tell us, are you planning on publishing a book soon? If so, what is it about?
Yes, I do want to publish my children’s book soon. The book is called Magical Fireflies, and it is a contemporary story set in a forest outside of Philadelphia. The fireflies and a 7-year-old girl, Amayah, are the heroes whose quest is to find her parents after getting lost in the forest with her younger siblings.
In college, did you act in any plays? Do you have an interesting story about a college performance?
I never acted in any plays in college; however, I performed and sang in a concert my friends and I put on at my college, Temple University.
As an actress, who are you influences?
As an actress, my influences are Angela Bassett and Keri Washington.
What would you consider yours acting style? Are you Shakespearean, Method, Classical, something else?
I believe my acting style is Shakespearean.
What role has been your favorite so far?
I do not believe I’ve acted my favorite role, yet.
You are also a vocalist. What kind of music do you like to perform?
Yes, I am a vocalist. I like to perform R&B, gospel, and pop songs.
Who are some of your favorite singers?
My favorite singers are Beyonce, Tamar Braxton and Whitney Houston.
What is in your CD player right now?
I do not own a CD player, but Beyonce, Tamar Braxton, Daya and a host of other artists are in my iTunes playlist.
Aside from modeling, acting, writing, and singing, you are also in academia. What classes do you teach?
Yes, I teach remedial-level English, college-level English (English 101), and English 102. I’ve taught at a number of different schools, such as: Grand Canyon University, Widener University, Penn State Abington and number of different community colleges in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Arizona.
Is there a particular topic you enjoy covering the most?
I enjoy covering topics that matter the most. I’m a very compassionate individual, and I care about the well-being of humanity and pets. I, also, take a different approach when I am covering someone in the entertainment industry. Because I care wholeheartedly about the individual, I report from a humanistic standpoint, not a gossiping standpoint.
I have to ask, what is your students’ reaction when they find that their teacher is also an actress and model?
Some students can be a little flirtatious in the beginning; however, they soon find out that I’m only about business and about teaching them the importance of communication through the written English language. I always stress to them that their voice is important, and it needs to be heard.
Was there a mentor in your life that encouraged you and helped you move forward?
The only mentors I had in my life were my mother and father. They taught me well and encouraged me to always have a positive outlook on life. My father always told me that the world was my oyster. With that in that back of my mind, I always believed that I could do anything I put my mind to.
As a woman of color, have you ever experienced push back against what you were trying to accomplish? How did you overcome it?
As a woman of color, I am always pushed back against something I’m trying to accomplish, but I will never give up. I overcome it by remaining persistent, determined and driven.
You are a professional woman who is active in several different businesses with many accomplishments, what words of advice would you give young women who are just starting out?
The advice I’d give to women who are just starting out is: 1) Trust your instincts. If God placed a dream or vision in your heart, He will give you the ability to see it through to it fruition. 2) Do not doubt yourself or second guess yourself. You are more than enough, and you are able to rise above the challenge and come out stronger than ever. 3) Be goal-driven. Finish what you start and finish well. Remain persistent, determined and driven and you will succeed.
One final question, what inspires you when you work? Whether teaching, writing, acting, or modeling, where do you find your inspiration?
The fact that I was given these talents alone inspires me. It is a blessing to have these talents and to be able to actually inspire others through teaching, writing, acting and modeling. I believe we all have gifts that we should not take for granted. We, however, should use these gifts to inspire and encourage others to be and live better because our actions and teaching will affect future generations one way or another, and I’d like them to be affected positively.
That concluded our interview. I hope you enjoyed this interview as much as I did going through her intriguing responses. It is very rare to meet someone so talented. Be sure to check out her work if you get the chance. Follow her on Twitter @AkishaHolland to see her updates.
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