MF 397 : Inspiring individuals: Starr Ridley
Starr Ridley is a poet, writer, actress for stage and screen, and voiceover artist. Today, Starr shares her extraordinary story and words of wisdom for staying the creative course when life throws you curveballs. More at www.bemovingforward.com.
Moving Forward is also available on Apple Podcasts, Stitcher Radio, Google Podcasts, Spotify, and Amazon Music.
Starr grew up in Michigan, the youngest of seven kids. In her words, she "grew up acting, out of the womb!" Because she was the youngest and far apart in years from her elder siblings, Starr learned from an early age to tap into her creative side to keep herself entertained. She describes her childhood as filled with conversations with herself and lots of books; becoming a voracious reader early on. Even then, Starr realized that acting and performing was something she could pursue as a life and career. When teachers asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up, she would answer confidently "I want to be an actress!" As Starr explains, she would imitate characters and voices she saw on TV, finding her groove as a performer while entertaining her family.
"I actually got that bug and that notion at a very early age. It's all I said I ever wanted to do." -Starr Ridley
Because she came from a large family, Starr's declared ambition experienced the full gambit of responses; from those that were supportive to those that tried to dissuade her.
From entertaining friends and family to getting up on stage
As Starr reveals, there was no transition per se from acting in front of friends and family to getting up on stage. For Starr, it was simply a natural progression stemming from her early inclination towards acting and performing. If anything, she continued to discover more gifts within her repertoire. She began reading music, singing, and playing the clarinet. Her mom cultivated her musical talent by putting her in the choir and on stage to perform during Easter celebration programs.
"I've always been on stage." -Starr Ridley
However, while Starr enjoyed performing, she didn't like being forced to sing. She candidly shares that when some kids made fun of her, that put her off from continuing to showcase her musical gifts in front of a crown. That's when Starr made a discovery and shift in the type of stage performance she wanted to do. While singing was not her calling, she felt empowered by the spoken word and was not shy about public speaking. Moreover, as she began to express herself in the written word, Starr found a new love: poetry. She convinced her mom to let her focus on reciting poetry instead of singing.
What inspires Starr creatively
Starr is one of the most fascinating individuals you will meet. She exudes confidence in her voice and yet has an admitted shy side to her. She enjoys performing and yet can be a little timid. However, she's not a contradiction. Rather, Starr is a layered individual who is most comfortable embodying a character or infusing life to a written verse rather than performing as herself. It's this nuance that makes her larger than life yet approachable; a star who is also down to earth. Naturally, I wanted to know what inspires her creatively. Her answer is simple yet powerful.
"Nature and people." -Starr Ridley
Starr describes herself as a spiritual person and in that regard, that's her key to connection with people. This has also allowed her to be in tune with her surroundings, particularly when in nature.
"Everyone was created to be special. They have something to give or to offer." -Starr Ridley
Some unexpected twists and turns
As Starr shares in our conversation, writing and poetry enabled her to reconnect with her performative side. This continued to blossom as she went into high school and acted in nearly every play. For her, the motivation to perform was both an extension of her inclination to entertain but also a newfound desire to convey the truth of a character.
"I need to make you believe I am who I say I am." -Starr Ridley
After high school, Starr was determined to continue her growth as an actress. She attended Hofstra University as a theater major, right in the heart of New York City. However, like the plot twist of a dramatic play, things didn't go quite to plan. The out-of-state tuition proved to be overwhelming and Starr left after her first year. She was undeterred and made the bold decision to move to California and roll the acting dice. Her plan was to gain in-state residency and continue her education while pursuing acting.
Unfortunately, that too didn't go quite to plan and after finding the adjustment to Los Angeles tough and lonely, she decided to return home to Michigan.
Starr's resiliency and determination are ever present as she recounts her story. While many would have been defeated, she took all of her experiences and decided to forge ahead with a new direction. Coming back home to Michigan provided an opportunity for a fresh start. She decided to finish her education, enrolling at a community college. She worked her way to Michigan State where she completed her degree in social science, international studies.
"If I commit to doing something, I just cannot rest until I do it." -Starr Ridley
The best of both worlds
While the new major was a 180-degree turn from studying theater, Starr had come to an important realization. She was already an actress, already a performer, and a creative. Nothing could take that away from her. Thus, changing majors was a way to expand her knowledge and opportunities rather than restricting them. The pivot proved beneficial as it led to a long and lucrative career. Moreover, Starr found opportunities to continue acting and today, does voiceover work for film, television, audiobooks and more. Starr held true to her voice and the creative opportunities came calling for her to use that gift to tell many stories and across multiple mediums.
Starr's journey was neither predictable nor easy. However, despite the setbacks, challenges, and unexpected turns, she has persevered; finding and creating many more successes along the way.
Favorite role or character
Twisted Steel (audiobook), a horror novel by Aaron Hollingsworth, portraying multiple characters.
Lucy Van Pelt, a character she portrayed in a stage production of You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.
Plans for the future
After a long vibrant life performing on stage, Starr is ready to put theatrical productions to rest and focus solely on her voiceover work. Her dream is to perform as a voiceover artist in a Pixar or Disney production.
Advice for those who want to pursue a career in the arts
"Know thyself. Know what you're capable of, what you want to do, what you're not capable of, and what you can become capable of because there's a difference in all of that ... You have to be driven, you can't quit, and it's not going to happen like you think it's going to happen." -Starr Ridley
Starr is truly her namesake, a star, and in more ways than one. For more on this inspiring individual, check out our full conversation.
Check out the video of our interview on Spotify (Spotify app required)
Connect with Starr
My new books on Poshmark are now available on Amazon
Check out the Moving Forward mini-series collection
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