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Life and Work with Sheena Midori Brevig

Today we’d like to introduce you to Sheena Midori Brevig.

Sheena Midori, please share your story with us. How did you get to where you are today?
Of course! Where I am today is an interesting culmination of my past. In short, I’m a storyteller and advocate with a B.S. in neuroscience. Allow me to explain!

I grew up with a love of dance and music, often putting on little performances for family when I was younger. My father is in the film industry, which gave me a front row seat to the reality behind Hollywood and how it’s really not as glamorous as it’s made out to be. There were many reasons why I steered away from show-biz. I was academically driven, good at the sciences, and with a younger brother with special needs, I wanted to go into the health sciences to study the brain, and therefore had my goals set on becoming a medical doctor.

I attended Tufts University in Boston and received a classic liberal arts education. While my degree was in what they called “biopsychology” I was also interested in global health and had the opportunity to study abroad on a program that took me to India, Argentina, and South Africa. In each country, we looked at how history and culture played into the healthcare system, and the access individuals had to various resources. We were able to live with homestay families and be immersed in the local culture, and through that, I discovered the importance of human connection and the power of storytelling. I also did research cross-culturally. Looking at mental health and the differences between how cultures discussed or didn’t discuss, mental health caught my attention.

After that, I took a narrative and documentary storytelling course and realized that I didn’t want to continue school to become a doctor, but instead needed to see for myself what the world of storytelling held for me. I moved to LA after graduating and began to find my footing as an actor, starring in many short films, national commercials, and discovering I kind of had a knack for it.

During this time, I was struggling a lot with my health. I finally discovered that I’d been coping with mental health issues of chronic stress and anxiety, and finally had the tools to manage it in a healthy manner.

In the last year or so, I’ve stepped into the world of writing and directing, and am even developing a pod-cast around mental health called Happiness Ahead. I also co-founded a company called Empowerhouse, that aims to tell stories that break stigma in order to empower people, particularly those in marginalized groups. This has been a fantastic way for me to combine my two passions of my academic background with my artistic endeavors.

Has it been a smooth road?
It has definitely not been a smooth road! There have been so many layers to why I am where I am today, and I believe I couldn’t have gotten here without all of the ups and downs. I think my biggest challenge, which was as equally rewarding, was actually getting to know myself. Sounds odd, huh. What I mean by that is that I grew up always wanting to please people; my parents, teachers, friends, etc. I never stopped to ask myself what I wanted deep down. I really do love the sciences, and am oh so grateful I got my degree, however, my journey needed to take a different path, and that was hard to admit to myself, feeling like I might disappoint some people by doing so.

Pursuing this work also means dealing with an incredible amount of uncertainty, as you often don’t know where your next paycheck can come from. I’ve found a balance by working side jobs, and for me, at this point in my life, this is what makes me happy and is what I love doing. This will likely evolve as I will, and maybe one day I’ll find myself back in the health sciences, who knows? The point is, for every young woman out there, whatever your dreams are, you have to fight for them if it’s what you really want. If you don’t know what you want to do, get curious, and follow the things that excite you. Either way, the point is to stay true to yourself, and not let the outside noise of others get in the way of you going after your dreams.

So, as you know, we’re impressed with your business – tell our readers more, for example, what you’re most proud of as a company and what sets you apart from others.
As an actor, I’ve starred in various Buzzfeed videos, short films, national commercials, and most recently had a recurring role in NETFLIX’s 13 Reasons Why.

When not acting, much of my work tends to have some underlying social justice through the line. At the beginning of my career, I created a documentary about a therapeutic horseback riding center for those with disabilities in western Massachusetts. Recently, I directed and produced a fun pop-music video for the upcoming artist Torrey Mercer, called Boys/Girls, that’s essentially a bisexual anthem giving the bisexual community more visibility.

I also co-created Empowerhouse which definitely is built upon advocacy through art and community events. My co-creator and I identify as queer women of color who have dealt with various mental health issues, and we wanted to create media with more accurate representations of these communities we are a part of. We are currently developing a web series called CRAZY that is a drama-comedy about mental health. Through the art of storytelling, we want to make an impact on society and create a movement to give a voice to communities that often get silenced.

Are there any apps, books, podcasts or other resources that you’ve benefited from using?
Oh my goodness, if you know me, I always have some podcast, TED talk, or book I’m raving about. I absolutely love Brené Brown and all of her books as well as Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic. Big Magic is just a fantastic feel-good book that talks about how we all should live creative lives regardless of your career or lifestyle. For people interested in anxiety and psychology, the book Emotional Agility by Susan David really helped me understand my own anxiety and anxious behaviors a lot better.

All three authors have incredible TED talks. I love anything where I can continue to learn about the brain and human behavior, so I’ll find myself binging TED talks the way people watch Youtube.

I recently have been listening to the podcast Bad With Money by Gaby Dunn, which answers all the basic financial questions you never even knew you needed to ask. Even as someone who is “okay with money” I’ve learned a ton, not only about money, but about the inherent sexism and racism in the way our country and society deals with money – it’s disheartening at times, but all the more reason to fight for equality.

Contact Info:

  • Website: www.sheenamidori.com
  • Email: sheena@empowerhouse.co
  • Instagram: @sheenamidori
  • Twitter: @sheenamidori

Getting in touch: VoyageLA is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you know someone who deserves recognition please let us know here.

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