This article originally appeared in the spring 2010 Harker Quarterly.
Colin Dickey MS ’91 holds an M.F.A degree from the California Institute of the Arts and is finishing a Ph.D. in comparative literature at the University of Southern California. He resides in Los Angeles and is the author of “Cranioklepty: Grave Robbing and the Search for Genius.”
Emma Hawley ’04 studied acting at the University of California at Los Angeles and graduated valedictorian in 2008. Since then she has performed improvisational comedy, sung professionally, signed with a commercial agent and has appeared in two commercials for Jack in the Box. She lives in Los Angeles, where she continues looking into lead roles in voiceovers and theatrical productions.
Q: When you were at Harker, did you dream of doing what you do now?
A: Colin Dickey: Absolutely. I really developed a love of reading through Sylvia Harp’s literature classes in seventh and eighth grades. And the first story I ever wrote was a western that was based on all of my best friends at Harker.
A: Emma Hawley: While at Harker I knew I was going to pursue acting and a creative career – and I am.
Q: What do you find most exciting about your career or current project?
A: CD: I love working with words: seeing how a sentence can be put together, thinking of the way words sound and how they look on the page, and developing a sense of music and rhythm through writing.
A: EH: I love this opportunity to collaborate with talented, tenacious, conscious beings.
Q: What personal traits make you successful at what you’re doing?
A: CD: I’ve always had an insatiable curiosity, but I’ve also always been more interested in the stories that don’t get told, the things that run counter to the party line, the stuff that nobody knows about but is often hiding in plain sight. That desire to seek out the stuff that isn’t being talked about has been a great asset in terms of my current writing, since it allows me to bring these stories to light.
A: EH: I have an unceasing desire to be more fully myself.
Q: What in your life so far took you the longest time to learn?
A: CD: When to use “that” and when to use “which” correctly in a sentence.
A: EH: I understand a lot less than I think I do, and there is nothing wrong with that.
Q: What’s on the top of your personal and professional “lists” right now?
A: CD: Um, I’m reading a lot of Henry James – does that count? I’m also trying to find a way to try something on “The Thuringian War,” a long poem written by the sixth century German saint Radegund, which I think is incredibly beautiful and which no one I’ve ever met has heard of.
A: EH: The real priority is striking a balance between knowing what I already have going for me, moving through the steps I need to take and opening to the myriad opportunities presenting themselves every day.
Q: Tell us something surprising about yourself.
A: CD: I’m a really big fan of karaoke.
A: EH: I frequently swing on the traveling rings at the original Santa Monica Muscle Beach.
Q: What advice do you have for current Harker students?
A: CD: Have a healthy, positive relationship to failure. The more you can let yourself be okay with failure, the more risks you’ll take, and the more you can achieve. Failing at great things is always better than doing mediocre things.
A: EH: Learn to balance your head with your heart and your gut. Gratitude is your best friend. Stillness is underrated. Play more.