Episode 6: Heather Donnell

How can I accept a limited definable self, when I feel, in me, all possibilities?

"When you love something, it's firing every creative cell in your body."

Heather Donnell, Film Director, Writer, Yoga Instructor, on following your passions responsibly and wisely

Heather Donnell is a woman of many possibilities- technical writer in her day job, filmmaker in the rest of her life and a yoga instructor to keep sanity and to share that joy with others.  She is a mid-west girl of Korean descent who was adopted at the age of 6 months by Caucasian parents.  In all aspects of her life, Heather doesn’t let her race or her job dictate her entire being.  They are merely facets of her identity.  One constant thing that she is fueled by is creativity even when it comes at the expense of sleep.  Heather’s philosophy is "when you love something it’s firing every creative cell in your body, even if its work". 

Heather wrote, directed and produced her film, Mom, Murder and Me, which was an official selection of several film festivals, including the California Independent Film Festival, Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival and the Bahamas International Film Festival.  In January 2015, the film was nominated for best feature film and Heather was nominated for best director.  

he recent Academy Awards shed light on an important issue of the lack of diversity in Hollywood.  This is a bigger issue for women directors’ especially Asian female directors.  This is an experience that Heather is all too familiar with and one that she talks about during the podcast interview.     

Podcast Details

Find out from the podcast how Heather:

  • Adapted to life in a small mid-west town as an Asian minority girl including having to drive 20 miles to the closest movie theater.
  • Started screen writing in the third grade with her first production of a Thanksgiving play.
  • Had a strong work ethic from the age of 16 which carried through in her professional career.
  • Broke free from her small town including deciding for the first time in her life she could be the person who she wants to be.
  • Pursued screen writing and film direction while doing her day job as a technical writer.
  • Advises anyone pursuing their passion to “pursue it wholeheartedly and to be responsible for yourself”. 
  • Overcame barriers for female directors including securing financing through “buying” her own movie and proving herself against the stereotype of the meek and mild “Geisha” profile.
  • Gets through rejection with lots of yoga and following a philosophy of “you are the sky and everything else is the weather”.

Heather is a treasure trove of talent, who continues to stretch herself against all odds.  Heather's strategy for following your passions responsibly and wisely is something that everyone can learn from.  If you want advice in how you can follow your dreams, listen to this podcast! 

About Heather

Heather Donnell is a technical writer, screen writer/director/producer, and yoga instructor. Heather is working on her next two scripts and is seeking financing for her next feature film.  

To learn more about Heather, check out the blog post Big Brains, Small Budgets.