Interview with Penelope Richards - Runner Up in the Quarter 4 2022 WOW! Essay Contest

Sunday, November 20, 2022
Congratulations to all the contestants and winners in the Quarter 4 2022 WOW! Essay  Contest! If you haven't already checked out the impressive list of authors, please head to the WOW! Blog and do so! And now, without further ado - I'd love to tell you more about Penelope Richards!

In 2021, Penelope Richards graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor’s degree in Communication Disorders. Though speech therapy is fulfilling in it’s own way, Penelope’s true passion is the Arts. Almost immediately after graduation, she decided to return to school to pursue her dream of being an actor. She is currently enrolled in KD Conservatory in Dallas, Texas. When not on the stage, at work, or at her desk writing, she loves reading and shopping. Penelope’s work has appeared in 
WOW-Women on WritingInscape Journal, and Wingless Dreamer. Penelope is currently working on a collection of essays about womanhood and feminism. You can find Penelope on Instagram as @Penelope_Richards_Actor.

If you haven't done so already, check out Penelope's essay "Prey" and then return here for a chat with this talented author. 

WOW: Congratulations on placing in the Q4 2022 Creative Nonfiction Contest! I know all the emotions I felt after reading your submission, but what is the take-away you’d like readers to gain from Prey?

Penelope: There are two big take-aways from Prey. First, be careful who you trust. Examine your relationships. Take an objective look at the people in your inner circle. Try to see them without the rose-colored glasses of affection or idealization. Second, be the best ally you can be.


WOW: That's fantastic advice, though incredibly difficult. Thank you for your perspective. What advice would you give to others (specifically female authors) when it comes to self-care?

Penelope: Self-care is not a luxury. Nor is it something you finally earn after killing yourself staying busy for weeks and weeks. Self-care is a necessity, and it takes many forms. Sometimes self-care is the stereotypical bubble bath and facial. Other times it’s quitting your job, going to therapy, or letting yourself be unproductive on a regular basis. I struggle a lot with that last one. If I’m not doing something lucrative with every spare minute of my time, an angry voice inside my brain shouts WORTHLESS! WORTHLESS! YOU ARE WORTHLESS! As hard as it is for me to accept, self-care is acknowledging that my worth doesn’t get lower when I make less money.

Many women struggle with self-care. We, more than any other demographic, are taught to take care of everybody else first and by all means necessary, including by grinding nonstop.

This is propaganda.

The glorification of our suffering is meant to keep us from taking back the power that we deserve. That makes acts of self-care a kind of rebellion. Not just a necessity, but a duty. So, relish in it. Relish in all forms of self-care. For your sake and for women everywhere, take back your life, and make it for you.


WOW: I needed to hear that - I promise I'll take my duty more seriously (or I'll at the very least try). You have an impressive bio- what can you tell us about what inspires you and keeps you so motivated?

PenelopeI like to imagine the ghosts of famous women throughout history cheering me on. Usually it’s Marilyn Monroe, Audrey Hepburn, and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. Sometimes I picture all three of them in my writing space, reading over my shoulder. Other times they are squished together in the backseat of my car during my long morning commute. It’s kind of a weird trick, but it works. Whenever I face an obstacle, I try to imagine what they would tell me to do. More often than not, it gives me clarity.


WOW: Speaking of some of these actresses - let's find out: Who is your favorite author and why?

PenelopeAt the moment, I’m obsessed with Riley Sager. His mystery novels are atmospheric and gripping. I’m not the kind of person who sees a picture in their head as they are reading. I usually just see the words. But when I read his novels, I see the words alongside colors and textures. Survive the Night was midnight blue and cashmere. The Last Time I Lied was hunter green and glassy.

WOW: Thank you so much for your submission, your time, sharing your talents, and for all your insight and wisdom - it truly has been my pleasure. 


 Interviewed by Crystal Otto who just keeps on keeping on!

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