Rising Star Heather Burwell On The Five Things You Need To Shine In The Entertainment Industry

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As a creative, I recommend spending as much time in nature as possible. Even for just a ten-minute spurt outside — looking at green grass, up at the clouds, breathing the fresh air. Little things like that can be invigorating and super healing to help revive you and ward against burnout.

We had the pleasure to interview Heather Burwell. Heather is an author, singer, actress, model and chaplain. Her latest book, “Grief Doesn’t Do Math” reveals her unpredictable journey of unexpected life tragedy and shares encouraging words from a personal perspective and those who have traveled along the same path. The young author put pen to paper to write her first inspirational book, titled “Undeniable Presence: I Don’t Know Where God Is Not” (released in 2019). Heather shares words of comfort and meaningful, uplifting insight to those at the most critical time in their winter season.

Burwell launched her music career in early 2000 as a member of the Nashville children’s choir, “Kids Connection” (10 years). She toured with Sandi Patty, was support act for Gary Morris and Randy Travis, and sang backup with Tanya Tucker at Nashville’s most notable venues — Grand Ole Opry and Bridgestone Arena. Burwell sang on projects with Michael W. Smith, Steven Curtis Chapman, Steve Green, Larnelle Harris, Dolly Parton and Alabama. Working alongside legendary, award-winning producer Jerry Crutchfield (of Glen Campbell, Lee Greenwood, Tanya Tucker fame), Heather recorded and released two independent recording projects. She made her debut with her self-titled EP in 2012 and followed with two singles “Beginning To See The Light (Heather Holland/2020) and “I Don’t Know Where God Is Not” (Heather Holland/2020).

As an actress, Burwell has appeared in lead roles in film and television (including “Homicide Hunter: Lt. Joe Kenda”/ Discovery Channel • “Snapped”/Oxygen • “Murder Comes To Town”/ Discovery Channel), music videos [“Addict’s Knot” (Nicky James) • “I Believe It Now” (Sidewalk Prophets)] as well as various corporate advertising campaigns (Dollar General • ServPro • First Tennessee Bank, among others).

Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

As a child and through my teens, I was into “all-things creative.” I wrote plays, songs and music, played violin and piano, and was a professional studio singer. My love for the arts has been my muse throughout my entire life and shaped my career path.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

Whether music, songs, poetry or stories, writing has always been in my marrow. When I was at Vanderbilt studying for my master’s, I chose to write my thesis on my experience with grief. That thesis led me to publish my new book, “Grief Doesn’t Do Math.” It was not only a great exercise and task in strengthening my writing skills, but especially therapeutic.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

In the writing of the book (“Grief Doesn’t Do Math”), I spoke with many friends and colleagues who shared their personal grief stories — which are highlighted throughout the book. That took courage and vulnerability. Their personal reflections make the content much more relatable and emotionally intriguing for readers. I’m so grateful for their voices and truths.

It has been said that mistakes can be our greatest teachers. Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

The funniest mistake continues to this day! HA! I am pitiful when it comes to technology; and my editors can attest. I sent the first manuscript in various formats (some in word, some in pdf format) with entire sections omitted. I still don’t know what I’m doing wrong; “Pages” is all I know. I really need 24/7 tech support at my side. Thankfully, my husband is an IT specialist!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I’m writing a book of essays about falling in love with my husband and subsequently marrying him during the pandemic. My son and I are also working together to write a children’s book. Both have been fun and fulfilling.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

Diversity represented in film and television is absolutely crucial. Thankfully, progress is being made in all facets of the entertainment sector where we see actors and actresses, performers and entertainers, from all walks of life leading the forefront. Of course, there is always more work to be done; but the entertainment landscape has changed dramatically since I was a teen. I believe, and hope, diversity representation helps open minds, and lends to greater acceptance of others. The world needs more love and acceptance, always.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.

5 things I wish someone told or taught me when I started

1) Learn how to use computers and the functionality. HA!

2) Learning to navigate when to share something and when to hold back.

3) Even when it’s scary…JUMP! It’s always worth it.

4) Don’t expect publishers or producers or labels to chase you down; you have to do the work.

5) Doubts are okay; but don’t stay in that place of doubt. Let it pass like a leaf on water and continue to believe.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

As a creative, I recommend spending as much time in nature as possible. Even for just a ten-minute spurt outside — looking at green grass, up at the clouds, breathing the fresh air. Little things like that can be invigorating and super healing to help revive you and ward against burnout.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

Well, my goal with this book (“Grief Doesn’t Do Math”) is to inspire a much wider lens on grief beyond the so-called renowned five stages. I really want to encourage readers to look at grief from 10,000 feet away, from his/her own view and individual circumstances, rather than though a pinhole. …To give the grief process back to the individual to work through as they see fit, as they choose.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My husband, Lewis, has been my rock; his love and devotion, support and encouragement truly make me feel like my creativity has no boundaries. Before him, I had a shaky foundation. He is my lighthouse and captain too, and, in the meantime, he’s not afraid to let me lead either. He’s secure in himself, which affects me via osmosis. We are a great blend. My joke is: “He’s more the Banker; I’m more Bonnaroo!”

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

I’m inspired by this quote from Eleanor Roosevelt: “Do what you feel in your heart to be right for you’ll be criticized anyway.” Being authentic and true to myself is my only option. That’s what I hope I am instilling in my little boy…to be himself — unapologetically.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

To be honest, I’d love to share this book and idea of grief with several folks who have opened up and shared their losses publically. The first who come to mind are Prince Harry, Sheryl Sandberg, Joe Biden and Oprah Winfrey.

How can our readers follow you online?





This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!

Thank you for having me Authority Mag!

Rising Star Heather Burwell On The Five Things You Need To Shine In The Entertainment Industry was originally published in Authority Magazine on Medium, where people are continuing the conversation by highlighting and responding to this story.