We had the good fortune of connecting with Paula Friedland and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Paula, Let’s talk about principles and values – what matters to you most?
Since i was a kid, i think you could say that “authenticity” was one of the most important things. I didn’t necessarily have the word for it at the time, but i just know i couldn’t stand when people were fake, or surface level or dishonest. Superficiality was like Kryptonite to me, and still is. First of all, i like to know where i stand; and if someone is not authentic in their interactions with me, i feel off center, and i don’t feel i can trust them. I would always rather have someone be brutally honest than to sugar coat something. That is why i chose to go to New York City rather than Los Angeles, because New Yorkers (both those in “show business” and those you would encounter in daily life) will tell you to your face how they feel. Secondly, i value deep conversation about what really matters in the world,;and when people are superficial, it just feels like a waste of precious time, and is also just plain boring to me.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I have been a singer/actor my whole life. I sung through high school, then majored in music with a minor in theater at University, and then went straight to New York City to pursue a career in musical theater–i was a man on a mission for sure. I think my biggest love, and the thing i pride myself on the most, is the ability to interpret (act) a song. That’s the juiciest thing for me, whether it’s a comedic song or a gut wrenching one. But the life of an actor is a roller coaster, and that was certainly true for my career.; the highs were high and the lows were low. But i had some of the best experiences of my life during that period too, including 3 European tours of the musical, HAIR. The hardest thing about being an artist, is that you have to bear your soul in your work, but you have to have the skin of an alligator to deal with the business side, the competition, the rejection the politics, etc. I no longer make my living as a performer, but it is a huge part of my soul, so i still perform now–but on my own terms,. I’ve written a one-woman show about aging, called, “Aging: the Musical”, and have co-written 3 musical revues, using all songs of the great composer, Stephen Sondheim. The other way that art still plays out in my life, and how i use my experiences to help others, is in my current career as a lifecoach, counselor, and corporate trainer. I have been in this field for over 20 years, and one of the niche areas for me, is coaching artists of all genres, including actors, directors, writers, singers, painters, dancers, etc. I wish i had had a coach all those years in NYC, as it would have helped me to keep my sense of self, and to stay strong in my belief about myself, in the midst of the rejection and disappointment. This is how i now help other artists (as well as folks of all walks of life)– I help them to remember the unique gifts they bring into the world, and champion them to use their special voices in whatever arena they choose to play. I also teach a very powerful and humanistic approach to getting over the fear of public speaking, called, “Soul Speaks”, in which i’m able to use all of my gifts together–the coach, teacher, speaker, performer. I’m currently developing, a new offering, where i bring my own singing into my work with groups, exemplifying how others may also use their own unique voices in their own spheres of interest and influence. I have always been unconventional in many ways, and my life and career path reflect that. As the Sufi poet, Rumi says, “there are a thousand ways to kneel and kiss the ground”.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
The mountains here are one of the most glorious features of this state, so there are several places in the mountains i would take a visitor, But the number one spot would be Red Rocks Amphitheater. Some of the most iconic concerts have taken place there., and it’s just breathtakingly beautiful (I was lucky enough to have my high school graduation there). Other than that, if we are talking “pre-covid”, the itinerary if my friend was visiting, would include The Denver Art Museum, and then afterwards we would eat lunch at Cap City, a cute restaurant that a friend of mine owns, that is right across the street. We would visit several of the best parks too, since there are so many–Washington Park and City Park are my favorites. We would definitely see some theatre here: downtown at the Denver Performing Arts Center, as well as seeing a play in one of the local theatres: something with my friend’s theatre company, And Toto Too,, or one of the other companies. Hanging out downtown, seeing the landmarks like The Capitol, or Union Station, and eating at the dives as well as an upscale dinner or two.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
In 2008, i got a cold, which turned into full blown laryngitis. I am a singer, and was working on a show at the time, and had to cancel, until my voice came back. Well, my speaking voice eventually came back, but my singing voice did not. I ended up with an extremely distorted, untenable sound through much of my range. Turned out the virus weakened the nerves in the vocal cords so they couldn’t meet. I went through a dark night of the soul, trying to recover my voice. Nothing helped. But then i met Kate Emerich, who is a voice coach, singing teacher and scientist, who specializes in rehabbing injured voices. She has stuck with me for 12 years, never giving up on me, and always believing that i could recover my voice. Long story short, my voice has never completely returned; but it has gotten better, to the point where i can at least partially sing. That is because of Kate. She worked with me extensively, and would cry with me through whole lessons sometimes. So my shoutout is dedicated to her–my voice angel.