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Interview: Holly Macejak – Actress, Artist & Podcaster

Holly Macejak is an artist, a performer, and a podcaster. But she’s also a mom and holds the day job like the rest of us. She’s been part of the online social media horror community for so many years. Her artwork is amazing, and she is an amazing performer on the stage. She’s even driven across the country to participate in conventions about one of her favorite productions, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. But now she’s doing a podcast that discusses so many interesting things. Let’s learn more about her.

Dark Discussions News Network: Thanks for your interest in being interviewed. Why don’t you tell us a little about yourself and what you do.

Holly Macejak: Thank you for the opportunity! I am an artist and performer from Chicago and have been a horror fan for as long as I can remember. I was adopted as a child and recently had the opportunity to meet my birth family and I found out that they’re all horror fans! We interviewed my birth sister on the podcast last month, she is a special effects make-up artist. This love of horror definitely runs in the family! My parents also helped foster my love of weird things in the most supportive way they could, even if they didn’t understand my passion. I love being a mom, I have two awesome kids who currently make it difficult to watch something that isn’t their favorite movie over and over and over…But I have a great time introducing them to all of the kid friendly horror I grew up with.

Dark Discussions News Network: I know a lot of folks aren’t able to do their passion as a full time job. Many have to work a day job to pay the bills. So to put this into two questions, how long have you been around? And are you able to do it full time?

Holly Macejak: Oh, how I wish I could get paid for any of this! I have been podcasting for about three years but I have been an artist and performer my whole life. Unfortunately, I still need a day job despite what my dad always said about deserving to get paid for my art. I find ways to incorprate my artistic expression into my everyday; I use my fashion and make-up as a way to be expressive. If that’s the only way to get some art into my day, I’ll take it.

Dark Discussions News Network: What made you get into both horror? Were you always into horror movies and thrillers? Or just into monsters in general?

Holly Macejak: I have never shied away from scary or dark things. Quite the opposite, I’ve always been intrigued and hungry to seek out more. My dad was a big influence in teaching me about things he grew up with and were fun for him. He had such a fun, silly sense of humor (that definitely rubbed off on me) so Saturday nights were for watching The Three Stooges and Svengoolie (local horror host). I was learning to have fun with horror and appreciate the things that scared my dad when he was my age. Horror didn’t have to be the scary thing that had to be hidden because I wasn’t “old enough;” it became something to bond over.

Dark Discussions News Network: So do you dabble in other genres too such as science fiction, fantasy, thrillers, mystery, or grand guignol?

Holly Macejak: Fantasy has always been the other genre that I have gravitated toward the most. If anyone remember the “Book It” program from Pizza Hut, I was always reporting on stories of mythology, legends, monsters, lore, etc. I found that horror and fantasy have a lot of crossover so how could I not love it? In all of my reading, I found that I enjoy historical fantasy with the legend of King Arthur being my favorite. Movies like Willow, The Neverending Story, The Lion, the Witch, & the Wardrobe, and The Mists of Avalon were always in a heavy rotation for me. Fantasy is another way that I love bonding with my kids. I love teaching them about dragons and magic and seeing what their imaginations can do.

Dark Discussions News Network: Have you worked with any major companies or semi-famous “artists” in any type of media that you do?

Holly Macejak: The independent and foreign film distributor, Music Box Films, is located in Chicago. Their theatre, The Music Box Theatre, is home to my Rocky Horror Picture Show shadowcast. Every month we host a midnight viewing of The Rocky Horror Picture Show, complete with audience participation and throwing props, and act it out on stage in front of the screen. Sometimes the theatre will hold an event prior to our show and we may run int a celebrity here or there. Most recently, Nell Campbell (Columbia of RHPS) was invited to do an autograph/photo session and on-stage interview, that was really special for us. We love The Music Box so much, we’re proud to call it the home of our cast and to be part of something that is steeped in so much history.

Dark Discussions News Network: Was there any specific thing as a child or teenager (things like a movie, a horror author, a horror monster) that affected you and turned you into focusing on a specific subject?

Holly Macejak: Frankenstein was the biggest influence for me. I saw the Universal monster movies when I was young, they were something that I always caught snippets of around Halloween. Frankenstein was the first horror movie that made me cry with such intense emotion attached to it. I connected to that deep sense of sadness that the creature carried. I learned about Mary Shelley and read the book and I kept falling in love with her story. I even named my son after the good doctor.

Dark Discussions News Network: Okay, so you mentioned Universal and Frankenstein, what are some of your other favorite horror movies and why?

Holly Macejak: My favorites list if always in a state of flux but I feel confident naming my top three: Rosemary’s Baby, Candyman, and Scream. Rosemary’s Baby was the first more artistic horror movie I had seen. I was captivated by how unsettling something can be without blood and gore and how I could be so affected and not even be able to explain why. I learned that horror doesn’t have to be formulaic and can have layers and complex chaaracters. Plus it was made in the late 60s and has to do with Satanism so of course I’m all in. Candyman was the first intense horror movie I remember being exposed to. I was about 7 or 8 and came in during one of the bloodier scenes. Instead of being scared, I was curious and wanted to learn more. Scream felt like something fresh while still holding onto the history of slashers. I was fortunate enough to live by a small, independent rental store and was able to rent horror by myself. I saw a lot of bad movies so Scream was that burst of excitement that kept my love growing.

Dark Discussions News Network: And what about books? Do you have a favorite horror book/author?

Holly Macejak: There are so many! As a child I was reading Roald Dahl, Alvin Schwartz, R.L. Stine, and C.S. Lewis. The Harry Potter series was and still continues to be a huge influence on me. I was fortunate enough to be at the age where I was growing up with the characters of that world while the books were being released. I have had clinical depression for a long time and the Harry Potter series gave me characters to connect with to help me navigate those feelings at such a young age. As for adult horror I enjoy Jack Ketchum, Brom, Stephen King, and Clive Barker is my favorite. His visceral, hunting descriptions really stuck with me. I love watching interviews with him, his creative brain is fascinating and beautiful.

Dark Discussions News Network: Nice, I love you mentioned Roald Dahl and C.S. Lewis especially. Folks seem to forget them since they are more mystical realism and yet have so much scary elements too. Well done. On another note, even though you are a distinct artist, actress, and podcaster with your own techniques and your own visions, were there any individuals in the genre that influenced your work and the path you took to be who you are today as an artist, actress, and podcaster?

Holly Macejak: Tim Burton has always been someone that I have admired. I can be very hard on myself and get caught in self-doubt, especially about my art. I spent so much time agonizing over making something that was “perfect” and even then I would still doubt myself. Seeing his personal art gave me confidence to find my own style and be proud of my creations. I have come to enjoy drawing portraits of characters from movies or TV and taking them to conventions to be signed. It’s much more personal of an item to walk away with and I have some good conversations because of them!

Dark Discussions News Network: Burton is a perfect answer I think. Anyone who’s into Rocky Horror would most likely have their interests follow over to Tim Burton and his movies. How about telling us a little about some of your other past projects that would be of interest to speculative fiction and horror fans?

Holly Macejak: The cast that I’m part of has also put on shadowcast productions of Little Shop of Horrors and Clue where I played Audrey and Mrs. White. The Music Box theatre is such a beautiful building; it was built in 1929 (it even has a ghost!) and it’s still going strong. We’re always looking to do productions other than Rocky Horror to shadowcast so that we can spend more time there and expand our audience. We are very grateful to have had such amazing audiences, especially around Halloween. Over the past 5 or so years, we have consistently sold out of 4-5 shows around Halloween weekend. It’s truly a feat of endurance that makes me wonder why I do this every year but nothing comparres to a theatre full of 700 people all ready to be entertained by you. The most special moment to me during those shows is playing Janet and seeing nearly everyone holding up glowsticks during “There’s A Light” while I perform in the aisles. If you’re ever in Chicago be sure to see Midnight Madness, we host a great party!

Dark Discussions News Network: To be truthful, I’d love to checkout Midnight Madness. Marked down on my “to do” list. There are all sorts of folks. with various types of styles. Are you very much a chameleon in what you do or do you prefer to focus on a specific subject or specific talent you have.

Holly Macejak: I would say that I am a chameleon in that I like to keep myself open to trying new things and new ways to experience things. Being a mom has allowed me to give myself space to go out of my comfort zone. I’m always telling them to try new things, how else will they know if they like it? I have to be a good example and I’m not shy about expressing when I’m frustrated or I didn’t do as well as I had hoped. I can be extremely self-conscious about myself and I feel like my children have helped me relax and be ok with making mistakes.

Dark Discussions News Network: Do you ever do conventions where folks can meet you in person. If so, any specific examples of how it was to meet fellow genre fans.

Holly Macejak: Yes, I love going to conventions! I did have a booth a while ago where I was selling my art. I was not as prepared as I would have like to have been and it was blow to my ego but it was a wonderful learning experience. My co-hosts and I have only ever worked together virtually so I have a goal to FINALLY meet them and have a booth at a convention. I’m always going to conventions in Chicago with my family so be sure to come find me and say hi!

Dark Discussions News Network: Okay, so Frankenstein is a top choice, but are some of your other horror villain or monster?

Holly Macejak: Oh, Phil this is a tough one! I can say with certainty that I have the most fun with Chucky. I fell in love with Brad Dourif very easily, he is such a talented actor and his voice as Chucky makes them so much more fun. Those movies have always been such a source of silly fun for me. My dad would go to flea markets all the time to look for collectables and he was always trying to find me a Chucky doll.

Dark Discussions News Network: So where can folks find you, online, at conventions, social media? Let’s have it.

Holly Macejak: You can find me on Instagram at beyond_the_screams_podcast and divinely_macabre, on Facebook look for Beyond the Scream Podcast to join our group page, our website is www.beyondthescreams.com. If you’re interested in following my cast you can find us at mmrhps on Instagram, Midnight Madness RHPS – Purveyors of Deviance and Bad Ideas on Facebook, and also at www.chicagorockyhorror.com.

Dark Discussions News Network: Lastly, is their any other information you want to let readers know about – upcoming things, movie work, a filmography/bibliography, etc.

Holly Macejak: Beyond the Screams is hosting a free virtual variety event on March 19th celebrating Leprechaun and other mythological beings. We will have stories, music, burlesque, commercials, giveaways, and more! Go to our website to register and get more information on what we have planned! We held a virtual even back in November to celebrate Friday the 13th and we had a ton of fun putting it together. We love collaborating with other horror creators and spreading the fun and love of horror.

Dark Discussions News Network: Thanks again for joining us, Holly, and folks should check out your podcast for sure (Beyond the Screams Podcast can even be found on the Dark Discussions News Network.) Sorry we missed you in Mystic, Connecticut during our yearly meet up in 2019. Hope when we can reschedule these events going forward after COVID, you can join us.

Holly Macejak: Absolutely! It would be great to see everyone in person for the first time. Take care.

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