Interview with Bee Hyland
Beth Hyland is an actress, costume designer, and podcaster. Born in Wiesbaden, Germany, she now resides in Detroit, Michigan. Over the years, Beth has dabbled in many different art forms, including costume design, poetry, writing, and podcasting. Currently, she co-hosts a number of shows including Deep Lore and Is This Podcast a Jojo Reference. She has also given a voice to characters, such as Helga from The Tales of Fault and she plays the Faerie Godmother at the Michigan Renaissance Festival. When she is not talking into a microphone, she is plotting her next D&D campaign and thinking way too hard about children’s cartoons.
Were you always a fan of audio dramas, old-time radio plays?
Not always. Like most bratty kids, I thought old things were boring and I’d rather listen to Backstreet Boys and play video games. Now, apparently, kids are much cooler than I was and appreciate classic media in ways I never did. I thank the internet for that. It’s the best way to share art through the generations.
What inspired you to be a Costume designer and an actress?
The theater is something I’ve loved from a very young age. Some of my first memories are of watching musicals and plays with my mother. She loves theater and really pushed me to follow my passion for the arts.
Costume design, on the other hand, is something I sort of fell into. My grandmother was a very talented seamstress and I learned everything from her. With an interest in theater, designing and creating costumes was sort of the next logical step.
You also write and produce podcasts. What inspired you to move to those creative avenues?
Writing is something I picked up in grade school, but it wasn’t always easy. Learning to read and write was a huge challenge, due to my dyslexia. Thankfully, I had an absolutely wonderful support network who worked with me to overcome.
I found that while spelling wasn’t exactly easy for me, I had a knack for creative writing and poetry. I loved to tell stories.
My podcasts are something I started doing as a hobby. I’ve had so many people jokingly tell me I should make one for years that, honestly, I started doing them just so I could say I did it. Then I started to take it seriously and dedicate real time and effort into my episodes. It’s been so fun.
We began work on Deep Lore after my husband and I watched Avatar: The Last Airbender all the way through for the third time and realized that we were pausing the show every ten minutes so we could talk about details that we noticed about the background art, character arcs, dialog, etc. It’s what we always do when we watch a show together—get way too into it and examine every second. Especially children’s cartoons.
Do you think your environment, where you live, has an effect on the type of art you produce?
Absolutely. Detroit is a city that never quits. Every corner is lively and full of color and culture. For a long time, it’s had this negative reputation, but ask anyone who lives here and the thing they will always talk about, guaranteed, is the art. Music is huge here. In the summer, the city is full of it. Motown artists, rappers, rock stars. So many of the famous musicians you hear on the radio started in Detroit.
And that’s not even covering the incredible street art you will find on every square inch of downtown.
Detroit is where art begins. Detroit is where flowers bloom from the cracks and thrive. It’s a city that has taught me to be resilient and stubborn and keep climbing.
Which category of your art comes naturally?
To be honest, none of it just comes naturally to me. It’s taken years of being bad at something to become kind-of-okayish at it. I had many ill-fitting dresses made before I was at a place to make costumes for actual shows. I had a lot of failed auditions before I got on stage. I’ve been told countless times that my voice isn’t any good, so I started practicing with my podcasts.
Resilience and just being too stubborn to give up, I guess, is my real natural talent.
Is it easier for you to create if given an assignment or does it get in the way of your creativity?
I always aced extra credit in school but often slacked on my assignments. Personally. I prefer to create on my own terms, but if it is a project that I am passionate about, there is nothing that could keep me from giving 100%.
I think to a degree, however, I need structure. I need someone to give me a deadline. I need those less than exciting projects to keep me grounded and focused.
What long-term goals do you have?
Long term, I would like to use my voice creatively full time. I’ve been a fan of radio for years and would love to lend my voice to a station. If things went well, my ultimate goal would be to voice a character on a cartoon series. Animation is a great love of mine and I would love to contribute creatively to one. I daydream about voicing a character that people cosplay, and kids dress up as for Halloween. That would be the best.
I’ve also had a story in my head that I need to get out before it drives me insane.
What is a piece of art are you most proud of?
Besides my podcasts?
My writing. I love being able to weave a story and pull emotion out of my reader. I’ve had people email me to say my story kept them up at night, or a particularly pleasant character interaction made their day.
What was the oddest thing you’ve ever been asked to create? (Voiceover, costume, or write).
I was once asked to write an erotic story involving two underage brothers from a cartoon. They offered to pay me a significant amount of money.
I declined, not because I am against writing erotica. It was mostly the underage incest thing. I can do weird, but I do draw the line somewhere.
What projects are you working on now?
A while ago I set myself a huge challenge, writing-wise, because that sort of thing is fun for me. I would write chunks of it, then forget about it for months while I’d travel or whatever. Then when the pandemic hit, I started to work on it daily, and now I’m close to finishing it. It’s a seven issue “mini” where each issue is 60 pages long, and soon we’ll see if anybody wants to draw such a thing. But from a writing standpoint it’s been the usual fun.