Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Angela O’Neill. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Angela, thanks for joining us, excited to have you contributing your stories and insights. We’d love to hear about when you first realized that you wanted to pursue a creative path professionally.
If you were to ask my parents when I first started performing they would say the moment I was born. From practicing vocal warm ups as an infant, to entertaining the family at the dinner table, or perhaps one of the stories heard most, deciding as a flower girl with ballet slippers that the wedding was actually a dance recital. When I look back at when I first grew a love for storytelling it too goes back to my childhood. As a little girl my mom would read Bible stories to me every night, I soaked them in as she would read. These were the beginning moments of my faith and love of stories. When I became old enough to read, the storyteller shifted because I wanted to tell the stories. In all honesty, I haven’t stopped telling stories since.
I can look back and see the road traveled to where I am now, and see how God used each moment to shape me into who I am as storyteller. As a 10 year old in her first production of Charlotte’s Web, as a black sheep on the farm, I began a performing arts journey. What at first glance was a fun moment as a kid would eventually turn into a lifelong passion and purpose
For me, my years in college became pivotal in shaping me as a person, both personally and professionally. During my undergraduate years at California Baptist University I studied with amazing professors who cared, played my dream role of Marian the Librarian in The Music Man, was on the speech team (not something I would have done on my own, but played a vital role in my development), and began a love for using the arts used to tell people of God’s love! If I look back, I think this was the beginning of shifting my focus from dreams of being on Broadway, though I’d still love that, to dreams of creating and communicating stories for God’s glory!
To play a dream role is just that, a dream! It only solidified a love of performing more. Serving on ministry teams began to open my eyes to performing with a different purpose. Did I know what was stirring in my heart completely then? No! But this began to stir in me a love for using art to glorify God! I am still the same girl, who loves to perform, but the reason I call myself a storyteller is because I love to tell stories in multiple ways. From writing plays, writing content, beginning to write a book, to directing performances, performing, writing and presenting spoken word, or speaking to an audience, each of these are storytelling moments where the purpose is to tell stories for God’s glory.
As. I look back each moment, from the joys of playing a dream role, to the rejection of not getting the part, to the beginning of writing short skits, to writing a musical and seeing it go from page to stage, to being placed on a speech team for a scholarship, to that changing to loving each moment given to speak to an audience; each of these moments were used on my journey as a creative.
Great, appreciate you sharing that with us. Before we ask you to share more of your insights, can you take a moment to introduce yourself and how you got to where you are today to our readers?
I am a storyteller! This seems like such a broad statement, but it truly sums up who I am. Telling stories for God’s glory is what I love to do. This is seen in many different ways.
Storytelling as a speaker, I love speaking to all audiences. Recently this has included women’s retreats, MOPS groups, and various special events. As a speaker I try to bring stories to life and engage with my audience through authenticity and creativity. Some of my favorite moments have included original spoken words either used on their own or to add to another message, or within a message I am giving. Whatever the moment may be, whether encouraging audiences that they have a story that matters, or bringing a Biblical message to life in a different way, it is a joy and honor to speak to audiences, large or small.
Storytelling as a writer. My first play I wrote was for my master’s thesis. I wrote it, graduated, and then it stayed on my shelf safely collecting dust. In this place it was not being used, but it was also safe. Roughly 10 years later I felt it was time to not only bring it to life, but to edit it to be what I had always envisioned it to be, a musical. “In Progress: A New Musical” is a modernization of the classic book “Pilgrim’s Progress”. In 2009 the thesis version was written. In 2018 my writing partners and I began the edits and additions and brought it from page to stage in a summer theatre camp. From that camp the production has been performed several times, including a performance in Kenya. During the pandemic I was able to write and perform for Mariners Church’s online kid’s program. This was a beautiful moment amongst the hard times of the pandemic. Writing included short storylines to help bring the Bible stories to life. In this time a second musical was written all based on the parables of Jesus! Now my writing continues in creative ways, bringing Bible stories to life for online content, and just this week I have begun the journey of writing my first book. Hopefully more news to come on that soon.
Storyteller as an artist. I am an artist through and through. Art has a way of speaking in powerful ways. It starts conversations, it can bring themes and messages to life so beautifully. As an artist, I tell stories in multiple ways, from leading worship or writing songs, to writing and directing performances, to writing and presenting spoken word pieces with a message, or playing a part in a performance. Each of these moments are unique in the art form, each moment is special to be a part of, and the hope is that each moment is used to further the gospel.
So what am I doing with all of this. My hope is to go! To say yes! Whether this is being the speaker at an event, leading worship for a conference, or even consulting and creatively bringing content to organizations, the hope is to go and be a part of each of these types of events. To tell stories for God’s glory.
Is there a mission driving your creative journey?
As a creative, I believe in the power and impact of creativity! I love how an art piece can stir emotions, evoke conversation, and speak a message in a unique way. I’ve said it several times but telling stories for God’s glory is my mission and purpose behind my creative journey. Excellent art for the glory of God! Creating captivating creative moments to spread the gospel.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of being creative in your experience?
As an artist it is both a joy and sometimes a burden. It is a joy to feel and see and dream deeply. The most rewarding moment is when I get to connect with people in the audience and see how the message has left an impact! When I write for kids ministry it is a joy to see kids repeat the themes. The view from the stage when leading worship is one of the most beautiful views ever. To see people wholeheartedly worshiping is breathtaking. Then there are those moments after speaking, when I have the honor of hearing someone’s story and how they were impacted in this moment. These are the moments that are most rewarding! They are priceless! They are incredible! Each moment I hold as a treasure in my heart!