AUTHOR, GLOBAL SPEAKER, ACTRESS, ARTS ENTREPRENEUR… DETOURIST-OF-MANY-TRADES AND LOVER OF STORIES
Amy Oestreicher is an Audie Award-nominated PTSD peer-to-peer specialist, artist, author, writer for The Huffington Post, speaker for TEDx and RAINN, health advocate, award-winning actress, and playwright. As a survivor and “thriver” of multiple traumas, Amy eagerly shares the gifts of life’s “beautiful detours” her educational programming, writing, mixed media art, performance and inspirational speaking. Amy has headlined international conferences on leadership, entrepreneurship, women’s rights, mental health, disability, creativity, and domestic violence prevention. She is a SheSource Expert, a “Top Mental Health” writer for Medium, and a regular lifestyle, wellness, and arts contributor for over 70 notable online and print publications, and and her story has appeared on NBC’s TODAY, CBS, Cosmopolitan, Seventeen Magazine, Washington Post, Good Housekeeping, MSNBC, among others.
To celebrate her own “beautiful detour”, Amy created the #LoveMyDetour campaign, to help others cope in the face of unexpected events. Her passion for inclusion, equity and amplifying marginalized voices has earned her various honors, including a scholarship from the Association for Applied and Therapeutic Humor Professionals, the first annual SHERocks Herstory National Performing Artist Honoree, a United Way Community Helper award, and a National Sexual Education Grant honor. To creatively engage student advocacy efforts, Amy developed a trauma-informed program combining mental health education, sexual assault prevention, and Broadway Theatre for college campuses, organizations and conferences. She has designed a creative curriculum for “Detourist Resiliency,” an outreach program taken to schools, hospitals, and at-risk youth. She also has launched Detourist peer-led chapters on college campuses, Detourist creative arts workshops, and an online community to creatively fight stigma in society through storytelling. “Detourism” is also the subject of her TEDx Talk and upcoming book, My Beautiful Detour, available December 2017.
As the 2014 Eastern Regional Recipient of Convatec’s Great Comebacks Award and WEGO Health 2016 “Health Activist Hero” Finalist, and WeGO Health Expert, Amy is a passionate voice in the ostomy community, founding the online community Fearless Ostomates, speaking for National and Regional WOCN conferences, and writing for the official print publication of the UOAA. Her presentations on alternative medicine, and patient advocacy and healthcare have also been accepted to international conferences on patient care, internal medicine, medical trauma and therapeutic humor in hospitals. She has devised workshops for the Transformative Language Arts Network National Conference, the Eating Recovery Foundation, the 40th Anniversary New England Educational Opportunity Association Milestones Conference, the Annual National Mental Health America Conference,2016 American College of Surgeons Clinical Congress, and others. She was the 2016 keynote speaker for the Hawaii Pacific Rim International Conference on Diversity and Disability. and will be the featured keynote speaker at the 2018 International School of Social Work Conference in Ohio.
As a playwright, Amy has received awards and accolades for engaging her audiences in dynamic conversation on trauma’s effects on society, including Women Around Town’s “Women to Celebrate” 2014, BroadwayWorld “Best Theatre Debut,” Bistro Awards “New York Top Pick, and the “Singular Award” at the Sarasolo Theatre Festival, presented annually for a “performance that is exceptionally uncommon, groundbreaking, original and inventive.” Amy has written, directed and starred in a one-woman musical about her life, Gutless & Grateful, touring theatres, schools, festivals, conventions and organizations since it’s 2012 New York debut. Gutless & Grateful is currently being licensed to students across the country for academic projects and competitions. Amy spent Fall of 2015 participating as a playwright and performance artist in the National Musical Theatre Institute at the world-renowned Eugene O’Neill Theater Center, where she helped to develop the full-length multimedia ensemble piece, The Greeks Are Trying to Tell Us Something, and was a writer, actress, composer and set designer for “Playwrights and Librettists” – a festival of 27 30-minute plays in five days. Her original, full-length drama, Imprints, exploring the physical and psychological impact of trauma, premiered at the Producer’s Club in 2016, and is currently in development for a full New York production as Flicker and a Firestarter. Her short plays have been published by the Eddy Theatre Company and finalists in Manhattan Repertory Theatre’s Short Play Festival, as well as NYC Playwright’s Women in the Age of Trump. Her theatre education essays and monologues have been published in Creative Pedagogy journals, as part of a theatre curriculum for high school students in the Philippines, and as a teaching artist, she is a strong advocate for arts integration and education.
Amy’s collaboration with Beechwood Arts on the immersion salon, “Resilience and the Power of the Human Spirit”, has traveled around the world to health and arts facilities as a public installation, incorporating her monologues, art, writing and recipes to express the life-altering detours and ultimately the invaluable gifts of her resilient journey. Amy is also an active artist and teacher in the Jewish community, being honored by United Way in 2005 for her music programs at Hollander House, completing artist residencies at Art Kibbutz, and delivering “Hope, Resilience & Biblical Women” keynotes for synagogues and religious schools. After studying Theatre of the Oppressed in her studies at Hampshire College, she helped to train ACTSmart, a Playback Theatre troupe in Amherst, MA. She is also a passionate arts education advocate, a successful mixed media visual artist, a continuing education studio arts teacher, and an active member of the League of Professional Theatre Women, League for Advancement of New England Storytellers, Fairfield County Cultural Alliance, Alliance for Jewish Theatre, Theatre Artist Workshop, and several art guilds throughout Connecticut and New York.
Amy has delivered three TEDx talks on theatre’s ability to transform trauma, Her play Fibers, compiled of oral histories transcribed from three generations of survivors, premiered at Museum of Jewish Heritage this year. She is leading mixed media creativity and solo performance workshops to promote creativity as a mindset, an essential survival skill. Amy also offers creative coaching and consulting services help others navigate their own “life detours,” and prides herself most on ending each night with a gratitude list.
Download resume as PDF here.
You can view her first TEDx Talk from April 2016 below.
You can find Amy touring with her performances, speaking, and programs, making lists, or simply traveling her detours…
WHO IS AMY?
Amy Oestreicher was an ambitious, audacious teenager who had her life all planned out: go to college, win a Tony, and conquer the world. But life took an unexpected detour when the week before her high school senior prom, she found herself in unusual pain. She was rushed to the emergency room, and due to a blood clot, Amy’s stomach exploded to the ceiling of the operating room. After both lungs collapsed, she almost died. Months later, she awoke from a coma covered in tubes, bags, and drains, and was told that she had no stomach anymore, she could not eat or drink, and it was not certain if or when she would ever taste one bite ever again. It took 27 surgeries and six years, but eventually, Amy was miraculously reconstructed, and with the intestines she had left, was given a system that digests food.
FROM “OBSTACLE” TO “OPPORTUNITY”
A born creative spirit, and with no roadmap in sight, Amy was pushed to harness those same creative inner resources that had built her world as a child, now as a means for survival. A decade later, through a mixture of collegiate and self-education; Amy realized that her instinctive tactics for survival, and her determination to stay “hungry” for life was in fact a heavily researched, proven way that survivors just like Amy had experienced self-transformation, positive change, and post-traumatic growth. These findings, along with her own firsthand experience of reimagining identity after trauma, inspired her to create a curriculum combining self-improvement (leadership development, mental health education, sexual assault prevention) with arts programming (theatre, fine arts, music, movement, writing and storytelling) to cultivate resilience, create compassion and provide the same “primal” resources for healing that Amy discovered on her own “beautiful detour” for communities including schools, universities, hospitals, organizations, and “Detourists” worldwide.
Sheʼs a mixture of creative and logic, with the primary focus of her speaking on mental health and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder; speeches and seminars on her experiences as a survivor of trauma, including chronic illness, sexual assault, and acute trauma—often (but not always) paired with her one-woman show Gutless and Grateful (after appearing on NBC’s Today in 2011) She also speaks on diversity, women’s issues, student leadership, arts marketing, small business marketing, (arts) entrepreneurship, and resiliency paired with improv theater. In her spare time, she tries to work on “relaxing.”
FROM OPPORTUNITY TO OUTREACH
Through her #LoveMyDetour “Detourist Campaign,” she creates content that inspires, educates, entertains, and transforms our perception of obstacles for individuals faced with unexpected bumps and “detours” in their lives – much like what Amy faced at 18 years old. As founder of #LoveMyDetour, she provides advocacy, entertainment, seminars, and peer-to-peer education on trauma, mental health, women’s issues, storytelling, and diversity. Her vital message is delivered with humor, eloquence and heart in a down-to-earth, relatable and positive manner.
After all…who hasn’t had a detour in life?
Together, we’re stronger.