Sydell Weiner, PhD


I’m originally from New York, born to parents who were children of immigrants. I loved performing as a child, so at 12 years old I started classes at the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. Although my mother had been in and out of the hospital for years, I was always told not to worry. But in 1961, at the age of 44, my mother died of Breast Cancer. I was 14 years old.

Theatre became my escape, and I was cast in play after play. I also became an overachiever. I had my B.A. by the time I was 20 and was accepted to the Acting program at Yale School of Drama. I got married at 23, moved to California, and began teaching High School Drama.

But it wasn’t enough—as external achievements rarely are. Nonetheless, my husband and I went back to New York. He went into business with his brother, and I went to NYU to earn a PhD in Performance Studies. And then I got pregnant. My son, Jason, was born on October 29th,1978. Two years later we returned to California, and I got pregnant again. Emily was born on June 21st, 1980.

When she was 4 years old, I began my career as a Theatre Professor/ Director at Cal State, Dominguez Hills. I especially loved directing and teaching at a university was a dream come true. But 10 years in, I had an epiphany. The feelings I had buried as a child were bubbling up and coming to the surface. I finally had to deal with my own issues.

So, at the urging of a colleague, I entered the Marriage and Family Therapy program, to understand childhood trauma. After completing yet another degree and gaining licensure, I started teaching a class in Marriage and Family Therapy. My last 9 years at the university, I taught half in Theatre and half in MFT. When I retired from teaching, I opened my own practice as a therapist.

I had always been an interpretive artist. I spoke the character’s words as an actress, the playwright’s words as a director, and heard my patients’ words as a therapist. But when my husband died in 2016, I knew I had to find my own. I began writing about my feelings, which evolved into creative non-fiction. And that’s when the healing began.

This Blog is my way of speaking the truth and using my own words to do it. I hope some of it resonates with you, and that you find a way to make your own voice heard. Sydell Weiner, April 2024