"Q&A With Alexi Pappas"

"Q&A With Alexi Pappas"

Book: Bravey

Photo by Kelia Anne MacCluskey/Penguin Random House

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Author: Alexi Pappas

Author Bio:

Alexi Pappas is an Olympic runner and an award-winning actor and writer. ​Alexi's memoir-in-essays, "Bravey," with a foreword by Maya Rudolph, was published on January 12, 2021 and was the number 1 new release in both the sports and film categories.
Alexi co-created and starred in the feature film OLYMPIC DREAMS alongside Nick Kroll, premiering at SXSW 2019. In 2016 Alexi co-wrote, co-directed, and starred in the feature film TRACKTOWN with a cast including Rachel Dratch ("Saturday Night Live") and Andy Buckley ("The Office").
Alexi's writing has been published in the New York Times, Lenny Letter, and many more. Alexi has been profiled on the cover of the New York Times Sports Page, in Rolling Stone, on NPR's All Things Considered, and was also featured on the cover of Runner's World Magazine's 50th anniversary issue alongside Kevin Hart, named as one of the two faces of the "new boom" in running. 
A Greek-American, Alexi is the Greek national record-holder in the 10,000 meters with a personal best of 31:36 set at the Rio Olympics. Alexi graduated magna cum laude from Dartmouth College and also ran for the University of Oregon as a 5th year, leading the team to two NCAA victories.
Alexi's athletic sponsors include Champion, Garmin, UCAN, Goodr, Nordic Naturals, Butcher Box, and Smoothie Box. 

1.  At what age did you fall in love with running?

I first fell in love with running at 8, when I saw my father run his first (and only) marathon. It was my introduction to the idea of "good pain."  

2.  You have written multiple critically acclaimed films and now "Bravey". What would you say was the biggest difference for you between writing a book and writing a screenplay? 

From a creative perspective, I've found that a book is more about the thoughts behind words and actions, while a screenplay is more about the actual words and actions themselves.   

3.  The script for 'Tracktown' had many strong and deeply meaningful quotes, one being “a goal is a dream with a deadline,” from Napoleon Hill. What would you say is your personal favorite quote?

My favorite personal quote is, "good thing I didn't accomplish all my goals yet because then what would I do tomorrow?" -- I know you probably didn't mean which of my own quotes is my favorite, but honestly I've found that this thought is what keeps me most motivated! 


4.  How mentally fit do you have to be before a big race?

I believe that mental fitness and health is just as important as physical fitness and health. They go hand-in-hand. Before a race I like to visualize the parts of the race that I predict will be the most challenging and actually see myself pushing through the challenge and achieving my goals.  


5.  Was making it to the Olympics everything you dreamed it would be?

YES!  I feel very lucky to have had a record-breaking, personal-best-setting race at the Olympics. I felt like my mind and body were completely in sync -- I describe this in more detail in my book, but my race almost felt like an out-of-body experience.  


6.  Do running a marathon and writing a book have much in common?

Absolutely -- I believe that athletics and the arts are more similar than people think. Both are disciplines that can improve with practice and determination. We tend to put talent on a pedestal, especially when it comes to something artistic and abstract like writing a book or making a movie, but the truth is that talent is only one factor. 

7.  In "Bravey", you cover and speak at length very candidly about loss. From not placing as high as you would’ve liked in the 2016 Olympics to the loss of your mother, and everything in between. At what age, did you begin to feel more comfortable being vulnerable and verbally expressing the things that most people lock deep inside?

What a great question -- and this is definitely a topic that I explore in the book, especially in the chapter "My Pal, Pain." I saw my mom, who suffered from bipolar manic depression and ultimately died by suicide, trying her best to keep her pain hidden away from the world. So from a very young age I was determined not to end up like her. 

8.  Who were some female mentors and role models that impacted your life?

Growing up without the keystone female mentor figure of a mother in my life, as a kid I was always on the lookout for mentors -- and that practice has persisted into my professional life as an athlete and artist! I believe a good mentor is a living example of the type of person you would like to be, and you can learn from them simply by being in their vicinity and paying attention. That last line is a direct quote from Bravey, so I don't want to give anything more away!

9.  Can we look forward to seeing you in this year’s Summer Olympics?

Like all athletes, I am cautiously optimistic about this summer and continue to train while focusing on controlling what I can control. 


10.  What’s your best advice for getting over writer’s block?

Just to keep writing without self-judgement! Give 100% of what you have that day, even if it's 100% of crap and you end up throwing it away. Just the practice of generating words will eventually lead you to a doorway through the block. The key is not judging yourself. 


11.  What’s the best book you have read this year so far?

I loved and was inspired by GREENLIGHTS, by Matthew McCounaughey.  


12.  What’s the best advice you have ever received on happiness?

When I was in the thick of my post-Olympic depression, my doctor taught me that actions change first, then thoughts, then feelings. If we are feeling sad, we can't expect to "make ourselves happy." I dive into this more in the chapter "Depression" in Bravey. 

13.  Do you plan on writing more books in the future? 

Absolutely! But for now I am trying to relish the moment and enjoy seeing Bravey out into the world. This book truly feels like a culmination of a significant chapter in my life as an Olympian and artist -- it feels like "the end of the beginning."


Places To Find More From This Author:

Instagram: @alexipappas

Twitter: @alexipappas

Facebook: Alexi Pappas

Website: www.alexipappas.com


Get Your Copy of Bravey Today!

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Is there a audio version of this interview? I thought the questions were very well received by the author. That’s because they were saying together in a cohesive direction that help bring out her viewpoints. Well done!

Michael Carroll

Amazing interview! The questions were well thought out and intuitive, Alexi Pappas’ answers were honest, sincere heartfelt and informative. I loved her favorite quote. I look forward to reading here book “Bravery” and viewing her movies. I wish her much success with the upcoming 2021 Summer Olympic Games, and of course with her book

K.M. Colley

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