Ainsley Sevier

Ainsley Sevier is 6 feet tall, the oldest of 7 kids, and definitely an extrovert. Her passions are for the performing arts, alleviating suffering through self-awareness and education, and creating spaces where young people are heard. Ainsley is a classically-trained musician on the piano and as a singer, and has taught piano lessons for many years. She’s performed in theatre since childhood, and began working in film in 2011, on screen and behind the scenes. Ainsley has produced and co-hosted 3 talk radio shows. After being censored and banned from her local radio station, she now manages an interactive livestream conversation on current events and critical thinking with her husband, Dark Sevier.

In the grander scheme of things, Ainsley grew up in an extremely conservative fundamentalist religious group: The Confederation of Reformed Evangelical Christians. For the first 27 years of her life, all decisions, morals, and perspectives on reality were filtered through that belief system, as the only right way for anyone to exist or think. Many factors contributed to her stepping beyond that worldview, and now she explores realities, questions belief systems, studies her own mind, and shares what she’s learning with friends along the way.

Ainsley’s Current Superpowers:

  • Not Getting Offended
  • Always Knowing When You’ve Forgotten a Hyphen

Connect with Ainsley

Portfolio

Yes, But, How Did We Get Here?

I was a tub-a-lub for sure . . .

Here We Are

You’re reading this because of some kind of curiosity, professional or psychoemotional, and I celebrate! I’ve been told that my story is weird – and I have to waft in and out of the weirdness to tell it. I’m still putting it all together myself. Writing about my life helps me understand myself and the world better, and hopefully reading it will be encouraging or enlightening to someone else out there. This is a story about mixed signals, conservative religion, learning to make your own choices, purity culture, tribal loyalties, and not saying “fuck” until you’re 27. I’m excited for my memories to evolve and perceptions to change as I learn more about myself and my loved one’s perspectives.

Surveying that first sibling.

Continental US Ping-Pong

I was born in Washington state, to John and Robynne. I’ve moved nearly every 2 years my whole life, and I got a new sibling in nearly every state! No, we weren’t in the military. It all started for me in Washington state (where I was born) > Virginia (where my 1st sister Coco was born when I was nearly 6) > Oregon (Sarah) > Illinois (Daniel) > Arizona (Andrew) > Illinois (Elizabeth) > North Carolina (Margaret) > Illinois (we really liked that church) > Virginia (I attended Liberty University for a year, and met my wusband) > North Carolina (wusband and I lived in Greensboro for 5 years) > Missouri (we were moving to L.A. so I could become a movie star, but we ran out of money on the way . . .) > Georgia (when that marriage ran its course, I decided to try the less-competitive film market in Atlanta) > Montana (traveled to Butte to help a friend with a film, and ended up falling in love with the town-and with my current husband!)

Homeschooling is all about denim. (L-R: Coco, Dad, Sarah, Daniel, Mom, me)

WWJD?

My parents became Christians when I was little and gradually progressed from non-denominational praise’n’worship churches to Reformed Evangelicalism. This caused some big shifts in our relationship! They decided to have a bunch more kids, they decided to homeschool us, and their parenting style changed drastically to reflect the strict values of the churches they were joining. For the first 6ish years of my life, I was regarded and included like a little future adult, with lots of one-on-one interactions and education, and I was encouraged to participate in the performing arts to my heart’s content.

Homeschooling is all about denim.

My grandma and other family and friends remember me as a spoiled (subjective!) and opinionated (objective!) youngster. As my parents’ values shifted to match the church, I could no longer be allowed to be my mother’s best friend, and they began to groom us girls for the only correct future a woman should prepare for: being a wife and mother. Whatever opinions people have about the liberated and exploratory parenting style I was initially raised in, I had no way of understanding the shift as a youngster. I think I’ve always been subconsciously struggling to get back to that kind of relationship with my mother, where I felt seen and celebrated.

Garment construction is a cool skill to know. (L-R: Andrew, me, Sarah, Dad, Ellie, Coco, Mom, Daniel)

Gen Ed

Some of my favorite subjects growing up were logic and critical thinking, foreign languages, historical fiction literature, and travelling- something that homeschooling allowed us to do a lot! My mom did a great job of balancing typical school subjects with art, culture, music, and interesting physical activities. Nearly all of my school books were written by Christian educators, and that lens informed and shaped every topic. My 6 younger siblings have had a much different experience of the world than I did growing up. I wrote emails to my dad on MS-DOS when I was 10. I remember making my first Google searches when I was 13. My family got our first (flip) cellphone when I was 16, and I got my first smartphone when I was 22. It’s an interesting challenge to describe to my peers what it was like to grow up in the 90’s and 00’s without an experience of the world outside our Christian home and church.

caption

I was born with a good set of pipes, and I loved singing in choirs and solo- if the opportunity presented itself in a church-approved environment. I have always had a hankering to act, and been enamored of movie magic and the passion and investment of stage actors. Since my mother’s religion-informed position on acting, theatres, and movies was disapproving and skeptical, my best friends and I produced a few kid-friendly plays at home. This is how I remember it! It’s possible my mother remembers it differently, and I hope someday she and I can be close enough again to compare stories.

Bollig Family Musicians c.2006

The Hills Are Alive

On top of being trained to help to run my mother’s household, being trained to help homeschool the other kids, being trained in cooking, cleaning, and Biblical disciplines, I was also given piano lessons. I had so many wonderful piano teachers, and I’ll be forever grateful to Delpha Riedbolt, Kara Benyas, Elaine Dyches, Reiko Schoen, Jordan Doolittle, and Dr. Heidi Williams. I started teaching piano to others when I was 16. As a teacher, my goal was always to give the student tools to continue educating themselves, and to use music training as a gateway to self-awareness and physical wellbeing.

Ellie is probably fussing because my graduation speech was embarrassing, 2005

Toes in the Water

For my first steps outside 24/7 homeschool life, I tried nursing school at John A. Logan College in Southern Illinois – a sensible choice for a future wife and mother. I was dual-enrollment for my last year of homeschool highschool, when I was 16. I quickly realized that as much as I really wanted to help people feel better, I really didn’t want to learn the names of all the bones to do it! I switched to music.

Me and Ellie practicing piano, 2006

This was also a sensible choice, as I could always use those skills to educate my own children, contribute to my household income by teaching piano from my future home, and contribute to the church by playing piano for services. It was always understood that studying the performing arts for the sake of performance were self-serving at best, and idolatry at worst. I’ve since learned that theatre, opera, dance, and other performance styles continue to survive because they bring people joy and catharsis! I’m also learning that my own joy and catharsis has value, and the happier and healthier I am, the better I can show up for my community.

The babiest college student ever

Take Two

After I graduated homeschool and turned 17, I switched to Southern Illinois University Carbondale for the Bachelor’s of Music: Piano Performance program. My parents pulled me out after the first year when they found out I had developed a secret crush on a grad student. The problem wasn’t that he was a grad student (lots of girls in Evangelicalism marry much older men), it was that he wasn’t a Christian. Plus, I didn’t have permission to be in a relationship yet. In Evangelical Christianity/Purity Culture, the man must approach the girl’s father for permission to court her, and only when both young people are “ready for marriage.” No casual dating!

Menu