How Actress Cory Oliver Succeeds And Thrives As Both A Celebrity And An Entrepreneur

Ming S. Zhao
Authority Magazine
Published in
13 min readFeb 6, 2020


Time management and balance are key to success when juggling work, family and friends. As an empty-nester, I find myself singing the song “All by myself.” Creating great products, developing scripts, writing music and acting, keeps me happy and healthy which makes me a better parent and friend. My family and friends know I am just a phone call away.

I had the pleasure to interview Cory Oliver. Cory is a multi-talented actress and beauty expert who is best known for starring in the feature film “God’s Not Dead” as well as starring in the original series “Beverly Hills Pawn” for the Reelz Channel. Behind-the-scenes she has been a licensed make-up artist and hairdresser for Hollywood’s A-list, which led to her developing her own beauty balm skincare line “Beverly Hills Balm.” Currently, she is co-hosting “Hollywood Westlake,” an upcoming streaming lifestyle series with Ryan O’Quinn, premiering in February 2020 on Apple TV, Roku, Instagram and Facebook.

Cory was born and raised in the Northern California town of Redwood City. She is a small-town girl at heart but knew from an early age she always wanted to go to Hollywood and pursue a career in the entertainment industry. While in college she studied cosmetology and advanced to master stylist within three months. In nine months, Cory earned her cosmetology license from the accredited Dons Beauty School. Cory also attended the Van Mar Academy and the Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute in the 90’s and studied with some of Hollywood’s prominent acting Coaches, Joe Salazar and Howard Fine.

Upon graduation, Cory moved to Los Angeles with $400 dollars in her pocket (first month’s rent) and a car filled with big dreams and everything she owned to begin a career in entertainment.

Cory began working as a hair and makeup artist in film, TV and editorial shoots where she was fortunate to create the flawless face look on many celebrities including Kirsten Dunst, Jennifer Love Hewitt, Isabella Rossellini, Kris Jenner, Betty White, Dustin Hoffman and Mariel Hemingway, to name a few. Her work has graced the covers of magazines such as Vogue, People, Hype, Shape, Women’s Health, and many more.

Thanks to Cory’s hard work behind the scenes as a make-up artist, perseverance and devout faith, she finally landed a talent agent who would open up many new doors of opportunity for her in front of the camera. The next day he booked her on the television series “Silk Stalkings.”

Cory continued to act in television and feature films including landing one of the lead roles of Mina in the international box office hit “God’s Not Dead,” which earned her a Grace Award nomination for her leading role opposite Kevin Sorbo. “God’s Not Dead” went on to win top honors at the 2015 MovieGuide Awards, receiving two awards, including its selection to the Top 10 Movies for Families and the Epiphany Prize for the Most Inspiring Movie of 2014.

Cory has worked with some of Hollywood’s finest filmmakers and producers, including David Zucker, Tom Everett Scott, Trey Parker and Matt Stone. Her other feature film credits include “Dead Man On Campus,” “Chairman of the Board” and “BASEketball,” among others. On the small screen her credits include “Pacific Blue,” “Weird Science,” “Beverly Hills 90210” and the hit CBS soap opera “The Young and The Restless.” Her ‘Bud Light’ Super Bowl commercial earned top-25 commercials of all time in 2000.

Cory starred in the hit reality series “Beverly Hills Pawn” on the REELZ channel, where she and the team at The Dina Collection buy and sell rare collectibles and Hollywood memorabilia. She has always had a passion for “Old Hollywood” and enjoyed researching items from different genres.

In addition to acting, Cory is an award-winning screenwriter and 2020 has her focusing on the production of her screenplay, “Jack and Jill.” Currently in development, the screenplay took 2nd place in Scriptapalooza, top ten in Nevada Film Festival and semi-finalist in Francis Ford Coppola’s “American Zoetrope contest.”

Cory also has a strong faith in God and a ministry for marriage, and among her many talents is singing. As an extension of her faith, core beliefs and incredible heartbreak, she wrote, recorded and released the inspirational single “I’m Somebody’s Daughter” in June 2019, featuring Jordan Smith, Priya and Lily Carson. It is available for download on iTunes and Spotify.

Outside of work, Cory is a dedicated mother to her daughter Ariana and her golden retriever Bailey. Additionally, she is an avid supporter of the Tourette Association of America and continues to support Boot Campaign, a military non-profit.

When she isn’t working in front of or behind the camera, Cory has more than 20 years of hair and makeup expertise in the entertainment industry, and recently started developing her own skincare products. Cory joined forces with lifelong friend and business partner Tara Broida to bring her unique line of luxury beauty balms to market, now available at

Thank you so much for joining us Cory. Can you share with us the backstory of how you came upon this career path and to where you are today?

My beautiful grandmother taught me the importance of skincare and natural aging from a very young age. Throughout my teenage years, I helped my friends enhance their natural look with beauty tips and makeovers. It’s not surprising that I became a licensed cosmetologist before the age of 18. At 21 years old, I moved to Los Angeles to pursue acting. I worked behind-the-scenes on television shows, movies and photo shoots, doing hair and makeup to help support myself. During this time, I was fortunate to work with some of Hollywood’s biggest names including Jennifer Lopez, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Maria Shriver, Isabella Rossellini, Jennifer Love Hewett and Kirsten Dunst.

Within a few years, I got married, and a short time later we moved out of the city to the suburbs. My husband preferred me to stay at home, so I shifted my focus and began to express my creativity by writing the award-winning screenplay ‘Jack and Jill.’ After 18 months, my husband left, which motivated me to start my own business and enabled me to provide for myself and our daughter. I returned to work in the industry as a hair and make-up artist while continuing to act and spending quality time raising my daughter.

When my daughter, Ariana, was 15, I told her I wanted to resume acting full time. Her response was “Let’s pray about it.” Our prayers were answered as I got a starring role in Reelz Channel’s number-one reality show “Beverly Hills Pawn;” followed by a lead role in the feature film “God’s Not Dead,” which earned more than $100 million worldwide.

After years in the entertainment industry, I wanted to build a business that would help others to feel beautiful. Joining forces with my best friend Tara Broida, we created Beverly Hills Balm, a luxury beauty balm brand infused with organic oils to keep lips and skin silky soft and hydrated.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

There are several people who have left indelible marks on my life; some positive and some negative, but all provided valuable life lessons.

My stepfather, Rod Black, was a successful businessman of few words. While I was growing up, he occasionally saw me being teased by other children. Throughout those times, he always believed in me and would reiterate “Cory, don’t sell yourself short.”

Olympic gold medalist Greg Louganis once sent me a note that read “Cory, believe in yourself! Love, Greg Louganis.” Through all my ups and downs, I carried his motivating note to help move me forward.

And while I never met her, Lady Gaga often says, “there can be 100 people in the room, but it only takes one person to believe in you.”

As I mentioned before, my Grandmother was very impactful to my life. She was beautiful and taught me important life lessons about proper etiquette, how to be grateful, forgiving, and kind. It’s not just what you look like on the outside, it is your beauty that shines inside. Beauty isn’t just applying lipstick, it’s a smile, it’s going the extra mile, it’s joy, it goes just so far beyond aesthetics. It’s believing in yourself…

Can you share a story with us about the most humorous mistake you made when you were first starting? What lesson or take-away did you learn from that?

My first major audition was for a Disneyland commercial. I was so nervous and felt like I had a mouth full of cotton balls. The casting director called my name with five other people to go into the room. He asked me to “slate” my name. Without knowing what he meant, I blurted out my name, speaking as if everyone was hard of hearing. I, then, spelled it out, and said it again phonetically. I received a few giggles. As they went down the line, each actor slated their name, age and gave their profiles. As they got to the end, I said to myself, “I got this, I can do this, DON’T SELL YOURSELF SHORT CORY.”

Next, the casting director asked me ”What’s your favorite ride at Disneyland?” — without trepidation, and with every fiber of my existence, confident Cory said, “Magic Mountain.” In my mind, I was thinking about the Matterhorn roller coaster, but somehow I blurted out a competitor’s theme park, “Magic Mountain”.

The audition ended, I returned to my car, shed a few tears and called my agent. As I was trying to explain to her my debacle, she cut me off and said, “The director just called and you booked the commercial!” I learned two valuable lessons from that experience — smile through adversity and never assume anything.

As a celebrity, you have been blessed with great success in a career path that many have attempted, but eventually gave up on. In fact perhaps most people who tried to follow a career path like yours did not succeed. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path but know that their dreams might be dashed?

When I was in fifth grade, they used to pull me out of class and stick me in a special education trailer. My mom, who always kept things positive, told me “They are putting you in the trailer because you are special, it will help you learn.” It wasn’t until years later that I knew I had dyslexia which at that time was often misdiagnosed. Through it all, I became a speed reader and am now able to retain and comprehend more information.

Today, reading is a part of my daily routine. As an actor, living with dyslexia can be challenging, especially when you have to memorize lines for a living. It, therefore, is important that I continue to practice.

Follow your passion, stay focused, and do things that will continue to move you forward. Cherish and embrace the good and bad. There are important lessons in both. Remember, your dreams are YOUR dreams.

Ok thank you for all that. Now let’s shift to the main focus of our interview. You have been successful as both a celebrity and an entrepreneur. Most celebrities don’t make that transition successfully. We’d love to learn your secret. How do you do both?

My partner, Tara, and I have a strong work ethic. In our business, I am the creative and Tara is more disciplined, which is perfect for keeping me focused. We keep a detailed to-do list, and I enjoy watching Tara get excited about checking something big off. Life has thrown us some heavy challenges. We take them in stride and believe that laughter is our best medicine.

In my work, I focus on how one can thrive and care for oneself in three areas: body, mind, and heart. You are a busy leader with a demanding schedule, can you share with our readers two self-care routines, practices or treatments that help your body thrive? Kindly share a story or an example for each.

To keep my body in shape, I believe motion is lotion and staying active is key. I enjoy walking and taking Soul Cycle classes. A good ride helps the body, mind and soul.

To keep my mind healthy, I pray. Thirteen years ago I joined an organization called, “Moms In Prayer.” It was started by a woman named Fern Nichols, who believed in bringing women together who share the same vision. It has been a blessing to have met and been supported by so many wonderful people.

Regarding my heart, the bible says, “Guard your heart. It is the wealth spring of life.” In relationships, I tend to jump into the deep end and to date have not found that great love story. However, I believe in the power of love and hopefully the best is yet to come.

Can you share with us two routines that you use to help your mind thrive? (Kindly share a story or example for each.)

My day begins with reading and exercise. I’m obsessed with Hilaria Baldwin’s Instagram workouts. She often has a child strapped to her body while demonstrating her home workout routines.

Facetiming with my daughter, who is away at college, keeps my mind healthy and happy. She answers my calls 99% of the time and tells me about her day. I enjoy listening to tales about her golden retriever puppy and the item of clothing Bailey recently destroyed.

All of us have great days and bad days. On days when you feel like a Rockstar, what do you do?

Like any rock star I love to sing, so much that I travel with a karaoke microphone. During my daughter’s first year of college I brought my microphone to her dorm. At first she was embarrassed; but once the football players grabbed the mic and started singing Frozen at the top of their lungs, she was on board.

In contrast, on days when you feel down, what do you do?

I try my best to stay positive. If something makes me sad, Netflix comedy specials always change my mood. My current favorite is the hilarious Sebastian Maniscalco. He makes me laugh, and laughter always lifts my spirits.

Writing scripts and songs also helps improve my mood. I finished a script for a feature film in development and recently released an inspirational single “I’m Somebody’s Daughter,” featuring Jordan Smith, Priya and Lily Carson. It is currently available on iTunes and Spotify.

Is there a particular resource, a practitioner, expert, book, podcast that made a significant impact on you and helped you to thrive? Can you share a story about that with us?

There are several people who have inspired me during my journey such as Dineh Mohajer of Hard Candy Cosmetics; Jessica Alba of The Honest Company; and the founders of Dollar Shave Club, Michael Dubin and Mark Levine.

Dubin and Levine took a basic disposable razor that was invented by Paul Winchell in 1963, and delivered it directly to your home. The company was founded in 2011 and sold to Unilever in 2016, for $1 billion dollars. It’s not about the money, rather the journey and the ability to execute your dreams and make a difference.

Do you have a story about the strangest, most bizarre or funniest wellness treatment that you’ve ever experienced?

Tara and I created our skincare business because of my lipstick addiction.

As a single mom, you tend to buy everything for your kids and few things for yourself. One thing that I justified buying for myself was $5 lipstick. It made me feel fresh and excited. After 1000s of lipsticks, my daughter put a moratorium on me and said “No more lipstick mama!” My response was “You are correct, I’ll make them.”

I took all the ingredients that my Grandma had taught me about, mixed them in my kitchen and the Beverly Hills Balm business was born. It was important for us to go back to the basics and develop something clean for the skin.

We developed an amazing proprietary blend with beeswax, castor oil, vitamin E, peppermint and coconut. Our all-natural original skin balm is perfect for both men and women to moisturize knees, elbows, cheeks, hair, as well as lips.

You’re a high achieving creative authority and leader, and yet, you may have family and loved ones that require a different side of you at home. How do you leave the high-powered executive at the door, and become a loving caretaker at home?

Time management and balance are key to success when juggling work, family and friends. As an empty-nester, I find myself singing the song “All by myself.” Creating great products, developing scripts, writing music and acting, keeps me happy and healthy which makes me a better parent and friend. My family and friends know I am just a phone call away.

We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world with whom you’d like to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this.

There are many people that impress me. If I had to select one person, it would be Ellen DeGeneres.

I’d like to hear more about how she pulled herself out of challenging moments of despair during the height of her career. Her ability to navigate through those challenging times, and so publicly, is inspirational. During my recent breakup, her Netflix special was a key to finding a reason to laugh.

She ends her talk show every day with the phrase “be kind to one another!” And doesn’t that say it all — let’s be kind to one another!



Ming S. Zhao
Authority Magazine

Co-founder and CEO of PROVEN Skincare. Ming is an entrepreneur, business strategist, investor and podcast host.