by MK Scott
We couldn’t have found a better cover story for the Fitness and Health issue than the story of doctor, actor, and dancer Hisam Goueli.
I remember when I first saw Hisam (pronounced hiss-um) dance: it was in the 2015 burlesque show The Tennessee Tease (a salute to Tennessee Williams) at the Theater Off Jackson. While he played many parts, the most memorable was “Stanley” in the Streetcar sequence: more than just his exquisite body, there was passion in his performance. Last year he proved himself also to be an exceptional actor, performing in A Thousand Splendid Suns at the Seattle Repertory Theater, A Very Die Hard Christmas at the Seattle Public Theater, and The Rules of Charity at the Sound Theater Company.
“Dr. Hisam” is also board certified in family medicine and psychiatry. He specializes in working with older adults and those who suffer from mental illness.
It was in 2017 that he showed a whole new side to the public when he ran for the Seattle City Council Position 9: someone who has a great talent for speaking and cares about the issues, especially homelessness and mental illness. Even though he lost the primary, Hisam demonstrated his genuine concern for Seattle. During a recent photo shoot, I asked Dr. Hisam if politics was still in the cards, and he responded with a possible 2020 relaunch, though he didn’t mention what office he might run for. Stay tuned!
In light of all those credentials, Unite Seattle is honored to finally welcome Dr. Hisam’s advice column, debuting in this issue. I had a chance to chat with him recently.
MK Scott: How do you balance being a doctor, actor, and dancer?
Hisam Goueli: I think it is always hard to find balance and requires constant attention. In my opinion, how you choose to spend your time is the most important resource you can control. To work as a full-time doctor at Northwest Hospital and to commit to full theatrical productions requires a significant degree of discipline and time management. I do not choose to spend my time on anything that does not create connection, cultivate community, or foster happiness. I decided to become a doctor after I had an experience at a children’s hospital. I used to pay for college by performing singing telegrams. On Valentine’s Day, I was dressed as Cupid and went after work to the hospital to cheer up the kids. I was introduced to a little girl dying of cancer who mistook me for an angel and wanted to know when we were going to heaven. The time I spent with her changed the trajectory of my life.
MKS: You work with the homeless. Is homelessness mostly related drug and alcohol issues?
HG: It is a frequent misconception that the reason persons are homeless is secondary to drug- and alcohol-related issues. While these are contributors to homelessness, they are not unique to homeless populations. The vast majority of homeless people are individuals with jobs who have fallen victim to bad luck. This could be an increase in their rent, an unexpected medical expense, student loan debt, a challenging job market, or a host of other reasons. A lot of the patients that I take care of are homeless secondary to an inability to manage medical debt from sickness, limited incomes, and increasing rents.
MKS: What do you like the most about performing on stage?
HG: The thing I like the most is that it is a collaborative process. It’s a group of individuals—the creative team, actors, and audience—who come together to share a story. There is nothing else like it to me.
MKS: You are known for you showing off your body. Since this being the fitness issue, how do you keep fit?
HG: Keeping fit is about persistence and decisions. Pursuing fitness is about consistently striving toward a goal that is accomplished by a multitude of small decisions. Typically, trainers will tell you it is about diet and exercise. This is true but an oversimplification. It’s all of the choices you make that will make the decision to train and diet easier or harder. It is the decision to perform ten repetitions instead of eight. It is the decision to sleep eight hours instead of staying out late. It is the decision to put less syrup on your pancakes than your usual amount. It is the decision to drink more water. It is the decision to ask for advice from a complete stranger regarding form. It is plethora of small decisions that collectively help you reach your goal. It requires persistence to stay the course and patience to enjoy the journey.
MKS: Finally, your advice column, Ask Dr. Hisam, starts in this issue. What is your vision and what will it make it so special?
HG: I am hoping that the column will be an opportunity for us to engage regarding all aspects of health—physical, mental, and sexual health. I want people to feel like I am rooting for them to succeed while giving them honest information and thoughtful advice.
Hisam can be seen every weekend at LeFeux’s Meat Circus is Saturday’s at 11pm. Click HERE for Tix.