Meet Jewish Person of the week Danielle Solzman, originally from Louisville, Kentucky. Danielle is a film/television critic and who writes for her own site Solzy at the Movies.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in Louisville, Kentucky.
What did you do Jewish growing up?
I grew up in a Conservative shul and attended Sunday School until confirmation, briefly attended Hebrew School, and was very active in BBYO during my high school years. Depending on family simchas and such, my family could be seen attending Shabbos services a few of the Conservative and Orthodox shuls back home.
Where did you go to school?
I spent my freshman year at Bradley University before transferring to Northern Kentucky University for my last three years of undergrad. Following college, I enrolled in a graduate program for a Master of Arts in Media Communications through Webster University.
What do you do for work?
I am a film/television critic and write for my own site, Solzy at the Movies. I also do some freelance work for Below the Line and have previously contributed as a freelance writer to Film. Prior to the pandemic, I would travel to Sundance, SXSW, Tribeca (when it didn’t conflict with Pesach), and Toronto. I’m an awards-voting critic as a member of the film, television, and documentary branches of the Critics Choice Association. My work can regularly be found in Google News searches and on Rotten Tomatoes as a Tomatometer-approved critic.
What do you do Jewish now?
I regularly attend services at Chabad of Lakeview and now that I’m not sleeping through the start of Shabbos, I plan to be at ASBI on Friday nights. I try and cover Jewish-oriented films when I can. When I’m not writing about film or television, I’m working on my own screenplays where I’m always finding a way to inject Judaism into the script.
What is your favorite way to spend Shabbat?
My favorite way to spend Shabbos is to attend shul and have meals with friends. Depending on the time of year, it would include a nice walk to the lake or reading a good book. Plus, a nice Shabbos afternoon nap. After a long week of watching movies/TV, one cannot go wrong with a nap!
Top three things on your Chicago bucket list?
This is a tough question because I’ve already done so much. At some point, I want to make my way to Walt Disney’s birthplace, but I don’t think they’ve started up tours yet.
What is your favorite Jewish Chicago event?
It’s a close call between Shabbat on the Lake and Shavuot in Lakeview. There’s nothing more beautiful than bringing so many people in our community together.
What do you do for fun/to relax?
I watch movies or TV that I don’t have to review for work! It’s one of the problems that come with being a film/tv critic.
What’s your go-to self-care?
What is the best piece of wisdom you’ve received from your (or any) Jewish Mother?
Look both ways before crossing the sidewalk.
If you could get a meal with any famous Jewish person (living or not), who would it be and why?
I already had Shabbos dinner with Dr. Ruth during Sundance 2019, so I’ll go with Steven Spielberg because he’s my favorite filmmaker of all time. I would not be doing what I do without seeing Jurassic Park in 1993.
Learn more about Danielle and her work on film and TV
Film Critic, Solzy at the Movies
Member, Critics Choice Association
Member, Online Film Critics Society
Motion Picture Association – Accredited Journalist
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