Debra Olson-Tolar was born in Chicago and raised in Colorado. She earned a Ph.D. in Speech Communication at the University of Denver before moving to California. After many years of teaching storytelling, public speaking, screenwriting, and other communication courses, Debra quit her "day job" to follow her bliss and become a full-time actor and storyteller.
Debra starred in the award-winning indie feature Half Way, and has appeared in a number of short films, including leads in Cause for Divorce and One in Eight. Her television appearances include the Lifetime movie Adopting Terror and the Comedy Central shows Key and Peele and Tosh.0. Stage performances include Amanda in The Glass Menagerie, Bridgette in Mourning Song, and her solo show, Raising My Voice. Her numerous performances as a storyteller have included venues such as The Getty and The Los Angeles Storytelling Festival.