Here’s How Houstonian Joy Hawn Saxton Brings On More Joy Than Ever

March 29, 2024
5 mins read

It is no coincidence that Austinite-turned Houstonian Joy Hawn Saxton lives up to her name…and leads by example. The artist and author loves supporting children with her talents. Her latest book, Joy Goes To Paris, is about her inimitable adventures in the City of Light. Here, our bibliophile Lance Avery Morgan, Joy’s friend and cheerleader for decades, catches up with this optimistic dynamo to see what inspires her most these days.

Joy Hawn in Paris. Courtesy of Joy Hawn

The best career advice I’ve received is…Go for it and it is okay to fail. I believe going for it and being able to fail is what has gotten me to where I am. And when I do fail, I re-set my course and let the past go. I want to make a difference in the lives of children with my work and I will do whatever it takes to fulfill my life’s purpose.

Three qualities that got me where I am today as an author are…Hard-working, Passionate, Courageous. Every day I’m working on my books, whether that’s getting out there and marketing and promoting them or traveling in schools sharing the message of my books. Or, I’m working on the next book in my series at my desk writing and painting the illustrations.  It takes hundreds and hundreds of hours to do a children’s picture book. I have to be very self-disciplined to not stop and get to the end. If I was not passionate about the message of my books and inspiring children, there’s no way I would stick to all this work.  Also, I go into the most vulnerable communities and underprivileged schools with my books doing school-wide presentations. I feel the children are in desperate need of a good message.

Easiest career decision I ever made is…Before becoming an author, I developed an after-school movie-making program for kids in West University called Joy Kids, which became popular, and all my classes were full for many years. Shortly after my Dad passed away, I was taking a walk, and I realized I was ready to launch my book series. I had already written the first book, Joy and the Far Away Land and my Dad had edited it. It was a very big decision to close my studio down but strangely it was an easy decision to make.

Gray Hawn and Joy Saxton Hawn, Paris. Courtesy of Joy Hawn

What is influencing me creatively in children’s books right now is…All of my books are based on my real-life adventures, so I want to keep them authentic for children and inspire them to love one another and embrace other cultures. I want to give children a passion for adventure and travel. So, when I travel, I go with my mom, Gray Hawn, who is a world-renowned photographer. She takes photos and helps me to document the experience. Travel is what inspires each new book I write. My new book, Joy Goes to Paris, is about my adventure to Paris to celebrate my mother’s lifelong dream to celebrate her birthday in the city of light. My first book was based on my travels to Russia and Ukraine as a child.

How I made my first dollar…When I was a teenager, I worked for my mom in her photography business answering the phones and booking her sittings. I was also one of my mom’s camera assistants for a while and I would bring puppets and sing to make the children smile.

First music I bought was…Wham. I had a Walkman and can remember traveling through Europe listening non-stop to Wham when it came out. We spent many of my childhood summers in Europe and I guess that had come out one summer and I was obsessed.

Last thing I binge/marathon watched…Emily in Paris.

If I lived in a foreign city it would be…At the moment, I would have to say Paris. I’m in love with the art, the fashion, the food, and the beauty of the city. So, it only makes sense that my new book is Joy Goes to Paris.

What everyone/man/woman should try in her lifetime is…Gardening. I love gardening by planting lots of flowers and taking care of them. This is like heaven on Earth to create with nature and to enjoy it in my yard every day. My husband thinks I’m nuts when I talk to my plants. I tell them I love them and to grow.

If I could compete in an Olympic sport it would be…I grew up ice-skating and competing. I used to get up at 4:00 AM and go to Northcross Mall, in Austin where I grew up, to meet my coach and skate before school. I loved spinning and jumping on the ice and wearing pretty costumes. I love the grace and elegance the women skaters have, along with their strength.

Book that left a lasting impression on me…I love to read. The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho deeply impacted me, which is about following your dreams. It follows the story of a shepherd who travels to the pyramids of Egypt to find treasure. Recently, I went to Egypt to see the pyramids and I felt like I was living this book after I read it. My next book coming out in 2025 is Joy Goes to Egypt.

If I weren’t doing what I do I would…Probably be an executive assistant to someone in the political arena. I have worked for political campaigns in Houston, and I love this field. I believe in our politicians. I think we need to support our leadership more in our country. Having traveled to different parts of the world has made me realize how lucky we are to live in our system.

Taylor Swift, The Eras Tour. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

A celebrity I would prank phone call and what I would ask them is…Taylor Swift, to get tickets to her Eras concert.

My style icon isKate, Princess of Wales. She is so elegant. I am an artist and I have my unique style, so I wouldn’t necessarily wear what she wears, however, I think she is the best-dressed woman. She embodies warmth, style, and grace every time she goes out.

My personal style signifier is…My new thing is short puffy skirts with knee-high socks and loafers. I’m also never going anywhere without my pink lip liner to make my lips bigger and a comb to rat my hair.

The classic designer I wish was still designing today would be…Coco Chanel is my favorite designer because she was her own person and didn’t listen to what others told her. She also didn’t go to design school. She made her own rules and followed her heart and being true to herself.

The last meal that truly impressed me was…Pizza made fresh from HEB. It’s made with white cheese, olives, and spinach. I popped it into my new convection oven and in 12 minutes it was divine. Now, I want to buy it every week I go grocery shopping, but I’m trying to avoid that aisle.

Last TV show I binge watched….Griselda with Sofia Vergara on Netflix. She is amazing in it.

Courtesy of the Loren Hotel

Last memorable meal if you want something more sophisticated than my pizza answer I put down….the Nido restaurant at The Loren Hotel rooftop. This was most memorable because of the spectacular skyline of Austin. Get a table with a view. We went there before hearing the Austin Symphony (which is down the street).

In my fridge you will always find…Kale, berries, eggs, chicken, beef, cilantro, turmeric, tomatoes, and milk.

My perfect day would end…At Memorial Sky Park in Houston, with my husband going for a walk with our two dogs, Tinkerbell and Peter Pan, while the sun is setting pink in the sky and I feel the wind gently blowing.

On my tombstone it will say…Joy Made A Profound Difference In The Lives Of Children Everywhere Teaching Them To Love One Another.


  1. So proud to know you Joy. I love and adore you and your Mom. We need to try to figure out how to do a book signing in Paris for your book.
    You are one of a kind and so very special. Keep on making Magic.
    Cheers, Victoria Hentrich

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