Kimberley sat down with actress, singer/songwriter and writer Katie Wilbert. Read on for this inspiring and honest interview.
AT WHAT POINT DID YOU DECIDE THAT YOU COULD MAKE A CAREER THAT COMBINED YOUR TALENTS AND YOUR PASSIONS?
There have been several moments in my life in which I had â€œaha!â€ moments when it comes to my passion and career. First aha moment? The fact that if I became an actress I would get to kiss some really attractive men.
The second aha moment? When I shared my first song with people, and it got such a response that I realised this hobby Iâ€™d be doing since I was 9, was actually something valuable and something I could truly turn into a career?
My third aha moment? Came after a difficult point in my life, when life had dealt me a couple lemons, and everything at that point had changed- a break up, roommates moved out, I lived alone, and something about this huge catalyst in my life propelled me forward unlike any other moment in my life – I was so determined and so fearless thanks to this moment in my life, that I honestly felt I could do anything if I could get through that part of my life. And I did, and it truly led me to the place I am now – happy, thriving and working successfuly within my career.
WERE YOU SCARED OR FEARFUL?
Yes, of course. With every bout of courage I get, I get an equal amount of fear and doubt. However, Iâ€™ve always believe that just because you are brave doesnâ€™t mean you arenâ€™t scared – I think it is rather, finding something worth fighting through the fear for – and when it comes to singing, acting, and following my dreams, I just was unwilling to be paralysed by fears and doubts.
WHAT DRIVES YOU?
I am driven by the deep longing Iâ€™ve always had in my heart to create, perform and affect the lives of others. I am driven by my passion, but also by the people in my life. I have surrounded myself with individuals who bring me up, motivated me and never allow me to remain stagnant.
HAVE YOU FELT LIKE GIVING UP OR THROWING IN THE TOWEL? IF SO, HOW DID YOU PICK YOURSELF UP?
Oh man, yes there is a distinct moment I remember. I had just gone through my â€œbig breakupâ€ and I was trying to figure out the kind of life I wanted, who I wanted to be, and I was really in that â€œfight or flightâ€ stage. For a moment, I thought I might run away, go get my masters in playwriting in Pitsburgh at Carnegie Mellon University, and just do away with acting. Then my Dad gave me one of those â€œsnap out of it!â€ conversations where he told me I was crazy and was running scared when what I needed to do was fight harder for the dream Iâ€™ve always had, which was to be a successful actress and singer. That lead me to try out improv which was something I was very scared of, and that literally propelled me forward towards the life I am living now – a fearless one.
HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH CRITICISM?
Itâ€™s honestly never easy to hear anyone criticise myself or my work, however, when it comes to constructive criticism, Iâ€™ve always been able to take it for what it is- something to help me grow and learn.
When it comes to the kind of hurtful criticism that is meant to tear me and my work down, I am not sure Iâ€™ve found a great way to deal with that other than to turn a blind eye and not allow it into my heart. What I have learned however, is that I never feel good when I spend all my time worrying about what other people think- so I simply try not to worry about it, to not compare myself with others, to just keep doing what Iâ€™m doing.
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE OBSTACLES YOU HAVE FACED AND HOW DID YOU OVERCOME THEM?
I honestly think that the biggest obstacle has always been overcoming the voices in my head that say I canâ€™t. I think going through certain heart aches temporarily fed those voices – and then after the initial shock of losing a lot of people in my life in a short period of time, I just literally made the choice to be happy, to seek the life I want, to become the woman Iâ€™d always wanted to be. So I starved my voices of doubt, and that has been my biggest obstacle – overcoming my own fears and doubts.
WHAT SKILLS DID YOU HAVE TO LEARN THAT YOU PERHAPS DID NOT ALREADY HAVE PREVIOUSLY?
On a physical level, I realised that the next step in being a successful songwriter was to learn to play some instruments- so I signed up for piano and guitar lessons. In order to take my acting career to the next step, I enrolled in improv/sketch classes, as I have always wanted to be on SNL, so I looked up my favorite alumni actors from the show, where they trained, and I signed up the same day.
On a mental and spiritual level, I have had to learn to allow myself to make mistakes, as this is often the best way to learn. Iâ€™ve learned that relaxation and innocent indulgences are necessary- I got so focused on achieving that I gave myself anxiety, so part of my life now has been to literally learn to make time for relaxation and mental rest.
MOST REWARDING EXPERIENCE SO FAR?
The most rewarding experience I have encountered yet was writing, directed, producing and starring in my own one woman show.
I signed up for a â€œsolo performanceâ€ workshop mainly to push myself to do something that in my mind at the time seemed like the scariest possible thing a person could do. Ha, so naturally I signed up. 2 months later I had written and performed a 50 minute one-woman ninja musical. It was received better than I could have imagined, and I literally remember the moment the lights went out after the last song, and I received a standing ovation, seeing my family in the front row, I just beemed- and remember telling myself, â€œThis is the MOST fun I have ever had in my entire life.â€
It was so incredibly rewarding because that show was so deeply personal as I had such an investment in every aspect – it was a showcase of me and my humour and my musical voice, and to have everyone receive it was just unlike anything I could ever imagine.
WHO HAVE YOU SURROUNDED YOURSELF WITH?
I have heard once that we become like the 5 people we spend the most time with. I am finally at a point in my life when I can look around and say that those people closest to me are indeed people I would be happy to become like. Before, I donâ€™t believe I could say that honestly, but the people in my life right now, my best friends, my love interests, my family, they are the most supportive, motivating, genuinely good people I have ever known. I surround myself with those who love me for all my quirks and who support me relentlessly.
ARE YOU HAPPY MOST OF THE TIME?
I had this discussion with my best friend the other day, and as she pointed out, I believe I have found myself in one of the very happiest, best parts of my life. I believe this because of the people who have graced my life, but also because I feel full. I do not feel like I am grasping for someone else to show me my beautiful, or talent. I feel that I give myself enough love and recognition, that my family and friends give me the love and support I need, and I am fulfilled with the work I am creating.
BEST ADVICE YOU HAVE BEEN GIVEN?
Wow, Iâ€™ve received so many good tokens through out my life, especially recently. Most of them come from my parents, especially my father. He asked me once, if I could do anything, anything at all, and money was not an issue, what would it be? I answered an actress and a singer. His response? Then that is exactly what you should do. That has always stayed with me.
MOST INTERESTING THING YOU HAVE LEARNT ABOUT YOURSELF?
I have learned that I am one of the bravest and strongest people I know, it just took some time to get there. But now I feel fearless and courageous, and this is something I love and admire within myself.
MOST INTERESTING THING YOU HAVE LEARNT ABOUT BUSINESS?
I have learnt the power of good networking with like minded people. I have learnt the value of respect for others, and how that can go a long way and help with future endeavors – people remember when you are good and kind to them, and it always comes back around in a positive way.
ADVICE FOR SOMEONE WHO MIGHT BE INTERESTED IN PURSUING YOUR LINE OF WORK?
Well, I have my hands in a lot of different things- Singing, Acting and Writing. My advice to anyone trying to multi- task like me, is to pace yourself, and not over commit. This got me into a lot of trouble in the past, as I have a tendency to say â€œyesâ€ to every opportunity before considering whether or not I even have time for it. On the other hand – DO always say yes to positive opportunities- they are chances to learn, grow, meet new people, and expand your horizons.
Singing and songwriting
Start really paying attention to what songs resonate with you, which artists you relate to, and learn all their songs and see them live. Learn from the best, and simply start writing! I have song books from when I was 9, and man those songs are atrocious, but where would I be had I never had the courage to write and be vulnerable without caring what the end result would be? If you have the urge, and the impulse is there, please please go for it.
Get involved in theatre, I was in musical theatre throughout high school, and not only did I meet some of my very best friends there, I got to perform and learn, and it taught me the true meaning of work and commitment. Seek out a mentor, ask questions, map out a plan. Get some nice headshots, start creating a resume. If you want to be in TV/Film, go where you need to be to make that happen, have the courage to start somewhere new, and take classes from the best, participate in student films, and start networking and working towards that end result. It really is not as impossible as youâ€™ve made it out in your mind to be.
Seriously, write. Thatâ€™s it. Just write, everyday, a couple times a day, without judging your work. Donâ€™t go back and erase or scratch things out- write in the raw, and just donâ€™t ever stop writing. You have to think of your talents like muscles, the more you exercise, the stronger they get.