Actress, Kelly Kula, Shares Wisdom In This Inspirational Interview
Kelly Kula and I met through mutual friends in Los Angeles, California. We’re both from small towns in the midwest (she’s from Michigan; I’m from Wisconsin). We now share an intimate circle of creative, independent filmmaker friends. She is in the process of developing her dream life of being a full time actress by doing what she can with what she has. I’m consistently impressed with her positive attitude and her passion to succeed. HerFacebook fan page is filled with imagery of her own choreographed stunts in fight scenes. Let’s start this interview with Kelly’s inspirational words:
There have been plenty of people who have said “You can’t” and I wouldn’t be where I am today if I had believed them. It takes a lot of self confidence to follow ones dreams, and the greatest advice I can give to anyone is to be really at peace with who you are. I am by no means perfect, but then again, who defines what a perfect person has to be anyway?
With all my “flaws” and all my attributes, I am perfectly happy being just who I am. There is not a single person in the world exactly like me, and that should be both comforting and exciting. I accept myself and that simple gesture has made all the difference in the world. I get rejected on a daily basis, but when I can separate those rejections as business and not something I should carry personally, I am freed from worry, doubt, and fear. I am confident that I, as I am right now, will be successful in my career, by simply being the hardest working, only-version-of-me there is!
What is stopping you from fulfilling your dream career?
That’s an interesting question because I know that the only thing stopping me from accomplishing anything is myself. However, I do have to give myself grace because when pursuing acting, there is no set career path that one can follow to one day say “I’m a working actor!” If I wanted to be a banker or a lawyer or a doctor, there are a certain number of years to log and, if you have the accompanying brains, you have that job! Acting…gosh, sometimes I wish it were that easy.
I think that putting positivity and confidence out there, while doing all my hard work, will result in the success I want for my life.
What motivates you to want to make your dreams come true?
My family is a big motivator for why I want to be an actress because there is a HUGE part of me that wants to be able to take care of them. I am so grateful for the upbringing I had that I would like to reciprocate and aid my parents in retirement, help my sisters set up college funds for my nieces and nephews, and make sure that they don’t have to worry about bills. Their peace of mind is also mine.
Plus, I love what acting has done for me and I want to touch someone in that same way. It gives me such a fire and love for life that if I can ignite that in someone, even if in just one person, then I would have a feeling of success. I love doing what I do, period. I am grateful for the ones around me, both family and friends who support me. They are the motivators behind the passion.
How are you dealing with fear, doubt and worry?
I work at denouncing fear, doubt, and worry at all times because once you let them filter in, they’re very hard for the conscious mind to rid of. I really am a firm believer that what you think and what you say can only come back to you, so if all you’re putting out there are your fears, doubts, and worries, guess what? Only more of that is going to come to you!
I really work at setting aside my fears and finding the positive in any situation. When I worry about money I make myself step back and say, “When have you ever been abandoned and left to starve? Never. You will be taken care of. Just believe and keep moving forward.” It’s not to say that I’m not impervious to those feelings, I just work hard at using them to my advantage instead of allowing them to overtake me.
What steps are you taking towards reaching your goals?
I am working as much as possible as an actor, whether I’m getting hired to do so or bringing my own works to life. I feel that it’s very important to always show the industry that you’re working because I don’t think that anyone wants to hire a stagnant actor who is merely waiting for opportunity to come knocking.
I’ve hired content creators and have filmed many clips to highlight my talents. I played a series regular on a pilot where I not only got to act but I also performed my own stunts. Activities like this aid me in keeping my craft in tune and stretching myself to reach new limits.
It’s persistence, patience, and also tact. I work very hard on not being that “stereotypical actor” and setting myself apart from the rest by being a genuine, honest, fun to be around person. I also train in the gym most every day because, since I want an action/adventure career to start, I have to be in top shape to compete.
Who or what inspires you to stay motivated?
Fitness is a huge inspiration for me, so when I get a fitness goal in my head, there’s nothing that will stop me from accomplishing it! I love the way that good health and friendly competition makes you feel, and if you’re only in competition with yourself, you’re bound to keep getting better and better.
I listen to inspirational mantras in the morning to make sure all negativity is warded out. I’ve also started to learn meditation with my boyfriend. Being able to be a clear-headed leader really excites me. And, I have a great group of motivators who, whenever I feel a little down, are right there to put me back on track. Like my lovely friend, Lydia. She listens to everything I have to say and ALWAYS finding a positive solution. She’ll pray over me and it’s instantly reenergizing. To have that much love coming from one person is enough to put me back on track.
Ten years and one month ago, yesterday, my mom passed away from pancreatic cancer. Last night, by mysterious gift from friends, I was able to have a little date with her, and no, I don’t mean her ghost… I was simply with the memories that she and I created together. Was I crying? A little bit… But, my tears were accompanied with an ear to ear smile.
As a single mom of four children, my mother had to juggle a strenuous real estate career while making sure my brothers and I were all cared for. As the only girl, my mom would often take me to programs offered through the parks and recreation department. I took horseback riding lessons; I was in girl scouts; I went ice skating; I played baseball and softball; and gymnastics. Of them all my favorite babysitter was The Sparta Chamber Orchestra. While my brothers wrestled with each other and shot at things with BB guns, I listened to stringed instruments perform classics by Beethoven and Mozart.
It’s interesting how easily we take things for granted as children. I loved all of the activities I was involved in, but I missed stable family experiences. We didn’t have a pleasant home life. We distracted ourselves from our dysfunctional family by being away from home for as much of the day as possible. Of course, as an adult, I am now thankful for the existence of these distractions, but as a child, I felt sad and lonely. My attention drifted towards what I didn’t have, rather than what was great, right in front of me.
Last night, the same realization swept over me as I sat in the Hollywood Bowl Amphitheater. The LA Phil Harmonic was playing beautifully. I remembered many childhood hours, sitting in an empty church, while my mother played second chair violin in the local chamber orchestra. Every week, she practiced and I tagged along. Those moments (then and now) are magical. The way the music bounced around in the empty sanctuary, as I explored the religious alter, unsupervised. It was as if my imagination had it’s own musical composition playing in the background. These are absolutely treasured moments.
So, for a brief moment last night, while remembering these memories, made by my mom and me, I felt a pang of sadness and loneliness. The fact that I can never physically enjoy live, classical music with my mom is heavy. But I smiled anyway. I have such great memories attached to my mom playing violin; and to live orchestral music. I am forever in gratitude for the distraction of music to protect me from flying BB bullets. For as often as I focus on the delights, pain has no place in my heart.
I do believe the same could be said for any and all of life’s situations. No situation is ever bad or good… it is simply our choice of perspective that deems it so. Had I chose last night to focus on the lack of my mom’s physical being, the entire night would have been blanketed by sadness and grief. Because I decided to turn my attention to those lovely memories created by a mother doing her best to provide for four young, squabbling children, the night was magical and enjoyable.
Let’s say you are building a garden in your yard. You spend hours digging, sowing, weeding and planting. At the end of the day, you feel satisfied and accomplished. You wake the next morning to find that animals have destroyed everything by digging holes in and around the plants. Some seedlings have been dug up, torn to shreds, or simply removed from the ground. Looking around at the ruined plot of land, frustration sets in. You wonder why you bothered and proclaim that you’ll never attempt something like this again, knowing you can’t lose what you don’t have. The mind closes and all opportunity to learn from this is lost. You blame the animals and complain about how unfair the situation is.
What happens when your attention drifts towards the gratitude at having a piece of land large enough to make a garden? You had free time in your life to build this garden, isn’t that something to be thankful for? You were healthy enough to be moving shovels full of soil. After the hard work, you bathed in an indoor shower, with warm, running water and luxury soap. And, even if they are causing more work, isn’t it nice to know that Earth houses a variety of life forms? Sure, you have to start again, but couldn’t that somehow be a wonderful thing? Now there is an opportunity to create a better garden, one that is animal-proof. Good thing they got in and destroyed the garden early on, rather than after months of hard labor tending to these plants… right?!
By harnessing control over your own perception of an event, you can find peace in any turmoil.
It’s interesting that neither optimism or pessimism change the fact that animals tore up this garden. The only thing that changes is our experience. By training our minds to focus on the joy, beauty, and excitement – we encounter joy, beauty, and excitement. The same is true about paying attention only to lack, fear, and limitation. We endure frustration, anger, and jealousy when our thoughts reside in those dark places. Bring your attention back to the light by remaining grateful for what is right (or possible).
2. Fake it ’til you make it.
For the first few days, or even weeks, after planting seeds, nothing is visible in a garden. This is a critical stage for a garden to be watered thoroughly and regularly. Let’s say that you’ve figured out how to keep the animals out, and you’ve completely resown your garden. A passerby who knows nothing of your efforts, might find it quite strange to see you watering an empty plot of soil day after day. But since you’ve built this garden, you know exactly which plants will bloom where and when. Even if you explain your gardening intentions to your neighbor, they may still miss the full picture the way you see it with your mind’s eye.
Watering seeds which are hidden underground, with the understanding that green leafy bits will eventually burst through, is one way to describe faith. At this stage, you don’t know which seeds will sprout, or even if any will. But, you do know enough about biology to know they “might” make it and surely your watering habits can contribute to the success, or failure. Once again, an awareness and focus on the possibilities (rather than a focus on the lack of sprouts showing), allows abundance to exist.
Similarly, when we visualize or say positive affirmations with an image of our garden (our goal) at it’s fullest potential, we are able to keep faith in the possibilities. If all we can see is an empty plot of soil, we create our own mental roadblocks.
3. Don’t give up.
Some plants take only 3-5 days to germinate. Others can take weeks. Some perennial bulbs and flowers don’t even sprout until the year after they are planted. Patience is a virtue, one that can be developed if not inherited. Just as in gardening, dreams take time. Goals need to be nurtured and maintained; tended to and supported. When patience is matched with perseverance, magic happens.
Instead of groaning and complaining about the destruction of the garden by wild animals, start rebuilding. Move forward without looking back. Keep your eyes on the prize and extinguish any questions of fear, doubt, or worry. Remind yourself of the joy you get from being in the garden. Acknowledge what feels right in your heart and build faith from that. Do not let those pesky animals distract you from your purpose.
Imagine if after 2 weeks of watering every day, your garden shows no signs of germination, motivating you to throw in the towel and give up. How ironic would it be to know that the seeds were only one day away from sprouting? Despite what your eyes see (the empty plot of soil), trust the vision that is inside you, showing the garden in full bloom.
Let’s continue this discussion over on the “Dreamers” Facebook fan page. What does the garden symbolize in your life? What suggestions would you give to someone who feels defeated or frustrated? How do you handle thoughts of fear, doubt, and worry?