The Heart2Art Project's president Caitlyn Phu interviewed Kaylie Flowers, a 16 year old performer living in Huntington Beach, about her experience as a theatrical performer and artist. Here's what she had to say.
Caitlyn Phu: What is your passion and when did it begin? How did it develop and grow throughout your life?
Kaylie Flowers: My passion is theatre. I started theatre when I was in the 5th grade after my dad had randomly brought it up. I had no friends at the time and was getting bullied at my elementary school, so I felt like maybe I could make some friends there and just do [theatre] to escape. I remember standing in a circle in a small, dingy warehouse and just watching all these pre-teens let loose, leaving the drama outside. After a year [of practice at the theatre], I did a show; the lights, the comradery, and a different attention was what called me to the stage. From then on, I did more improvisation shows and plays and, when I had moved middle schools, I did more plays there. I knew that I wanted the stage as soon as I heard the first applause. Now, it’s all I do and I’m trying to make it my future.
CP: What aspect of theatre interests you the most and why? Why is it important to you?
KF: I love being someone else. I love the costumes, accents, hair, and culture that I can be sucked into by just reading lines. It’s important to me because it’s something I’m good at. I’m not great at math or economics, but, in theatre, that doesn’t matter. An, honestly, [I value] the attention. When I was bullied, they focused on my look and on my low self confidence. However, when I’m on stage, it’s a fixation on my talent. It’s a nicer attention.
CP: What kinds of obstacles did you face in pursuing the arts, either as a hobby or career? Did you have any supporters along the way?
KF: I face obstacles constantly. Mostly rejection for roles, and that’s normal, but actors should be cast based on talent and not on pressure [from outside expectations]. For film roles, the case is the color of my skin, but now that I’m going for ethnically ambiguous, it’s easier.
I love my supporters. I consider some of them family. They’re mostly my mom, dad, some friends, and past/current directors that have given me great notes on how to expand my career.
CP: What similar artists inspire you and why?
KF: I try not to aspire to be anyone else because I’ll focus on them and their methods and try to be like them. Sure, I’ll admire their talent, but I don’t want to be known as a copy of someone because, then, who would I be? Every actor is so individually different and that is what is so great about acting.
I adore the whole cast of The Office, so much so that I met Rainn Wilson and have his book. The writing and reactions in that show are so real and genuine it feels like they are at an actual office. Also, [I am inspired by] the women of SNL, because they are such polished improvisers that they can literally become anyone. Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig, Amy Poehler, and Tina Fey, to just name a few, are gold plated comedians, along with Will Ferrell and many more.
CP: Throughout history, the arts have been perceived as an extremely male-dominated practice, and an absence of recognition for women’s role in the arts has led to a lack of opportunity and acknowledgement for females in the arts today. Has this impacted your pursuit of the arts? What would you like to see change?
KF: Yes! Men will always be precast when it comes to small theatre. Currently, we are in need of more guys in theatre. Because boys are scared of being called derogatory terms [in theatre], men don’t care about the theatre. For women, it’s more competitive. Freshman year, at callbacks for Antigone, I got called a “whore” in front of the everyone because I didn’t want to kiss a boy. Rather than staying quiet and letting him get away with that I told him off in front of everyone, even the director, which could have really ruined my chances at getting the role. However, because I stood up to him, I landed the role.
Additionally, there needs to be more leading female minorities. That’s a change I want to see, especially seeing more lead characters that are a color other than white, more women who aren’t cast as a sex symbol or a damsel in distress, and female directors that aren’t criticized for making films that are “too feminist.”
CP: Why do you think it is important to recognize and give opportunities to more female artists?
KF: Art inspired art. Women should be considered just as qualified and talented because they are, it shouldn’t be based off of if I have a penis or not. This also goes for anything out of the business as well. If a women does better work than a man, has a child, and pays for her house, she should be recognized as equal not at submissive or “ too emotional.” Just shut up already, you’re just as emotional as a girl too.
CP: What impact do you wish to make with your art?
KF: I want to inspire. I want people to see me and think, “Hey, if that brown girl with that body can do it, so can I.”
CP: Is there anything else you would like to say or share?
KF: Being a teen, it is harder for me to answer these questions because, although I’m experienced for these years, college and the industry is going to bring up new obstacles that will both trip me up but also push me forward.