Finding a bargain is great, but when it comes to your career, don’t scrimp. Whether you’re investing in equipment, headshots, makeup, business cards or whatever, get the best you can afford. It will make your life a lot easier. Also, if you’re not good at something, hire someone to do it for you.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Kelly Camille Patterson. Kelly is an actor, writer and producer (along with her husband, Paul Spencer) of the “Velveteen Lounge Kitschen” web series, along with the upcoming web series “It’s Glendora’s World.” As a singer and lyricist she co produced the Christmas record “It’s Martini Time” and has performed live comedy and theater in New York City and on tour.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve been acting since 8th grade. I was the child who always imagined myself on a TV variety series, dressed in feathers and sequins, singing, dancing and making people laugh. About 15 years ago I found myself at a crossroads in my career wanting to continue acting, but having no plan or direction. I would randomly show up at open calls, wondering what I was even doing there. I took a step back and started a business making jewelry and other crafty items, but was miserable. I knew I had to get back to performing. Around this time YouTube came along and suddenly there was a way to create any type of role I wanted to play. No one had to cast me it was all in my hands. Creating my own web series “Velveteen Lounge Kitschen” is what got me back into the game and it has been growing ever since.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
I think the most interesting experience I’ve had doing this show is the day we spent in Cleveland. We shot three episodes that day: one at the “A Christmas Story” House (the house where they shot the actual film), one at the Buckland Gallery of Witchcraft & Magick and one at Porco Lounge and Tiki Room. It was a crazy day, at three wildly different locations, changing dresses between shoots in the car or wherever I could find! Everyone was so welcoming and helpful. I remember unloading some equipment from the car that day and being acutely aware of how lucky I was and am that I get to do this. We’ve been invited to so many amazing locations and met so many incredible people over the course of doing this show.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Once we shot an episode of “Velveteen Lounge Kitschen” in front of a green screen and, without thinking of the consequences, I wore a dress with green sleeves. Yes, we had to reshoot the entire thing, since my arms had disappeared into the background (in this case a volcano). Besides the obvious lesson of “don’t wear green when shooting green screen,” we learned to have a sense of humor about our mistakes. It was annoying and frustrating, but also kind of hilarious. It’s the kind of mistake you don’t make twice!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
We’re working on a spinoff of our show, which will give one of my characters Cousin Glendora her own show. She was initially an afterthought, with no lines, but we kept bringing her back and she’s taken on a life of her own. We’re building the set her house which will soon take over our house! She has her own music, animated intro the works!
I’m also working with a friend to create a lounge act, which is exciting because it will incorporate two of my favorite things, music and comedy.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
We’ve met so many interesting people doing this show! Fellow creators, the artists with whom we’ve collaborated, the bar owners and restaurateurs who’ve invited us into their establishments, the homeowners who’ve allowed us to shoot inside their homes everyone has been so diverse and committed to their project or passion. I think anyone who decides to bring their dream to life, whether it’s creating a show, forming a band, opening a tiki bar, or traveling the world and blogging about it, and actually makes it happen is incredibly interesting.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I’m only just beginning to incorporate this advice into my own life but, when you feel burnout coming on, STOP! I’ve learned that nothing useful gets done when I’m fighting burnout. If I feel I “should” keep working I’ll often do something related, but passive, like watching classic comedies or listening to music related to my project. Not only will it save your sanity, your work will ultimately benefit.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :)
We create many original cocktail recipes on our show. In the past we’ve raised funds for Feeding America and AIDS Walk New York by creating custom cocktails for our donors and I would love to take that even further. I love the idea of cocktails and comedy as tools for helping those in need.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- There is no path. For many, many years I tried to do all the things I thought an actor “should” do in a misguided attempt to create success. I went to the “right” schools and classes, got pleasantbutgeneric headshots, etc. It was only when I started blazing my own trail that my creativity began to flow and I actually got excited about my career.
- Listen to your gut. People will give you all sorts of advice (many of whom are trying to sell you things), but the only person who truly knows what’s best for you is YOU. Many well meaning people will advise you to do things that have resulted in success for other people but, if those things feel wrong to you, let them go.
- Haters gonna hate. Some people just aren’t going to like you, period, and that is totally fine. I tend to wear a lot of bright colors and vintage clothes and my husband loves to tell me “You should see the look that woman just gave you.” Let them hate! The only one who needs to be happy is you.
- Finding a bargain is great, but when it comes to your career, don’t scrimp. Whether you’re investing in equipment, headshots, makeup, business cards or whatever, get the best you can afford. It will make your life a lot easier. Also, if you’re not good at something, hire someone to do it for you.
- When choosing between two equally useful and well made versions of the same item, get the one that’s bright pink and covered with bling. You only live once. Practicality is overrated.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
There is a hysterical episode of “The Jack Benny Program” from 1957 during which Jack is Christmas shopping. He ends up in an argument with a saleslady in a department store, who tells him, “You walked in here, Lotus Blossom, nobody dragged you.” I keep that quote in mind when things get difficult or overwhelming with any of my projects and it really does help to remember this was all my idea I took all of these challenges on. No one is forcing me to do anything.
Similarly, I think of the Super Chicken theme song “You knew the job was dangerous when you took it!”
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
We’re very fortunate to be connected with some incredible people who have gone way above and beyond the call of duty to help us out. Some friends in Milford, CT provided us with beach access and a boat and invited us to stay at their house when we wanted to shoot a music video, which resulted in a project far above what we could have done on our own. Another, at the very last minute, arranged for us to shoot at a fabulous restaurant Chef ShangriLa in North Riverside, IL, since we were passing through town. One friend, whom we’d never met in person, invited us to stay with him at an event in New Orleans, which allowed us to shoot even more video and opened many doors for us. And, when the composer we were working with on a tight schedule suddenly went AWOL, a talented friend jumped in and composed an amazing song for us on about 24 hours notice.
I will also be eternally grateful to my voice teacher, producer and Broadway star Kurt Peterson. He’s always been incredibly supportive an I value our talks more than he’ll ever know.
My husband, Paul Spencer, is not just my coproducer, he’s my partner in crime. He supports every crazy idea I have, encourages me to push myself and holds my hand on my bad days. His unwavering belief in me is everything.
My mother has also been incredibly supportive of my projects. It is absolutely possible to succeed without family support, but I never forget how lucky I am to have it.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :)
Carol Burnett. In addition to being one of the funniest people of all time, she’s a strong businesswoman who writes and produces and has survived over half a century in show business. I would love to hear about some of the challenges she has faced and overcome. By all accounts she has remained gracious and grounded, which is an incredible accomplishment.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!
Thank you for having me!