Rising Star Kelly Walker: “Being busy doesn’t mean you’re being productive. It’s important to maintain some sort of life outside of work”

I’ve really had to master the art of balance. I love work, I love the hustle and I crave being busy. However, being busy doesn’t mean you’re being productive. I think it’s important to give yourself breaks and maintain some sort of life outside of work. For me it was finding hobbies that had nothing […]

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I’ve really had to master the art of balance. I love work, I love the hustle and I crave being busy. However, being busy doesn’t mean you’re being productive. I think it’s important to give yourself breaks and maintain some sort of life outside of work. For me it was finding hobbies that had nothing to do with my career and allowing myself to enjoy them. My husband is really great at that work/life balance, I learn so much from him.

As a part of my series of the rising stars in popular culture, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kelly Walker, an Australian multi-hyphenate award winning filmmaker. She’s had multiple short films in the festival circuit, most notably The Brownlist, co-directed and edited by Walker. The Brownlist recently wrapped its festival run, including several Oscar qualifiers and the Jury Award for Best Short Film at Geena Davis’s Bentonville Film Festival. Walker and the creator are set to direct a feature film later this year with MarVista Entertainment as their first place prize. In the last couple of years she’s directed multiple shorts and directed a couple of episodes of the series, Grow The F*ck Up. Her film Jane was accepted into Australian’s In Film’s Writing Lab and shortlisted on Women In Film’s Writing Lab. Jane goes into production in June 19’ with Walker set to direct. Additionally, as an actress Walker can be seen in recurring roles on ABC’s Last Man Standing and DC’s Swamp Thing.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

At a young age my dream was to be a stripper. My favorite movies were Flashdance and Gypsy and I would watch them on repeat and was like — yup, that’s going to be me. (I was like… seven years old…) My mom explained that these strippers were actors pretending to be strippers. I figured that was a pretty good plan B. In my early teens my best friend and I started making feature length films that my grandma deemed unwatchable, but drunk uncles loved and recommended to friends.

Obviously moving to America was the next step because a lot of stripper roles were cast in Los Angeles. It was a dark time when I realized those stripper roles went to those with D cups and not double-A’s. I was making money as a video editor, acting, writing and continuing to create my own films. It made sense to blend all these skills together under the hub of my production company, Galker Productions, that I run with my husband, Ryan Garcia.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

I don’t have a singular interesting story, however what I find interesting about our business is the reality that there’s a ton of magical synchronicity in this industry. The idea that “If I hadn’t have done this small project, I wouldn’t have met this person who wouldn’t have introduced me to that person who wouldn’t have hired me for that project.” The seeds are usually planted years before the realization of the opportunity.

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?

Yeah… So…. Don’t lie on your resume. When I got my first agent I ticked every skill box so I could have the most auditions possible. Cut to my aunt trying to teach me how to play guitar for an audition. We pulled an all nighter and by the time I went to the audition, my hands were just a mass of blisters. Didn’t book it. Also didn’t learn my lesson. WTF is wrong with me? I’ve had to pretend to know the drums, french, juggling, skateboarding and even booked a commercial that required me to surf. (I don’t surf.) Luckily, on set they cut the surfing scene due to time constraints. Lying is not worth it, the stress it brings is just a waste of time. This is a really great way to make enemies and look disastrously unprofessional.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Currently I’m in pre-production on the first feature I’m directing, Jane. I’ve been developing it since 2016 and I can’t put into words how aahhhmaazzzingg it is to see it coming together. I keep catching myself giggling like a kid and thinking — Is this real life? I’ve been so lucky to have such talented and passionate people join the production. This film is really personal to me and I took my time writing it. The film deals with LGBT relationships and suicide and I wanted to make sure the story and the characters were treated with sensitivity and honesty. My belly flops every day as it gets closer to shooting. I think it’s excitement and fear all rolled into one. I’m learning to embrace the fear as that’s a huge part of the experience. If you learn where the fear stems from you can learn how to turn it into what drives you.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

I think everyone is interesting in their own right and no one person comes to mind. The acting school I go to, John Rosenfeld Studios is where I’ve met the most important people in my life. The owner John has this magical way of bringing actors together that support and encourage each other’s journeys. Through this studio I met my husband, my best friends and collaborators and they’re all genuinely talented, thoughtful and egoless creatives.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

I’ve really had to master the art of balance. I love work, I love the hustle and I crave being busy. However, being busy doesn’t mean you’re being productive. I think it’s important to give yourself breaks and maintain some sort of life outside of work. For me it was finding hobbies that had nothing to do with my career and allowing myself to enjoy them. My husband is really great at that work/life balance, I learn so much from him.

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. 🙂

I think it’s really simple. Don’t be an asshole. Be authentically curious, ask questions, admit when you don’t know the answer. If we all find a little humility along the way we can give others the same space to experience their own vulnerabilities. It’s a chain reaction. Create a safe space and pay it forward.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Success doesn’t happen overnight. It’s going to take the exact amount of time it’s supposed to. You have to trust and I mean give over to that trust like nothing else. Without that, you’re constantly second guessing your pursuit, your journey and forfeiting the act of being present and learning from each opportunity and challenge. I have to remind myself of this every day.
  2. Creativity isn’t about the end result. I’m all for manifesting and encourage that, but if you focus on what this project or opportunity will do for you later, then you can’t give it the attention it needs right now. We have to want to create for the pure act of creating. Whether that’s developing a character for an audition, or writing a script or directing a film. When we skip the steps and let the ego run the show, we lose perspective and usually what we create isn’t our truth or for the greater good of the project.
  3. It’s not personal. So often when something doesn’t go our way we tend to want to believe it’s personal. That’s our ego talking. To book a job, get accepted to a film festival, land an agent etc. — it’s a perfect storm, the puzzle pieces have to align in such a way that we literally have no control over it. If something doesn’t go your way, you have to believe there’s a bigger reason for it. I can look back and see all the doors that were opened because one door closed. Don’t let no’s discourage you, thank them for allowing the yes’s to come forward.
  4. Self care is number one. The love you give to yourself will always be more powerful than any joy you can gain from your career. You have to constantly check in and work at what’s happening on the inside. Creatively your tool is you and if you aren’t at your best then neither is your tool. I had to take a year away from acting because I felt like a failure. I was in this cycle of toxic negative self talk. I gave my career too much ownership over my happiness. In that year I truly fell in love with myself and found bliss without outside gratification. There’s nothing more empowering than not needing someone else’s acceptance to define your purpose. Your IMDB is just words on a website. You are enough. You don’t need permission to love yourself.
  5. Your inner circle matters. Make sure you surround yourself with people that encourage, believe and motivate you. The friends that are competitive, fear driven creatives are going to bring you down. Your own inner voice is rough enough, you don’t need negative outside voices contributing to your journey. That being said, make sure you also show up for your friends. Being a supportive friend is really the only way to receive in return.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“I’ve had a lot of worries in my life. None of which never happened.” — Mark Twain.

You guys! Seriously! This quote! I am such a professional worrier it’s not even funny. I find myself catastrophizing to the extent that I’m living my worst nightmare in my head. Meditation has become an integral practice in my daily life. It helps me acknowledge a negative thought, thank it and kick it off the cliff.

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?

My aunt, Kim Flagg. She’s a brilliant comedy writer and my roommate for the first ten years in Los Angeles. I honestly wouldn’t still be pursuing this career without her. From helping me with auditions, vetting every script I’ve written, 2am relationship pow wows, tipsy piano singing and the most incredible wisdom I’ve ever received. Google has got nothing on her. We’ve worked together, lived together, vacationed together and she’s my best friend and anchor. I wish everyone got a Kim Flagg when they moved to LA. I know it made all the difference to me.

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. 🙂

Mark and Jay Duplass, for suuure. I would love to ask them advice when it comes to navigating our industry and blocking out the people that claim there’s only “one way” to achieve success. These guys created a road map of creativity that wasn’t defined on the tent poles of others. It’s so easy to take everyone’s advice as fact and I feel like they know how to graciously ignore the naysayers and block it in a humbling way.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Instagram: @girldownunda

Twitter: @kellyewalker

Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!

Thank you Yitzi for making it happen!

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