Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Inspirational Women in the Entertainment Industry Premiere...

Starting next week, I will begin posting a bi-weekly column over at my friend Alexis Jones' foundation: I Am That Girl. When she approached me to become a guest contributor, I was extremely honored, to say the least, because the organization works to inspire the tween and teen female set and give them strong, positive role models. As someone who grew up looking for role models in the glow of my set top box, I felt like this was the perfect opportunity to help steer some other like-minded young women toward those who are worthy of admiration due to their strong work ethic, impressive accomplishments, and general positive message. Below you will find a sneak peek of my premiere article, an exclusive interview with Krista Allen, star of NBC's upcoming drama, The Philanthropist.

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If there’s an elephant in the room, she vanquishes it right away: “I don’t necessarily want anyone to look at my early body of work and say well, she did it, so it’s okay—so I should, too... But at the same time, you have to use the tools you have, and you can’t constantly beat yourself up. Everything is a learning experience, and you sometimes have to just take the hits and just never give up.” Ever since her late nineties days on the then-hit NBC daytime drama Days of our Lives, Krista Allen’s message has always been an inspirational one: “Go with your gut; listen to your instincts; but always try to look a little bit into the future—at least enough to figure out what you want.” Allen has worked steadily since her arrival in Los Angeles in 1995, which is something that is no easy task and one that she attributes to a lot of hard work, the support of some great friends, and that little thing that is so important in the entertainment industry: timing. But that’s the thing about Allen: she is as humble as she is talented and would probably never admit that she has been rewarded not only because she is good at what she does but also because she is a good person.

Allen has paid her dues, too. Throughout the years, Allen has been tapped for the “sexy fill-in-the-blank” type of roles in both feature films (Totally Blonde, Meet Market) and countless guest appearances and recurring arcs on popular television programs (Friends, CSI, The Starter Wife) but just because she has worked on high profile projects with big name people doesn’t mean the success and the comfort happened overnight. “I was just exploring,” she explains, adding that often times she would get sent a script in which she really connected with a role only to be offered a smaller, supporting role instead. “It’s always been a struggle,” she admits, “but I’m at a great place right now—and a great age range. Producers and studios and networks are coming to me with scripts and ideas, and that never would have happened early on in my career.” Acting is not a guaranteed profession, but throughout the rocky times, Allen never gave up and never stopped working towards what she loves to do, and that drive and determination is the key element to being a success in any industry, but especially the entertainment industry.

Allen’s ambition also made it possible for her to start a tee shirt company called SuperExcellent on a whim a few years ago. The idea came to her after declaring “You Were Never My Boyfriend” after a break-up; she thought it would be funny to pass tee shirts with that slogan printed on them to her friends. They were such a big hit, and similar taglines just kept coming to her, so she decided to expand and make her designs available to the public. It’s really just the beginning to the empire that she is building.

A self-proclaimed adrenaline junkie-- which is not an uncommon trait for creative types in general, let alone actors-- Allen admits it has to be about more than just the thrills of the entertainment industry that keeps you working in it: “Do you want to be an actor—or writer or artist—or do you just want to be famous?” She points out that there is a big difference between focusing on the work or just validation, and it is very easy and all too common for young girls to get swept up in the “cloud of LA.” “If something feels wrong or weird or like something’s not right, then it usually isn’t. Trust yourself and your instincts; second thoughts are just created to challenge what you really know in the first one.” In a town that often pits women against each other, especially actresses who often end up vying for the same roles, Krista's gracious, generous nature “would love to start a group for young woman who have just come to LA to be actors… I’ve always wanted to make a difference, and I’ve always wanted to work with kids. Not just kids, but people who are just starting out—just starting their careers. Support is so important, I can’t stress that enough.” And so is being given the right tools by a wise woman who has come before them.

The industry has changed so much in the past decade, but for Allen it is much more about growing with the industry-- and always being open to learning-- instead of trying to adapt to a current trend. Not everything will always be well received, and “people will always talk about you and judge you, especially in this business, but you have to be honest and always stand up for yourself.” And that, in a nutshell, is not only why Allen has been so successful, but also so worthy of that success: she has always been herself, and that kind of realism is exceptionally refreshing in this town.

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I could not be more thankful for Krista's willingness to take time to talk with me-- and to do so in such a candid and open way was just an added bonus that made for an even more special article. I take great pride in the fact that this interview is unlike any of hers in the past, and I hope I did right by her. I feel like I have set the bar pretty high for this Guest Columnist spot, and I only hope my future I Am That Girl pieces are just as unique and hopefully inspirational.

If you have any suggestions-- or nominations, if you will-- about whom I should do future profiles, please feel free to leave their names in the comment section! Be sure to check out I Am That Girl every 14th and 28th of the month, when my new columns will be posted.

1 comment:

A NUMBER ONE FAN said...

Krista is indeed an inspiration to women and continuously amazes me with her knowledge and determination. She is still and untapped resource in her skills as an actor both comedic and dramatic and I hope in the future she will be able to demonstrate these more fully.
Her business sense and her ability to create has been an inspiration to anyone who has the good fortune to get near. Also, she is a wonderful writer and I am constantly amazed at her abilities.
She is also an amazing Mom and friend. I thank her for being in my life!!!