Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do.
We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”
― Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of “A Course in Miracles”
I’m here in Denver after an incredible time in Palm Springs and Los Angeles…but looking forward to getting home and embarking on the next chapter of my life.
The first live show that Kim remembers seeing as a child was The Mikado. She remembers the awe that she felt when she discovered that the actors weren’t really Japanese but that their look was created from make-up! Her Girl Scout troop went. She was like 9 or 10. She was so in awe.
Kim was exposed to the arts growing up. They lived in Brooklyn. She went to plays, concerts, PBS on Sunday afternoons. Her mother was a teacher and her father loved music. She remembers watching Peter and The Wolf on PBS. Sunday afternoons were a big deal. She didn’t see a lot of the “bigger” shows like Dreamgirls and Pippin. There was a lot that she didn’t see but she was aware of theatre and of music and aware of that thing called “show”.
Kim’s first time on stage was as a plus size model. People that she was working for found out that she was funny. She was dabbling in stand-up at the time. And one night, the emcee for the show did not show up, they were running late. This was in the days before cell phones would have alerted everyone to what was going on. The designer said, “You’re funny. Get up there and entertain everyone.” And she was like humana-humana-humana…but she went out there like a trooper. Her big routine at the time was a medley of Roots! Roots was one of the first mini-series. Every night something amazing happened in the plot line and by the end of the week…from the theme music to “Behold Something Greater than yourself“…from Kunte Kinte being captured to Kizzie…”Don’t take my baby away.”
Stand-up comedy was where she first began to make a living in this business. Showtime at The Apollo first established her as a comedian to be reckoned with. She did succeed first time at bat. She was fearless and she didn’t know what the rules were and therefore she did well. She didn’t get her first heckler to many years later. She decided that she wanted to be a “prop comic”. She got a battery operated wall light, a touch light that you would put in your closet. She tied it around her waist and covered it with her dress. She would scratch in her “private area” and it would light up. She would apologize by saying she had “pubic lights” as the audiences would be asking each other if she really said what they thought she had just said. “Excuse me everyone, I really do need ointment!” The reaction was always hilarity. She would twirl a baton and drop it…whatever would get a laugh.
As with all my blogs, we touch upon the importance of arts in education. Kim says we are ALL creative beings. And kids have it in spades! They have imagination; it is so important to foster that imagination. Imagination never dies. Kim knows that she is who she is today because of her exposure to the arts growing up. With arts in education, you can take up drawing in school, learn to play a musical instrument, learn about plays and shows, read plays, and you learned about LIFE through Shakespeare and other playwrights. It is so important to feed that imagine to our young. It helps to build and foster their minds. It never dies and it is at its best when we are young.
Because of my involvement with Carol Channing and hers and my involvement with the Foundation, I always ask about Carol and what she means to those I am writing about. Today is no exception. Kim says Carol is one of a kind and there is no one like her. So undeniably Carol Channing. Kim had the opportunity to meet Carol at a party given by the William Morris agency. Both Carol and Kim were clients at the time.
Every year a big party was given in which each agent could bring one client. And that year, Kim was chosen. Major stars and major agents and someone took Kim over to meet Carol. And there she was in all of her Carol Channing glory: the hair, the eyes, and lashes, the lips, the epaulets. Kim says she was so warm to her, “Yes, I think I recognize your face!” Kim says maybe she did, maybe she didn’t. But she didn’t feel for an instant that she didn’t. Kim says she was so gracious. And she didn’t realize until that moment, perhaps now as we do this interview, people want to be acknowledged. And the two worst words you can say to Kim right now are “Remember me”? And Kim doesn’t want to say, “No, I’m sorry I don’t”. Kim meets hundreds of thousands of people in her travels and from time to time someone will come up and say, “Remember me?” Kim says, “Can you refresh my memory?” and even if she doesn’t remember, she’ll say “It’s so nice to see you again!” Kim doesn’t want to lie. She genuinely wants to remember you.
It was that Carol moment that turned Kim around. Again, maybe Carol remembered her, maybe she didn’t. That is a gift that Carol possesses. Kim said she felt acknowledged, she felt “touched by an angel”, and she realized that’s what people want, and that’s what Carol gave Kim. You CAN’T remember everyone you meet. Kim has a friend who does a routine on that situation: “Remember me? We met last St. Patrick’s Day and I was in green and it was in the forest.”
Kim’s most recent appearance was in New York this past week on Showbiz Tonight on CNN with AJ Hammer who Kim says is adorable in person. He was warm and charming.
Kim was there to talk about the recent Paula Deen scandal. Kim feels that Paula has the prettiest eyes in show business. We both hope that Paula comes through all of this with flying colors. The diabetes AND the scandal for not announcing her diabetes prognosis earlier. We both want to see her succeed and win for all of us. Kim says there are some who feel that those of us in show business are jaded, but we still want to be treated with kindness. And when you meet those celebrities and you realize they are “regular” people, it is heart warming. We ALL want to be treated with kindness. When you meet a Whoopie Goldberg and she is genuinely warm, you are moved by that. Kim first met Whoopie in her orthodontist’s office and Kim started to hyperventilate. Rather than thinking Kim was crazy, Whoopie treated her with REAL kindness. It was a lovely experience for Kim. Kim still feels that awe when she is in Whoopie’s presence. Kim recently met Ralph Fiennes and had the same experience. Kim feels, as I do, when she is in the presence of truly talented people, it is “I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy”. It is hyperventilation time. I told Kim that sitting in the same spot the day before was George Chikiris and we both get it! I would feel the same way if I got the opportunity to meet Doris Day! I just want to tell Doris what she means to me. Just to say Thank You. Kim has had that moment with her fans as well. The arts and these artists touch us. THAT’S what it is all about. From watching the masters do it with her, she has learned how to put her fans at ease.
When Kim saw Whoopie on Broadway in her acclaimed one woman show, the show that had made Whoopie a star, for Kim, it was Carol Burnett and Lucille Ball…now there was Whoopie! And Kim felt there was a genuine place for her in show business.
Kim is returning to stand-up THIS Sunday! She is reclaiming her comedy crown. She took her crown off and sat it down and a lot of girls picked it up. Kim says its ok for them to share it, but it is time for her to put it back on! When she started in stand up, she was one of a kind. There weren’t many women like her. She is not a woman who hates men, she doesn’t hate herself on stage, she doesn’t talk about how awful her life is. There goes a LOT of material. For Kim, it’s about joy, and love, and laughter. That’s what I love about Kim. Now, that she;s 50, earlier this month, she says there are “flashes” (pun intended) to pull upon.
Kim feels her biggest success in show business, the sparkling jewel of her career so far was the five seasons she spent on Living Single. I happen to LOVE that show and still watch it!
Kim’s lowest low was not as low as some people might consider. It was when she was fired after one season on In Living Color….However, it did free her up to go to Living Single! Kim felt that she was going to be the new Carol Burnett…and within one year she was gone! It was due to the fact that there was a hierarchy…and Kim was very low on the totem pole. The work was not always distributed fairly. It was not always distributed to ability and/or skill. It was sometimes due to last name! Kim understands that NOW. If she had not had that experience, she would not have been able to go on to Living Single…where she was at the top of the totem pole! To get the full contrast. Kim feel it was an amazing experience.To go from the experience during In Living Color of thinking things were unfair to succeeding fully with Living Single. She would go home and rehearse to come back the next day to someone else’s name on the sketch. She would experience herself sitting in her dressing room and crying. She also feels that she did not bring her full self to this. Because she felt that it was so unfair, she was too busy complaining about how unfair things were. She cut herself off. She felt that she couldn’t fight this, she couldn’t win, so she just shut down. Kim is good with all this now.
Another low point for Kim was being booed on stage! She opened for Bobby Brown. And Bobby Brown never showed up. It was an outdoor concert in Atlantic City. Maybe 5,000 teenagers. She went out to do twenty minutes and it was about to rain. That east coast feeling when you can feel the rain before it arrives. The kids gave her twenty minutes and they were done with her. She said her thank yous and goodnights and promptly left the stage. She walked back stage and the promoters told her to go back out, that Bobby was not there. She said “What!?!?!” She had just done twnty minutes of material when she only had eighteen. It was the worst thing she could have ever done. The audience was already through with her. She had no more material. The audience began to boo her in echo. “Boo! Get off the stage”. They began to chant “We want Bobby!” Kim kicked off her shoes, and said, “Here’s the deal. You’re booing me” and did the cardinal sin, she told them Bobby was not there. Something you should never do. Now, the audience is in an uproar. Kim screamed back, “You have some nerve booing me. I’m going to be a star. I just booked In Living Color! I’m about to go out to Hollywood and you shouldn’t have booed me because I was the show! Bobby is NOT here!” The promoters were upset. Kim ran off the stage, one of the guys in the band grabbed her shoes, which she left in her haste. Thank God she had already been paid! As she left, the sky opened up with a Noah’s Arc type of rain. “Little Black girls hair was shrinking and all the white girls looked like wet rats. As I walked into my hotel room, I said that’s what you get for booing me. Now, I’m off to Hollywood and stardom!”
The one change Kim would like to see in the industry is for the old fashioned sitcom to come back. That is Kim’s milleau. That is her favorite thing to do. She wants writers on set. Doing the lines and having them say, we can improve upon that. She had that with Living Single. 4 day a week schedule. Get it down. Your summers off. Jokes with the crew. The lighting guy who puts a special light so that when you open the door, you are lit in your own lighting. The lighting guy for Living Single got an Emmy nomination every year. He was lighting six different skin tones. And the food. Thank God that TV Land has picked up that mantle. Kim is going to be pitching a new show idea to them.
Kim says she is very happy about where she is right now in her career. She’s happy with who she is. She’s getting a chance to be Kim Coles on TV. She is hosting shows. She is going around the country and speaking. She would love to do a sitcom. Although she would love to play a character, she is glad she gets to be herself, also. She was just on The Chew (The View with food). She has two things that I will scoop as soon as they materialize!
Kim is dying to do Dancing With The Stars. I want to see that dream materialize! She has been in the running a couple of times. She knows it is hard work. She wants to experience that journey, to dance with Maxim, to shake her groove thing. She wants the sparkle, the marabou, all of it!
Kim says she never dreamed this high. Kim has a life coach who tells her, “Don’t remain positive, remain powerful.” So find where you’re powerful. And her thing is stay in the good side of the room! So here’s the deal…On the bad side of the room is where everything is that something bad happens. “I have a cold, my knees knock, I don’t sing very well, my car is not working.” On the good side of the room is that I’m funny, that I make people happy, that I’m tall, that I have a lovely smile, that I have good skin…stay your ass on the good side of the room. It doesn’t matter that I could stand to lose a few pounds. Where am I magnificent? Stand in your magnificence at all times. So when I’m feeling a little so-so, I need to focus on where everything is working, and I have to stay powerful.”
Kim says the inter-web is here to stay. Facebook and Twitter are definitely being utilized by Kim. Find your niche and tap into that utilizing social media. We can all help each other out. Collaboration is what it is all about.
If a genie was to grant Kim three wishes, they would be a lovely perfect soul mate, Indris Alba types to the front of the line!, more wishes, and Dancing With The Stars.
I asked Kim to tell me the turning point in her career. She said. ‘I’ll tell you the point I felt HOT and the point I felt NOT. The point I felt HOT was when I got booked on Live with Regis and Kathie Lee. I felt I had ARRIVED. I love Regis. NO ONE can touch him. And the moment I felt NOT was years later when the same show said No to me.”
It is time for Kim to be as HOT in all media as she is right now in my heart! I love you, Kim! Thanks for this!
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Tomorrow’s's blog will be… CELEBRATING JOSHING AROUND starring JOSHUA WARR and JOSHUA DESJARDINS
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Richard Skipper, Richard@RichardSkipper.com