We had the good fortune of connecting with Kasandra Menke and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kasandra, what do you attribute your success to?
Being a person of faith, I think God is the main factor behind my success. I hope that makes sense? Don’t get me wrong, it comes with a lot of hard work, perseverance, hope, faith, opportunities, an awesome support system, my passion and this list goes on and on. I think another way to put it is that my faith and all the other factors all work together. Almost walking hand in hand to get me to where I am now. The experiences and lessons I have learned over the years have been helpful, enlightening and sometimes sad but necessary. I give glory to God.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Well I call myself a “freelancer” because I have many passions and I like to work in all of them. I am a photographer, stage manager, writer and actor. Its funny that I work professionally in the creative world because I wanted to be a Vet since I was about 5 years old. This stayed true all the way through high school even while I was in theater, sports and forensics. I went into college as a microbiology major and did that for one semester before deciding to make the switch to Theater. Totally opposite sides of the spectrum I know! But when I started doing theater in 7th grade more seriously, I was hooked and I haven’t really looked back. I realized my other love and passions throughout my journey to where I am now and I am so thankful that I get to work in them professionally. It hasn’t been an easy journey especially when trying to get people to take me seriously and not really set a “plan B” in motion with a more secure job. I will say I am thankful to have those around me that were/are a close and awesome support system. My parents were a bit shocked when I talked to them about switching my major and they supported me but told me that I needed to go after it with 100% effort and work hard. At one point in my undergrad I was living out of my car because I just didn’t have the funds to afford a place to live. I happened to be talking to a friend of mine before class after driving all night from Northern Ca to Southern Ca for my class Monday morning and she offered me a place to stay at her apartment. Thanks Musme and Jess! Well that temporary living turned into a permanent set-up for 4 years before I moved. I am so thankful for that conversation that morning. I didn’t know what I was going to do because it was a new place, new semester and I did not have a job at the time. It was hard but I was determined to make it work and I did but it wasn’t without help. So I guess something I would like others to take away from this is don’t forget to ask for help. Most people are not going to know what you are going through unless you reach out. I learned a lot of people want to help and they do care. I also want to say if you have a passion and want to go after it but are too scared to at least give it a try. Maybe you don’t have to put all your eggs into one basket but at least try to see if it is something you like. If you want to go to college, work hard and look for those resources. Be brave and learn from your experiences. I think something that sets me apart from others is that I want others to be successful as well! I don’t want to push my way to the “top.” I want you to be proud of yourself and excited about what you are doing just like I am excited and proud of the work I have done and have yet to do. Success looks different for every person but it doesn’t mean that we all can’t experience it.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Los Angeles is a city full of things to do and see but I am a bit more on the simple side. If my besties are in town I am just excited to see them!! I don’t know what order we would do these things but a few of my favorite spots in the area are: -The Griffith Observatory at Sunrise or Sunset/Night. Two of my absolute favorite images I have ever taken are from the views up there.
-Salt & Straw Ice Cream. Their stuff is so good! The classic vanilla with whipped cream and sprinkles. Delicious!
-El Pescador State Beach. The thing I like about this beach in particular is it is just a beach. No crazy crowds or attractions. Don’t get me wrong those are also fun but sometimes it’s nice to just be able to hear the waves.
-A walk around my neighborhood so they can get an idea of where I live
-If we want to make the drive out, maybe a trip down to Disney
-Gotta check out Universal Studios and CityWalk.
-An Indonesian restaurant in Culver city called Simpang Asia
-Maybe a walk & possible photoshoot around my old college campus
-Lunch down at the Grove and the Americana. I mean have you been in that awesome Barnes & Noble???
-A movie night at home
-And honestly, I would ask what they wanted to do. I would let them be a tourist and make suggestions along the way.
-We would probably have fun just driving around and checking out the sights and if we want to stop somewhere we could.
-A bookstore of some sort- maybe the open book in Northridge or The Last Bookstore
-Oh! Portos of course!
Man just typing this all up is making me want to invite my besties down here! I think a plan will have to be made!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
I am not sure I could just pick one person for this. I have had so many people impact my life in both positive and negative ways that have both contributed to where I am now. I have specific people in mind for the different elements in my life.
So if I can only make one statement I would say a shoutout and a huge thank you to anyone who has been involved in my life. Even if it was for a short time or you are still a strong presence in my life, you brought something that has taught me life lessons that I wouldn’t have known otherwise.
If I can break it down to specific people…
My parents and family.
My stage management mentor Matt
My high school teachers Mr. Dunaway & Mr. Prichard
My college professor Paula
My besties and siblings. You know who you are
My auntie Sue
All the friends & family who have passed. You are missed!
This is just to name a few and not even close to the whole list.
When it comes down to it all, there is not just one person who deserves a shout out because they all do! I am so thankful for the people I have had in my life. Not sure if this fully answering your question but it’s truly how I feel!
All the photos were taken by me (Kasandra Faith Photography) except the one image of me in the flamingo shirt in front of a very colorful wall and it was taken by the wonderful photographer Alex Malek.