We had the good fortune of connecting with Katie Callaway and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Katie, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
There is a substantial amount of risk that comes with being an actress. In fact, actors are often told that if there’s a different career path that would give us a slightly similar joy, we should pursue that option to avoid the disappointment, financial instability, and heartbreak that often coincides with the performing arts. Personally, I believe we harness the most powerful manifestations when we fearlessly pursue our dreams. Johann Wolfgang von Goethe best said, “Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness.” Couple that nugget of wisdom with the wise words of William Hutchinson Murray, and you have an effective cocktail for supporting risk-taking: “Concerning all acts of initiative or creation, there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then Providence moves too.” Goethe and Murray essentially tell us to leap courageously first, and only until then, the net will appear. In a perfect world, the “net” would reveal itself first. But this isn’t a perfect world in which we live. I have to remind myself that I cannot do everything so perfectly that I shield myself from inevitable rejection… because if I were to live life like that, I’d end up not living at all. The rulebooks we write for ourselves rarely mention risk-taking to help us avoid what is uncomfortable… but being uncomfortable is the prescription required to achieve our dreams. The life I have chosen requires me to be fearless in the face of insecurity – something I realize is much easier to type on my keyboard than execute daily. Personally, this means rejection is planned, being misunderstood by family and friends is normal, and failure is a necessary stepping stone on the pathway to success. This I know to be true: my net is there, but it’s invisible. It takes a magical, insurmountable amount of faith in order to see it. But thankfully, even with just a glimmer of belief, my “leap” becomes a lot less terrifying and much more exciting.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As an actress, every day is different. Our new “normal” has required me to stay busy in the confines of my own home with virtual classes, self-taping, Zoom meetings & callbacks, etc. This year has definitely been a dynamic one, to say the least. The challenges that all actors face (both during the pandemic and simply in the pursuit of an acting career) reminds me of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s wise words when he said, “A smooth sea never made a skilled sailor.” Although I am far from what I would consider a “skilled sailor” as an actress, I will spare you the obvious and thorny challenges about rejection, competition, aging, instability, and sometimes the unassailable challenge of just getting the opportunity to audition for work (let alone getting a callback and booking the gig). In the past, I’d justify my lack of career progress by blaming completely unrelated personal factors. After all, obsessing about how a friend was insensitive or how someone wronged me is much easier than looking at my potential square in the eye and honestly addressing why I’m not living up to it. Strength is illuminated through struggle. There are so many beautiful examples in nature that illustrate this exact idea: The monarch butterfly who cannot fly without its painful struggle out of its cocoon, the diamond that cannot be formed unless put under extreme pressure, the lobster who cannot grow a shell without facing a ridiculous amount of stress, and the rainbow that cannot shine brightly without first experiencing heavy rainfall. Discomfort should be embraced – it can be an absolute gift if you let it be one. All of that considered, my biggest obstacle is (and always will be) myself. Being hardwired with extreme ambition, I can easily get frustrated when I don’t see the needle moving forward. So, has it been a smooth road? Absolutely not; nor will it ever be. We should all celebrate our successes, but never disheartened by our setbacks. After all, prosperity is a good teacher; but adversity is a great one.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
One of my absolute favorites places in Los Angeles is The Huntington Library Botanical Garden. The property is over 120 acres that hold multiple art galleries, a beautiful library, and a series of botanical gardens. More than 15,000 species live within these gardens and are perfectly manicured to fit various themes like the desert garden, jungle garden, Shapespearen garden, and my personal favorite: the serene Japanese garden that features a stunning koi pond. For food, Malibu Cafe is definitely near the top of the list for my favorite culinary experiences. The entire restaurant is an immersive outdoor dining experience with beautiful panoramic views of the Santa Monica Mountains. Not only that, but they offer many dining options for those with dietary restrictions (which, as someone who follows a plant-based diet, is thoroughly appreciated). My favorite time to visit Malibu Cafe is on a weekend where you can sit on their chic grassy lawn for those that prefer a more laid-back picnic atmosphere. I’d also want to encourage any LA visitors to enjoy hiking to check out the Red Rock trail tucked within Topanga Canyon. It’s an absolutely stunning hike for those days when you just want to get some blood pumping without the business of more popular trails, and you want to be rewarded with breath-taking views at the top. There are so many gems within Southern California that it’s difficult to narrow this list. I feel so fortunate to reside in a city that has so many wonderful and diverse cultures. It’s absolutely magical living where you can escape the concrete hustle of Hollywood and find yourself at the ocean, around agriculture, or at the beginning of bucolic trails within a short drive.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Although there are so many inspirations I could mention, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention author Don Miguel’s “Four Agreements”. Every day I strive to honor the roadmap he lays out by suggesting, “Be impeccable with your word, don’t take anything personally, don’t make assumptions, and always do your best.” The fourth agreement, which states to “Always Do Your Best,” is the catalyst that allows the other aforementioned agreements to become habitual in my personal daily routine. It states, “Always Do Your Best: Your best is going to change from moment to moment; it will be different when you are healthy as opposed to sick. Under any circumstance, simply do your best, and you will avoid self-judgment, self-abuse, and regret.” For me, doing my best removes the potential for being too hard on myself when inevitable rejection comes my way. After all, I work in an industry that is incredibly subjective by nature. The entertainment industry isn’t unfair (a common complaint amongst performers), but it’s definitely indifferent. Some lucky few will be given the world, others will be empty-handed, and all without an explanation as to why. By incorporating the first three agreements and doing the best I can across all facets of life (not just acting), I’m able to practice living a life free from self-inflicted ridicule. As long as I am consistently putting my best foot forward, my inner judge is silenced in the face of failure: “I did my best, and that’s what matters.”
Kelsey Edwards Photography