We had the good fortune of connecting with Katy Foley and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Katy, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I’m a risk taker because I believe everything in life is risky. Even safe jobs. Jim Carrey spoke at a graduation and I live by the words in that speech. He talks about how his father would’ve been the best comedian. But instead, he took a safe job that he was laid off from when Jim was 13. He talks about how they struggled for years after that. And posed the question: why take the safe job that you’re less passionate about when there’s no security in that either? To paraphrase his words. I quote this speech every day. If I didn’t take a risk to go to college in New York City and study acting, I wouldn’t have met the people who have given me countless job opportunities. And if I didn’t move to Los Angeles shortly after graduating, I wouldn’t have started working immediately in the industry. I would’ve stayed at a safe job in New York after college. A safe job I wasn’t passionate about. I think it’s a far greater risk to not follow your dreams. You’re putting your well being and mental health at risk by not doing so. I try not to believe in regret so I avoid skipping things that will make me regretful later. As far as we know, you only have one lifetime on this planet so make the most of it. Risk taking is a huge part of that.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I was also a really imaginative kid. I didn’t have many friends in my neighborhood because my parents sent us to a school far away. I used to play pretend for hours as a young child during the day and then watch movies in the evening with my parents. After seeing Batman Returns in Theaters (of all movies) I knew I wanted to act. I began my career as an actor. I trained in comedy outside of school doing improv and sketch at Second City (Chicago). And attended NYU Tisch for college while taking classes at UCB (New York). I met so many amazing creatives there who have gone on to thrive in entertainment or pivoted to another equally amazing career. Many of my connections from college moved out to Los Angeles after college and have helped me get work. One of my first jobs in Los Angeles was working on an incredible web series called “Homeschooled” the director was a Tisch alum named Matthew Morgenthaler. I give that project so much credit for my career because it confirmed my passion was in comedy and the footage has gotten me so much work over the years. After doing Homeschooled, I was frequently getting called in for indie drama and horror films, some theatrical episodically and commercials. I realized I needed to create my own work to continue thriving in comedy. I taught myself how to write beginning with sketches and eventually advanced to feature length scripts. I also began to produce my own sketches and taught myself how to edit as well. I think you need to wear multiple hats in this business otherwise you’re susceptible to allowing Hollywood to type cast you into something you’re not. Furthermore, this prevents allowing Hollywood to dictate when you’re working or not. If I’m not working on someone else’s project, I’m constantly working on my own. Therefore I’m constantly working. It’s hard to say what I’m most proud of because I have had so many amazing moments working on my own projects or being involved in others. I guess some highlights would be working on the Emmy award winning Super Bowl Campaign “Run Like a Girl”, finish writing my first screenplay “Single Marriage”, producing and performing in an immersive show called “Best Night Ever” for the Hollywood Fringe, filming my Kateflix series by myself in my room, and most recently shooting a movie in Kentucky called “The Slowdown.” But that is just the cusp of so many amazing opportunities I’ve had in this business. I would want the world to know about me that I cannot be pigeon holed. And neither can you if you do not allow others to pigeon hole you. I’m a girl from the south side of Chicago who loves to laugh and tell stories that make people laugh or forget their troubles. That’s what I hope people can take away from my work.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I believe I was a concierge in a past life. Any city I live in, I immediately explore and try to mine as much experiential gold as possible. I try to go on an adventure every day if I can. Currently, I reside in Los Angeles. If I had a week with my friend visiting I would divide each day into my favorite areas. So perhaps Monday they land at LAX and we’d do the west side all day. Beginning with a cup of coffee from the cows end, followed by a beach day at Marina, accompanied by a bike ride to Santa Monica and back, we’d walk to the Venice Canals and sit on a bridge and have a snack, and then by night fall we’d grab a wet burrito from El Tarasco and a mint margarita from Baja Cantina. Tuesday, we’d do a hike at Bronson Canyon and see the bat caves. We’d then hit up Los Feliz and walk around till it was happy hour at Figaro. And have amazing pizza for dinner at Palermo’s or an amazing meal at the Cara Hotel. Finally, we’d ride the swan boats in Echo Park at night. Wednesday we’d ride bikes around lake reservoir, have a picnic in the park and then for dinner we would head to the valley to go to Great Greek, where you can traditionally Greek dance before you’re even seated at your table! Thursday, we would go to Franklin Canyon Park in Beverly Hills and then get legitimate Chicago pizza at Ginos East in Sherman Oaks. Friday we would do a water fall hike at Millard canyon and then explore downtown. Grab happy hour at the yardhouse. Walk around the arts district. Go shopping at Pop Killer. And then have dinner in Japan town at Sushi Gen. Saturday, we’d hike in Malibu and then do a beach day. And then we’d wine taste and have dinner at Moonshadows. And finally Sunday, we’d go to the Melrose and Fairfax trading post and then have dinner in Little Ethiopia. Some honorable mentions is walking around Highland Park and then going bowling. Also going horseback riding at sunset in Griffith Park. And I can’t forget my neighborhood restaurant El Compadre.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I would love to give my Mother a shout out. Donna Foley is not in entertainment. She was one of the first female public defenders in Chicago. She inspires me every day with her work ethic and her hustle. She also has an amazing sense of humor. My Mom endured so much when she was starting out. She had to battle sexism from her male coworkers almost daily. She discusses when she first graduated law school, she went out to find work and the agonizing questions she’d get asked. During interviews, Men would constantly ask her if she could type. When she had me, a man in her office asked if I was a “boy or a girl?” And she answers that I was a “girl” And he said “better luck next time.” She has risen above that kind of prejudice for years and excelled in her field. It was inspiring for me in High School to hear her stories. I had just started training at Second City in Chicago and performing with groups that had a majority of men. I would constantly hear the men gawking at the women in the group and saying how “women aren’t funny.” I am happy I had my Mother’s stories to push me through. She is also a perfect example of a woman who went out there and took a risk. She was one of the first people in her family to go to college. And then one of the first lawyers. Lastly, I’ve always been amazed at how she is one of those people you cannot judge a book by her cover. She is very kind and sometimes a bit shy. And yet she decided to become a criminal defense attorney. This kind of work can be sometimes harrowing and not for the weak minded. She is one of the bravest people I know.
First, American Film Market. Second, Stone Street Studios Q&A. Third, Nerd Melt Theater. Fifth, Jeffrey Laub Photography. Sixth, the Slow Down movie.