We had the good fortune of connecting with Keelia Flinn and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Keelia, why did you decide to pursue a creative path?
I always wanted to build a life and career for myself that was unique.
The only way to keep myself interested and excited about life, was to build something that allowed the freedom for my curiosities and things that inspire me.
It is important to me that I can pursue thoughts and ideas and create something with them.
Whatever that may be.
My Grandmother told me, “Do what you love, and you’ll never work a day in your life.”
Creating doesn’t feel like work. Even when I’m doing the work.
I’ve fallen in love with the creative process, and I am grateful that I also have a strong production mind to take my ideas and turn them into creations. Big and small.
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 am an artist of many forms, wearing many hats. I am an actor, director, producer, dancer, choreographer, singer, martial artist, yogi, and writer.
All these elements of my art blend into my teaching as an art educator.
My art is a mixture of the art that I create and the art that I teach.
Art education is just as important to me as art performance and my own artistic expression. That’s what makes me unique. Building my creative life as an art educator has helped me as a creative artist. It keeps me curious, sharp, and gives me the freedom to take on my own artistic projects. I also gain a fullness in my life knowing that I am giving back to the next generation.
It was not easy to build this career for myself. I started teaching dance during college, but then had to find a part-time bartending job to make ends meet. The late nights drained my energy and drained my creativity. I joined a professional theatre company after college, which was an awesome resource and community. I was lucky to learn about teaching from some amazing mentors over the years. I built up my brand as an artist and art educator. Finally, I hung up my bartending shoes and took the risk of teaching full time. I juggled working for several musical theatre education companies at a time, just to make ends meet. I was directing and choreographing 10 shows at a time. It took me years to gain the experience needed to survive financially as a teaching artist and maintain my art at the same time.
A few years ago, I took the risk to become my own boss and build my own business. My fiancé and I have built a successful martial arts business, and I have continued to build my career as an artist and union actor. I would have never imagined running a martial arts studio after all my years teaching in musical theatre and the performing arts. I have learned that life doesn’t turn out the way you think it will, so stay curious and open. Life has a creative way of always giving me exactly what I need.
I am not a ‘normal’ teacher. I am not an average actor or artist either.
I am a modern Renaissance artist who loves to spark curiosity in others.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
When my best friend comes to town, we go out for dinner at a rooftop bar downtown to take in the city lights. Lately we have been loving the Wayfarer in Downtown Los Angeles. Then we head out dancing for some drum and bass music at Respect Thursdays in Hollywood. The crowd is eclectic, and the bass is nice and loud.
Following morning we would head to Fryman Canyon or Griffith Park to hike and sweat out any hangover. Then it’s off to Lady Byrd in Echo Park for brunch. Lady Byrd is my friend Misty’s gorgeous restaurant that is a nestled in the neighborhood and is filled with swanky décor and even offers private greenhouse dining. A must stop!
Next day it’s off to the beach! We grab an acai bowl from Sunlife Organics and watch the surfers at Zuma beach in Malibu. On the way home we grab a veggie sandwich from John’s Garden in Malibu. Take the canyon drive home to see the amazing views.
Last night in town we head out dancing again in West Hollywood. Dinner at Gracias Madre and dancing at the Abbey. If it’s a Monday, we love drag queen bingo at Hamburger Marys. Never a dull moment!
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?
I want to give a big shoutout and thank you to The Perpich Center for Arts Education in Minnesota. I was lucky enough to attend Perpich Arts High School my senior year, and it changed the path of my life completely. At Perpich Arts High I learned that a career in the arts was possible, and every teacher and administration encouraged it. I worked on campus in the administration office, where I quickly discovered the power of creative community and art education. The resources in art education this center provides to teachers across the state is inspiring. It influenced me to be the artist and art educator I am today. I am forever grateful for the Perpich Center for the Arts. A beautiful sanctuary of art, expression, curiosity, and education.
Dana Patrick Photography for main headshot (pink top with pigtails) Images and posters for The Case and Bigfoot Hunters credit to Matt Hausmann Modeling Image in white suite is by Gil Konspiracy