We had the good fortune of connecting with Kevin R. Free and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kevin R., how has your work-life balance changed over time?
I have been hustlin’ to make my artistic career happen for 25 years. I used to do anything anyone asked me to do, just to collect money, new colleagues, and new experiences. My hustle was so all-consuming that I actually used to be annoyed when my manager would reach out about auditions! During the pandemic, I moved to a new apartment on City Island, which is in the Bronx… but totally remote. As I type this, I am looking at the water of Long Island Sound from my sun room. Since moving here, I make decisions about accepting or pursuing gigs based on how long they will take me away from enjoying my life here. Further, I’ve always had an unspoken policy of not working on weekends, but lately I have been saying it out loud. My partner has an intense Monday through Friday job, so the only time we can have unstructured free time together is on weekends. So – unless I have a great gig (‘great’ is determined by my partner and me), I do not work on weekends. And I get to sit in my sunroom and answer interview questions and think about how grateful I am to have work during the week.

Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
The greatest lesson I have learned in my career is to say YES to everything until I know that NO is the right answer. I was an actor when I first arrived in NYC, but I said YES to teaching, to directing, to writing, to designing, to producing (and, of course, acting). Having done all those jobs, I also know where the boundaries are between them, and also whether I will excel at or enjoy each when offered. Of all the jobs, I think I learn most as a director, because I love getting in the room with a team and figuring out what a piece is (and isn’t), and working on making the piece sing in its true voice. Acting is great, because it gives me the opportunity to be led. I especially love my career in voice acting. As an audiobook narrator, I can make decisions as a director, an actor, and a producer all at one time.

I have entered a time in my career where I am finally accepting my own success. There was a time when I was envious of other people and bitter about the work I hadn’t been asked to do. Honestly, the jealousy and bitterness were the most difficult part of my career. Now I am not as concerned about getting that next gig, but focusing on the work I have to do RIGHT NOW, and allowing my work to speak for itself. I am still pounding the pavement, but I put my feet up on weekends.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Wow! I just moved to City Island in the Bronx, so I would ask my friend to stay with me, so we could go boating (even though I don’t have a boat) and eat some delicious overpriced fried seafood. On nights when the restaurants on City Island are closed, I’d take my friend to my favorite restaurant in Brooklyn, Naked Dog (Italian, even though the name doesn’t suggest that). We would get sandwiches at a deli and go have a picnic in Central Park. I would also take them to the Navy Yard for Bagels and Lox at Russ & Daughters, and then beer at Transmitter (and maybe wine at Rooftop Reds). I would also take them to my favorite Farmers Market outside the city in Hastings-on-Hudson (in Westchester County). For more food and drink and shopping. OOOH! And I’d take them to Industry City in Brooklyn, for beer at Big ALICe Brewing and cocktails at Standard Wormwood, plus all the food there, especially the pizza at Table 87. While there, we would stop at the Japanese Market for some sweets, and then Sahadi’s for bulk goodies! I would take them to see shows, too! It just depends what’s playing downtown and which of my friends are in them!

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?
Erez Ziv and Frigid New York The Fire This Time Festival
John Essay, my manager
Seema Sueko
The Working Theater
Nicole Watson
Carl Schweitzer
My Dad
The North Carolina Shakespeare Festival
Tracey Conyer Lee
The New York Neo-Futurists
The NYC Indie Theater Community

Website: Www.kevinrfree.com

Instagram: @kevinrfree

Linkedin: @kevinrfree

Twitter: @kevinrfree

Youtube: YouTube.com/kevinrfree

Other: Www.MyCarl.org

Image Credits
Douglas Gorenstein Photography

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