We had the good fortune of connecting with Kim Montelibano Heil, CSA and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kim, what’s one piece of conventional advice that you disagree with?
There’s a saying that is often bestowed on aspiring writers: “Write what you know.” The idea behind this adage is that we as individual artists should write or create from personal experience, from whatever seat of expertise we occupy in order to craft a truthful and effective story. While there may be some merit to this advice, I think it’s misleading. Is what we know…enough?

I’d like to twist this advice a bit. I’d like to say: “Write what you want to know.”

Whether it’s by using the imagination, or by interrogating culture, or by exploring our surrounding communities….or even just by following our curiosities – it is often what we don’t know that drives creation.

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.
Is the act of casting a story – be it on stage or on a screen – considered an art?

I look at it this way. At first, a story is just words on a page, or even just a voice in the ether. But even before that moment passes it has already begun to take seed in a reader’s or listener’s mind. They may begin to “see” the story as it meets their imagination.

It is in this way that creation begins. In theatre, a director starts to craft how the story can come to life on stage. A scenic designer crafts an idea of the physical world of the story. Costumers think of how wardrobe expresses elements of the story, as does a lighting designer with color and shadow, or a sound designer with music and composition. A casting director has this same experience – but with people. In some cases, actual people may appear in our imagination, but I believe that for most, the experience is less defined. We are moved to imagine the essence of human beings, because we know that when we begin our search, we’re seeking that magic alchemy that happens when actors fill the outlines of roles with their humanity.

Casting, to me, is the work of the imagination, with humanity in its endless forms as our palette. And therefore, it is absolutely an art. For me, the artistic service I offer people as a Casting Director is, essentially, my imagination – augmented by my community, my growing understanding of people, and my lived experiences. It has also informed my curiosity and desire to learn and discover. And as a service provider, I deliver this imaginative exercise with professionalism and respect.

I started my company, The Nuance, as a platform for conversation with artists about money and careers. It’s now evolved to include my casting and consulting entity, where I bring the lessons of my 20+ years of artistic service into my casting practice. What I believe sets me apart from the traditional casting shop is my intrinsic focus on practicing equity, diversity, inclusion, and anti-racism in my work. And while I do this organically – as an immigrant, a woman, and a person of color – I’m also constantly studying about how to do it better.

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Of course I would take them to my home of San Diego! To start the week off right, we’d definitely visit Nomad Donuts in North Park where we could pick up a toasted bagel with cream cheese and coffee! A week-long visit would also include at least one trip to Balboa Park, with a stop at one of my favorite places, the Japanese Friendship Garden. At some point in the week we would definitely drive over the Coronado Bridge to visit the scenic town of Coronado, where we can walk along the coast near the Hotel Del! Old Town is also a must, including a meal at Miguel’s (where the queso dip is simply addictive). While places like La Jolla and Pacific Beach are obvious places to visit, I’d probably go off the beaten path and take my friend to Imperial Beach instead, and maybe even do a shopping trip at Plaza de las Americas while we’re near the border. Finally, I’d certainly take my friend to the top of Mt. Helix for incomparable 360-degree views of San Diego. Sunset is the most popular time – but I’ll bet it’s pretty any time of day!

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My family – Jason, Katrina, and Tristan – have been unwavering in their love and support of me….and for that, I am grateful.

Website: https://www.thenuance2020.com/

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/thenuance2020/

Linkedin: https://www.linkedin.com/in/kim-montelibano-heil-csa-98b55711/

Image Credits
A Dying Art Company Ltd. Molly Pan Ken Jacques Darren Scott Jim Carmody

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