We had the good fortune of connecting with Kimi Rutledge and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kimi, what role has risk played in your life or career?
Risk taking is an essential part of my art, my life, and my approach to acting. Pursuing a creative career is inherently risky–there is no promise of income or success and you’re likely to face stigmatization for even attempting to pursue it, and that can be terrifying to us artists. It definitely was to me. But the moment I started using fear as fuel, my anxieties became excitement, my insecurities became brief visitors, and “risk” became a natural symptom of self-expression. Now, I chase fear. Once I stopped being scared of failure and realized it’s a vital part of growth, I naturally started taking more risks. I just had to get out of my own way. Holding on to being widely liked held me back from pursuing a life I wanted to live, it made my art and my self-esteem suffer. Building trust in myself and my own opinions led me to stop living according to others. Now, I always check in with myself, and make sure that the choices I’m making feel right to me, no one else. The more confidence and self-assuredness you exude, the more risk you take, and the more waves you can make with your art.
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 had always known I wanted to be an actor. It was a dream of mine since I was a kid–I’d perform any chance I got, whether it was on stage or on the coffee table. As I got older, I took a lot of hits to my self-esteem, having gone through trauma, bullying, and self-doubt. I came out of my adolescence unsure of myself. It took me a whole college degree to realize that this whole time, my only option was ever acting. So I threw myself head-first into the danger, into the fear. It wasn’t always easy, but what kept me going was how much I loved the art of acting. I always come back to that. I stopped caring about being widely liked, and started caring about having fun. I stopped constantly trying to be someone else, and found the beauty in just being uniquely me, and celebrating all aspects of my identity (my queerness, my Japanese heritage to name some). Representation is very important to me!
What’s kept me going in my journey in acting is gratitude. I always express gratitude for the opportunities that come my way and the people who support me along the way. I try to keep myself humble and remind myself, I can’t do this alone. Acting is collaborative, and so is pursuing a career in one. So no matter how small a role or project, I treat each one with equal success, because my career isn’t about mounting achievements, it’s about fostering a space where audiences and I can connect and be affected together. That is so thrilling! I always prioritize play, and bringing myself authentically to every role. Every character I get to portray, I ask myself, “What do I want to leave audiences with?”, and “Where does this character already live inside of me?”. If you’re being yourself, and having fun doing the work, you’ll attract the right people and opportunities. I try to just focus on the craft, stay in class, work as much as possible, and take stock of the little successes along the way. So what’s really kept me excited about acting, even during lulls, is the thrilling catharsis of the art, the chance to find myself in other people, and the chance to take risks and truly be myself.
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?
I’m currently in Seattle, so if my friends were visiting me, I’d definitely take them to some iconic historical spots, like Pike Place Market, the Space Needle, the usual. But my favorite part of the city is the amazing Asian cultural influence! I’d take them to the International District, where some of my favorite Japanese restaurants are, and probably take them to Capitol Hill for drinks/dancing. An essential part of the city is the lush nature, beautiful hiking trails and parks scattered across Seattle.
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 have to shoutout my friends, family, and mentors who have guided me along this journey. But I really want to shoutout my agent, Tami Wakasugi. Tami has encouraged me, supported me, and guided me along my acting journey. Not only does she hustle for her clients and care for our careers, she cares about us as people. I’ve had periods where I was struggling with my mental health, where my work suffered, and Tami was always right there to help in any capacity she could. Through connecting me with industry professionals, with coaches/teachers, and with other talented actors, Tami has truly helped build my career into what it is today. Without her, I wouldn’t be where I am right now, and I am eternally grateful for her presence in my work and life.
Maleah Metz, Dan Lao