We had the good fortune of connecting with Kristi Ellingsworth and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kristi, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?
Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve jumped at the opportunity to make art and exercise my creativity. Stories and storytelling felt immediately important to me. I remember flipping through countless picture books imagining my own pros and dialogue before I could read. For a while, my parents thought they might have a little three year old prodigy on their hands because I had memorized every word along with corresponding page turns to my most treasured books. As I grew older, this passion for reading expanded into film, tv, and theater. In second grade, I learned that I could participate in an actual play, and my mind was blown. Standing under the lights in front of a room full of people sharing a story felt equally magical and addictive. I wanted to do this all the time! What could be better? That deep love of performance led me to New York City after I graduated from the University of Maryland. It led me into the Ed Sullivan Theater on Broadway and 53rd street where I asked a security guard how I could get a job at the Late Show with David Letterman. I’m very certain that my sincerity and enthusiasm made an impression on that guard because he gave me contact information and advice on how to land a position at the show. Shortly after that, I was giving speeches and prepping the audience for tapings. It was a dream come true! Even better, I got to stand in the back of the theater watching heroes like Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep, and Susan Sarandon talk to Letterman. These people were my creative idols, and I wanted to learn how to be a part of their world. I couldn’t imagine a more noble existence than that of a performer. I was convinced that my calling was to tell stories that had the power to open and transform people’s hearts and souls. It lit me up more than anything else. Not following it would be like killing off the thing I loved most about being alive. There simply wasn’t an alternative.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
Over the course of this past year, my career has undergone some pretty radical transformations. Like many artists, I had a restaurant job that enabled me to keep the lights on while I pursued my art. When COVID-19 hit, all of that changed. The one thing that I had always counted on was no longer there to support me. I was terrified. How long would this last? Was my job gone forever? When restaurants did open back up, what would my old job look like?
As the months crept by, I began to ask myself more questions. I asked questions that I had worked very diligently to avoid for years with busyness and excuses. Did I actually like my job? Was it truly supporting my creative spirit? I realized that I felt trapped. I had worked at the same restaurant for over ten years, and it was very comfortable. My soul was itching to expand and experience more. Did I really want to do the same thing for another ten years? The truth was a resounding “Hell, no!”
I decided to spend as much of the lockdown time as possible indulging in the activities that made me feel good. This time was a gift. Not only was I able to take care of myself, but I was also being invited to embark on a new adventure. Just because most actors I knew worked in restaurants didn’t mean that was my only option. What did I actually want my life to look like? I could design it however I saw fit. It was like waking up from a dream where I suddenly realized who was in charge. Me! The more that I embraced this energy, the more I was able to imagine other ways of supporting my artistic spirit without abandoning myself in a job that didn’t fuel me.
I have always been interested in health and wellness, but the past three years have ignited a huge fire that has propelled me even further in this direction. I’m currently studying to become a personal trainer, and I’m excited to start my own business. I know that caring for our bodies with nutritious food and exercise enables us to more deeply connect with our minds, spirits, and authenticity. It sounds so simple, but it can be difficult to properly tend to this part of ourselves in a world that values productivity above all else. I want to help people reconnect with who they are and who they want to be through fitness and health. When we start taking care of one part of ourselves (even by implementing a new workout), it’s amazing how the other areas of our life shift into laser focus and we can no longer neglect other parts of our wellbeing. I believe that everyone deserves to feel their very best. When that happens, we can get down to doing what matters most to us. I’m living proof! I used to think that I could only do one thing well at a time. Now, I know that I can build my fitness business and pursue acting too. I’m so excited to continue taking a more empowered stance when it comes to my career, art, and joy.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
There are so many incredible spots all over the city. It’s hard to narrow things down! I would definitely take a friend to my favorite coffee place, Lou, the French on the Block. It’s a quaint shop in Burbank that has equally great coffee and freshly baked croissants. Tartine in Santa Monica has gorgeous, freshly baked bread, pastries, and other breakfast options too. It’s a great place to sit back, relax, and catch up with someone. Other favorite restaurants are Fia and Ingo’s Tasty Diner in Santa Monica. Charcoal in Venice routinely blows me away with the simplicity and perfection of their food. One of my all time favorite place to grab a drink and dinner is Tuning Fork in Studio City. It’s a gastropub that offers delicious burgers and really inventive vegan options too. Another special place for drinks and snacks is Bar Bandini in Echo Park. It’s a sexy neighborhood bar that has one of the most eclectic wine lists of anywhere in the city.
Hiking up to the Hollywood sign would be a must. If it were a summertime visit, I would also snag us some tickets to the Hollywood Bowl. There is nothing better than packing a picnic, sitting under the stars, and enjoying company and a show at that iconic venue.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I definitely want to thank my parents for supporting my theater passion. They drove me to hundreds of rehearsals and attended every show. I will always be grateful to them for sacrificing a great deal of their time and energy so that I could do what I love.
Having a truly great teacher can change your life. I’ve been lucky enough to have a few. My high school drama teacher, Sue Miller, was an early champion who consistently encouraged and inspired me to go after my dreams. She introduced me to the incomparable Neil Simon and gave me my first leading role in Lost in Yonkers. She continues to cheer me on to this day, and I love her dearly. My current acting teacher, Lacy Fisher, at Diana Castle’s studio, The Imagined Life, has completely changed my life and my relationship to my artistry. I know that I am a better human being and storyteller thanks to her fierce commitment and heartfelt guidance. I am so grateful to her for waking up my inner poet and teaching me just how nourishing a disciplined, creative practice can be for my soul.
Most importantly, I want to thank my incredibly supportive boyfriend, Chris Kapcia. He is a fellow actor and photographer who constantly inspires me with his boldness and relentless determination. He has been a patient, steadfast, and fervent cheerleader when it comes to tackling any and all of my artistic dreams.
Linkedin: Kristi Ellingsworth
Other: IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm4411750/
Capturing Kapcia Photography