We had the good fortune of connecting with Kwajalyn Brown and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kwajalyn, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I’ve not traditionally been someone who was comfortable with taking risks or changing much in my life. Although I felt restless with the way things were before I discovered acting, there was some comfort in knowing what each day would bring and that everything would be ‘in place’. When I began to really get serious about acting, though, ‘comfort’ went out the window! I realized that if I wanted to be successful, I would have to let go of predictability, put myself out there and be vulnerable. While taking different risks for my career has not always been easy, I don’t regret any of the choices I’ve made so far. If I hadn’t taken the risk to leave corporate America in order to pursue my passion, I would not have been available for the amazing opportunities I’ve had to work on a lot of awesome projects with some of my favorite actors. If I hadn’t taken the risk to be vulnerable, I would not have learned so much about myself as an actress and as a person. I’ve grown in ways I never thought possible and, if I had a choice, I’d do it again – only much sooner!
Please tell us more about your career. We’d love to hear what sets you apart from others, what you are most proud of or excited about. How did you get to where you are today professionally. Was it easy? If not, how did you overcome the challenges? What are the lessons you’ve learned along the way. What do you want the world to know about you or your brand and story?
I jumped into the acting world about 10 years ago as an adult, and I am most proud of the amount of opportunities I’ve been given to perform though I started a little later than others. I am where I am today not only because I’m kind of a workaholic, but also because of the love and support from my friends, family, agents and managers through the years. They always support and encourage me and I’m blessed to have them. This path has definitely not been easy. There have been disappointments with roles I didn’t get or worries about finances and if taking another risk to do a small role instead of accepting a “secure” 9-5 is crazy. What gets me through is my support system and the love I have for what I do. Acting isn’t just my career. It’s a huge part of who I am and it makes me happy. The biggest lesson I’ve learned along the way is that while it’s important to have a great support system, none of it matters if I don’t believe in myself. It’s very easy to be hypercritical of oneself (because we are human), but at the core of it all, all we have is ourselves so it’s important to do everything in our power to uplift ourselves. I’m not sure that there is any one thing that I want people to know about me or my brand. I just hope that the work I do is impactful and can inspire others in some way.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Number one activity is definitely driving up the 101 coast! I don’t think I’ve ever seen a more beautiful stretch of road in my life. Everyone who comes to LA/Cali HAS to do this at least once. The drive is also a great way to stop visit the different beaches on the way north. In the city, I love hiking and my favorite spots are Fryman Canyon, Runyon Canyon, the loop to the Griffith Observatory and Canyon Drive up to the Hollywood Sign. They’re not super hard, but give a me a great workout! Walking through the Griffith Observatory is really cool and it’s a great view of the city. The Getty Museum is also something that can’t be skipped. You have to get up early so you can avoid super long lines in traffic, but it’s worth it.l On the weekends, going to one of the Farmer’s Markets is a must, and the one I frequent the most is in Studio City, near Fryman Canyon. Just about every type of fresh produce I want is there and I load up on locally brewed kombucha. I also love going to The Grove to shop or go see a movie. I don’t do the club scene really, so if I’m not hanging out at a friend’s house, I head to PINZ on Ventura for bowling or to one of my favorite restaurants – Anejo (a GREAT Mexican restaurant in the Valley) or Man Soo Koren BBQ in Koreatown.
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?
Shay Mack and Jamie Miles, fellow actors who are two of my biggest cheerleaders. My agents Tay Smith, Christopher Young & Maria Turner (Smith Young Talent) and manager Jax Sale (Trinity Artists International). They are like my family and they always show and tell me how much they believe in me. My friends and family for giving me a soft place to land when things sometimes get rough.
Ira Carmichael (main headshot)