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Natalie Kim on Choosing Yourself, Being Vulnerable, and Dealing with Mixed Reactions – Cracking Creativity Episode 30

Natalie Kim is an actress, writer, and artist. She also hosted It’s a Draw With Natalie Kim, where she interviewed comedians and cartoonist while they drew. On this episode, Natalie talks about why you need to work on your own projects, lessons she’s learned from stand-up and improv, and why vulnerability helps with acting and in life.

Here are three things you can learn from Natalie:

Choose Yourself

For a while, Natalie listened to what other people told her. She let her manager and others decide what roles she would appear in, which led to burning out.

It was only when she went back and worked on her own projects that she was able to find happiness in her work.

Don’t let other people tell you what you should be working on. Decide for yourself. If you don’t like the projects that people are offering you, work on your own projects instead.

The Power of Vulnerability

Natalie has learned that being being vulnerable and open not only helps you with acting, it also helps you in life. By being more open, it allowed her to be more human and to experience things more fully.

We often go through life trying not to show too much emotion, but the thing is, people are more trusting when we are open. It is much easier for people to empathize with you when you are being honest with them. This mutual honesty and trust allows you to build a strong connection with each other.

Dealing with Inconsistent Audience Reactions

As a stand-up and improv performer, Natalie has learned to deal with different reactions from the audience. Some nights people will laugh, others it will be silent.
The only way to deal with this is to realize that not everyone will have the same reaction to your work. Instead of worrying about it or letting it get to you, learn to move on. Don’t let what others think dictate what you think about yourself.

You just have to hone your craft and be so good people can’t ignore you. The difference between professionals and amateurs is the ability to deal with criticism and the reaction of your audience.


  • about Natalie
    • comedic actress working in commercials, theater and film
    • always had a passion for acting
    • was on the Blacklist and started going out for bigger roles, but didn’t get them
      • thought she was “in the club”
      • found out no one cares what you have been on
      • was unconsciously handing power to her manager and other people
      • felt burnt out for the first time
      • coach told her she needed to take care of herself because she was running on fumes
    • in acting class taught by Jim Parrack & Andrea Dantas
    • voice in her head told her she needed to draw and take care of herself

“It’s up to you to create your own opportunities.”

  • on whether she is drawing or acting
    • forcing herself to sleep and eating well
    • prioritizing what’s important
    • drawing and focusing on health have helped her recover
    • she learned to calm down
    • taken influence from actors who write: Mindy Kaling and Ricky Gervais
    • learned that she liked to work on her writing and performing her own work
    • created a shot film See Me See You
      • angry cop with issues complaining about her life
      • her most honest portrayal on film

“When you listen to outside sources telling you the very thing that makes you special, to step away from that, that’s where I think things went the wrong way.”

  • James Altucher’s Choose Yourself and the power of listening to your internal voice
    • going after roles you think are right for you, but really aren’t
    • gatekeepers being removed from the equation
    • film would not have come about
    • Jim Parrack being an acting teacher

“The reason I’ve come so far is not because I’m the most talented, I’m the most beautiful, not even the hardest working. It’s because of my unique point of view.”

  • what she learned while studying at Playhouse West
    • shielding yourself in everyday life vs. expressing yourself to your fullest in acting
    • Meisner technique – tearing down your walls when acting
      • tearing down artificial devices
      • you are you, and you are not being someone else
  • why people portray different versions of themselves
    • Shia LaBeouf – showing emotions is great for acting but not for every day interactions
    • being in Meisner allows you to be more vulnerable in comedy/stand-up
  • not being able to express her point of view
    • with Meisner, nothing is planned, emotions come out naturally
    • while working with a director, she wasn’t able to express herself
      • friend told her to pursue her comedy
  • inspiration behind short film
    • was writing about angry cop girl with writing partner
    • had the idea of cops abusing their powers
    • something inside told her she needed to play a cop
    • met up with a cop (who had an Asian woman as a partner)
      • discovered the inside workings of what it means to be a cop
    • day in the life of a cop between two partners
    • being empowered through collaboration
  • how she decided she wanted to be an actress
    • started doing performances at the age of five
    • create shows with step sisters
    • 2004 – old boss ran a marketing magazine
    • planned event for Korean Americans
      • learned who big players were
      • only three big actors, which convinced her to pursue acting
  • getting started in acting
    • had a conversation with Roger Fan
      • told her she was at the bottom of totem pole and had to write her own work to compete
      • “You have to make your own work because that’s the thing that will separate you from everyone else.”
    • has created two short films, web series, and a showcase with casting directors
    • Natalie’s show: It’s a Draw

“Creating my work from the get go has been my savior.”

“I’m not just being plucked from obscurity… I created the circumstances to make that happen.”

  • what she’s learned since she started acting
    • people who do comedy are not always vulnerable
    • after Black List, she realized that if she wanted to act for real, she had to go through training
    • story about Jim Parrack booking Broadway role for Of Mice and Men
      • you have to ballsy, take control, and be alive
      • forcing himself into the audition room
      • going into auditions to dominate them, not just show up for them
  • lessons learned from comedy (stand-up/improv)
    • learned that a lot of time, your stand-up will suck, but you still have to push forward and deal with the reality of what’s happening
    • if the crowd is dead, you have to deal with them
    • you can’t just go on with your jokes if they aren’t working, you have to engage with them
    • with improv (and acting) you have to be vulnerable but tough
    • you have to be open but have tenaciousness, like surfing a wave
  • balancing vulnerability and tenacity
    • had a hard time with it at first, but has opened up with help of visualization
    • being open has allowed her to be more human, to experience things more fully

“Being an actor, forced me to admit that I had weaknesses, that I had feelings about certain things.”

  • solo show in Scotland
    • had a burning story to tell about her childhood (63% authentic, and the rest was trying to present something)
    • found it taxing, especially trying to promote
    • saw different reactions on different days
    • first show where she did the same thing every day for a few weeks
    • wrote another show about her life that is richer because it is more open
  • dealing with inconsistent audience reactions
    • performing the same thing every day allows you to be less attached to it
    • at first it hurts, but you have to go on to the next thing
    • know it’s not you, just hone the craft
    • “Be so good they can’t ignore you.” – Steve Martin
    • you can’t worry about people think

 “You can’t worry. You can’t give a shit about what people think. Some people will like you, some people won’t.  That’s life. That’s the difference between being a professional and being someone that dabbles in it and gets hurt and just says I’m terrible at it.”

  • how drawing is similar to and different from acting
    • similar in they are both a form of expression
    • drawing brings herself and other people a lot of joy
    • drawing is calming and meditative
    • acting and drawing both allow you to get into the zone
    • drawing is more immediate and therapeutic
  • next step and ideal dream project
    • friend is helping with sound design of See Me See You and sending to film festivals
    • find joy in going back and doing her own
    • dream project is to be series regular on a network TV show
    • source of her happiness comes from enjoying her own process
  • morning routine

“You don’t even know the blessings you have unless you’re acknowledging it and recognizing it.”

“That’s your job as an artist. You have to go to the places that you’re wistfully thinking about, that are in the recesses of your mind.”

“What’s that thing that you hear it faintly? It’s not going to be the sound of a freight train. It’s something that you hear, and you’re almost embarrassed that you want to do that thing.”

  • how to be more creative
    • learn to meditate because there’s so much chatter in our minds
    • Julia Cameron’s Artist’s Way: take 20 minute walk,  do alone artist date, and morning pages

“When you’re able to observe yourself without all that chatter… then you’re less judgmental to yourself and your creativity flows a lot more.”

Natalie on Twitter & Instagram

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