The Life and Times of a Hollywood Casting Director. Passion for Casting,
Giving Back to the Community &
Inspiring others to BE EXCELLENT!!
Saturday, October 18, 2014
WINNER OF TWINKIES HOLLYWOOD MONOLOGUE SLAM 2013 SPEAKS
HI, please state your name: Kyla Victoria Garcia
Where are you from? Hoboken, NJ
When did you fall in love with Acting? It started when I was very young. One of my earliest memories is of watching The Wizard of Oz. I would learn the lines and act them out for my family. As I grew older, I started a love affair with books and reading. Everywhere I went I would always have a book with me. At nine years old, I got cast in a student production of Macbeth as Lady Macbeth. I fell in love with the combination of reading and performing on a stage. And I haven't stopped since.
I was also inspired by my older sister. She was always singing, dancing, or acting, and because I looked up to her so much, she paved the way for me in the arts.
Who is supportive of your Dream? How do they support you? I am very, very lucky because my whole entire family is supportive. My Mom has always said "Do what you Love." For as far back as I can remember, she encouraged me to follow my dreams. My Dad is also a huge supporter along with my Aunt. They both flew across the country to see me in my one woman show, 'The Mermaid Who Learned How to Fly,' this year which was the highlight of my summer. I come from a very creative family who did not have the blessing of support and encouragement to follow their artistic dreams, so they always encouraged my sisters and I to follow ours.
I am also surrounded by an incredible support system of friends. Before I made the move to LA, my boyfriend and best friend threw me a surprise going away party. All of my closest friends and family were there to see me off. It was one of the happiest days of my life. To have so many people I love sincerely giving me their blessing on the next chapter of my life in California, even though they knew I would be 3,000 miles away, filled my heart with even more courage for the move.
How did you turn your dream into Action? When I was 10 years old, I starred in my first play which was called "Destiny." I had an angel of a teacher named Margo Singagliese, who saw me play Lady Macbeth at 9 and supported and guided me as an actress throughout my adolescence. She directed me in "Destiny" and helped foster the confidence I needed to pursue this path. From that moment on, I got this idea that I needed to excel in school to get a scholarship in order to go to a prestigious acting program. Even at that age, I had an awareness that I did not come from a very wealthy family. My parents worked very hard to give us everything we needed and then some, but I instinctually knew that I would have to create a college opportunity for myself. I continued doing plays throughout high school (under the direction of yet another amazing mentor Alex Perez) while also taking academics very seriously. After my senior year, I got into my dream acting program at Rutgers University on a full scholarship. Under the stellar guidance of Barbara Marchant and Kevin Kittle, I was able to learn more than I ever had before about my craft and truly immerse myself in acting. I decided very early what I wanted and I saw it through.
Where have you studied? I received my BFA at Rutgers University, studied Shakespeare at Rutgers Conservatory at Shakespeare's Globe in London, and went to UCB for comedy and improv in both NY and LA.
When did you make the move to Los Angeles? Why? Everything was going well in NY. I was working consistently; performing in Off-Broadway plays and commercials frequently, I was surrounded by everyone I loved, and had a great side gig right next to the Equity building in Times Square. On the surface, it seemed like I should stay. But, my intuition said I needed to move to LA. I initially had that feeling the first time I visited it in 2007. But, it wasn't until 2011 after a chance encounter that I finally decided I needed to make the move. On New Year's Day of 2011, one of my customers at Havana Central asked me "What do you need to do this year to make you say on New Year's Eve of 2012 that 2011 was a good year?" The first thing that came out of my mouth was "move to LA." This angel of a man made me promise to move to LA within the year. I promised him, saved money from making A LOT of mojitos, and made it to LA within the next six months.
What made you enter Twinkies Monologue Slam? When I moved to LA, I began researching casting directors who were working on films that inspired me and that I knew I was right for. I also started following some of those casting directors on Twitter. Twinkie was number one on my list. One day I happened to see the announcement for the slam on her Twitter feed. I've always loved monologues and I thought it would be a great opportunity to be seen by one of the casting directors I admired most.
You are Puerto Rican and you entered a Monologue Slam at the (then.. Hollywood Black Film Festival) Were you Intimidated? What were you thoughts?? I was not intimidated. From watching Twinkie's massive repertoire of films, I knew that she specialized in diverse casting. I knew that there could be a place for me in one of them if I tried. I didn't let the name of the festival get in my head. She encouraged actors of all ethnicities to apply, so I figured I had nothing to lose in taking the risk and putting my work out there.
How has your life been since the slam?? Wonderful! I have not stopped working since last October. And I don't plan on it! Every since that magical night, life has been on overdrive. I've returned to the theatre in LA and had the opportunity to work on "Se Llama Cristina" by the prolific Octavio Solis at one of my favorite LA theatres, The Theatre at Boston Court. One of the casting directors for Marvel saw me in that performance and cast me in my very first TV role on ABC's Marvel Agents of SHIELD. I also shot several commercials, wrote, produced, and starred in a one woman show that debuted at the Hollywood Fringe Festival this year, and returned to my musical theatre roots in the West Coast Premiere of Stile's and Drew's "The Three Little Pigs" at the Lewis Family Playhouse working alongside incredible actors and performing for young audiences. It has been an inspiring year. Knowing that the work I am doing may inspire another little nine year old to realize her (or his) dreams early on, means everything to me.
Were the Prizes Helpful to your career??Very much so. The prizes were very generous! I was able to have a glam make up session with the lovely Melissa Hibbert and photo shoot with the amazingly talented Zsanae Davis. I've also put my Actors Access gift certificate prizes to good use! Bonnie Gillespie's book "Self-Management for Actors: Getting Down to (Show) Business has also been a wonderful tool.
But, for me, the greatest prize was finding a mentor in Twinkie and the relationships I made at the slam. It seems my career has been led from the very beginning by connecting and working with inspiring people who believe in me and became my mentors. Now, I have the privilege of calling Twinkie one of those special people in my life. I also am still very much in touch with the other finalists. They were all so very talented and it is a gift to call them friends. Those priceless relationships will go on for the rest of my career and I am forever grateful.
I plan to take this show around the country and eventually around the world. I also plan on taking screenwriting classes and learning how to adapt the staged work I've written for film. I have found that the greatest freedom in the arts comes from creating your own work. Once I got a taste of it, I became hooked and want to continue shaping original stories of the type of strong female characters I love to play. Rather than wait for someone else to give me those opportunities, I am creating them for myself.
What is your wish for the Next winner of Twinkie Byrds Hollywood Monologue Slam? My wish for the Next winner of the Slam is that their experience fills them with the confidence and joy they have always had since the moment they chose to pursue this dream. Sometimes along the way, we forget our own power. The Slam reminded me of mine. It empowered me to never let it go. I hope that the next winner is inspired in this way and allows the experience to remind them of their wings. Once you remember you have them, there's no telling how far you will fly.