Interview: "Kitty" Kavey

© Kitania Kavey

Kitania Kavey is a disabled person who dares to dream big and work hard. She produced and directed a short film; Smashing Stereotypes. She is also a award-winning screenwriter, winning prestigious writing accolades from numerous screenwriting competitions and film festivals, including the Beverly Hills Film Festival, the Winnipeg International Film Festival, and The Queens International Film Festival. She is also a commercial print model, and does voiceover. Kavey continues reaching for her goals.

Kitania Kavey, Director/Screenwriter/Actress/Model/Voiceover artist, speaks exclusively to OpenBeast in this candid interview.

Interviewed by Stephen M. Thompson, Ph.D. 

OpenBeast: How did you go about doing multiple roles and being a multi-talented artist? What were your motivations in this respect?

Kavey: Following a motorcycle accident when I was just twenty, I found myself beginning my life all over again.  I had sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury and visual impairment among other injuries.  I found myself in one of the lowest points of my life, and I had no idea what I would do – but I was certain I needed to try a different path through life.  It was a long process of trial and error that followed; years of figuring out what I could do, what I could learn.

It wasn’t until I was in my mid-twenties that I began modeling professionally.  I couldn’t see the photos myself that well – but in those images I looked like a “real person” whole of body and mind.  Everyone I worked with didn’t care about my disabilities, that was never an issue for them.

My agent believed I could do acting as well, and on his advice I began doing background acting on films and television shows.  Occasionally there were roles that required some dialogue, but again everyone worked with me so that I could accomplish the job.  Even with memory deficits from the brain injury, I was able to be a part of a team, working next to the stars, observing the crew and learning about how a film or TV show is made.  I was hooked.

I went to NYC to study voiceover, then went out to Los Angeles.  In L.A., it’s much easier to get industry work, and there is a larger support system for disabled talent.  I was able to attend a screenwriting class run by a really great teacher.  Although the disabilities were often different than mine, I found it to be a supportive and nurturing environment where I was able to learn the craft.  Screenwriting is also quite structured and generally shorter than novel writing, and I found I could do that well in spite of my brain injury.

The directing I sort of fell into, it wasn’t something that I intended to do.  Funny that when one doesn’t have great vision, it can be that you notice different things – body language, tone/inflection of an actor’s voice.  I’m not sure how well that works for a director, but I thought I’d give it a shot.

As I grew and continued to push the boundaries of what I thought I could do, it was a natural progression from working in front of the camera, to behind it.  I was also lucky to have the support of friends and family who, even when they didn’t think I would succeed at a task, never wavered from giving me whatever help I asked for.

Looking ahead to your future work, do you want to go as a filmmaker or more into script writing?

I think script writing is what I do best, and it’s something that I can do from anywhere.  It also is easiest for me to work when I’m well, and take a break whenever it’s needed.  However, the challenge of directing calls to me.  There’s nothing like being on the set, feeling that energy, seeing creativity put into action.

What is your personal affinity with particular genres as a writer and filmmaker?

My favorite genre to write is comedy.  My own life story would be too depressing if I hadn’t learned to look at it with a sense of humor.  One always has the choice of looking at events with a point of view.  Whenever possible, I choose humor.  It might be sarcastic or ironic humor, but it’s how I look at a lot of life – and that usually ends up in my scripts.

Any downfalls?

There are always frustrations, goals that I have not yet attained.  I deal with all of life’s regular problems, and also serious health issues.  I must be creative to figure out new ways to accomplish what I want, and I am dependent on the support of others in order to get to where I want to go.

Now that you are working outside Hollywood, do you have any regrets or missed opportunities? Do you think you will focus more on directing?

No regrets.  I’m sure I’ve missed opportunities that would have been possible had I stayed in the U.S.  I have been able to continue writing and doing script coverage for the Hollywood market, that’s no problem.  I have different opportunities now that I am working on as well.  I have discussed directing a film over in Germany, and have been working on a Dutch animation project in between going to Dutch language school and my regular writing work for others.

There are a lot of people here in Europe who do not have the experience in or connections to the Hollywood/US market.  I’d love to work with the industry folks over here, and be a part of a filmmaking team in the near future.  It’s been a great learning experience, living in Holland, and I can watch American films with a whole new perspective.  Humour isn’t always as universal as one might think, and each culture is so unique.  Living on this side of the world has given me a new outlook and understanding of people, the differences between cultures, and the importance of preserving both history and points of view on film.