10 THINGS – Kimberly Quinn
You’re coming off a great couple of years. Your last film Hidden Figures, which you starred in and co-produced was a box office hit and a fan favorite. It didn’t hurt that you guys were considered for several awards. How does it feel to have been of that success?
I would say the reward is more internal. It was thrilling to see our hard work and passion be recognized by our peers. But it feels even better that almost every day, someone thanks us for making Hidden Figures and bringing those three women to life on the big screen and honoring them. When people are crying and thanking you, telling us that the film changed their life, there is no greater reward than that. We set out to bring forth these smart, amazing black women, honoring their lives. And, through it all, we ended up not only lifting up the black community, but communities of all colors could see themselves in it. It transcended color, I think, and became more about a behavior study on some level, of what’s acceptable and what’s not. It was the quiet, subtle approach sprinkled with humor that allowed the audience to stay open. Kevin Costner said it best in the film, “We get there together or we don’t get there at all.” We are slowly starting to realize how important each cog in the wheel is, no matter what your position and my hope is that we ALL get recognized for our contribution to whatever we do. We are all important.
Whether your role is small, big or just even working behind the scenes, you seem to have that big picture mentality and approach to your projects. Where do you draw that from?
I do have a very big picture mentality. I’ve had to learn over the years how to figure out the steps to get where I want to go, which can seem daunting and make you want to give up! But I think I draw that from a few things. I have a deep sense of responsibility to the characters, to the audience and to myself. Whether acting, producing, writing, developing characters, editing, etc… I am so committed to each character coming to life, every moment has to be authentic and I have to know WHY. Why are they saying what they are saying, why are they doing what they are doing? I fight for them throughout the entire process. I think it’s my love for acting and years of script analyzation that I have done for all the characters I’ve played, that has crossed over into producing and writing. As long as the characters I play are fully realized and serve the story, it doesn’t matter the size of the role. Not being an “ingénue” in Hollywood anymore, it was either quit acting or create projects that matter and continue acting… I chose the latter. What have I got to lose?
You’ve had the opportunity to play alongside some pretty big actors. Which ones are still on your list and inspire you to continue on your path?
Wow. Well, they are all inspiring but Bill Murray and Kevin Costner stand out the most and I think it’s because they are veterans. It was the way I felt around them… I think you have to be so giving of yourself to be able to make others around you not have to think, “Oh my God, I’m working with KEVIN COSTNER or BILL MURRAY!” I learned so much from them both. They both worked very differently of course, but what inspired me was their attention to the details AND to be inclusive. Even though Bill’s process was more loose and free, it was both of their ability to see and connect to everything and everyone in an all-inclusive way, as oppose to when I work along some actors who stay in their safe bubble and almost act alone. I guess that’s what makes them the best. They allowed their surroundings to be included in the whole process. I’m always encouraged by older actors who have lived a seasoned life and have so much to give. That inspires me, no matter where I am on the radar in “Hollywood terms.” I will continue to act, create and give. It’s what I am here for.
Your next film is on Netflix, El Camino Christmas. How were you first introduced to the project and what made you want to take this on and be a part of it?
After Hidden Figures, Ted and I were kicking around some indies that we could have fun with. In our stack of films was this one, El Camino Christmas. Ted had worked on this project with writer, Chris Weiner twelve years ago and we kind of dusted it off and dug our heels in. The script needed work so we both sat down and made it the best we could. It’s our production company’s (Goldenlight Films’) first film. Well, I should say “as grown adults.” It was a film that Ted and I were thrilled to run on our own. We love making movies and to only answer to ourselves made the process much different.
In the film, your role is that of Jewels Daniels. What can you share with us about Jewels’ personality?
Jewels is a carefree, fun loving, non-judgmental mother and grandmother who doesn’t have a pot to piss in. She loves men and isn’t ashamed of it. I loved playing this woman. She lived
life to the fullest and probably had a hundred bucks in the bank. I think it was the first time I played a character who didn’t have some sort of past that they carried around with them. The only past she had, was how long ago she checked Tinder to get a date. She was so much fun. A woman I would want to hang out with and ironically learn a lot of life lessons from.
You were on set with Jessica Alba, Dax Shepard, Tim Allen, Luke Grims, and Vincent D’Onofrio. Besides the obvious, what was the best part about being able to work with these individuals?
What was so great being with all these talented actors was that, well, we were all actors in a sense. Usually when you do a film there are “higher-ups” running around or an underlying pressure to please who you are working for or with. This film was so relaxed and chill, it was like being in a big acting class for a month. I will always be an actor no matter what “title” I have. I’m learning how to be somewhat of a business woman but I always come at things with the heart of an actor. So, anytime I am amongst great actors it’s always a privilege to hang and see them work. Film sets are little families and this was a great one.
What can we expect to see from Jewels and the rest of the cast in the movie?
You can expect to see some really fun and funny scenes. I honestly didn’t know how funny it was. That is the joy of the process. Each stage of film making is its own art. The characters in this movie are truly unforgettable. It’s hopefully going to become a great holiday classic for NETFLIX. I can’t wait to share it with the world.
We touched on this earlier, but one of your biggest passions is creating content with issues that are important to you. As a producing partner for Goldenlight Films, what more are you looking to accomplish and what do you want other aspiring women in film to glean from this?
Goldenlight Films is dedicated to making socially conscious film and television. We have branded ourselves with this commitment. If the film doesn’t say something with social relevance or make an impact, no matter the genre, we aren’t interested. Some might think that’s a narrow margin but it’s really not. In this day and age where there are not many rules, boundaries or dare I even say morals, we have chosen to have our company stand for something. A company where our audience will know what they are getting themselves into. Film and television are supposed to help lead the audience, help them in some way, be better. This is what we are standing for. I would tell women (and men) to find the reason within themselves of why they got into the business in the first place. Hollywood has a way of taking you places you really didn’t want to go. And after you find that answer, stand for it. Create it and don’t waiver. We need more creative souls fighting the good fight. I would also tell them not to limit themselves. They will get more out of their life stepping out of their comfort zone than staying safe.
When we see you on the red carpet, you just have an effortless, chic style about you. Where is your relationship with fashion at these days?
I love fashion but I also like to feel effortless. The minute I put something on or start adding things or getting fussy about something, I know it’s not right. I know that I’m trying too hard. So I strip down to the basics and start over. Now that I’m getting older, I really try to allow myself to not have any rules as far as “age” in fashion. There is that middle ground, not too “old,” wearing something that shows your age, and not too “young” where you stand out and look like a fool. But I find that if you mix pieces, a mature piece with a younger piece you can get away with it and feel great. It’s kind of like staying in the zone. And a cool pair of shoes (that no one has) is always a great statement that keeps you feeling great. In the end, I always check in to see how an outfit makes me “feel.” That’s always a good test. If it’s not good… off it goes.
We look forward to seeing you on El Camino Christmas. What other projects do you have coming up, both in front and behind the camera?
Goldenlight Films just signed a television deal with ALCON Entertainment. We are currently developing many television series and two feature films, along with any outside projects that come in. I am constantly writing, producing and acting and will also possibly direct something along the way. My slate is always full and if I think about it all, I will freak out. I have managed to train myself to do one thing at a time. Right now, I am writing this piece. That’s all that I am doing.
Photos: Courtesy of Jessica Castro