Women in the Entertainment Industry: Elynmarie Kazle
We are asking women in the entertainment industry around the world some key questions about their life and career. Here is Elynmarie Kazle based in Akron OH (and various cities across) USA.
1. In which part of the industry do you work?
Theatre, Events, Education.
2. Have you drawn professional inspiration from other women in the entertainment industry? How have they inspired you?
Early on, I was one of only a few women involved in USITT. This mainly male technical theatre organization had a few stand out women rising in leadership. I have also drawn inspiration by (as a stage manager) from several female lighting designers with whom I had the good fortune to work with, shadow and observe in my early career. Those being: Natasha Katz, Beverly Emmons and Jennifer Tipton.
3. What would you tell young women who are just starting out? What would you like them to know?
Just do the work. And where possible keep up and keep separate when possible your social life. Don’t be afraid to be creative or to speak out for others and for yourself.
4. What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?
Stay connected. Even the smallest bit of aptly timed communication could result in an unanticipated opportunity.
5. Please share one of your toughest challenges in your career. How did you overcome?
It is tricky when building an organization, knowing when to leave. There are builders, disruptors and maintainers. When an organization needs to go into maintenance mode a disruptor or builder may harm it with further changes. I have learned from those experiences and now have a better understanding when I create a project when it is time to move on, to allow the organization to move to the next stage, to settle in with the changes. A change agent or disruptor needs to find and accept new challenges to tackle in the way that fields need to be ploughed or crops watered. Knowing that about myself, journaling and re-reading my own advice keeps me centered; as does the best advice of my own mentors.
6. What is your favorite musical or play?
7. What is your morning routine?
Rise, coffee, emails, am chores (if in town feed and let doggo out), news, list for the day then prep me and get out into the world.
8. Drink of Choice?
9. What is a phrase you are known for saying?
Don’t let me run your room. (when speaking to students)
10. At what point in your career did you become a mother? What was your entertainment industry job?
Rounding my second career, I unexpectedly became a mom. I was in arts administration then, writing FEMA grants for one of the most devastated theatres in LA following the Northridge earthquake.
11. What allowances (or not) were made to accommodate you as an expectant mother?
Not many prior to birth I felt I had to carry the cases of water… pull my own weight. I did not let anyone know “officially” until I was 5 months along and it was, by that time, truly obvious. I recall heading to the USITT meetings in Las Vegas (conference planning meeting) wearing too tight clothing and not having good flights. However, that said, my boss at Actors Alley was understanding, though demanding and I worked until days before I gave birth. Three days after giving birth the California Arts Council grant was due and he insisted it be completed.
12. What childcare options were/are available to you?
Not many and at pretty great expense, worth it tho… My son, Banno, went everywhere that I did. He had a nanny (very early on) that would sometimes be with us onsite at events and sometimes at home. He was welcomed on the show floor of USITT, in meetings, in the rehearsal room (sometimes) and had a playpen in my office at Actors Alley. He traveled with me and we stayed with my friend Lori (Sarge) in more hotel rooms than I can count.
When I started running a theatre in Akron, he was in childcare much of the day but he also spent a great deal of time at the theatre, sometimes til very late… the casts of the shows became his village. The first one was the cast of the Piano Lesson, a couple of the actors had children older and they used to hang out together in the green room. I was so grateful as it was a new and bigger position for me as Executive Director. I was a single mom at the time.
13. What are the biggest challenges of being a mom in the industry?
The push pull of having sometimes, to leave your child and knowing they need you most. This business can be unforgiving and sometimes your child is sick or has to be picked up midday at school. When it gets super busy, sometimes your kid acts out, for attention. At times you feel like you only do everything half well.
14. What are the biggest rewards of being a mom in the industry?
The opportunities for travel with your child to be exposed to so many new experiences through the entertainment industry.
15. Any tips for balancing work and parenting?
Ask for help. People are (not at all surprisingly) very willing to take your child for an hour or two. I think it was less complicated, of course now it is so different Back in the mid 90s, Banno was passed around at many a USITT conference amongst my colleagues. One time he was sleeping in his umbrella stroller onstage prior to an event at USITT and Chris Kaiser infamously said “I think we should strike the baby”. Also allow yourself not to be perfect. The child will accept you if you love them and do your best.
16. What advice would you give to other women in the industry?
Rise above whenever possible. It is surprising how few people are actually paying attention or even care what seems so big to you. I honestly nearly always recommend not burning bridges but if someone has truly wronged you, make sure you take it all down (with class).
Other Women in the Entertainment Industry:
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