Kim Sykes

Kim Sykes

Actress, writer and painter

Kim Sykes

Kim Sykes

I came to New York as an actor, working in comedy, improvisation, advertising, television and theater. Twenty five years later, I’m still an actress, but I also write plays and short stories mainly, and I taught myself how to paint.

Life is a blast when you get to create it as you go along.

My motto

The only way to scare away the vampire is to guide him into the light.

On thy fly

Where do you live today?

New York, New York

What do you do for a living?

I am an actress / writer.

Do you have any hobbies?

Yes. Painting, gardening and making things with my hands.

What was the last book you have read?

Elizabeth Warren: “A Fighting Chance”

And what was the last movie?

“Two Lives”

The last music you have heard was …?

“Nothing’s Real But Love” by Rebecca Ferguson.

Your last accomplishment has been what?

I finished my play. It’s titled “In A Roundabout Way”.

Which historical character do you admire most – and why?

Abraham Lincoln. The more I read about him, the more I realize how difficult it was for him to stand his ground, despite the dangers and his personal losses.

Which reform has been a real advancement?

Prison reform in America. There is still more to be done but its a real beginning at continuing the fight, by African Americans, for equality in America.

Who is your hero in everyday life?

Anyone who sees injustice and does something about it.

Do you have any favorites?

Pulling food out of the ground and eating it.

And your favorite quote is?

»There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.« — WILLA CATHER

In more detail

Today you are an actress, a painter, a storyteller and more.
What brought you to this point in life?

The realization that what I really wanted to do did not fit into a set occupation. I’ve had many other jobs in order to support my art. And those jobs have actually fed my writing, painting and acting. As Rilke says, „Have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and try to love the questions themselves.“ At first, this lesson was hard to learn but it is now what I try to live by.

Describe your path to what you‘re doing now.

I write what I want to play.

The characters in my plays, my novel and my short stories have strong beliefs. They struggle to get others to understand their point of view and most importantly they listen. Everyone wants to be heard. I want to be heard and I discovered that if I write about my views using humor, love and interesting relationships, I could make that happen.

Writing forces me to understand the person with the opposite view. And understanding your opponent is the key to finding a solution.

I’m working on a play called, »Sex and Commerce«. It came out of my work with human trafficking issues at a not for profit organization here in the States. This play is about two women on different sides of the argument about the legalization of prostitution. Should it be legal or not? During the course of the play, they find out that they have more in common than not and we learn how similar circumstances affect women in different ways.

Another play that I’m working on is »Declaration of Occupation«. It’s about what it means to be human. What makes us different from corporations and how did we come to this place where a corporate entity declares itself to be like you and me?

As an actress, I’ve always wanted to do plays with characters who struggle with societal norms, who work to change things, who sometimes fail and sometimes succeed.

Is passion important for you?

Yes. Passion is key but also determination, drive and never giving up. I try to write everyday. I’m not so lucky with being able to act everyday although I have been known to recite Shakespearean monologues alone while driving in my car.

Your thoughts about mastery and failure.

Perfection is elusive. But I find if I work on something, again and again, eventually I come to a place where I’m able to let it go.

As for failure, all failure is a lesson.

Fears are …

“The cave you fear to enter holds the treasures you seek.”
Not that I’m brave, still…
One late afternoon, at my country house, a car parked on the side of the road with two men inside. I was alone and at first I was afraid. Then I got up and walked outside, fiercely towards their car. They drove away.

Has there been a point when you had any regrets?


Money is important … or not?

Enough to write, to act and to paint. That’s enough for me.

Tell us a bit about inspiration and creativity.

I am inspired by human rights. By the intelligence of ordinary people. By dreams. By animal behavior. By history.

What does a typical day in your life look like?

Writing in the morning, auditions during the day, painting towards the evening (not necessarily in that order)…

Where do you get your inspiration from?

History is loaded with inspiration. Especially when history is repeated. Which is almost always.

How important are media like newspapers, tv, the internet for your creative process?

God bless Wikipedia.

If you had to pick a favorite writer – who would it be? … And tell us why?

Just one? Rilke for his thoughtful and beautifully written letters to the young poet, Theodore Dreiser for his novels about class in America, Eugene O’Neil for his plays about folks living on the edges of society, Lose Your Mother, the most breathtakingly beautifully written novel by Saidiya Hartman and anything and everything written, particularly the mysteries, by Thomas Adcock.

Is social commitment important for you?

Absolutely. Without it we are nothing but barbarians.

Are you happy?

Most of the time.

Is there any advice you could share with someone who wants to become an artist?

Do it no matter what. And never stop learning. The day you decide you know it all is the day you stop being an artist.

Is there something in the way of a legacy you hope to leave behind?

I hope to leave behind the love of my family, a path for others to follow, a safer world for women and girls.

Slave in Brooklyn, in: Brooklyn Noir 3, New York [Akashic Books], 2008
iBook Store, (Kindle), (Kindle)

Arrivederci Aldo, in: Queens Noir, New York [Akashic Books], 2012
This short story has been selected by Nikki Giovanni and Bantam Books to be included in the »Best African American Fiction of 2010«.
iBookStore, (Kindle), (Kindle)

Kim Sykes has written the plays:

Sex and Commerce, 2012

In A Roundabout Way, 2014

She has performed in New York City and regionally at The Actor’s Theater of Louisville, Stageworks, Hudson and Crossroads Theater and the First Amendment Comedy and Improvisational Company.
She is a member of the Actors Center Workshop Company.

Film credits include the features Marcy (2014), Pariah (2011, Trailer), Herman USA (2001, Trailer) and The Crow (1994).

Her numerous television appearances include Person of Interest (2011), The Unusuals (2009), Law and Order (2000); Law and Order: Criminal Intent (2007); West Wing (2001) and other shows for television.

Her latest project is the independent film, Marcy (2014), produced and directed by Daniel Freudenberger.

Kim Sykes has a homepage, and she’s also on Facebook.

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