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Kamili Feelings: Actor, Author, Playwright and Educator

In His Own Words

When I initially approached Kamili about a career profile, he warned me his career had not followed a straight and narrow path.  Instead, he had taken several detours along the way based on inspiration and risk.

As you will soon see, it is those very detours which have allowed him to be successful at his craft.  His journey is a reminder that some of our best experiences occur when we open up ourselves to new possibilities.

What is your job title?

I’m a self-employed Writer/Playwright and Educator. I didn’t realize, until you marked me as a child of artists, just how much that has affected my level of expectation in these fields of work. I not only got permission from my Dad to continue in a vein with no hope of huge financial success; but I got from the both of my parents that it was a viable, more potentially socially-supportive option. When my mother became ill, her friends banded together to cook, clean and raise enough money for her to get well; I think she’s been overwhelmed by the nationwide response to her illness ever since.

My mother gets all sorts of recognition from the honest imaginative work she did on three published books in the early ’70s. I met a gentleman from Australia who told me about these wonderful books about Swahili he grew up reading as a child, and I was touched that it had touched him in so far away a place as that! It simply makes me strive to try and touch folks in some way through words. I am a storyteller – and that legacy inspires me to name myself that.

What are your day to day job responsibilities?

I’m currently writing what’s called “spec scripts” for television studios, in hopes of getting hired as a staff writer on a tv series. I’m also working collaboratively with my mother to try and “stage” some scenes from her children’s books for young audiences. Besides that, I support myself through “day work” – tutoring part-time and driving a shuttle bus at a corporate job.

Is specialized training required?

I was taught theater and film scriptwriting as a professional in grad school; however, TV script writing is a new field which I’m currently trying to break into, so to speak. The storytelling learning I’ve gained has been through a lot of creative writing courses, a little training at a wonderful African-American actor’s workshop in South Carolina (TRUSTUS), some work done jointly with an ex-partner, and a lot more training at the London International School of Performing Arts (LISPA). (There we had almost entire semesters devoted to just the actor telling a story onstage.)

How do you stay abreast of the changes and trends in your industry?

I subscribe to several periodicals (Variety, Script, etc.) to keep up with new trends in that industry. But the periodicals also give information related to trends enabling one to gain more independence and access as a writer online or in paper publication too.

What is a typical day like?

I write in the mornings until about noon; if I’m able to continue after lunch I will likely finish by 3pm. I do a lot of applying for jobs in my field as well, as I’m currently relocating to the west coast from Philly. I tutor folks  in writing both informally and formally. A lot of sleeping gets done during the day as well, as I work late nights at my day job (more on that later). So the schedule’s never written in stone. I feel like I’m speaking about work as a full time actor rather than as a writer!

 

Feelings (third from left) in August Wilson’s Two Train’s Running, TRUSTUS Theater, 1999

 

What are your other interests?

I love teaching. I taught literature and playwriting for four years at Temple University as an adjunct. I gained a Pedagogical Degree in Theater while living in London over the three years.  I also have a fascination with human behavior and laymen’s science, so I read a lot of books about consciousness and art. I try to invent efficient and appropriate ways and rituals for “getting there” imaginatively, whether it’s speaking the writing out and recording, or working collaboratively with other brilliant people.

The TV writer, David Milch, lays down on the floor and dictates his words to a secretary who transcribes furiously onto a huge flat screen TV in front of him; so I could see that working in some way for me – without the secretary and the wide screen TV! The book that acts as my “bible” lately, suggested by Milch, is called The Origin of Consciousness in the Breakdown of the Bicameral Mind by Julian Jaynes. – Not at all as hard a read as it sounds, folks.

August 1, 2010

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