Interview: Katie Folger, Actor and Writer

In recent months I’ve become fascinated by the routines and day-to-day practices of creative people, in an effort to understand how they actually get things done. Hence, a new series of interviews where creators talk about how they accomplish anything at all in this busy life.  

Not only has the charismatic Katie Folger been featured in shows such as Rooster Teeth's Day 5, to films such as The Honor Farm, which premiered this year at SXSW— the Austin-based actress is also a director, writer and entrepreneur.  This month, she and her creative partner Juliet Robb, successfully raised over $16,000 to launch their comedy channel Dynamite Sisters Comedy. Her thoughtful responses to how she gets it all done are a refreshing reminder that everything is a process, and that it's the process, not the outcome, that truly matters. 

How do you deal with the continual ebb and flow of “success” as an artist?

I’ve found that being an artist is a wholehearted embrace of uncertainty. We do not do what we do for the results— we do it for the joy of the work and the process with the ultimate and great hope that we can touch others. But ultimately, I’ve found that the outcome of my actions are outside of my control and not my responsibility— therefore it’s frivolous to overly concern myself with it. There’s almost a science to it, that very simple cliche— you get back what you give. And I’ve found that the more richly and deeply I commit myself to my work and this fabulous, wild journey, the more I am enriched, the more I am grounded, and the more I am presently surprised. When you're in theatre school they don’t tell you how it hard it’s going to be. It is hard. If I grow older and get the opportunity to talk to younger artists about process, I will stress to them that it is a very tough calling to answer. This society is not structured to support creative innovation and balance simultaneously. But our hearts certainly are! I’ve found no more worthwhile fight. I say this to lovers, I say this to friends, I say this to my career and expression — I ultimately have worked very intimately with ensuring that my center is Myself. Everything else is a Victory. Everything else is a Gift.

When is a time you felt really successful? Or a time you felt like you failed?

Oh man, love this question. The exciting thing I can say right now— which is the first time I have been able to say this in many years— is I feel successful right now. I just raised over $16,000 on Kickstarter with my creative and comedy partner, Juliet Robb. She and I were best friends in college and quickly realized we were artistic soulmates. After school we moved into a tiny apartment and started envisioning Dynamite Sisters Comedy, the seed of a potentially decades long vision we’ve crafted. That was almost two years ago— and we are just releasing it to the world. Of course the financial gain to support our shoots over the next few months is a massive victory— but more so than the material gain— it is cause for celebration that we've stuck with it. What’s so astounding about the artistic process is the amount of work that comes before reward. I understand that very intimately now. And what a valuable lesson— I was such an impatient child and now know that the really really good things take time. There are so many times I feel like I’ve failed. I’ve been on countless auditions and have probably booked forty or so of them. Which isn’t a terrible batting record considering, but MAN. The number of BIG films I have wanted to be on that I haven’t booked! I imagined that my process as an actor would move a lot more swiftly— that I would book “that big role” and jet off to Los Angeles and do the thing. But it hasn’t worked out that way for me— and you know what? I really love that. Because in the gap of my “failures,” in the space of “not getting that big part with that big fancy director on that big movie,” I have learned to push and grow and innovate. Without my failure I would have never embrace myself more fully as an entrepreneur and artistic innovator, and I certainly would have never founded Dynamite Sisters Comedy with Juliet.

What is your biggest struggle as an artist?

I’m definitely too hard on myself. Maintaining balance is also very difficult.

What is your daily routine? Your weekend routine?

I don’t operate off of a Monday through Friday work week, so all of the days blend together. The only way I am reminded it’s the weekend is if I end up going to meet a friend on the East Side and see a million people out and I’m like, oh crap. If I’m being very very routine and disciplined, I get up around 8AM, go for a work out, eat healthy things, get to work on my creative stuff until around 7PM, and then I’m done for the day. So I do try to maintain some sense of regularity. But honestly it’s a constant juggling act, because of the nature of what I do. I’m a freelancer, and I’m business owner, so I operate on my own schedule and on a project by project basis. If I’m acting on a film set, it disrupts all of this. Sometimes I’m working twelve hour days five days a week and everything is out of wack. Working on a film is like entering another world. And Juliet and I were working 12-14 hour days in preparation and during our Kickstarter shoot and campaign. When it’s over, you don’t know what to do with yourself. But the cool thing is, I have worked upon my good habits and know that I have yoga, or healthy eating, or good sleep, and good friends to return to when the chaos dies down. I do wonder if there will be a time when it doesn’t. Haha. It seems to be going in that direction…

How do you motivate yourself to actually get things done?

They say that habits take time to form, right? I really think it’s about habit formation. You just have to start, and you just have to merciful and patient with yourself as you form and mold your own process and technique. Nobody can tell you what to do or how to do it or make you do it. It is such a beautiful adventure of self-love and self-inquiry, at the end of the day. And it ROCKS.

Especially given that it’s usually expensive to make things, how do you afford to be an artist financially? — do you have a day job?

This is also all over the place and depends. I typically supplement my income with a service industry job (barista, server, whatever) because it’s flexible and low stress. I am not one of those people that can both hold a job job and also do my creative work. Why? Because I need to reserve my best self and best energy for my creative pursuits. Not that I don’t give my best to a service job— I do— but it’s a COMPLETELY different skill set. It’s important to me to feel like I don’t have to answer to anybody or impress anybody because I have so much on my plate as is. With service, my job is to make people happy. And that’s a gift, and a very humbling process that I enjoy and appreciate. Service industry folk are saints. When I’m very lucky, I’m supporting myself off of acting work. I just got off a big shoot for season 2 of Rooster Teeth’s sci-fi show Day 5, and that’s taking care of me for now. But obviously….. I intend to support myself with my work eventually. And that’s why we created Dynamite Sisters.

How do you manage the stress/anxiety that’s inevitable with putting yourself out there?

For me this kind of piggy back off of the “feeling successful” thing. I also feel successful right now because I feel like I am managing my spirit, self, and time the most effectively and lovingly that I ever have. I think that this is so vital and important. I used to be terribly hard on myself, and when I became aware of that, I began to get to work. There were a lot of means I used to get to where I am now — therapy (seriously THERAPY IS THE BEST), prayer, a spiritual practice, a health regimen and workout routine, journaling, meditation, a general reckoning with self. But now that it’s more ingrained in me (again, two years of tough inner work), I’m finding joy and communion and play and love and laughter to be key, key ingredients. Letting yourself off the damn hook. Staying up till 2AM that one night if you’re out and having a good time and sleeping till 11AM and not giving a damn— just not all the time. It’s a balance. What are our lives for if not to pursue joy ferociously? I am currently aligning myself with that idea.

How do you manage the internet/social media?

Well, social media and the internet are essential to my profession, both in my pursuits as a director and producer of content but also as an actress. I used to say that I hated social media and was only on it because of my work, but that loathing was such a waste of my energy. (Which I’ve found in general to be true about loathing, side note.) We live in a world where this dimension is now, and rather than resisting, we can approach it with loving balance. And hell, I’ll admit it, it’s kind of fun! This is a superpower and is rewriting rules for creation, artists, and community— and I find that really exciting. Anything that’s powerful can be either harmful or helpful, and that’s intentionally why Juliet and I are positioning Dynamite Sisters online— to experiment with this tool as artists, and to hopefully contributing something beneficial and positive.

Whats your collaborative process like? And how is it easy or difficult compared to working on your own?

I absolutely love collaborating. I almost love it more than working alone because there is so much joy that comes with conversation and communion. Funnily enough, my solo work leans towards being a bit more dark and emotional and dramatic— but my work with Juliet screams vibrance and play and life. I think both are important, and I’m happy I can work in both realms. I know that as I get older I will be venturing into darker and scarier territory with my work, and that excites me. But I’m in no rush. I was in a workshop with some fabulous playwrights and artists from all across the country, and the leader of the group, a very very gifted and beautiful heart and thinker, led a bit of the discussion regarding the Artist and Ego— how in New York, it’s all about “MY” debut and “MY” big showcase and it’s all about me me me— and how he was more interested in exploring the intersection of FAMILY and artistry… This idea is still living within me and I have a hunch is going to be needling its way into my process and work as I move forward. I really like it. This idea of moving from Hero’s Journey to Heroes’ Journey. Also— I wanna mention. Juliet and I structured the vision of Dynamite Sisters off of a band more than a comedic duo. I don’t want to get into this too much now, but…. I intend to in the future...

What’s your big dream? Do you have one? How do you set goals/set yourself up to achieve?

I think my big dream is for this work (Dynamite Sisters) to blast off. To reach a lot of people. To positively effect people— to give people joy and belief and imagination. To restructure possibility. I also really want to work on big movies. I do. I still do! I want to do great work. I want to be a wonderful, powerful, and scary vulnerable performer. I want to play a million different types of roles. I want to be the best that I can be. I will say that these goals have been in me since I was a toddler. I almost feel like I was set up by them. 

 

 

Find Katie Folger and the Dynamite Sisters on Instagram.