Living the dream
Krysta Anderson, Gleaner Writer
Jamaican-born actress and producer Kimberly Huie has led quite an interesting and fascinating life - making her lifelong dream of being both a stage and television actress a reality.
Huie and her family migrated from Jamaica to Toronto when she was just five years old. Being so young, it was only natural that initially she called Canada her home, "The woman next door knew my grandmother and said she saw my grandmother in my face. So from the very beginning, I've always felt at home."
Having left Jamaica at such an early age, Huie found school very rewarding, finding a kindred spirit in her fellow Jamaican students. Her parents also ensured that she made the best of her education by achieving all that she could.
That certainly paid off with a bachelor's degree in history and political science at the University of Toronto. But she felt that something was missing. That 'something' was acting.
"I began my acting journey in junior high, and fell in love. I always had the ability and need to express myself, but my parents wanted me to pursue an education, so I did just that, with an aim to continue my studies in either law or journalism. I decided, however, that since I had done what they had wanted me to do, I was going to pursue acting for me," Huie told Flair.
However, after college, she put her acting dream on hold to live in Paris, since she was modelling while she attended university. She described that experience as bittersweet, noting, "I loved Paris. I had some good and bad experiences," truly understanding the saying, 'you live and you learn'.
Her foundation in film and theatre was later attained at 'Circle in the Square', part of the New York University (NYU) programme with a major in theatre, "From script analysis to stage presence, you learnt how to really hone your craft."
Growing up she watched a lot of old movies and found solace in the glitz and glam of Hollywood, the 'black and white days', looking up to timeless actresses such as Marlene Dietrich, Katharine Hepburn, Audrey Hepburn, Diahann Caroll and later Meryl Streep. Portraying her natural and honed talent with a touch of sophistication, her career took off mainstream, and she starred in many movies, namely Deep Impact with Blair Underwood, Liberty Street, Wishmaster 4, and Never Get Outta the Boat - a great story about "addictions and recoveries, people putting their lives back together. It was soulful, earnest and everyone involved was amazing to work with," Huie revealed.
She has also made appearances in several television series, including NYPD Blue, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation and Grey's Anatomy, among others. She has even directed and produced a short film, which she also acted in called The Intervention.
Success has not been an easy road, and for Huie, obstacles within the industry came in the form of racism and discrimination. "Being a woman and being black is an issue in the industry. It is always getting better, but there's a lot of catching up. I have learnt to recognise them for what they are, obstacles, not road blocks." She has additionally had to learn over time to take personal time when she needs it, because it is indeed important to aim for that balance, whether it is soaking in some salt water at the spa or spending time with friends and family.
Huie was recently in Jamaica, after being away for 10 years, to present the Barry Huie Memorial Scholarship, named after her father. She attributed her multitalented nature to her father, whom she looked up to the most while growing up. She said he was strict, but could be fun and had a joyful spirit and attitude, not only to his family but to his community as well. A draftsman engineer by profession, he also wore many other hats, such as a painter, and had an artistic soul.
With plans to enter her self-produced film into festivals, she revealed that she has a lot of stories that the world does not know about and can benefit from because they are original. Her insightful advice to upcoming actors and performers: "Knowledge is power. Get the necessary training, read, and expose yourself to what is out there. Trust yourself - if you have a vibe about something, follow it."