The road to stardom is often a perilous, lonely trek. But it’s one that rising star Kali Hawk innately feels she was built for. The star of the latest parody film, Fifty Shades of Black, which opens in theaters nationwide Jan. 29, Hawk has strategically been working her way into society’s collective consciousness.
You may know her face, but in Hawk’s estimation, it is now time for you to also know her name. And if her exclusive interview with rolling out was any indication, Hawk has both the plan and the wherewithal to make that a beautiful reality.
How does it feel to have a film you’re featured in coming out?
It’s going to be crazy. I’m kind of nervous because it is a comedy, but it has some heavy sex scenes. It’s the first time I’ve ever done something like that, and it’s rated R.
What’s the best part of working with Marlon Wayans?
He’s so impulsive. At first it’s like, what is going to happen? But then you get used to the idea that he will let you work the same way. So, he does whatever pops into his head, but it allows me to do whatever pops into my head, as well. So, it ratcheted the comedy right on up.
For aspiring actors who want to pursue comedic acting like you did, wha’s important to know? Is there a difference between a comedic acting school and a regular acting school?
It’s improv training, and it’s a skill. You have to put some time into acquiring that technical proficiency. If you were just trained as an actor learning comedic training, you’re prepared to do only what’s written. Improv is beneficial for all actors because nothing goes the way it’s planned on set. Even for the movie Jaws, Steven Spielberg planned this movie about a shark and every day the mechanical shark would not work. Every single day he had to improvise something. It was turning this lack of something into what you need, and allowing yourself to be creative to come up with a solution. Improv helps with that.
You had one bad experience with Snapchat and now youíre on strike from the app. What happened?
So, while we were shooting Fifty Shades of Black, we were working so hard that sometimes Marlon would fall asleep on set. The one time I fell asleep on set, Marlon staged a fake funeral around me, and he broadcast it live on Snapchat for 30 minutes. He [even] eulogized me. I was dead asleep, and he sang Negro spirituals, put flowers on me, and was crying. I saw it later, and now I can’t face Snapchat after that.
You’re well-known for your scene in Bridesmaids. How did you create such a memorable moment in the movie?
We had to figure out a way to create something in this moment where we’re working in the jewelry store, and it’s memorable without too many words. The director walked up to me during the scene, and changed my name to Kahlua, and while doing the scene, I tried a few different faces. He knew that I was a model, which is what I used to fund my acting career. And he knew that blank pouty face was prevalent in models. He goes “do nothing” and walked away. And that’s how it happened.
You’re from New York, and now live in Los Angeles. What made you decide to move to L.A. in the first place?
I was playing guitar in New York, and someone I knew who managed an artist invited me to L.A. As a New Yorker, everything is very fast-paced there, and when I came out here it was very slow. I didn’t have anything to do after 24 hours, and I said, “What’s something that I can do here?” Well, I decided I wanted to be an actor. So, I went on Craigslist, looked up film, and there was a movie on there and I ended up auditioning, and getting the role. Then I went back home, thought about it, then decided to come back to L.A.
What are a few important things you should have in place before you move across the country to follow your dreams?
You want to keep your expenses as low as humanly possible. If you have a lot of financial strain on your goals or passion, it kind of kills it in a way. I have a lot of friends who in the beginning had nicer apartments than me, or nicer cars than me. I kept my overhead super low. If you have a specific goal, your mind hooks in and attracts it. So, I knew I wanted to be able to pursue acting and not have a job and not have to worry too much about money. I have a lot of friends who did not take that route had to have jobs to pursue their dreams. With me, I only needed to make $600 a month to support myself. I was more open to opportunities because I didn’t have to worry about money. If you want to build a career in anything, you have to give attention and focus to it, to the exclusion of everything else.
You have really great skin. Do you have a beauty regimen, or secrets you want to share?
I try to keep everything very simple. I don’t wear makeup when I’m not working … just a wash cloth and soap.
You also have a new line of accessories called H Crowne. How did the idea come about?
I designed the jewelry with my friend, Mariana Harutunian. She designs things for Lady Gaga, Madonna, and Cher on her farewell tour. She did a lot of the crystal embellishments for her. So, she was making some things for artists on tour, like Katy Perry — she did a lot of cool things for her “Dark Horse” performance at the Grammys. I would see the things she made, and I wanted that same level of extravagance, but I wanted to bring it to the retail space. How do you make this for a Barneys’ shopper or for a person who shops at Saks? So, we make crowns, and full chest pieces. Think of the movie Coming to America, when Semmi and Prince Akeem get their luggage stolen in the bad neighborhood and they see kids roller-skating by with all of the gold stuff on? I want it to look like that … extravagant, regal stuff that’s meant to be worn casually. The website is www.Hcrowne.com.
Interview: Demi Lobo
Images: Dallas J. Logan
Hair: Kim Kimble
Wardrobe: Ebony Brown