In the 90’s, comedy sitcom television was as popular as reality TV shows are today, and during that time period there were shows like Martin, Frasier, In Living Color, and many more. But one of the hit sketch comedy TV shows that aired on Fox was Living Single. People loved to tune in and see what the cast of this show were talking about because whatever came out of their mouths made you laugh out loud. It was a show about six young, black, single professionals living in the big city and the many experiences they had. One of the main characters of the show was Synclair James played by actress/comedian Kim Coles. Her character was bubbly, innocent, positive, warm and loving but she also brought the jokes.
TWID: Where are you from originally?
Kim Coles: I was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY. I know I don’t sound like it but I’m a Brooklyn girl. I came out to Los Angeles when I got my first job on in In Living Color. I watch a lot of television and a lot of comedians in television and that sparked my interest in comedy and performing especially doing sketch comedy and doing character. I’m old enough to remember Carol Burnett, Bill Cosby, George Carlin when they were all on TV and that’s how I got my start because I was in love with that, and then falling into comedy because I saw how much that made me happy.
TWID: What prepared you for comedic sitcom television?
Kim Coles: I would say all of the comedy club work prepares you for that. And there’s still a bunch of comedians who work the comedy club circuit and network. You’re preparing every night and allowing yourself to hone in on your craft and do your thing. I got a chance to do Star Search. I was on a show called It’s Showtime at the Apollo. I did a lot of local New York and New Jersey local television. All of that was preparing me for Hollywood. I didn’t know it was preparing me for Hollywood but of course you want the biggest and best experience happen in your career but all of that was important to me too and it was wonderful. And it was a stepping stone to what ended up happening years later.
TWID: What was an experience that you had when working that you knew your career was real and that you were actually living your dream?
Kim Coles: I got to meet Bill Cosby and that was huge for me. I was called to come in and warm up on his show – on the Cosby Show and warm-up comedy is the hardest job in show business. It’s because you’re there all day. Your job is to keep the audience engaged and interested. And I was pulled over to speak with Bill Cosby, and I was scared, and this was during the breaks in between takes, and he started talking to me, and he wanted to talk to me for a second, and it was such a thrill to be sitting next to one of my idols. And what’s funny was that in that moment, I was so involved that I was sitting next to “the” Bill Cosby. All I could do at that moment was focus on his freckles and a little bit of white hair. I was so busy looking at him that I wasn’t listening to him. And there was a point when he noticed that, and he was like, ‘Are you listening to what I’m saying Kim?’ I’m in such complete awe that I can’t even focus on what he was saying, and he very sweetly sent me on my way. Years later I had an opportunity to talk to him again and this time I was able to listen. I just appreciated that he understood that I was in awe at the time and the second time around I was ready to listen.
TWID: How was your experience with Living Single?
Kim Coles:Well, it was my first job ever. It was a big time Hollywood job. It had a lot of heat behind it and in fact, Fox is really huge at the time. It was really huge in Hawaii. I remember going to Hawaii when I was on Living Single. I came to Hawaii to get away from Hollywood for a couple of days and I was amazed at how big the show was there. Every place I went, people were like, ‘Oh My God. Hi I know you.’ I was like, ‘Hi, I was coming here to get away.’ So, I was so happy to see that my Pacific islanders seemed to respond to me or to the show very well. That’s just a little side note. That’s why I love Hawaii so much. I went there and I got loved. It was an interesting experience because I was only there for a year. If you watch my Life After [episode] which comes on tomorrow night, you hear a couple of us talk about our experiences that happened. It turned out to be what it was supposed to be ultimately ‘cause I left that show after a couple of years and then I was on another show. But it was a tough show to do because sketch comedy shows are extremely competitive. So, it was a highly competitive show and you had to work hard to get noticed. And so therefore it was really difficult at times, but it was a great experience nonetheless.
TWID: What are you currently working on now?
Kim Coles: I am moving more into the world of philanthropy – more in the world of giving back. I have launched a project called Open The Gift. And the website is called OpentheGift.com, which is a part of my website which is called KimColesInc.com. What it is about is about self-esteem and empowering people. It’s all about your purpose and your passion and really finding out what you came here to do and actually doing it [and] exploring the gifts in the lessons because everything happens for a reason. The truth is that everything [that] happens is happening to teach us something and it’s up to us to learn from the lesson inside of us. And I’m not gonna beat myself up because I dated this guy and he was really bad for me and what not. So, I go around and teach how we can explore our G.I.F.T.S. which is gratitude, intentions, forgiveness, triumph, and self-love. I speak to a lot of women’s groups, teenagers, going to colleges and speaking, and I’m really excited to tell this in a fun way.
TWID: What do you receive in doing all of this?
Kim Coles: You get a pure view on what’s really important. Whether or not this reality show star got married, got divorce, what they’re wearing, how much weight they’ve gain, but on the scheme of things, it’s so unimportant. What’s important is that people are living their lives every day and trying to figure it out, trying to understand, and trying to be happy and loving each other. That’s what life to me is all about. And if I have to use Hollywood to get there, like whatever my Hollywood status is that gets me in the front door, then we can talk about just being people. That’s what I get from it.
TWID: Why is Hawaii your spiritual place?
Kim Coles: It’s a way that I feel the second that I get off the plane. I feel my whole body go into relax mode or into comfort mode. It’s so spiritual I can’t explain it and it’s so incredible. And I’m talking about the way I feel; I’m not even talking about the way the place looks, and I’m not even talking about how kind the people are. Some of the most warm, yummy, auntie kind of ladies, – there’s just a sweetness that’s there, that I feel instantly and then you see the environment and it’s just a paradise. I haven’t been in a long time and I’ve gotta get back. It is absolutely recharging and absolutely wonderful. I was dating a guy a few years ago, who had a little shack over on the Hilo side in the middle of the jungle of the Big Island, and I couldn’t have been happier. We had solar panels, big fruit, and we would go down to the black sand beach and hello, I’m in heaven. I love the big fancy resorts but I also have had the native experience too and that’s what I love.
Exploring her G.I.F.T.S. through her journey in life has been empowering for actress Kim Coles. Her simple yet sophisticated love of life resonates with every fiber of her being. Learning and growing in life and realizing the importance of one’s inner strength will allow the individual to triumph over struggles and be able to live up to their potential. Coles teaches us that if we work on our gifts, she knows that we can accomplish whatever we set our minds to. This is a great way to kickoff 2012 by exploring your gifts to be or become the best you, and that’s WhatItDo!
-Article Written by: Elizabeth Lavulo
*Photos courtesy of Bridge And Tunnel Communications
*YouTube video courtesy of therealkimcoles