Updated: Jan 27, 2020
Welcome to the latest edition of our Get to Know series! In this post we are interviewing one of the newest additions to our company, Kiara Dowell! Kiara is a director, actress, playwright, poet, dancer, and dynamic talent.
MONUMENT: Alright, Kiara! Are you ready to introduce yourself to the world?
KIARA DOWELL: Let's do it!
M: What’s your favorite color?
KD: Maroon and teal.
M: Favorite food?
KD: Spaghetti and apple pie!
M: Favorite article of clothing?
KD: Dance tights.
M: Do you have any tattoos?
KD: Nope! No tattoos.
M: Favorite weather or time of year?
KD: Thunderstorms and fall (the type of weather that is nice light jacket weather, but there are leaves on the ground.)
M: Do you enjoy sports?
KD: Sometimes. If I do, its baseball.
M: Coffee or tea?
KD: Coffee. 100% addicted to it.
M: Cat or dog?
KD: Cat, because I feel like dogs are too much, but I can appreciate the occasional dog.
M: What are some hobbies/interests of yours outside of theatre?
KD: I paint, journal, photography, crochet, read, cross-stitch, slam poetry, and sing.
M: What do you do to relax?
KD: Read books, and meditate. I also listen to music and exercise.
M: Dream Vacation?
KD: I want to spend my vacation traveling through Europe, especially Spain, Italy, England, Ireland, Germany, and Russia. I am interested in cultures that are not mine and I feel like I would fit in better with theirs than my own. (American, that is.)
M: Do you have a favorite author or poet?
KD: Jane Austen and Maya Angelou!
M: What's a favorite work?
KD: "I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings". It's all about Angelou's life and it's so powerful and I just love all her poetry.
M: Do you have a favorite actor or director?
KD: Favorite director is Tim Burton because I love his dark material and how his style. As for favorite actor, it's gotta be Keala Settle from Waitress because she is a role model for me!
M: What is it about Keala Settle that you admire?
KD: I admire Keala because she's a bigger woman and she has darker skin and is still able to rock these amazing roles and persevere past it all and be someone people love!
M: Who are some other inspirations of yours?
KD: J.K. Rowling, because I love Harry Potter. And she didn't give up either. Even though every publisher denied her book, she persevered and it became a huge success. Another hero is my dance coach, because dance is a passion of mine and she let me continue it even though I couldn’t afford it and I was able to do something I loved.
M: What do you admire in people?
KD: Loyalty, trustworthiness, and being true to yourself.
M: What do you despise in people?
KD: Lying, fakeness, selfishness, and stupidity (sometimes).
M: What charms you in a person?
KD: Humor and the ability to deal with my punny self! I love puns, I use humor to deal with my troubles and hard times, and I appreciate people who do the same. I also think chivalry is charming both ways. Men and women opening the doors for each other, because I think it a nice charm for each party for example. Not being afraid to express oneself is charming as well.
M: Where are you from?
KD: I am from Crawfordsville, Indiana, but I was born in Lafayette.
M: What was it like growing up there?
KD: My experience growing up there was rough. I had a hard time fitting in and I had a very difficult family life. I’ve been through abusive family situations, I’ve been homeless, I’ve moved countless amount of times, and I struggled with being bullied in school for being black and not black enough. It has shaped me to believe that I can only do things for myself, because no one else is going to do it for me. I started to believe that I was unlovable and that I had to fight tooth and nail in order to get what I needed or what I wanted. I have been poor and so that made me fight harder, because I was tired of being helpless. Looking back I feel like I was wronged, but it shaped me into the person who I am today. I am able to look back and see that I was strong and brave for being able to deal with what I have gone through and still do something for myself and strive for a better future! I am able to work hard to be successful without the help of others. (While still acknowledging it's ok to accept help from others occasionally.)
M: When did you develop an interest in theatre?
KD: I started dance classes when I was three and so ever since then I spent my life on a stage and being on stage, I was a different person. I liked it and so I auditioned for a musical, Aladdin, and I loved being able to sing and dance and then I auditioned for a play, Harvey, and then I fell in love with acting. It wasn’t until I took theatre 101 that I fell in love with being a playwright and director and now here I am!
M: When did you know this is what you wanted to do?
KD: When I took theatre 101 is when I knew that I wanted to direct and write plays as well as continue acting!
M: You went to college and studied theatre. Why ISU?
KD: I chose ISU, because I thought it was small and not overwhelming. Also, my brother goes to ISU so I have him for when I need major help. I thought they had a good program and decided to go with it.
M: How did your college experience shape you as a professional?
KD: I learned how to manage my time and to be organized. I know now what I am required to do in order to look well put together and look as if I know what I am doing. I can put together a resume and a portfolio and do what I need to in order to be successful.
M: What are the stories you gravitate too?
KD: I gravitate towards dark stories. Psychological horror and comedies especially dark comedies. I also like sad stories that really hit the feels.
M: What about these stories do you connect to?
KD: I really connect to sad love stories. I like things that are really deep like Daniel MacIver's Never Swim Alone and Hers is a Head of a Wolf. It has to really resonate with me for me to be connected to it.
M: What is the effect you want your work to have on the audience?
KD: I want the audience to leave feeling all the emotions or I want them to learn a point. I make shows that usually have a specific meaning that I want to convey to the audience so when they leave they either feel something or the learn something. Reflect.
M: To date, what has been your most gratifying experience in theatre? Life?
KD: When I directed the 101 play in theatre 101, The Conversation that Never Happened, because that's when I decided that I wanted to be a director. I also think A Streetcar Named Desire was gratifying, because it showed how strong I could be to perform without my boot and crutches and commit to a small role in a large show.
(Note: Kiara suffered an injury to her foot shortly before the opening night of Streetcar. She soldiered on.)
M: Describe your acting and directing styles.
KD: I like things that make me feel something. I like designing, acting, and directing things that make me extremely interested and move me deeply. It is hard to explain, but if it resonated with me I will do it. I like designing outlandish things or things that are different or weirder than people expect. I love dark anything so I will usually go that route, but if it doesn’t work I do what I think is right for it.
M: Tell us about what you're working on now. Any personal projects?
KD: I am writing two different plays that are both unusual compared what I am used to writing. One is a comedy and the other is more realistic. I usually write "meta" plays and I also enjoy writing magical realism. I have been doing slam poetry and I am planning on directing a play for Student Theatre Association. I am also working on acting in Macbeth and I am super excited to be working on a play, directing, and acting at the same time.
M: Ok, Kiara. A hundred years from now, what would you like to be remembered for?
KD: I want to be remembered for being a brilliant triple threat in playwriting, directing, and acting. Trying things that no one has done before. Especially as a black woman I want to reach and set a new bar for people to excel to and become more than what they think they can be!
Now you know Kiara! Keep your eyes peeled for Kiara in our upcoming season and stay tuned for the rest of our Get to Know series! Don't forget to follow us on social media and subscribe to our newsletter so you stay up to date on all our announcements and content!