Actor Focus: Tommy Kay

Tommy Kay

Tommy Kay

“Dad was very worried. He thought security would be an issue working as an artist, and he was right, but you cannot buy the smile on an artist’s face.”

Interview by Joanne Kmaid

You have gone from law to acting. Why the drastic change?
I think the shortest answer is: Because my soul felt like it was dying a little bit each day as a lawyer. Being a lawyer was not so terrible, but being stuck in an office every day, not able to pursue my artistic endeavours, made me feel caged. At the age of 25, I was not ready to give up on life and become a boring office worker for the rest of my life.

How much time and reflection did that transition take?
I remember talking with a girlfriend at the time who noticed I did not enjoy talking about my profession, even with my peers. She said, “Why don’t you quit then?” It seemed hilarious at the time – Five years of Uni, articles, then two years of practice and she’s telling me I should quit. But once I heard it out loud, it didn’t seem too bad an idea.

Did your parents support your dream?
At first no; Dad was very worried. He thought security would be an issue working as an artist, and he was right, but you cannot buy the smile on an artist’s face. And Mum, well, a few weeks after I had ended my law career I asked her, “Do you think I’ve stuffed up here?” She replied, “I have not seen you smile like you do now in so many years.” That was enough for me. If a mother does not know her child’s true smile, who will? She is my biggest fan in everything I do.

How do you find your way in this competitive industry without impairing someone else’s path?
I just focus on me, and if it is ever brought to my attention that I look or sound like someone else, I am enthused by that. Art is unique in its creativity, but at the same time, being told you write like Shakespeare or act like Clint Eastwood (not that I have been told that!) is great validation that you are doing something right.

What works best for you – Solo work or team effort?
Funny you should ask, because both seem to have their place in art. I love collaborating on projects with like-minded people who are enthusiastic about creating good ‘work.’ Unfortunately, there are times when you’re stuck under the instruction of someone else and you find yourself just ‘seeing it through.’ It becomes challenging when you disagree with their directions, yet you still need motivation to perform to your best ability. At present, I am involved in writing and producing music which requires a lot of solo time. I am enjoying the ‘Lone Ranger’ path for now whilst I get my head around being a recording artist.

I am a great fan of your theatre work. What has been your most challenging or memorable role?
The most memorable role was performing as Antipholus of Ephesus in Shakespeare’s The Comedy of Errors, directed by Carl Whiteside. I was a lawyer at 25, scared to quit, then five years later on stage performing as a Shakespearean lead on my 30th birthday – That showed me how serendipitously beautiful life really is! The most challenging was playing a horse and the horseman role in Mockingbird Theatre’s Equus, directed by Chris Baldock. I was in my best shape as I had to carry Alan Strang on my back for the horseman scene, and have the physicality of a horse for two hours on stage each night. Great memories!

Tell us about the music you are working on.
I am focused mainly on writing my own music and recurring at present – Tommy TK is my stage name and I upload my tracks to YouTube to keep them accessible. I write about life, love, angels, demons, souls and dreamers. I try to inspire and allow people to relate to my plight. One of my tracks, The Meaning of Life from the Soul of a Dreamer, has almost 500 views. It excites me to know that my work is inspiring people.

From Theatre to Music… Is it common for an artist to switch projects?
That is inevitable. Michelangelo wrote over 300 sonnets believe it or not! Einstein used to play violin to help him solve a challenging mathematical problem. I think an artist is never at ease or resting. Even when their season or production is over, actors get post show blues, because they worry and wonder if they fulfilled their artistic needs. So it is definitely easy to switch crafts within art, so long as you’re the type of artist who is open to it.

You worked on Neighbours. Is TV a medium you would like to get back into?
I would definitely enjoy time on a television show. The best part is the chance it offers you to delve into a character for a lengthier time and work alongside talented actors. I had a part on Neighbours last year and more recently in FixHerUp which is now on Channel 31. I love the way TV is filmed. The roles are few and far between so I am not holding my breath, but I would definitely say yes to the opportunity!

Do you follow your passion or a paid job?
Ha! Passion every time! I have not had a proper regularly paid job in more than three years now and I love that.

What is your ultimate dream?
To inspire a change in the world that makes it into a utopian existence for all of us. But I feel as though there is lots more art still to be made before that will happen.

This interview was submitted by Cinema Australia contributor Joanne Kmaid. If you have an article or interview you would like to submit for our consideration then contact us today.

One thought on “Actor Focus: Tommy Kay

  1. Pingback: INTERVIEW // CINEMA AUSTRALIA: ACTOR FOCUS | TOMMY KAY | The literary & else-classified artistic endeavours of THOMAS KAY (Tommy K): the soul of a dreamer

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