Q&A With Actress Kimberly Leemans
February 28, 2019
Kimberly Leemans Talks About Her New SyFy Show & Shares Advice for Aspiring Actresses
I first “met” Kimberly Leemans while writing a piece on the play Birth for a publication in Bend, Oregon—Leeman’s current hometown. When I say “met”, what I really mean is that I got her contact information and questioned her about her role in the play over several
Leemans has appeared in a wide variety of shows including The Walking Dead, Vampire Diaries, Nashville and America’s Next Top Model Cycle 9. But, as a mother of three, it was Leemans’ role in Birth—and her answers to my interview questions—that really stuck with me. Here was this woman in her 30’s who has no children of her own, yet she passionately took on one of the most intense live roles I can imagine a woman performing (right up there with those in the Vagina Monologues.)
I’ll admit, I immediately dug her.
When I heard that Leeman’s had a new project in the works, it piqued my interest. Turns out she landed a part on soon-to-be released SyFy series.
Something only those closest to me know, is that I am a horror and sci-fi nut. I can’t watch enough of the stuff and have gone through periods in my life when the T.V. channel was permanently set to SyFy for months on end. So, I couldn’t resist the opportunity to get the inside scoop on a sci-fi show from a kickass actress.
Turns out Leemans has a whole lot in the works now and in the near future. Additionally, she was eager to share a bit about her story as a female actress trying to make it in the entertainment industry while also offering young actresses some tips and good advice. I love women who are all about supporting other women.
Q&A with Kimberly Leemans
The following Q&A with Kimberly Leemans offers aspiring actors some real insight into navigating the entertainment industry, tips for their own journey, and a prerelease look at Leeman’s new TV show as well as other projects she has in the works.
SE: How did you get into acting?
Kimberly Leemans: I started acting doing musical theatre at the Ocala Civic Theater in my hometown during my middle school years. I didn’t transition into on-camera acting until my last year of high school and college. I worked as a producer’s assistant on an indie film in town and replaced an actress that didn’t show up. The acting part didn’t give me the bug but being on set, that energy, thrilled me.
After that, I would look for any part I could get: leading, supporting, extra work. I just wanted to be on set and learn, learn, learn. I eventually moved to New York City and worked as an extra for about two years until I qualified for my SAG card (Screen Actors Guild) which was vital if you wanted to work professionally.
In 2010? I was contacted by an agent whose daughter was a fan of ANTM (America’s next top model) and I packed my bags and headed to Hollywood.
SEL: What was your first big gig?
Leemans: Exposure wise I would have to say America’s Next Top Model Cycle 9. It was still at a time when the reality TV market wasn’t over saturated, so our fan base was massive. After that The Vampire Diaries was my first network show, and then The Walking Dead was the one that everyone I never met or otherwise was just stupid excited that I was a part of.
SEL: What are some of the jobs you are most proud of?
Leemans: Aha this is a very existential question. I haven’t done a lot that I’m proud of. And that’s to say that not all the projects were shit, but as an actor you only have control of your performance in the moment. Anything past that—lighting, editing, direction—leaves that final product completely out of your hands. So that can be frustrating. It’s definitely a team sport, but actors are the face of the game so the quality of a project can rise and fall “because” of you.
I’m very happy with my emotional work that I did on The Vampire Diaries, and I had an epic crying scene in The Walking Dead that I was super excited to see, but it didn’t make the cut.
I’ve done some short films with friends that outweigh some of my more “professional” work. And I’ve also returned to the stage in the last few years and those are performances that I am Very proud of!
SEL: What are some struggles you faced as a young girl/woman trying to make it in the entertainment industry?
Leemans: Please play the chorus of “Never Enough” from The Greatest Showman as loud as you can.
That’s pretty much it in a nutshell. Too young, not young enough, too old, not old enough. Now I’m in this glorious blackhole age of not angsty or college-aged and also not the mother of a seven-year-old. There’s an actual void of breakdowns for women age 26-36. Yay. It feels like a constant struggle and to be honest I’m pretty over it.
I’m over trying to be the image they said would sell but didn’t. Tired of “paying my dues” your girl’s been in the biz for a decade.
Take a shit or get off the pot.
SEL: What are some of the challenges you still face?
Kimberly Leemans: Again play soundtrack loudly, followed by “This is Me” (I
SEL: You have a partner who is in the entertainment industry. How does that work? Is it difficult being in a partnership with two people in this line of work?
Leemans: I am so grateful to have him (Falk Hentschel) as my partner. Until I met him, I was the one in my group of friends that was furthest along in my career. When we got together, I finally had someone I could look up to and learn from. I’m so lucky to know what I know now at the stage that I’m at, but it makes me expect and ask for more as a performer and business person, which with my resume, a lot of people don’t want to accept. Having someone that knows the ups and downs of this business has been so comforting.
SEL: You have a new show coming out on the Syfy channel. Can you tell me a little about it and your role? Who is your character and what is she like?
Leemans: Yes, SPIDES! Coming out October 2019. It’s a body snatcher series about an Alien life form that is trying to convert humans into this peaceful, all-knowing genus.
My character Chloe is a pretty cool nightclub boss who’s in charge of picking out which of Berlin’s youth she’ll convert using the latest club drug Bliss. Some people don’t react very well, and chaos ensues.
SEL: What has it been like working on this TV show?
Leemans: I love traveling for work. The crew and filmmakers in Europe are much more concerned with creativity and collaboration then US productions, who seem to be ruled by the bottom dollar.
SEL: Do you have anything coming up that you want to share?
Leemans: My Partner Falk and I are starting a non-profit production company called PatronAge Films. It will give the power back to the artists and not revolve around the old Hollywood ideals of making art for profit, but instead bring back the art of storytelling.
We are currently looking for Patrons (not investors) that would donate funds towards the development and production of films. Also, we would love to connect with likeminded filmmakers and people with scripts that tell stories about progressive masculinity, disabled and underrepresented communities, and off course more female content.
SEL: What advice would you give young girls and young women hoping to break into the entertainment industry?
Leemans: Help each other. Connect with people who aren’t afraid of sharing their “secrets” on how they got to where they are. Also, now more than ever, start making your own material. Think of what movies you want to be making and what that scene is in that movie that you are most excited to see on the big screen.
Get your Filmmaker friends together and shoot that scene! Don’t wait years and years to feel what it feels like to live those moments on someone else’s timeline. Go girl! Just do it!
SEL: What are your hopes for the future?
Leemans: I am hopeful that there is a revolution percolating. That artists will be respected for their talents and what they have to offer, and that we can all get back to the basics of storytelling. Coming together, collaborating, and telling stories. All the stories, not just one side of one perspective.