Meet Kat James
Inspiring Artists Stories
Today we'd like to introduce you to Kat James
Current Location: Tustin, CA
Kat, thank you for taking the time to share your story. Could you start by telling us a little about yourself?
I was always naturally drawn to musical theater. My parents took me to see Phantom of the Opera when I was four years old and I was immediately hooked. I remember walking around with my cassette player blasting Phantom of the Opera at four years old, singing the songs at the top of my lungs. I loved to sing so much that I used to make my parents turn off the radio in the car and listen to me sing. I have always loved the spotlight. My first solo was in kindergarten at this Christmas Program, and I remember loving the feeling of singing and bringing joy to the people who were listening. Throughout my school years I was always drawn to anything that involved performing.
I attended an all girls high school that was part of the Tri-School Theater at Servite High School. They had a fantastic conservatory program that I had the privilege of being a part of. My sophomore year of high school I was offered Tuptim in the musical The King and I. This was my first theater experience as a performer, and I knew there was no going back for me.
After high school I attended college at UCI, where I majored in Drama. During this time I performed at many community theaters around Orange County, including the Rose Center Theater! I spent my 21st birthday performing in 42nd Street! While at UCI I had so many educational opportunities, such as their New York Satellite Program. This program was truly one of a kind and gave me the opportunity to do master classes with Broadway actors, casting directors, and choreographers, such as Bernie Telsey and Company, Jenn Collela, Victoria Clark, and Jenny Foote. I learned more from that program than I have in my entire life.
After college, I continued to audition and perform throughout Orange County, and still do. Orange County theater has become such a huge part of my life. As I said earlier, I spent my 21st birthday performing. In addition to this, I met my husband while performing at a local theater in Orange County. I was performing at a local theater on my 30th birthday. People who I performed with in Orange County were in my wedding party, and a few even sang at my wedding. The first show I performed in after my wedding with my husband playing opposite of me, was at a local theater in Orange County. Local theater has played a huge part in my life and still does.
Can you tell us a little more about what you've been working on recently?
After college, I started working at a college to make money and enjoyed it. I made a career out of working at several colleges in Orange County, and continue to do so now. Along with this, I am a huge Bravo fan and have high hopes of becoming a Bravo-lebrity at some point. Currently I am focused on supporting small and local businesses. If you follow me on social media, it is clear that supporting the local businesses and our community is important to me.
The road of the artist is a sometimes long and bumpy road. Have you had to overcome any on your journey?
Some obstacles that I have faced in theater have been being a woman of color in the industry. I was very lucky that a spotlight on diversity started to emerge with writers like Lin Manuel Miranda. However, performing in Orange County has always been a challenge because I do not look like the other performers my age. I have noticed a huge push for more diversity in musical theater and I am so grateful for that. It has been a larger part of my struggle in my performing journey.
Are there any lessons that you've learned along your journey so far? Something that you'd want to tell your younger self?
Stay humble. Always be kind. Cherish the connections that you make along the way. You never know how those connections can have an impact along the way.
What's the best piece of advice you've received?
My mom told me my whole life that we create our own destiny. My whole life she told me this. If I worked hard, treated people kindly, and believed in myself, I would be exactly where I should be.
What inspires you? Can you tell us about a moment in your life you found to be inspirational?
What inspires me the most is seeing the people around me succeed. Seeing people who are like me do amazing things and live out their dreams inspires me. It also makes me so happy!
What are your hopes for the future of the arts?
One of my highest hopes is that diversity will continue to improve in the arts industry. Representation matters! Seeing everyone represented on stage would make me extremely happy.
Sierra Solis Photography
Suggest a story: The Rose Center Theater's Inspiring Artists Series is built on recommendations from the community; it’s how we uncover hidden gems, so if you or someone you know deserves recognition, let us know here.