#11. Today we’re excited to welcome Marine veteran and award-winning Hollywood writer, director, and producer Kimberly Seilhamer. Kimberly has made a career in the entertainment industry. Her work has won numerous awards with her most recent Best Short Script award going to her project, The Lighthouse. There are so many stories in this episode. I was even fortunate to catch a few bonus segments as we were wrapping up that I had to share. We hear stories of what’s involved in the creative process in Hollywood….. And the talent required to make it. ..
There’s so much substance here I just want you to listen – enjoy!
More information about Kimberly Seilhamer.
Her IMDB profile.
One article, of many, that you can research, regarding stress taking a toll on your body and health.
AUTO-TRANSCRIBED – PLEASE FORGIVE ANY ERRORS OR TYPOS
Kimberly Seilhamer 00:00
incidentally, that script never sold. And I thought, wow, this is my big break. Well, they hated it. You know, and this is part of what you know, this is part of the process.
Aaron Spatz 00:17
You were listening to America’s entrepreneur, the podcast designed to educate, entertain, and inspire you in your personal professional journey. I’m your host, Aaron Spatz. And on the podcast, I interview entrepreneurs, industry experts, and other high achievers that detail their personal and professional journeys and business. My goal is to glean their experiences into actionable insights that you can apply to your own journey. If you’re new to the show. We’ve spoken with successful entrepreneurs, Grammy Award winning artists, best selling authors, chief executives, and other fascinating minds with unique experiences. We’ve covered topics such as how to achieve breakthrough and business, growing startups, effective leadership techniques, and much more. If you strive for continuous self improvement, and enjoy fascinating and insightful conversation, it the subscribe button, you’ll love it here at America’s entrepreneur. Kimberly, thank you so much for taking some time out of your day to be on the show.
Kimberly Seilhamer 01:20
Absolutely. Aaron, I’m super excited to be here.
Aaron Spatz 01:24
Yeah, well, it’s a it’s a huge honor. So as we discussed earlier, why don’t we just jump straight in to your background? What compelled you to join the military and give us a little bit of an idea of what you did when you’re in the military? And then maybe a little bit about your separation?
Kimberly Seilhamer 01:44
Okay, fantastic. Well, I came to the military in kind of a roundabout way. And I didn’t have as many people as as many people can relate to this. I didn’t really have a very stable home life. So I moved out from my mother’s residence at 15 years old, I got a job at US Customs, believe it or not, in the small town of Orville Washington. And, you know, I just worked really hard at working at customs and also going to school. I was a, you know, very good students. And I enjoyed working at customs. But by the time I turned 18, I was tired. Like I was just exhausted from this incredible schedule that I was keeping. And I thought to myself, and I knew I wanted to get out of that small town, for sure. And it’s not that I was raised there. I actually was born in Olympia, Washington, and I spent a lot of my time in Seattle. But there came a time when my mother moved us to out to the boondocks, basically. And that’s how I ended up near Orville. So yeah, I had my own apartment and and was just, you know, just tired of this rigmarole. So I moved back to Seattle. And I was, I finished up my high school diploma there actually graduated early in January, but before that happened, I happened to be going to the cinema. And I walked past the recruiting station. And this is gonna sound pretty silly, but I was really impressed with the Marine Corps uniforms. Got to say, like those posters. They pull in, you know? And I was like, Well, I wonder what this would be about, you know, because I was still in school. As you can imagine, I was a senior, I knew I was getting ready to graduate early, and I didn’t know what I was going to do with myself, honestly. And so I just walked into the recruiting station, like I was just the recruiters dream. You know? I just walked in, and I was like, as Marines, you know, I hear they’re the toughest, because I had heard that because my uncle was a Marine. He was in Vietnam. And he had always told me that the Marines were the toughest of all the branches. So I know that to be arguable to some people, but, you know, this is what drew me to the Marine Corps recruiter. And then I walked in and I was basically like, what can you do for me and and they were like, well, what do you want to do? And so I told them that I wanted to be a journalist. And that didn’t go over. Well. I guess they weren’t looking for journalists at the time. I don’t know. But I’m really dating myself when I when I say that, you know, I was in during the 80s. So you know, it was a prior it was before tail hook and all that kind of stuff and, and women were not in combat yet. And you know, I mean there was the opportunities for women in the Marine Corps were much more limited than they are now. Now there’s just a plethora of opportunities for women in the service. But I basically signed up that week, and was on the delayed entry program, because I needed to graduate. I did that in January and went to Parris Island, which the only place they send women Marine Corps boot camp training, and was promoted to PFC in boot camp, which was interesting. Yeah, and, and then, I was sent out to the fleet. So my MLS was clearly not journalism, they actually gave me electronics, which I was absolutely petrified about, because science and math were my two worst subjects, as you could imagine. And so I went to I was sent to Twentynine Palms for my training, and I actually flunked out of electronics school. Which is horrible to say. And so they it, you know, it’s the truth. And so they gave me 2542 is an MLS, which is telecommunication. And that was actually a good fit. For me, I was given a granted a top secret special category clearance. And I found that, you know, telecommunications is basically the center where all the message traffic from the bases, and the generals and colonels and everything comes in through there. So they quickly discern that I have this incredible attention to detail. So they put me in traffic analysis, which is where you study every single message that comes through the base and make sure that it did not have a security violation. So so that’s pretty much all I did besides be watched manner and do a couple other things. But I was pretty much in traffic analysis. My old time. I never deployed I, you know, I was, I was sent to Twentynine Palms and I stayed at Twentynine Palms for my entire tour. So my parents mission out was problematic, in the sense that I was unaware of any resources available to me to assist with the transition. So it was basically, here’s your DD 214. D later, you know, yeah, I was kinda like, Okay, I remember going home taking a bath and going, what am I going to do now, the best of you know, and fortunately, I had, you know, I had started doing some modeling and stuff like that before I got out of the Marine Corps. So I did continue to do that, and that supplemented my income, but I realized that it was just too unpredictable. I really needed to do something else. So what I did was I really enjoy working with children actually love people. And so I got hired by the school district to work with disabled children. And I did that for, you know, probably about six years. And, and I was very passionate about that, but I knew that my soul yearned to do something else, something bigger, something, you know, that really caused me and, and this is something I’d like to impress upon people. Think back about when you were a kid. And think about what you wanted to do them because that little kid is actually pretty smart. You know? And when I was a little kid, or say, I was in like the fourth grade, somebody asked me, What do you want to be when you grew up? And I was, I said to them, I said, I want to be a horse jockey. Well, that clearly didn’t work out. A writer or homicide detective. Yeah, but it’s so funny because to this day, I still think I would have made a great homicide detective. But, but I turned out now what I’m doing now is I’m in film I write directed produce And so that for rater was pretty spot on about what my passion was. But see, I had lost sight of it when I was in the Marine Corps. Because I was busy being a Marine. And when I got out, I just didn’t really think that I could do it. And what happened was, I decided I wanted to go to college, because I, when I was in, they had the VT program, which was absolutely terrible. And it was only during the time that I was in that they had the VT program, then they went back to the GI Bill. So the V Program really didn’t assist me in getting education. So this is something I was doing as a single mother going, you know, going back to school, and then I met this wonderful gentleman, and we got married. And then I was able to kind of go back to school full time. But when I went to school, it was at a community college in Orange County. And they were amazed they had an amazing film program. I ended up in a screenwriting class, I didn’t even know what it was. But 20 minutes into the class, I was like, Oh, my goodness, this is me. This is what I want to do for the rest of my life. Like it was that clear? It was like a lightning bolt. Wow, when you know, just went off and hit me, you know. And I’d always been a writer, the whole time I was growing up, I was writing poetry and writing novels and doing all kinds of stuff. And I had lost sight of that. And now, with the screenwriting class, it came back to me because I actually see a story. I don’t conceive of a story as in Word, you know, I see it as in pictures. So I, what I did was, this was my first real sign. So I just took the bull by the horns, and took the class. And then I took the advanced class. And within six months, I had finished my first screenplay, and had an agent and was on my way. Wow. So yeah, it was it was really great. Incidentally, that script never sold. It did go to universe, it did go to Monica Oscar Bellis over at Universal Pictures. And I thought, wow, this is my big break. Well, they hated it. You know, and this is part of what you know, this is part of the process, as you learn in this industry, is that it’s a very subjective industry, that people will love it, like my agent love it. And some people will hate it, some people just won’t give a care, you know, one way or the other, like, it’s just non consequential to them. So, you know, you really have to be diligent and passionate, and, you know, take the bull by the horns and be confident, and always improving your craft. Yeah. So, you know, I would never give anybody that script now. Never in a million years, I look at it, and I’m like, Oh, my goodness, that is an absolutely horrible writing sample. But, you know, yeah, it’s so funny, because at the time, I’m like, I’m gonna make a million dollars, you know, and you’re so confident that you’re gonna make a million dollars, but you know, it. It takes time, usually to get to that point. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. Well, that’s, I hope that answered your question.
Aaron Spatz 13:42
Oh, absolutely. That was great. And it’s a very unique story. And in terms of how will actually let me back up. You, you probably saw this, but you, you may not have realized that you had that writing gift. But there was definitely something inside of you that love, you know, just the art of story. And, you know, that was what you had wanted to pursue when you when you join the military, just unfortunately, he ended up getting funneled into something else. And then it just funny how you happen to end up in that class at school. And it just it literally just unlocked that gift that’s been there. It’s been there the whole time. It just needed to be reawakened. And then all of a sudden, you’re, you’re well, you’re moving towards your dreams and towards your goal, and he just needed to kind of be reminded of it so I just that that part alone, I think is fantastic.
Kimberly Seilhamer 14:44
Yes, I encourage people to really look at but make them feel great about themselves, what their passions are and try and pursue something in that field. Because law Life is short, you know, to do something you don’t love. So, you know, for all those people out there veterans that are, you know, struggling with where they are now, I would encourage them to, you know, take a step back, take a look at themselves, you know, see what it is that interests you? And perhaps see how you can transition from what you’re doing now to do something that you love, you know? Yeah, yeah, clearly important.
Aaron Spatz 15:32
Well, and I think what gets a lot of people is transitioned into doing something you love, but how can I make a living doing something that I love, and it just, you know, figuring figuring that journey out, I think, and this is probably a great segue into, into what’s next in into our next segment, but take us a little bit on your journey. I mean, it’s it’s rare that we get somebody from Hollywood on on the show. And it’s, you’re giving us a lot of unique insight as to how the industry works. But you take us a little bit on your journey in terms of how you get from that first class, to that first screenplay, to where you’re nearly share this a little bit about the process and the journey of how you’ve gotten to where you are, and how you’ve been able to make it for so long.
Kimberly Seilhamer 16:22
Well, part of it is just your grit, you know, and perseverance. But the thing is, is that I develop these skills as a child, actually, I grew up very impoverished. My mother was mentally ill, she had very violent tendencies, it was a very difficult childhood. And the way that I hope then, with things was I would write. And I realized that, you know, a lot of my material that I am drawn to, is a little bit on the darker side, is how I deal with, you know, my upbringing and things that have happened to me in the past. Because I’ve always had this desire to understand why do people do what they do? And so that’s something that’s been consistent in almost every one of my projects, is the question, not just what happens, but why does it happen? Why does it happen this way? And that question, is present in some of the projects that I’m on now. Or doing working on now. And it’s always been present in all my characters that I’ve built from the past. So that first screenplay that I wrote, it was called corporal punishment, and it was about a woman in the Marine Corps. Figure, they always tell you, right, what you know, right. So and, again, let me preface this by saying it was a terrible trip. But, you know, it was something that that gave me confidence, because I felt like I was writing something that I knew the script never went anywhere. But that didn’t stop me. Because in life, you need to, you know, if opportunity doesn’t not, you need to build a door, so that you can open that door of opportunity. And so, the way I built a door was I just kept writing. And, you know, I wrote another project called alias. And then I teamed up with a wonderful gentleman by the name of Kenneth H columns, and we wrote powerplay. And by this time, I was actually starting to get some traction with, like, with power play, and I was my writing was actually developing now into something that I could be very proud of. So power play was a big budget movie. And it actually didn’t end up getting made, which is par for the course in this business. But, you know, so I really put myself out there, I continued writing. And I just remember, at one point, I felt so low, you know, because you just you’re working at it, you’re working at it. And that means you’re not seem to be getting any traction, or a lot of people can relate to that. And I just remember, we had moved out of California, and I was really out of my element in Mississippi. And I was having to commute back to Los Angeles for meeting and the meetings were, we’re getting less than less. You know, because because that’s the thing in this business. Businesses things ebb and flow. So I was really in a bad spot, like I was just, you know, in a place where I felt, I just don’t know if I can keep going. And I just remember going outside and looking up the sky. And I started to cry. Because I just didn’t know where I was gonna pull that next. Let’s do this moment, you know, from right, and the phone rang, phone rang, and I picked up the phone. And it was this director named Dan, Dan Milliken. And he was calling to say, hey, yes, I want you to be the writer on this project. And so it was crazy how that worked out. Like, I just couldn’t even believe it, you know, and that ended up. So I ended up CO writing, the key man with him, which is the DVD title is finding redemption. And that actually got made, and it was my first produced credit. Wow. And it was really awesome. Because I was able to, one of the things that I try and make sure is the case, when I’m negotiating a deal is that I’m able to be on set. And most times I’ve, I’ve, you know, been able to be on set during the filming of whatever project it is that I’ve written, you know, or COVID. So, that was an incredible experience for me. Being on set, we have Adam Baldwin, as the key man, Tom Wright, LLC as as why. And, you know, it was just an incredible cast. And it was a wonderful experience. Wow. And so it’s, it’s kind of like, Wow, I can’t believe I almost gave it all up, you know, right. And, and, you know, it was, it was just, you know, it was it was a great experience for being the first time on set. But it was also, you know, I learned a lot. And that’s when I decided I didn’t decide then but that’s when I kind of got the inkling that I might want to direct. Okay, yeah. So, but I didn’t have the confidence to do that for several more years. So anyway, things started to take a turn for this, to go south with my marriage. And we ended up moving back to California, thank goodness. And I remember things were really bad. And I had a girlfriend that just kept telling me, she said, Kimberly, you cannot get divorced. By this time we were in Pennsylvania, you cannot get divorced. There, you have to get back to California. You know, like this is where you need to be. So we did finally move back to California. And I tried to make the marriage work. And it just didn’t it you know, it was we had just grown too far apart from each other. So so a five year divorce ensued. Which, yeah, so, but backtracking a little bit. During this time, when we moved back to California. I had somebody reach out to me and say, and this is what’s interesting is the opportunity, you never know where it’s gonna come from. Should be prepared. Yeah. And, you know, they, they reached out to me, and they were like, We need a we’re doing this low budget film, which, you know, to me was like, oh, no, because I tend to write big, historical, big thing. You know, they’re doing we’re doing this low budget film, and we don’t know what the story is, but it needs to be like two people in a house. And I was like, Okay, I said, Give me a day. So I went around, I went away for a day, came up with this incredible idea, and pitched it to them. And they loved it. They were like, Oh, my goodness, this is incredible. We have to do this. For sure. So in two weeks, I wrote the script. Wow. And yeah, which is if anybody out there knows anything about screenwriting. It definitely takes a long time, usually to get a script done. But I was very passionate about the story and very moved by the story. So in two weeks, I wrote the script and within six months, we were in production. And I was on set for that as well. That project was called Insight Ervin and it’s a project I’m very, very proud of. And it’s the it’s about this gives you a little sense a little insight into my style. It’s about to agoraphobic, agoraphobic is somebody who is has a fear of the outside or open spaces. So to agoraphobics that are that live in their home? Their childhood home and they’re trying not to kill themselves or each other. Once you find out in the story is there’s Ervin, who’s the one who’s suicidal and he’s a paranoid schizophrenic. And then there’s his you’re not sure if it’s his sister or his girlfriend or you know what she is exactly. But then there’s Ida, who is also Gore phobic, and she’s, you know, very DC outgoing one of the two, she’s how they survive. Well, so you go through the story, and I’m gonna here’s a spoiler alert. You know, what you find out at the end? Is that Ervin, who’s always wanting to kill himself and everything. He didn’t, he didn’t do it. But it finally got to the end of her rope, basically, and killed herself. What you find out is that it was actually part of urban all along. Oh, wow. So yeah, so and this comes from, you know, obviously the paranoid schizophrenic. So I know that topic very well. I lived with one for many years. So I you know, I mean, it was really hot, had terrific authenticity. And the twist ending was something that just really people really appreciated. They thought it was just really incredible. And, and, and Todd Swartz of CBS Radio actually liked in the screenplay, and hitch talking Lynch. So I was, yeah, I was just over the moon. With how that project turned out. I thought they did a really great job, how or not how expansion her arm into DC and was the director of that project. And it was just an incredible experience. And then I kind of went through, and then I was right, doing a lot of writing. And a lot of times you can write and, and sell stuff, but it not get made. Okay. And that’s where a lot of people don’t realize that you can have large gaps in your, in your production credits, you know, because, because maybe for five years, nothing gets made. And at this time, I was just doing features. A feature film is like a film you see in the theater. Okay. So, so I continued writing, selling project, so on, and those riding on some occasions. And then, you know, I was going through the divorce during that time. And it was very difficult because I had developed cancer in 2003. Oh, my gosh, and it was a, the actually, if you’re going to get cancer, this is the kind of cancer you want. It’s fibroid cancer, but the problem was was is that it wasn’t diagnosed in time, but spread to my lymphatic system. So I still am putting on the good fight even today. So 17 years later, wow. I’m, you know, I still am dealing with this. Thyroid cancer, I no longer have a fibroid haven’t had one since 2003. But the cancer has spread and with it, when it goes to the lymphatic system, you know, it’s, it’s very hard to stamp out. So they’ve tried all the protocols and everything on me, and it just it they can’t seem to cure me. But, you know, I’m on suppression therapy. So it slows the growth of the cancer. And, you know, it just makes me even more determined that there’s so much that I want to do that, you know, you just have to put one step forward, keep going each day, and moving that ball forward, as my friends told me years before, you know, move that ball forward. So the, you know, I, the divorce, took five years. In the meantime, I met another gentleman. His name is Mark Erickson, and he was wonderful, and still is wonderful. He’s actually work up over thing. And he’s he took a one look at my project that I had at that time, which I was trying to set up was called Jack the Ripper. And he was like, You know what, let’s make this movie. And so we did and it was the first time it was my directorial debut. Nice. was Jack the Ripper. And Jack, the Reaper was a teen horror film, which I don’t know that I would write another teen horror film. But you know, it was a teen horror film. And it got a lot of buzz. We had Tony Todd, you know, Candyman in it. We had Douglas Jay, who was in Star Trek and a lot Other things he’s known as the monster man. He was our he was our Reaper. Nice. Sally Sally Kirkland is an Academy Award nominee for her role in JFK. And we, you know, we had a cat, young cast. And teenagers, basically. So this was fun. And we set out we made this, this movie, Mark and I, and the directorial experience was, was really something that I felt I was prepared for, but I wasn’t actually quite prepared for it. I did a great job directing don’t get me wrong, you know? Yeah. And directing is very stressful, and the film is actually isn’t rated real high. But there’s a story behind that. But, you know, we have a lot of followers, and a lot of people that want to see Jack three, perhaps a sequel or turn into a series, and things of that nature. But the reason I say I wasn’t completely prepared for this opportunity is because I didn’t train as much as I should have for being a director. So that’s something that I would impress upon other veterans out there, or just anybody listening to this con, this podcast is that, you know, if you want opportunity to find you, you have to make sure you’re ready for it. Do that through research, training, whatever you can, however, you can learn like it nowadays, it’s so much easier to get the knowledge that you need, because of the internet, and YouTube and all of these other things. It’s not like you have to, you know, you know, well, some things, you have to go to college and get all this stuff, obviously. But, you know, if you’re seeking to be a writer, or an actor or something like that, it’s helpful if you go to college, but honestly, it’s really mostly about talent, and your ability to learn everything that you can about your industry. So I get on set we had made, we had this. Here’s a nightmare story for you, if you want to hear it. We get on set for Jack Rieber, my first directorial debut. And of course, they scheduled Tony Todd for the very first day. At Yeah, and I’m like, Oh, you gotta be kidding me right now. And I was pretty nervous about directing him because he’s, you know, he’s just such an icon. And we, we show up, and here comes the crew. And they’re completely unprepared. This is not typical. What had happened was the production at hired a gentleman, cuz we were shooting this up in California city, which is up in the Mojave Desert. Okay. So we were looking for a local crew. So they had hired this gentleman who was supposed to bring in the entire crew. And, you know, we paid him and everything. Well, basically, what he did was he called all his friends and said, Hey, let’s, you know, let’s go do this. And nobody knew how to do anything. So, you know, it was a nightmare. So I’m here with Tony Todd, and they don’t even have a slate of no way for me to listen to him off, you know, off off scene. And, and I’m just going like, Oh, my goodness, like, what have I gotten myself into? And it was, you know, it was just horrible. And so I managed to make the most of it. And that’s the marine and me, you know, don’t let them see you sweat. And, you know, we’re running around trying to get everything set up because the group just didn’t have their stuff together. And we finally get through the first day of shooting, so then we’re driving to the next location. And I just remember being in my being in my truck and just bawling my eyeballs out. Like, I don’t think I can do this. What have I got myself into? This is horrible. You know, I’m afraid. That is a typical response when you’re doing something that you’re not too comfortable. Doing. Yeah, right. And I was just an emotional basket. Because there’s so much money on the line. So so much money on the line and you just don’t want to You do not want to mess for that, and so I pulled myself together, by the time we get to the next location, everybody settled in for the night, I pulled myself together and call a meeting with this with this gentleman, and a couple of members of his crew that he said were his higher ups or whatever. And I basically laid it out on the line for them. And I said, Look, you know, you everybody needs to have a set job, if they don’t know how to do it, you need to find somebody who can who that’s why we hired you. And so sometimes you have to have tough conversation. Yep. Well, it didn’t really work out that well. So so we shot for five days. And with the screw, and, and the, and we were getting ready to go into Sunday. And I basically said, I called a political boss on it. I’m like, There’s no way we can go on a Sunday with this crew. It’s just not safe. So I knew that I was going to have to fire them. And so that’s what I did. I call the meeting, I got them all in there. And they weren’t doing their jobs anyway. So in anticipation of this, because they were getting very rebellious, I would say, on set, you know, I called the sheriff’s department, had them come in, and wait while I fired them. Because we were afraid they were going to steal stuff. And at or, or create, or it was going to turn into a really bad scene. So sure enough, they started to get out of hand. And I was just like deputies and the deputies came in and escorted them all off the lot. And this was a nightmare for me. I was just sitting there like, Oh, my goodness, I can’t believe it. In retrospect, I look back and I’m so grateful I had this experience because I am such a better director now. Yeah. And we learned a lot from that, like, we we broke for, I think four days. And during that time, we needed to hire a whole new crew. So we did, we hired a crew from Los Angeles. And they were amazing. And then also, during that time, a huge storm came through and did over $300,000 worth of damage to the set. So we had, yeah, that was the very next day. So we had four days to fix this set, which was a carnival and hire a new crew, you know, and get back to shooting again. And so we did that. We you know, we got back to shooting again. And it’s incredible how it turned out like you look at the film and you would never get that it went through all this trials and tribulations. Yeah. And, and actually, the film ended up getting picked up for distribution even before it was through post, which was really awesome. And Jack the Ripper spent did five years on Netflix, it’s on Amazon Prime it did it. Were in red box. It’s been on killer. You know, it’s, it’s, yeah, it’s really done well for itself. So, you know, we’re excited about that, that so many people have seen the film. But, you know, the contract that we got in distribution, this is everything is a learning and everything happens for a reason was not a solid contract. And we had had it reviewed by the attorney but the attorney. I don’t know if he didn’t really I don’t know what happened. But he was just like, yeah, it looks like a standard contract. Well, it wasn’t. So we didn’t end up actually making any money on Jack the Ripper. We haven’t made a single cent. Yeah, even though it’s been around and done all these things. And it actually went to con France and opened up at the marsh Dupin. And it went to the Cannes Independent Film Festival and it won an award there for best horror sci fi film. And so it’s just really like you learn from all this. You know, it’s all a learning experience that you take away from that what you can and you keep pressing forward. So yeah, and so I decided that I needed to learn more about directing. So I went back to school, UCLA for directing certificate, you know, which I obtained
Aaron Spatz 39:56
would love to go back. Just real quick and just understand Like, you’re getting hit with that cancer diagnosis like, how did that? How did you take that? And like, what did you do with that in the, in the immediate, immediate days and weeks following that, like, how did that shape your future?
Kimberly Seilhamer 40:14
Well, it really made it clear to me that I definitely want to do what I love. Because every day is precious. And so when I wake up in the morning, I reflect on what do I need to do today? How can I move the ball forward, and, you know, do a pain, some of the goals that I still want to obtain, because that’s the, that’s the measure is it once you obtain, like, my first goal was to sell a script mine, which happened, my next goal was to get produced, which happened, but each time you have reached those goals, you need to make new ones, you know, don’t become complacent. And, and, you know, always strive for something more. And that’s really what it did for me, I will be honest, when I had when my cancer was at its worst, I did lose momentum. In the film industry. That’s what happens here, either, you know, you’re either on the top of their list or, or, or they don’t really think about you too much. But, you know, I’ve had come back from that, because in 2003, is when I was first diagnosed with the cancer, they took out my thyroid, then they quickly realized that it had spread to my lymphatic system. System. So I was put through I was 31, which is a nuclear radiation protocol. And that was very tough, I’m still dealing with with the repercussions of the i 131. Even today, well, because I’ve had it two or three times now and I can’t have it anymore. But normally the I 131 will kill those thyroid cells that have cancer in them. You know, and and you’ll be cured. But for some reason, my cancer is mutated, and it’s resistant to the i 131. So that didn’t really work out for me. Yeah. So, you know, fast forward to 2009. And this was, you know, this was a couple years into my divorce. You know, I knew this dress was literally telling me, you know, and I went in for my yearly scan, and they were shocked to discover I had numerous tumors in my neck numerous, numerous Wow. And it turned out when they I ended up having a right modified neck dissection. And it turned out that I had 17 tumors in my neck. So that was, you know, devastating. And it took a while to recover from that. And it slowed my progression of my career down considerably, as you can imagine, because I had to recover. And so then I, you know, was getting momentum again, and things were going great. And then in 2013, they discovered that I had a large mass in my throat. And basically, it was growing around my carotid artery. So, I under had to undergo this major surgery where they took out a good portion of my throat. And I was in a medically induced coma for a little while, and then they brought me out of the coma, and, you know, and everything, but I was on a feeding tube for like three months. And, you know, it was it was just really a struggle. But each time I went through the struggle, I was more and more determined that that changed me is that I was more and more determined to leave a legacy to leave a mark to do more with my career, it is, you know, be successful to be a positive role model for others, to inspire other writer directors to help in whatever way that I can. And so, yeah, and so that’s the process that that kind of took that just made me more determined, and to you know, to do what I love and to be successful at it. So my last surgery was actually just just this last year in October 2018. So I’m I’m back When the recovery was not as difficult, so, but I did lose part of my voice, which so if I sound a little gravelly, that’s why I’m in speech therapy now to get some of my voice back. But it’s, you know, that whole cancer journey, it’s made you very aware of your mortality. And that each day is a gift. Yeah, you know, and you need to make the most of each day. And let’s say you have a day that you don’t want to do anything, but spend it with a friend or whatever, like that. That’s okay, that’s making the most of that day. Sure. You know, you can’t put your friends and family or your, you know, your, your, whoever you, you know, whatever you worship, whoever, you know, whatever, whatever your faith is, you can’t put that in the back seat. And you know, because you’re so busy trying to be successful. Like, it’s a balance. And that’s the one thing that I really took away from this cancer journey as well is that you need balance in your life, because stress will kill you like it can kill you is literally Damn,
Aaron Spatz 46:09
yeah, there’s actually there’s actually new stories and news articles that I’ve read some research studies that show and I’ll have to look it up and link it up in the show notes. But there’s a there’s an article somewhere that I read that talked about life expectancy, the life expectancy gets impacted severely by stress. And then there’s more people in their 30s and 40s, dying from heart attacks. And, and these are things that you would never even conceive. But But it all comes back after they’ve studied the person’s life and what they’ve been through it just very high stress very, very, a life that’s just been chaotic. I’d like to pivot again, real quick. And there’s a lot of people listening to this podcast that are, you know, they’ve, they’ve obviously, they’ve gotten out of the military, I may have a few people that are on active duty listening, but the bulk of bulk of the listeners are those that have that have served, and now they’re living out their civilian careers and pursuing their, their dreams and in business. There’s a lot out there. And this used to be me and Eileen bringing this up, because I feel like this resonates with so many people is your once let me back up. By one, when when you were in the service, you were focused on something greater than yourself. And you get out and then maybe maybe you maybe you weren’t fortunate enough to really go pursue your passion, maybe didn’t even know what your passion really was. And now you find yourself it’s been a number of years. And you’re doing well, like maybe you’re doing well. And whatever your job or profession may happen to be, but you just feel like you don’t have a whole lot of purpose or a whole lot of direction. And and you’re just kind of floating by what advice would you give to veterans out there that may be floundering or frustrated with kind of where they are? And what advice would you give them in terms of kind of taking stock of what they want to do and where and where they want to go?
Kimberly Seilhamer 48:31
Well, the one thing that I would want to impress upon them is, if they’re not sure what they want, what they’re passionate about, research is key. So, you know, one thing may lead to another thing may lead may lead to another thing. So if they have anything that interests them at all, no matter what it is, they should start doing some research on it. And they can continue, you know, just when I say do what you love, it may sound like Well, that’s easy for you to say kind of a thing. But honestly, I think that they might feel more fulfilled. Even if they have to keep that day job or doing you know, doing whatever it is that not fulfilling them for a while, if they put something in their lives that they’re passionate about. It gives them joy. That so there’s not just punching a clock and going home and and, you know, sitting in front of the tube and wondering what do I do next? Like do some research think about do some real soul searching also say what interests me when I was a kid what interests me, you know, what, what was my? What turned me on then? Because a lot of times, you know we have a lot of classes When we’re younger, and who knows, it may inspire somebody out there to say, You know what, I really had an interest in gardening. So they take up gardening, and then, you know, next thing, you know, they could be doing it having a podcast about barter about gardening, or whatever. But but but adding that passion to their lives is so important. And, you know, if they’re floundering, it’s because they’re doing something that is, it’s not calling to them. Like, they may take pride in their work, they may do an incredible job. But if they’re floundering, like emotionally or spiritually, or, or, you know, just mentally, they just don’t feel like they’re all with it, you know, because, because they’re kind of half checked out, even though they’re doing a great job, it’s just not what they envision themselves doing. Right? That I would encourage them to really, you know, sit down and write it down, write down things that interests them, if they, if they watch a, a PBS special on the Indianapolis, the thinking of the Indianapolis and they think that’s interesting, they should write that down, they’ll see a pattern emerge. Know, maybe they’re interested in history, maybe they’re interested in this area thing that has to do with it, maybe they’re interested in, you know, ships, or the naval history or anything like that. So the search for, for finding what it is that you are passionate about, begins with the first step and having an honest conversation with yourself.
Aaron Spatz 51:49
And that I think, is really hard. And I think, I think people get just so caught up in their day to day lives, their grind, you know, they may have, they have a spouse, they got kids, they got all these commitments, but to really dedicate some time to really taking stock of what they want to do. I love your I love your advice. I think people don’t do enough research. And, and I so relate to that, because there’s so many times in my life where I have researched something, and then it becomes like, an idea of that idea of that idea. And it kind of takes you down this, this crazy path. But the next thing you know, you’re, you’re doing something that that just really speaks to you. So I I think it’s phenomenal advice. Thanks for Thanks for sharing that.
Kimberly Seilhamer 52:39
Well, absolutely. And as a matter of fact, I practice that myself, like when I’m working on a project, if I get stuck, you know, you’ve heard of writer’s block. If I get stuck, the first thing I do is I start researching some more, because that will open up so many more doors of things that I didn’t think of. So you know, that I’m really a proponent of, you know, of research and research, and be on yourself. Like you can research yourself. You know, when did I have moments of joy? What were those moments what you know, write them down, and you’ll see that maybe, you know, maybe you took a lot of joy and you take joy in helping others, well, then, you know, then probably your calling, or your passion is going to be associated with helping others. You know, so, you know, researching yourself is definitely a necessity, I think if you’re trying to find guidance on how to move forward in a direction. It’s joyful to you. Sure.
Aaron Spatz 53:59
Well, this this last segment, I’d love to just turn it back over to you. And if there’s any, any parting thoughts, anything that you would love to share that maybe you haven’t had a chance to share? It could be either a story that you’ve have severe difficulty in you, but you’ve already shared. You’ve already shared some glimpses of of some, some hardships and some really, really tough experiences that you’ve had to go through. But if you have any other advice or anything else you’d love to share, I’d love to I’d love to get this back to you.
Kimberly Seilhamer 54:36
Okay, well, um Yeah, I just encourage everybody listening. Find your passion. We are in the land of milk and honey literally. The United States of America is a place where you can come from nothing and and make something of yourself and when I to say something of yourself, it doesn’t mean that you have to be famous. It means that, you know, you can really find your passion and pursue it in this country, you know, if you were born elsewhere, it would be a lot more difficult. And so take advantage of that, you know, anything is possible. I mean, when I grew up, we were so poor. I remember one summer, all I had to eat were eggs from the chicken coop, you know, and I just knew that’s not how I wanted to live, even at that age, you know, I was like, I don’t want this to be my life. You know, where you just were, you’re just treading water. And so I always strive, reach out and pull myself up. And that’s another word of advice. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Yeah, because there’s people that are doing perhaps what do you want to do? You know, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask their opinion, or ask them advice or just, you know, be what their journey was, how they got to where they are, you know, there, it can be incapacitating. And that I would encourage everybody out there. I know, it’s scary. Don’t be afraid. Make those steps to do what you love. And, you know, if you can’t make a living at it initially, you’ll find a way. Because when you’re passionate about it, it’s the way will come. The way will come, but you have to be open to receive the gift. Yeah, you know, you can’t close yourself off. And just think about, you know, all the bad things that can happen. You know, you need to try and remain positive, move that ball forward. If the door of opportunity doesn’t open for you build a door. Build a door. Yeah, you know,
Aaron Spatz 57:26
that’s great. I’ve never heard that before. I’ve learned never heard that before. That’s really
Kimberly Seilhamer 57:30
cool. Oh, it’s something I made up. Yeah. Well, it’s
Aaron Spatz 57:34
great. Well, I’ll give you credit. I’ll turn it into a quote and I’ll give you I’ll give you authors credit on that one. That’s awesome.
Kimberly Seilhamer 57:44
The I used to have I wrote it down and have it hanging in my office as a reminder that we in this business, we hear a lot of No, before we hear a yes. Yeah. So it’s just, you know, you can hear no, no, no, all day long. All it takes is one yet. So you know, it, you know, and that’s always been my motto, like, hey, it’s all knock it down. I’ll do whatever. No, but I’m gonna get where I’m going. Yeah.
Aaron Spatz 58:11
I, I realized we’re, we’re already like at time, but if you permit me, I’d love to ask just one more question, if that’s okay.
Kimberly Seilhamer 58:21
Aaron Spatz 58:24
Who has been, like a tremendous influence in your life, or an inspiration or somebody that you’ve really admired? That has really kind of helped feel you? And in why?
Kimberly Seilhamer 58:42
I can’t really say that I have an inspirational person. Yeah. But I had an inspirational event. That happened to me, okay. Because there’s so many people out there that are an inspiration to me, I volunteer with the veterans in media and entertainment. And Karen crafts is is our fearless leader there. And she’s just always been an inspiration. So I find inspiration in a lot of different people, and in a lot of different areas of my life. But there was this when I first started screenwriting, and it was after I had written corporal punishment. I received these tickets in the mail from the Academy of Motion Pictures, Arts and Sciences. They’re the ones you know, the do the Oscars. Yeah. And they were for the Barofsky, Lex, er, which I’m not sure if they still have the Borovsky lecture, but at the time, the brzowski lecture was the real thing. And I didn’t know who sent me these tickets, like they’re, you know, it was unbelievable. So I thought, Well, this must I was so ignorant. I was like, This must not be a really huge thing. So I I took the first And instead of taking my husband at the time, he never let me forget it, by the way. And, you know, and so we were running late trying to find parking and all of this business. And there’s masses of people outside of the theater. And, you know, we raced across the street with our tickets in hand, and they see us coming. And it was like, they’re on the radios, and they literally cleared a path for us totally go through into the theater. And we get into the theater and they’re ushering us. It passed all these humongous gold officers. And they usher us into the theater, they feed us right behind Sharon Stone. And, yeah, and next next to Dawn delouis. And, you know, close the doors, the lights go down and outcomes, Arthur Hiller, who was the head of the academy at the time. And I just remember thinking, staring at the big Oscars on stage. I just remember thinking, no matter what happened, I’m doing what I’m supposed to be doing. This is a sign. And I’ve, I’ve, you know, there’s been a few times when I’ve been really low, like, I was telling you that one time I was crying, I was like, Oh, is it ever gonna happen for me? You know, but you have to keep the faith. Like, when you feel low like that, it’s good to have a network of support. Yeah. So again, don’t be afraid to reach out to others for support to your, you know, to your God, or your you know, whoever it is that you in your life. That, that you where you find strength. Make sure that you keep that in your back pocket, because sometimes the journey gets treacherous, you know, right. But that was a defining moment for me, getting there, in the midst of all these great stars, writers and directors and everything. And it was as if they were just waiting for me to get there. And they closed the door. I know it was the gate. But that’s how it seems. They assured us in status, and then close the door. And the thing started, it was like, so amazing. And, and it was a defining moment. For me. It really was like I was just like, yeah, no matter what happens, I’m doing this while I’m doing it. Wow. So and I never found out he sent me the ticket.
Aaron Spatz 1:02:34
Kimberly Seilhamer 1:02:37
Yeah, I never found out he sent me the ticket. So, yeah.
Aaron Spatz 1:02:45
Where do we learn the most from? I mean, we obviously we learn a lot in our success, and it’s always great to enjoy the success. I want to be successful. I want to enjoy that journey. But guess what, the journey also includes some pretty rough road. And yeah, that process is absolutely priceless. You know, and being able to, like, there’s so often I and you have to tell me what you think of this. But I feel like I learned more in the failures or in the rough environment than I do when things are going in. Like we all want it to go well. But I feel like I learned more I grow more through these little seasons of just absolute craziness.
Kimberly Seilhamer 1:03:36
Yes, I can completely agree. It’s, you know, when you’re in peril, you are forced to dig deep. And, you know, you learn how to do that, like you learn how to dig deep and pull up by your bootstraps and get up and go again. And this time, you’re wiser, you know, so that, yeah, it’s so true. And it’s the same here. Like I said, I was actually very happy that now looking back, you know, I learned so much on that first set of jack the reboot when I was directing. You know, I mean, I could write a book about it. I really did. And directors would learn, like what to do what not to do, you know, and it’s almost unheard of to fire an entire crew, but that’s what I had to do. I mean, I had to dig deep and figure out you know, it wasn’t worth somebody getting hurt. Now in that day, you know, they didn’t have the tools, the skill set cheese, you know, to do what they what was necessary. Yeah. So, funny story. I had seen this woman on Sally Jessy Raphael, and she was there with her son and she was just such a lame mom, like it was this horrible. So I was really upset about the fact that she wasn’t putting her son first and her husband at the time, which I think was a stepdad or something, I’m not sure it was like very abusive and stuff. And you know, and I was just like, look, you know, you need to put your son, you know, he can’t defend himself like you need to. I wrote a letter to her and I sent it to the Jesse Ragdale. Well, they gave it to her. And it changed her whole life. Like it seems your whole life. So then I get a phone call, months later from Sally Sally Jessy Raphael show. And they’re like, we’re having her back on the show. She’s changed her whole life because of your letter. And he really wants to meet us. So it’s going to be a surprise. And we you can and so I was like, Well, okay, so, you know, I’m like, Oh, my goodness, you know, so they, they take me, you know, they fly me to New York, I, you know, limousine picks me up all this business. And I get in at like two in the morning. And then I have to be at the studio at like six or seven. I can’t remember. But I get to the studio and they’re like, we’re gonna hide you. So we’re putting you in with this group of people where says My mom is a stripper or something like that. And I’m like, Are you kidding me right now. And I’m in there with all these kids in their lane mom, you know, or, you know, who are just horrible. Like, and I hate I’m not passing judgment, but they were just, you know what I mean? They were not great mother role models. It was so depressing. Aaron, you could not believe it. So I was so emotional. Because I love kids. Yeah, I was so emotional, but a time. It was time for them to tape our show. That they bring me they’re like, Okay, it’s time it’s time. It’s time they’re rushing me out there. You know, like this. And then they’re like, We have a surprise to you. Her name was also Kim COVID Surprise view. Kim. Kimberly is here. And it’s like the lightly Debney out there. The lights come on. Now. He’s like, What do you think about blah, blah, blah, you changed your whole life, blah, blah, blah. What do you have to say? I was like, oh, Sally, and then I just burst into tears.
Aaron Spatz 1:07:24
Oh, man. Yeah.
Kimberly Seilhamer 1:07:28
So I actually hate these interviews. Because that was very traumatic tears and could not stop crying. They had to cut away money. And so they literally did not. They did not show me for the entire episode. And then except for when I went out and I said, Well, Sally, and then they cut, you know, and then and then afterward, I’m like, waiting for the limousine out on Fifth Avenue. And the Kim comes out with her son. And he’s 12 By this time, and he’s talking to me, and all of a sudden I realized that his son is stumbling into the seat, you know? And, and I’m like, what is happening? Like, and then I realized he’s choking. So he runs screaming back into the studio. I’m manhandling this, this 12 year old. And I’m doing I like and I’m doing the Heimlich This is the act of running out of the studio and out finally flies this hour later, or an hour later or whatever they’re called. You know, yeah. And he was turning blue. Like he was literally turning blue. And the producers like first you see their family now you say this by I like right there in the limousine pulls up. I’m like I am so out of here. And valance drove off. You know, what was really amazing is that it changed their whole life. And he ended up going into the Marine Corps. And I saw him actually maybe two years ago, like they still keep in contact with me occasionally. Wow. I saw him like maybe two years ago. He’s a Marine now. And he was inspired to be a Marine because of me actually. So that was you know, pretty cool how you can impact others. You know, by just you know, just being passionate and and by reaching out and
Aaron Spatz 1:09:54
thanks for listening to America’s entrepreneur. If you enjoyed the show, please leave a review or comment on your preferred social Media platform. share it out with friends, family, coworkers, others in your network. And of course you can write me directly at Erin at Bold media.us That’s a Ron at Old media.us Till next time