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article imageInterview: Actor Kelly Karavites opens up about acting career Special

By Markos Papadatos     Jan 29, 2017 in Entertainment
Award-winning actor, producer and comedian Kelly Karavites chatted with Digital Journal about his acting background and success with "Mommy's Box."
On his acting background, Karavites said, "I always wanted to be an actor! I know that sounds trite, but I have vivid memories putting on shows and doing monologues for my parents and siblings in our kitchen when I was a kid. When I returned home after serving in the army, I made an attempt to start acting but it was short lived, that was 1985 and I was taking taxis over the 59th Street bridge to auditions at Kaufman Studios during my lunch hour when I worked in advertising. I gave up and rebooted starting full time acting 22 years later in 2007, when I was in a better place financially and could give it my all. I started in community theater then moved to Off-Off-Broadway. Then, I grew as an actor to Off Broadway followed by breaking into TV work as an extra so I could learn about TV production. One of my proud moments was as Steve Buscemi's butler on Boardwalk Empire, that was fun. I like to think that the survival job is the greatest obstacle for a new actor. Find a good survival job and supportive boss."
Regarding his experience in Mommy's Box, he said, "I am so lucky to have met Johnny Greenlaw when I executive produced Kade Wise's short film Love Me As I Am in 2013. I had just inaugurated my new film production company Achilles Heal Films and needed a good start. Johnny was one of the on set producers on that project, and I immediately realized how effective and organized he was. He is a very thoughtful director too. When I found out he had a feature film written I wanted to be a part of it. I was sold. Mommy's Box was one of those productions where you are pinching yourself both as an actor and executive producer because having been on the other side, for example working on challenging productions you realize this is the way it should be. Johnny assembled top talent and everyone was so professional on set, you could tell from the get go it would be successful there was a positive energy. We were so fortunate to make this film and it was quite a ride at the festivals."
On his proudest moments, he said, "One of my most proudest moments was this past Fall at the Black Bear Film Festival when we enjoyed a great weekend with Mommy's Box being the opening night film. After the premiere there we enjoyed drinks and chat at a wonderful restaurant in town. Rex Reed was honorary guest and we had an amazing Q&A on the stage with an eager and excited audience. A similar great feeling was at the Long Island International Film Expo in Bellmore. It was a great festival where we won 'Best Feature Audience Award' and I accepted on behalf of Johnny Greenlaw and the cast and crew. You have to understand I dreamt about doing these things for over 20 years when my initial start as an actor was iced when I sold out for a 401K and security. So to reach those little plateaus is exciting."
On working with Johnny Greenlaw and the cast, he said, "Johnny is one of those film persons who breathes film. Johnny loves film and has a keen mind, he knows what works yet his work isn't clinical, it comes out as art. Johnny understands that a film succeeds when you tell the story effectively and engage the audience, yet he is not formulaic, he is unique. I was completely sold on Johnny as I stated earlier when I saw how effective he was in his pre-production work which any film-maker knows is number one ingredient to success. One of the things I love about Johnny is he brings great people to the set. He must have a large little black book."
Equally fun for Karavites was working with fellow Greek actor George Papadimatos. "I know George from previous work whether it was class work or meeting him at other events so it was a pleasure to have my 'Greek brother' as I like to call him as a scene partner. George is a true pro, gives it his all. Although there was a script Johnny gave us license to bring the Greek pathos to the screen, George set the mood when he did imitations of his Greek father with the accent from the diner. The takes were a lot of fun. I speak much more fluent Greek than George but he was excellent and spot on as my nephew, we had a chemistry and it is a very funny scene. The cherry on the cake was George was at the premiere of Mommy's Box in LA with me, and we enjoyed going to dinner and lunch and bar hopping including the Frolic Room across the W Hotel where stars from yesteryear drank. We also enjoyed Musso and Frank's famous Steak House where the greatest names in Hollywood ate during the Golden Age."
When asked what motivates him each day, he said, "I feed off other people's success. I am a big believer in fitness, something I picked up in the military so I am a gym rat which sets the mood for goals in film work. Some people are zero sum gamers, not me. I have strong metaphysical beliefs which I think are helping me in acting. To me when a friend or even a celebrity succeeds it is a validation of the success principle. I try and learn how they made it to that point. The usual answer is hard work and yes a few failures. You cannot find the success principle without failure. Failure is the chariot that carries you to success."
On his future plans, he said, "My plans include continuing my training both private and in a group environment. I want to continue to do the occasional open mic because I believe improv is a great teacher, it keeps you connected and grounded. The worst thing an actor can do is to become robotic. My immediate plans include getting more TV and commercial work which I think will help my brand."
For aspiring actors, he concluded, "I advise other actors to remain primal in their growth patterns, understand that things don't happen over night. Success comes to those who keep on doing what they love. As long as you enjoy the process you cannot go wrong!"
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