INSIDE LOOK ON BEING A CHILDHOOD STAR ON NICKELODEON AND BEING AN ACTRESS
Okay guys, Christina is freaking cute and funny. That’s the BEST combo if you ask me. When we met, I was like, ‘First of all, fantastic name’ (lol) and she also just brings this fantastic energy to the table. I was stalking people on IG and found her. I knew we needed to chat in person. She is on the podcast and we talk about everything from living in LA to being a childhood star. WE GET INTO IT.
Christina Kirkman is an American actress and comedian who grew up in Boston, Massachusetts. At ten years old, she won the contest "R U All That: Nickelodeon's Search for the Funniest Kid in America" which gained her the highly-coveted spot as a series regular on the sketch comedy series "All That." Kirkman also appeared on other Nickelodeon shows such as U Pick Live, Teenick and Slime Time Live.
After the show's final season (10) in 2005, Kirkman returned back to Massachusetts where she attended high school and college. Kirkman graduated from Emerson College in Boston where she studied Broadcast Journalism. However, her passion for comedy and acting always remained and she was active in several different on-campus productions.
After graduation, Kirkman moved back to Los Angeles to pursue acting. Most recently she played “Lori" on OWN’S Ambitions
Warm Welcome To Christina:
My name is Christina Kirkman and I enjoy chicken nuggets more than the average person (Yes, that is how I choose to start off my introduction so please get off my case for it!!). I am a fairly small human and my hair takes up about 90% of my existence. When I get angry or tipsy, my Boston accent comes out. Like, hard core. I love being outdoors so I spend a lot of my free time surfing, skateboarding or watching re-runs of "Family Guy" and "The Office." Oh! And I’m an actor! My dream role you ask? Great question! I would love to be Hit-Girl from Kick-Ass (just maybe the slightly older and slightly less cool version. And by slightly I mean, considerably). I want to be the female version of DeadPool. I also would love to star in the next “I Love Lucy” and be that funny chick (preferably named Zelda but I am open-minded) who is a spy and can kill people with her super-powered backflips and flaming chicken nugget torpedoes (I told you the chicken nuggets were important), but also breaks into dance at the end of each scene. Yes I know, I should probably workshop my elevator pitch on what my career goal is but hey, it’s a start.
Joining The Acting Scene:
I’m originally from a small suburb 15 minutes North of Boston. As a kid the only thing I was sure of was that I wanted to be an Olympic Gymnast and that making people laugh made me really, really happy. At that time I couldn’t even comprehend that acting was actually a job. It wasn’t until my 10-year-old self saw a commercial for “R U ALL THAT? The Search for the Funniest Kid in America” that everything changed. The winner of the contest would earn a spot on the sketch comedy show, “All That” and even though I had 0.0 acting experience, I knew I had to enter.
I put on my favorite shiny blue shirt, some French braids and stood in my kitchen with my mom and dad to record a self-tape that would eventually change my life. In addition to performing sketches that were provided, I had to do a few original impressions. Mine were Sandy from SpongeBob, Steve Erwin (R.I.P) and a breakdancing hip hop DJ (still have a few questions about that one).
A couple weeks after I submitted my tape, Nickelodeon started announcing the top contestants every week. What started at 10,000 entries was narrowed down to top 50, then top 10 and then finally, top 5. The top 5 of us (yes, me! Woo!) were all flown to Los Angeles to meet the members of All That and to perform sketches with them. Bananas, I know. Here I am, this 10-year-old girl from a small town with ZERO acting experience, flying to Hollywood to meet celebrities and then perform with them.
After a week of being around the cast on set, it was time to announce the winner. All 5 of us gathered backstage while judges Amanda Bynes, Nick Cannon & Josh Peck were waiting on stage, only about 20 feet in front of us. Watching the monitors backstage, we saw Taran Killam take out an envelope. We all held hands.
Now this part I remember like it was yesterday. “The winner of this contest…the kid who will become a regular cast member on "All That"…the Funniest Kid in America is…Christina Kirkman!” I froze backstage. “Wait, did they say my name?” It wasn’t until I felt a PA grab my arm and shout “go, go, go” that I knew it was me. I walked behind a black curtain and arrived on stage, terrified. There were kids in the audience cheering, cast members trying to pick me up and balloons dropping from the ceiling. That was the moment that started all of this.
Hidden Secret for KCM Readers:
I love Anime! Growing up I only watched animated TV shows and movies and that carried over into my adulthood as well. As soon as I was introduced to Anime, I was immediately hooked. I also love comic books and Manga and video games. Growing up my favorite games were Need for Speed (Underground), Tony Hawk Pro Skater (4), Spyro, Tekken (Eddy Gordo all day) and Grand Theft Auto (when I got a little bit older, of course). So, I am not saying that I am a geek but I am also not saying that I don’t want to learn how to play Dungeons & Dragons.
Oh! I also don’t know how to tell time. Yes, really. I left Boston as a kid at the same time that we were learning how to tell time in school. And because I never learned then, I had a very difficult time learning later on. I mean, I can do it. I just have to count and it takes me an obscene amount of time. Thank goodness for digital!
Best advice for someone who wants to get into acting:
“You only need one ‘yes’.” As simple as that sounds, it goes a long way for actors since we are constantly getting “no’s,”. The odds of “making it” in Hollywood always seem unattainable until you remember that truth. You just need that 1 person to take a chance on you. It may take a while and you will have to put in the hours of hard work and determination but, why not? With all the resources and platforms we have today, there is no excuse to waste passion.
Work hard, be kind to people, watch the marketplace and never stop learning. The second you think you have learned all that you need to be an actor or enough to get by, you have already failed. Go to acting classes. Watch movies. Write. Stay humble. Read scripts. Make videos with your friends. But most importantly, don’t get defeated. Take the ‘no’s’ and let them motivate you. Don’t lose momentum
Having a mentor? Good? Bad?
Not so much a mentor, but someone that really inspired me when I was on All That was Amanda Bynes. She was one of my biggest role models prior to winning the contest so when I was able to meet her and actually talk to her on set, I was pumped. She was always so kind and inspiring and gave me a lot of great advice. My first sketch was called “Trashin’ Fashion” with Jamie-Lynn Spears, Lisa Foiles & Taram Killam. During rehearsals, that really confident & out-going girl they saw on tape had completely disappeared. I froze. I messed up my lines and I just couldn’t do it. When rehearsals were over, I had a lot of people come up to me and offer me some inspiring words. One of those people was Amanda Bynes. Just this year I was able to see a VHS video for the first time that my dad captured while I was rehearsing. It was Amanda, talking into the camera as if she were talking to me. She said she was so proud of me and couldn’t believe how talented I was. That tape is very special to me. She also opened up to me one day on set about how she never was able to attend prom or high school football games and that that was something she always felt like she missed out on. She said, “You are built for this and if you ever decide to go back home, just know that this will always be out here waiting for you when you’re ready.”
Jack DeSena, who was literally my big brother on the show, was someone I looked to when I moved back to Los Angeles. He gave me a lot of great advice and has always been a role model. I used to follow him around set like a sad puppy. Now, I am repped at the same agency as him. See Jack, I will never stop following you!!
Can one ever be too old to start acting?
No way! We always need to find a way to represent all types of people in TV and film, including age!
♡ Harrison Ford was 34 when he finally starred in "Star Wars".
♡ Kristen Wiig was 32 when she was cast on “SNL" and Leslie Jones was 47.
♡ Samuel L. Jackson was 46 when he did "Pulp Fiction".
♡ Ted Danson was 35 when he went on “Cheers".
♡ Jessica Chastain had trouble getting parts until she was 34 because of her hair color.
♡ Alan Rickman was 42 when he starred in “Die Hard”.
♡ Lucille Ball starred in “I Love Lucy” when she was 40.
Is there a balance between putting your needs first, but also supporting other females in the industry?
I have never seen this to be an issue, thankfully. I have a group of girlfriends who are all incredibly talented artists. We genuinely LOVE to see each other thrive and get ahead. At the end of the day, the ideal situation is not only to be working in the industry that you love but to be surrounded by kind, motivated people that bring out your best work. There’s no competition because at the end of the day we are all in this together. I look at my friends constantly, both men and women, and think to myself “how are you not famous yet?!” There is so much talent out there and it’s important that we support it and encourage it.