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CANDACE KITA - Model / Actress ("Complete Savages" / "I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry")
Comic Con International - San Diego, CA - Fri. / Sat., July 24-25, 2008

As a model and actress, Candace Kita has made a name for herself as having appeared in quite a body of work in a relatively short amount of time. Hers is a story of work and determination, paying off in the way that she is seen everywhere, but not yet to the point of being mobbed. Give it time.

Having appeared in many things from 1995’s hauntingly disturbing music video for the Catherine Wheel’s “Waydown” to current flurry of TV shows and films, Candace Kita may be one of those names whose face you know you’ve seen, but still aren’t sure who it is. It won’t be too long now. As most Asian models are known for (no, not really), Candace hails from Texas, and currently lives in La-La Land (that’s Los Angeles to the rest of us). Referring to herself, comically, as a White-Trash Asian girl, she also cooks and believes that batter should be its own food group. Thus is the humor of this very approachable and charming actress. And on a more serious note, she is involved in social issues and activism, including women’s safety - a subject that’s becoming more prevalent in the news lately.

We met up with Candace at Comic Con International in San Diego, CA in July. Her bright smiling inviting, she generously sat to chat with me about her life, career, the industry, her social consciousness, and her food habits. Aside from her considerable attractiveness, her most noticeable features are her charming personality and professional attitude. And that is what will keep her moving along the Hollywood Highway.

I had actually done two interviews over the course of two days, as I wasn’t sure if one came out, so the following is a mix of the two.


K2K: [For those who never distinguish] What nationality are you?
CK:
Japanese.

K2K: You never know now. So many mixes these days.
CK:
I know! I never know either.

K2K: You’re best known for modeling and acting. How did you get hooked up with the British band, Catherine Wheel, to do their video?
CK:
Actually, I just auditioned like everybody else. I didn’t really know that it was going to be Mark Pellington who was the director. He’s a really well-known director - done a lot of videos for MTV, and a lot of independent films. So I got the job and got to play this very crazy, demented stewardess in an airplane, that goes down - if you’re familiar with the video.
[See the video for "Waydown" on YouTube.]

K2K: Oh yes. I’ve seen it many times. The video is for “Waydown.” [One of my favorite bands, and videos. - Ed.]
CK:
Exactly. “Way down.” Get it? The lead singer, Rob, is so intense when he's doing the video, and such a nice man off-screen.

K2K: Now, the song itself is about emotions and personal crisis.
CK:
It is, but the way it was portrayed was a man on a plane [singer Rob Dickinson], and everyone on the plane, and how they all feel during the last few minutes of their lives during a commercial airline disaster, when the plane is about to crash.

K2K: And you’re nutty [in the video].
CK:
Yes. And Rob, the singer, and I are both nutty. We're both crazy and demented and kind of happy that the plane was crashing. And I kept serving and showing how to get out of the plane.

K2K: [In the video] you’re serving food and drinks.
CK:
Yes. Food and drinks are going everywhere. I actually fell down a couple of times during the takes, because we actually shot in an airplane fuselage. The airplane fuselage moved. I was in high heels, and a lot of times I would just fall to the ground. They would just say, “Candace! Get up! Keep going.” So, yeah.

K2K: What about repercussions from that video? [Rumor had it that MTV eventually banned the video due to its disturbing nature. - Ed]
CK: You know, we didn’t really have any repercussions from that video. I thought we were going to for sure. The L.A. Times newspaper wrote an article saying that they thought it was really controversial. They were questioning, I guess, the nature of music videos at the time - MTV, VH1 - and how they were getting more graphic as far as - not sexuality, but - violence. They thought that the violence was a little bit too much.

K2K: So you can’t have sex in prime-time [TV], but you can in all the “bling-bling” videos.
CK:
Yeah. And you can’t show a plane going down. So I don’t understand it myself.

K2K: Which happens.
CK:
Right. Exactly.

K2K: You could say it’s “too close to home” for some. But that’s kind of ridiculous, because everything is “too close to home” to someone.
CK:
Nowadays, yeah. And everything you do will give you cancer. So…

K2K: Just us breathing right now.
CK:
… is probably giving us cancer.

K2K: [Going back to your roots] You lived in Belgium and England, but you were just a child then.
CK:
Yes.

K2K: When did you move back?
CK:
I moved back to the States when I was about seven years old.

K2K: Where were you born?
CK:
I was born here in Los Angeles.

K2K: But you call yourself a Southern girl?
CK:
I am. I was raised in Lawton, TX. So I consider myself poor White Trash in an Asian body. Yeah.

K2K: Which explains your love of fried foods.
CK:
Oh, I love anything fried. I think batter should be its own main course. Batter should be a course on its own. Yeah. Chicken-friend steak. Fried okra. Mashed potatoes. Fried chicken livers. Aw! Yum.

K2K: George Clooney was on David Letterman during a Thanksgiving show, talking about some Texan delicacy. You take a bucket, filled with oil, and you drop the turkey in.
CK:
Yes! Deep fried turkey! It’s great. I thought everybody did it, because I’m from the South and its normal to me. And then here they think it’s just this horrible thing. Like the deep-friend Oreo, and the deep-fried Twinky, and the deep-fried pickle.

K2K: Oh my God. Are you kidding?
CK:
No. This is all normal. But apparently it’s strange out here on the West Coast.

K2K: Well, how George Clooney described it was as just [taking the oil and cholesterol] and injecting it straight into your heart.
CK:
Oh yeah. It’s just… inject it. Streamlining oil directly into your body. But it’s oh so good.

K2K: Apparently it [deep-frying turkey] seals the turkey, so you don’t get that much oil.
CK:
That’s true. It cooks it quickly. It’s very moist and tender on the inside because of the flash cooking.

K2K: Do you cook?
CK:
Oh! I love to cook.

K2K: Southern stuff? Do you cook White Trash, or do you cook other stuff?
CK:
Oh yeah, I love White Trash, and I even like a can of Chef Boyardee every once in while. How bad is that?

K2K: You don’t have the Roadkill Cookbook, do you you?
CK:
No, but I know of it. And I know the White Trash cookbook too. [“White Trash Cooking” by Ernest Matthew Mickler]

K2K: The book I’m talking about was written by a former model from L.A. [“Swamp Cookin’ With The River People” by Dana Holyfield. Actually less about roadkill and more about Cajun backwoods cooking. - Ed.]
CK:
Are you kidding?

K2K: No. She was a model who moved back to her home in Arkansas and wrote a cookbook. She decided she didn’t want to be a model anymore and just started doing that.
CK:
Good for her. I salute you.

K2K: So, from cooking to modeling. When did you start in modeling?
CK:
I started modeling when I was in school. I was approached by somebody to do a hair advertisement. I have hair that’s all the way down to my… you know. I have hair down to my bottom, and it’s straight and all one length. So it kind of came from that. I didn’t even mean to do it. I just kind of walked into a hair salon at the time.

K2K: Was it for any specific product?
CK:
It was for a very famous person who cut hair. And then I ended up being a model for Wilhelmina, for the Wilhelmina Agency for five years.

K2K: When was that?
CK:
Just in my career right now. I was with Wilhelmina up until about two years ago. Then I made my segue into acting full time.

K2K: What were some of the bigger modeling accounts that you've done?
CK:
Neiman Marcus, Marsha Fields, Nordstrom's, Chinese Laundry, XOXO, Diesel, and other things like that.

K2K: How did you get discovered for acting?
CK:
I purposely went out for acting myself. I did not get “discovered” at all. I just started pounding the pavement. I took acting classes, I got an agent, a manager, a publicist, and all that kind of good stuff.

K2K: So you’re a good influence on young, up-and-coming actors to work harder.
CK:
Oh, definitely. You’ve really got to do it on your own. Don’t expect anybody to do it for you. You’ve got to pound that pavement every single day.

K2K: What do you like better, modeling or acting?
CK:
You know, I really like acting, because you get to portray other people. I consider myself a character actor, and so I like to play all sorts of different characters. It's like an escape. It's so much fun.

K2K: Did you ever just get stereotyped as “the cute girl”? Was that ever a problem, that they would only want to put you in a certain type of role?
CK:
No…

K2K: And then there’s the Asian thing too.
CK:
The Asian thing, sure. I think I’ve gotten lucky though. Not just “the cute girl.” I’ve played a coroner one time. I’ve played a mom. A lawyer. A court reporter. A newscaster. So I’ve gotten a lot of great roles. I can’t say that I’ve been stereotyped in that way at all.

K2K: It’s just interesting, in the people that I meet. Some people complain about getting stereotyped, while others get everything.
CK:
I’m happy. I can’t complain. I really can’t.

K2K: I know that actress Maggie Q had recently complained about Asian stereotyping. She said something along the lines of “Oh, another Asian girl who knows martial arts and kicks ass.”
CK:
You know, it's funny. I'd rather us be stereotyped as a bad-ass, than subservient pieces of Jade. I think more important… Bad-ass is good, because I think we've had the other stereotype for so long. So, more power to it.

K2K: I think she was coming from the thought that there were so many martial arts movies already.
CK:
Yeah, but martial arts is a genre, for those who enjoy [them]. I like them. I think they're fun. So…

K2K: What kind of acting do you prefer? Comedy?
CK:
Absolutely. I think, over the course of my career, the majority of things that I’ve done are comedy. Ironically, I don’t know why, but I really enjoy it.

K2K: Because you’re a workaholic and comedy is the hardest thing to do.
CK:
That’s what people say. Sometimes I think drama’s harder, but maybe it’s just for different people.

K2K: I think you can express drama. We can all do it. But in comedy, you might think something’s funny, while someone else might not. It’s all in timing.
CK:
It just depends. I feel that I do well in physical comedy. I think it’s universal. You don’t have to say anything, and you can just do it. I did that a lot on “Master Rider,” which is the kid’s show that I was on for two years. And then working with Mel Gibson, a lot of it was physical comedy too.

K2K: What kind of movies do you like?
CK:
You know, I know it sounds crazy, but I grew up watching “The Three Stooges.” That’s really physical comedy. Lucille Ball is another one. And of course, John Ritter. John Ritter was amazing. Think about it. In “Three’s Company,” the amount of physical comedy that he did.

K2K: “Marx Brothers”?
CK:
Oh yeah! “Marx Brothers” are great. And “Little Rascals.”

K2K: It’s funny how, after many years - for me - no one knew what I was talking about when referencing [that kind of stuff]. Now, old bands are coming back in style. Old movies. Did you see Sylvester Stallone in “Oscar”?
CK:
I didn’t see “Oscar.” I did see “Rocky.” But you’re right. Everything old is new again.

K2K: “Oscar” never got the recognition that it deserved. It is entirely a mix of everything that you said you liked [in old style comedy].
CK:
Really? I’ll have to see it then. I didn’t know.

K2K: You worked on "Masked Rider."
CK:
I did. That was two years of my life, getting up at four in the morning, and I loved it. I did three seasons, 40 episodes, as the series regular lead. A lot of the people from the show are still really good friends of mine today.

K2K: Tell me about “Masked Rider.” That came over from Japan, right?
CK:
Yes. It was an original show called “Kamen Rider.” “Kamen” means mask. It was very, very popular in Japan. So then Saban brought it over [in 1995] to the United States, using preexisting footage, and turned it into “Masked Rider,” for FoxKids TV.
[Saban had previously had success adapting Japan’s “Super Sentai” into the “Power Rangers,” and “Metal Heroes” (“VR Troopers” and “Beetleborgs”).]

K2K: In “Complete Savages,” you worked with Mel Gibson.
CK:
Yeah. I played his girlfriend Misty. [It’s] the only time he did American television. It was great. Everyone he came on, I was like Kenny in “South Park” - I got killed in every episode.

K2K: No repercussions from Matt or Trey [creators of “South Park]?
CK:
No, no. Not at all. I never heard anything that they were upset about it, and Mel had a great time.

K2K: You didn’t end the episodes with “Oh no! They killed Misty!”?
CK:
No. Wouldn’t that be awesome if they did that? I’d be so thrilled. But actually I got spoofed by “Beavis & Butthead” for that Catherine Wheel video. They put me in the video on and started talking about me. All the “Beavis & Butthead” fans always come up to me to say, “You were in that ‘Beavis & Butthead’ Catherine Wheel episode.” It’s on YouTube or online somewhere.

K2K: Mel Gibson. How is he comedically?
CK:
Oh he’s great. And he’s so nice, and so down to earth. And he’s got the most energy of anyone I’ve ever met.

K2K: How did they explain your return [after being killed] every episode?
CK:
[Mel] said that he wanted me to come back. The casting director said that I died on the first episode. He said he didn’t care, because it was a 1970s “safety video.” You can die at the end of each “safety video” and be OK.

K2K: Explain the idea of the “safety video.”
CK:
It was a segment that was sandwiched in between the show “Complete Savages” on ABC. Mel Gibson would come in as Officer Steve Cox and show a segment on safety, and I would come in with him.

K2K: You also worked on “I Now Pronounce You Chuck & Larry.”
CK:
Oh yeah. That was great.

K2K: Didn’t that come out right before the gay marriage approval started?
CK:
You know, it did. I didn’t even think about that. It came out just before.

K2K: Interesting timing.
CK:
Yeah. I think it’s wonderful. Good for them.

K2K: What did you play in there?
CK:
I played a sexy Hooter’s girl. Yeah. (laughs) It was a lot of fun. I got to go to New York. I had a wonderful time with all the girls. It was a really enjoyable shoot, definitely.

K2K: You were also in the newer version of “Bad News Bears.”
CK:
Yes, with Billy Bob Thornton.

K2K: And you played… ?
CK:
I played, once again, a sexy cheerleader. So maybe I am getting stereotyped. I don’t know.

K2K: And in “Barb Wire”?
CK:
Another sexy girl who was friend with Pamela Anderson[‘s character]. Gee whiz, I’m kind of seeing a pattern here. (laughs)

K2K: I didn’t mean to bring it up, but now that we did…
CK:
I should be thankful. When I’m old and gray and in my 50s, I can look back and say, “Oh, I remember when.” So that’s a good thing.

K2K: Remember what Charlize Theron said. She had to get ugly before she got respected and got an Oscar [for “Monster”].
CK:
That’s true. And Farrah Fawcett did “The Burning Bed” and got respect too. I understand that.

K2K: You have to be ugly. No, you have to pretty. But you have to be ugly to get respect. (laughs)
CK:
To crop all my hair off, shave my head. I don’t know.

K2K: That worked in “Star Trek” for Persis Khambatta. [“Star Trek: The Motion Picture”]
CK:
Oh, that’s right. It did. She shaved her head. Didn’t she pass away?

K2K: Yes, she did [August 18, 1998 - Ed.]. That was freaky to hear about.
CK:
I remember reading something about that. She passed away at a young age.

K2K: Any other films, or TV, of notoriety [that you’ve been in]?
CK:
Let’s see… Oh yeah. In TV, I was a recurring regular on the FX show, “Son Of The Beach,” which a lot of people are familiar with.

K2K: Howard Stern’s show?
CK:
Yes. I was a recurring character, comedic, on “Dance Fever.” I guest-starred on “Two And A Half Men,” and “According To Jim,” and “Pepper Dennis.” I did an “Ugly Betty.” Just usual stuff.

K2K: What has been your favorite role so far?
CK:
I really liked the "Complete Savages" character, only because it's such "schtickety," dark humor. And I'd have to say "Masked Rider" because it was so long, and so many of my good friends are from it.

K2K: So on from acting and into women’s safety and anti-stalking activities.
CK:
Yes. That’s something I’m very active in. I wrote a book called, "The Hottie Handbook: A Girl's Guide To Safety." [Book out in early 2009, while Candace now has a similar radio show currently as well. - Ed.] It basically helps young women, 17 to 24, with safety rules. Like if you're going to college for the first time, on campus. If you're out on your own in your first apartment. Internet safety. Dating. All these things are really important to young women. I just learned [these things] for myself, and thought that it would be something important for young girls leaving home for the first time. So that's how I got involved in it. This is my one thing that I’m very interested in right now. That is amending the anti-stalking laws in California. I think that they are not stringent enough. They need to have an anti-stalking law that is more stringent. This first came into effect with the death of actress Rebecca Shaeffer. Very, very frightening situation.

K2K: And there was another one as well…
CK:
Oh, there’s been a lot. Theresa Saldana. Theresa’s with my agency, actually, so I know a lot about that story. She was with my agent when that happened several years ago, as well. And also, talking about the State of California needs an anti-harassment law. Other states like Arizona do. I just find it ironic that, in a state where we have so many celebrities and so many actors, we don’t have that.

K2K: I would have thought that [Governor Arnold] Schwarzenneger would have been on top of that.
CK:
Well, it just needs to be brought to the surface, and more to the public eye. People really need to be thinking about it, and unless you get it out there, people don’t know.

K2K: The flip side of it though, as I had mentioned shooting photos of Paris Hilton the other day, I felt creepy just by association, just because I got caught in the midst of the paparazzi who were following her. It wasn’t even like that for me. I just shot a couple of photos and left. These other guys were relentless though. And now they have laws protecting [the paparazzi].
CK:
Really? I didn’t know that.

K2K: They have the “right” to shoot you, to an extent. They can’t shoot through your window or anything, but they can follow you around. That’s going to make it tougher to pass anti-stalking or harassment law, as it [now] protects their “right to earn a living” [taking celebrity photos].
CK:
Right.

K2K: That’s parasitic.
CK:
It is parasitic. It’s extremely parasitic.

K2K: Animal rights. Are you vegan or vegetarian?
CK:
You know, I love animals, I love animal rights. I’m working on vegetarianism, but honestly, I’m not right now. I came from the South. I came from cattle country. I came from beef country. And I swear, they don’t even know what vegetarians are out there. It’s sacrilege to be vegetarian out there. So I’m coming from that mentality, and slowly trying to make the segue, and that’s where I’m at today.

K2K: Do you go back to visit there?
CK:
Oh yeah. That’s my home.

K2K: Do you ever get harassed about your animal rights things?
CK:
Oh, people laugh and say, “What are you talking about? We love the meat-lovers pizza.”

K2K: “We love animals too. Yum, yum.”
CK:
Yum, yum. Exactly. That’s funny.

K2K: If you were not acting or modeling, you would be doing…
CK:
I’d probably be writing, or working with animals.

K2K: Next projects coming up?
CK:
Oh, I just did the Jace Hall Show. That’s going to show in two weeks. I’ve have two scripts, given to me by my manager, that I have to read. They’re optioning. So I may be doing a movie in Louisiana pretty soon, but I’m not going to say if I’m not going to do it. (Candace makes a face) I know. “Two scripts that HAD to read this week.” So I may or may not be doing them, depending.

K2K: In reading scripts, do you skim, or actually read them?
CK:
You know, I’m so bad. I skim and look at my part first, to see how big it is. Then I go back. It’s like skimming through a magazine, and getting to all the good parts first, in case you die of a heart attack before you get to read the whole thing. Then I go back and thoroughly read it. Good question.

K2K: Final words for fans, friends, or upcoming artists?
CK:
You guys, if you’re an actor and your upcoming, don’t give up. I don’t care what anybody says. If they say that you’re too tall, or too short, too ethnic, or not ethnic enough, it doesn’t matter. All I can say is go for it. Pound the pavement. Believe in yourself. Don’t let anybody tell you what to do. And, go for it.

K2K: How important is a good manager or agent?
CK:
Really, really good. You really can’t do without it, because of the Breakdown services. You have to have a good manager, and a good agent. Trusting by word of mouth is the best way.

K2K: Thank you!
CK:
Thank you so much for seeing me today.


You can find Candace Kita online at the following links:

* Candace Kita Official Website

* Candace Kita MySpace

Written by Philip Anderson

Philip Anderson is a musician, in addition to being a writer/photographer. He has performed as a guitarist/vocalist, as well as songwriter, in several bands over the past 20 years. As a writer and photographer, he has been published by several magazines and in several books, and had his works appear on television.

All rights reserved © KAOS2000™. No portion contained herein, either text or graphics, may be reproduced anywhere or reposted on any other website for any purpose without the expressed permission of the publisher. All violations shall be punished as the law allows.

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