By Mona Loring
Kitty Kavey was adopted by a single mother at just under two years old. With the blink of an eye, she was dropped off in front of a new house with just a single toy and the clothes on her back.
While growing up, Kavey began making all the wrong choices. As a teenager, she was kicked out of school and then ran away from home. She ended up homeless on the streets, wandering all over the country for nearly five years. At the young age of twenty, she got into a motorcycle accident. She came out of it with a brain injury, broken bones on the right side of her face and lost vision. Not only did she go into cardiac arrest, but she also had a stroke.
Without any health insurance, she was in the hospital for an extremely short time considering extent of her injuries. After only six days she was with no place to go – and like her as a foster child, she just had the clothes on her back. It got worse…
Two separate brain injury rehabilitation clinics failed to find Kitty able to care for herself. It was suggested that she move into a state-run facility. She worked virtually alone to learn how to speak properly again, walk without difficulty and learn compensatory skills for her brain damage and vision impairment.
Kavey was often ill and too weak to get up out of bed. She tried working and living on her own, but failed. Once again, Kavey felt like life was too overwhelming so she started to go downhill again. Although, there are glimmers of happiness and hope along the way; she searched for and found her blood brother, David, and met Ken, the man she would eventually marry. Nearly ten years after the accident, she found herself homeless again. This time was different, though.
She took responsibility. Kavey shares, "In the old days, I would have searched for a charity or a state service to provide me with life’s basic necessities. This time I found an apartment-leasing agent and told him the truth. I had no job, and no rental history or references, but did receive $310 a month disability pay. I could pay the rent with that." Surprisingly, he took her word and found an apartment in her price range. Her boyfriend and brother also moved in with her, although they all had to live without electricity, without hot water but with hundreds upon hundreds of roaches.
Life was tough but Kavey was optimistic about the future. She started a modeling website, and began saving up money from the modeling work she was getting. In a year, the website had grown exponentially, and she along with David and Ken were able to purchase a modest condo with a ‘no questions asked’ mortgage. After that, she never looked back. The website expanded and split to form a sister site, this one for acting – and she was able to get an agent.
Ken worked with her, accompanying her to photo shoots and acting gigs. Her limited abilities seemed to be less important when she was on a set. Her agent knew of her condition, and was willing to work with her, avoiding bookings with lengthy dialogue, or where she’d need full vision. He also understood that she couldn’t work every day, back to back, and needed rest in-between. Finally, she had found work she could do when she was well, and for which there was no penalty when she was ill. She’d just let her agent know when she was unavailable. As her feelings of self-worth and confidence grew, she began to explore what happened on the other side of the camera – directing, producing and screenwriting.
"Whatever your passion is, there is a way to get paid to do it. And when you’re doing what you love, every day you wake up you want to go to work! You feel fulfilled, and good about yourself. That’s something everyone can have."
Kitty has worked diligently to ensure her independence and success and today, she is now self-mobile, without speech impediments and free of motor difficulty. She has learned compensatory skills to cope with the brain damage – in fact she is a member of MENSA. Through multiple surgeries she has had her face rebuilt, and regained much of the vision that she was told was impossible to recover. Now, as a newer player in the indie film scene, she has already won twenty screenwriting awards in 2006, and just added three more in 2007.
Kitty continues reaching for her goals. She now lives in a lavish loft in downtown LA, just steps away from Skid Row, and the very streets she was once homeless on. She found an incredible niche in the entertainment industry that works with her limitations. She has grown in strength and capabilities more than any of her doctors believed.
Kitty brings a determination and drive to her film and screenwriting writing projects. She is a member of the Screen Actor’s Guild and a producer of the 2006 Sketch Comedy Championship-a live stage competition that sold out a 300-seat theater it’s first year. She has put together a package of her top three award-winning feature scripts, for which she is seeking funding.
Kavey produced a short film called Smashing Stereotypes. Kavey says, "We are interested in exposing stereotypes in film/television, and casting our projects in a more responsible way. Many media stereotypes are harmful and derogatory to minorities – and in my opinion should be smashed.
The film is a couple days in the life of Josiah D. Lee, an Asian actor who came to Hollywood and discovered that here he was cast based on what he looked like, instead of being judged by his skill and talent as a performer. Although we took some creative license as it is a short film, it is a true story.
David Mulligan wrote the script after interviewing Josiah.
"I directed the film – that was my directorial debut. I had no intention of directing, but when the script was presented to more experienced, credited directors – they either wanted to change the story (how do you change a true life story?) or they said America wasn’t ready to see Asian stereotypes, and it would never go anywhere.
"Now that I have been introduced to directing (and caught the bug) I intend to continue doing so. I have numerous award-winning features and short scripts I have written and co-written that I feel would be best served with the unique insight I have into minority stereotypes – being that I am a woman behind the camera, I am multi-racial and a disabled person. All my scripts have an element of stereotyping that is being challenged. My production company currently has three feature scripts packaged, and is working on other short films as well."
Her focus is to continue to direct and write independent, low-budget films that provide opportunities for those who have experienced what it’s like to be different.