Though her name may not ring a bell at first, Kali Hawk has made a name for herself with cameos in some of Hollywood's biggest comedies. With appearances in movies such as Bridesmaids, Get Him to the Greek and a starring role in Couples Retreat, Hawk may very well be the next 'it' girl for all things humorous. BET.com decided to take a moment to speak to her about her recent turn as Connie on Let's Stay Together as well as her experiences in Hollywood and art school.
Tell us a little bit about your character Connie.
She’s a childhood friend of Charles and I guess they have a little bit of history as childhood friends often will. They have a little bit of a romantic energy. I know a lot of members of Charles’ family really wanted to see Charles and Connie end up together, but of course he ended up married to Stacy. So I’m not exactly sure how Charles’ family feels about that, but perhaps that will be revealed in the upcoming episodes.
How close is she to your own personality in real life?
Well I guess every character has a little bit of the actor — I guess for every character you play, the actor has to allow a little bit of their own character to show through. So Connie is well loved by all of the members of Charles’ family and people feel a kind of warmth and friendliness from her, so hopefully those are things that friends of mine would say I possess. She certainly does some things in the episode that I would not do in real life, but that’s kind of the fun of playing characters that are different from you. You get to find compassion for other personality types.
Seeing as how Let’s Stay Together is about marriage and relationships, what are your thoughts on marriage and relationships in the 21st Century? What do you look for in a relationship?
Let’s see, I like a little eccentricity. A lot of times people hide their quirks when they’re first getting to know a person. When you’re first starting to see someone, you have what Chris Rock calls your “representatives” kind of speaking for you. But I’m always interested to see what a person’s real quirks and habits are. I think that’s what the most fascinating part of getting to know someone is — to see how they do things, and how their way of doing things is different from your way of doing things, and the fun of trying to do it their way and to see what value there is in looking at things from their perspective.
So I’m really interested in people that are not afraid to be different. I certainly like a loving, generous and kind person. Definitely someone that likes old people, kids and dogs. [laughs] I guess all animals. Someone who really loves to laugh because that’s certainly my favorite thing to do.
You’re originally from New York. Do you feel being from New York gives you a certain edge in pursuing certain roles or do you feel like you’re being typecast because of it?
I guess I’m lucky that I’ve been able to play a wide range of parts and a wide range of types of productions — I haven’t felt much typecasting. I can’t imagine being typecast because I’m from New York. Like, I wonder how that would work? I guess maybe if I had a stronger accent or something — but being a New Yorker hasn’t played much in my career at all, except that the traffic in Los Angeles doesn’t really affect me because, growing up in New York, you have to battle your way through so much human traffic that sitting in a car waiting for the light to change seems like a walk in the park. So going out meeting new people and talking about opportunities, the energy that it really takes to do that, living in New York gets you prepared for the hustle and bustle of any career. So it’s like they say, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.
You’re also a product of SUNY (State University of New York) Purchase. Purchase has had many great actors and actresses come through their conservatory. Was there any particular memory while you were a student there that stood out to you? And what made you choose Purchase?
Well I chose that school mainly because my family wanted me to stay in New York, as most New Yorkers don’t ever really want to leave New York. They think the world revolves around New York — the city or the state. So my family, they didn’t want me to accept any invitations to schools in different states. They wanted me to pick a New York school. I just liked Purchase, the history and everything of course. And it was very close to the city and close to my grandparents who lived in upstate New York. So that was nice for me.
One memory that sticks out about going there — it’s so crazy but I find myself telling people about this memory the most — when I first got there, your first time living on your own with other kids and no supervision and you’re at college so you’re just out there. And it’s an art school. It’s even crazier in the inventiveness in the trouble you can get into. The creativity, as far as the situation you can find yourself, may not be troublesome but it’s definitely a wildly creative time. So I remember being on campus and there’s a main campus grounds and they had an orientation for all of us kids when we first got there. They had built this huge closet — it was for the LGBT union that we had in our school. They built this huge closet. They basically erected this fake closet in the center of the closet and you could basically come out of the closet if you felt you wanted to. [laughs]
There were definitely a lot of colorful personalities. If you wanted to come out of the closet or felt there was something repressed that you wanted to share or expose, you jump out of the closet. At first people were standing like, “What is this sparkling edifice in the middle of the campus?” [laughs]
If you wanted, you could jump. A few people jumped out of the closet. As time went on, everyone gave into it and everyone started coming out of the closet! People were jumping through in groups; people were jumping through again and again. That was really the opening moment for me of going, “Wow, I’m really away from home. I’m really on my own at an art school where anything goes.” People were jumping out of the closet all day long [laughs] and it was perfectly acceptable, everyone loved it, everyone thought it was a great idea and it was a really fun time. I think that’s my fondest memory of going to school at Purchase. And it really does help to have memories like that, especially entering this business.
And now with Obama talking about the issue of gay marriage and being for it and so many people coming out and being for it, I think as an artist, you’ve been for it for a long time because you’ve come to know and love so many tremendous talents and tremendous people that happen to be homosexual. And it really makes no difference at all.
You’ve been included in the cast of the In Living Color reboot. Are there any details you can reveal about the special?
I can say it was really exciting. It was really fun. I think that when people get to see it — I know it got announced by FOX as one of their specials they have airing — when people get to see it, it’s going to be really fun. There are going to be a lot of surprises. People can expect it to be full of surprises.
Are you still doing music?
I haven’t really been because I’ve been busy with acting. But opportunities have been coming up to record and to start to write with people. In my building, one of the Pussycat Dolls lives here, so we’ve been talking about music. So I guess it keeps popping up. I’ve been slowly reacquainting myself with my musical instincts, which is fun.
Do you have any film projects coming up that you can talk about?
I guess the next one that I can talk about is We the Peeples, and that will come out I believe next spring. Tyler Perry’s producing it, Kerry Washington’s in it and we play sisters, which is really great. Craig Robinson is in the movie and David Alan Grier, who I really love.
So that one comes out next year. Tyler James Williams, who played Chris in Everybody Hates Chris, he’s in it. He plays my little brother, so it’s a really fun movie [and] a lot of great people are in it. It’s really fun. So that one comes out next year.
(Photo: Albert L. Ortega/PictureGroup)