CAITLIN KINNEY

"It's not worth risking your integrity for a paycheck..."

Last year I got approached by a big convention to be a ballet teacher. I took the job just fell in love with it. This is my second year doing this and I really didn't expect to fall in love with teaching. We're gone every weekend from January through May to different cities, teaching 500-2000 kids per weekend. It frees up my weeks to do other things. I've also been dancing a lot more. I just got back from China-- I was dancing over there.

Whats been your favorite/most memorable job?

Teaching has probably been my favorite. I love being a teacher and everything about it!

Do you have any overcoming stories that God helped you with?

The biggest one: hip reconstructed when I was 19. I went in and was told by 2 surgeons that I would never dance again. At that point I had given up college. I had made the choice not to go to college in order to dance. It was really not a good moment. But I found a great surgeon who saved my hip. And I was dancing 8 months later.

What about challenges in the industry?

There are so many things out in LA. It's the little Divine intervention moments that really define what you're doing, when you question what you're doing. When I was living in Houston, before I moved to L.A. I was with a dance company that I just didn't like. I didn't like the people and I was just unhappy. My faith journey has been an interesting one. I just sat down one night and said, "Please, I need guidance. I need something." The next morning I woke up to an email for a movie that needed a dancer with contemporary experience. So I did it and fell in love with being on set. It was too perfectly timed. It was like, "Ask for help and ye shall receive!"

Have you ever questioned if you're supposed to be in this industry? I remember Marie Osmond on So You Think You Can Dance said that you were destined to be there.

Whenever you question what you're doing, or ask if you're on the right path, you realize that you're being guided to go. As opposed to being so focused on what you want to do and what you will and won't do. Sometimes you can get blinded to what you're purpose is and what it is that you're supposed to be doing. But the more open minded you are the better you will be. Try this and try that...there are limitations of course, and there are doors that you should shut quickly.

Have you had to do that?

Oh, yes. But not too often. There are definitely auditions that you need to walk away from like doing things that make you feel uncomfortable. It's not worth risking your integrity for a paycheck. Another audition and another job will come along.

How did AMTC help your career?

When I did AMTC, I was not involved in this industry at all. I was a little dancer. The first time I ever did a monologue was at AMTC and I won overall monologue - which is something I'm still really proud of. I still have my trophy from it! I came back as a guest artist. I had some wonderful conversations with Carey about faith and religion. To say that I'm a hard-core Christian believer, no, that's not who I am, but the amazing part about AMTC, which I love, is respecting yourself in an industry that can allow you to lose that very quickly. I think there is beauty and power there.

What about performers who want to get into the industry?

Interestingly enough, I've had total strangers send me FB messages and ask me about AMTC. There are lots of people and kids nervous about going because they don't feel Christian enough to do it. I know it's "Actors and Models and Talent for CHRIST" and some people see it as a religious thing and are not sure if it's the right place for them, but I say, "I went there and I wouldn't call myself a hugely Christian woman. But you learn and you talk about morals and talk about everything regardless of faith. I used to be very nervous around Christians who had very strong beliefs. I felt like an outsider. But being able to have conversations about religion in an industry that doesn't talk about it often is really wonderful."

How has God been worked in your life?

This is a random story but a friend was going down to an orphanage to Mexico. I said I wanted to go. So I booked a last minute ticket and just went. It was Divine intervention. I felt like I really had to go on this trip. When I got down there and I had no idea it was a mission trip! I wasn't expecting that at all but it was the best week and a half in my life. I had the most amazing discussions with the woman who ran it. Her whole purpose is to spread the word of Jesus. By the end of the trip I had the most wonderful conversations about God and spirituality with her. That's a cool example of walking through an open door!

Any advice to newcomers?

Don't say no to projects, even if they're for free. I just did a short film this past week for free. I knew the director. I liked the script. We were working 16-hour days, but it was such an awesome experience. I met awesome people that I will work for again.

What would tell future performers who want to make a positive impact for God in the entertainment industry?

Be kind to people. You don't have to do massive film. You can have an impact anywhere - have a conversation with someone to make their day better. Be open to opportunities that come your way. You might change someone's day by him or her just watching you.