Fall is near and the northern winds blew the wickedly talented, beautifully effervescent and disgustingly brilliant Canedy Knowles to our sweet peach state! I was lucky enough to sit down with our newest Georgia resident to discuss life, the arts and being a mom! The laughs were plenty!
MEET: CANEDY KNOWLES
photos: moonshine canyon
ASHLYN: What is your fondest memory of performing?
CANEDY: I’m trying to figure out what I’m going to say. I feel like the fondest memory needs to be something that was meaningful beyond just “Yeah, I made it.” That it has some power and some weight for me and shifts something. OH! I know one of my fondest! All the times performing with my family have been incredibly special and whenever I have performed with people that I love there is a fondness and a love, and that is why I think we go into this business. We want to create and we want to create with people. I’m a collaborator, I love to co-create.
ASHLYN: What was your first experience being a collaborator?
CANEDY: So my mom wrote a bluegrass musical called THAT OTHER WOMANS CHILD. I grew up watching it, I grew up listening to the music, and the people that were in that cast are the people who are still our extended family to this day. In 2003, they decided to do the musical in Tennessee and I played Corinthianne, she is one of the daughters in the show I got to tap-dance and my uncle mark was the choreographer and my mom directed it. I got to perform for a month long run and it was this huge hit! It sold out every night. Being able to do that show and sing those songs that I had grown up listening to, and dance the dances that my uncle choreographed was such an honor. Then we took the show to New York, Off-broadway, at one of the musical theatre festivals and that was really incredible too. So that was one of those full circle fond memories that I really do cherish a lot.
ASHLYN: Your biggest audition disaster?
CANEDY Oh my goodness. Hm an audition disaster...
CANEDY: Ya know there are so many that I’ve had that just then get dragged, drop and delete into the trash of my memory banks or get formed to be learning experiences. If there are any that have been real disasters, it’s because I have not been prepared. I was called in for some Broadway show and I had to speak in an English accent and I was being interviewed by the head of the casting office, this huge casting director and I went in and was speaking in this British accent. We had this WONDERFUL conversation, it was so fun, we were really hitting it off (just say his name is Stuart Smith) right, so we are talking and he said ‘Oh this was so wonderful, I had such a great time with you.” And I said “Oh me too! And please tell Stuart Smith I can’t wait to meet him!” And he said “I’m Stuart Smith.” and I was like OOOHHHHHH. I was called in there again later but it was one of those moments where I sort of walked out with my tail tucked between my legs. But a lot of my audition disasters end up being the things that get me cast just cause a lot of the stuff I do is comedy so I do these big auditions and then “Oh well that- blehhh- that stunk.’ Then “THEY LOVED YOU!” So sometimes my biggest disasters become the things that book me the job. What was the question?
ASHLYN: Your biggest audition disaster.
CANEDY: I guess that wasn’t my biggest audition disaster.
ASHLYN: Well I think that’s important, taking those moments of “Well that wasn’t my best but I’m gonna let it go.” And sometimes those are the ones that you’re like “Oh you just cast me for this huge thing- oh ok. I guess that was not a disaster.”
CANEDY: My agents would say “Oh you got a callback for this” and I would just laugh *HAHAHAHA* They’re like “Oh it was that bad?” And I’m like “Yeah, it was. I cannot believe they called me back.” And they would laugh cause they knew. Once, I walked out of the room and I said “I think I need to quit the business, I don’t know what that was, what was that audition? That was so disconnected, that was so weird.” And then immediately I got a call from my agents saying “They love you they’re sending you to producers.” So it just reminded me, you just never know. You never know what they’re seeing. Our experience is not their experience. I went into this audition for a cellphone commercial and I had to be the Statue of Liberty and they were looking for people who did impressions of the Statue of Liberty. and it went through my legit agent, it didn’t go through my commercial agent because they wanted REAL like…ACTORS who could REALLY do the Statue of Liberty. SO I’m like, “Oh gosh, I better be real good!” I had some weird Greccian dress and got one of those styrofoam Statue of Liberty crowns and a weird big oversized book that I brought in I was like “Ok, this is good enough, this works.” I went in and there were legit Statue of Liberty impersonators, like the women who stand in Times Square and make money just-
ASHLYN: Fully painted?
CANEDY: FULLY painted and I went “Oh no, what am I doing here? These are legit people.” I went in and they asked if I do any impressions and I said “Yeah, yeah I do tons of impressions, I’m an improviser, I’m a comedian.” I don’t. I’m terrible at impressions. Every accent I ever do it starts as “Oh here I am I’m doing some sort of English thing but it ultimately ends up being some New York grandmotha .” No matter how I start, everything ends up old jewish grandmotha from New York. I slated my name and they said let me see you pose as the Statue of Liberty, I did the pose. So the camera is rolling and they say “So we hear you’re really great at impressions, do some for us right now.” In my mind I’m going “AHUHDSDUHS, why did I lie?” BUTI just start doing nonstop impressions and it was weird things, I was a velociraptor, I did a chicken, I did Marisa Tomei in My Cousin Vinny, I think I did Snow White it was just really nonstop whatever came out of my mouth. So it really wasn’t impressions as much as just the crazy ramblings of a nervous person and she laughed and was like “Ok great.” And I left. Got a callback and booked the job! There was 6 hours of makeup every morning for two days and then 3 hours to get all of it off and I had to do a life cast where they plaster your entire head and shoulders and you have to sit completely still with two straws up your nose for half an hour so they can make the prosthetic for your face so…it’s intense. Its physically intense. When I got to set, I asked the producer “Why did you hire me?” And he said “Well, in your audition you looked like a really fun person to be around and really all we needed was somebody that wasn’t going to complain the whole time.” So all goes to show, you never know what they’re looking for. You think they’re looking for the street impersonator of the Statue of Liberty but really they just want a crazy person who’s going to be fun to hang out with. So there you go.
ASHLYN: What do you know now that you wish you had known when you started your entertainment career?
CANEDY: That I’m enough. That’s it. Well, I will say, to stop worrying about my body.
ASHLYN: That’s a big one.
CANEDY: What I tell my students is “You’re going to watch yourself on camera and you’re gonna have all these feelings and it’s gonna feel like ‘Oh gosh, I could have done that better, ugh, oh I look THAT way and oh I’m so-’ whatever we feel and how we beat ourselves up and NOW when I go back and watch anything 10 years later the things I usually say to myself ''Oh my gosh I was so young. I was so well rested” and then I say “and I’m so much better now.” I think that's the way we should always respond to it, to remember when we’re in this moment that in 10 years we are going to have such a different experience of it and it’s usually gonna be that we look back with love. Be nice to yourself golly!
ASHLYN: It’s hard to do.
CANEDY It is. but when you give up caring about those things it becomes a lot easier.
CANEDY: I just remember one day I thought, why am I beating up my body? Why am I looking at my body and looking at the faults when this body gets me where I need to go or this body carries me through life. When I had Davis I really went “Dude this body made a baby, I am never beating it up again. I am never saying anything about it.” It’s very freeing.
photos: moonshine canyon
ASHLYN: How do you manage or balance life and work?
*BURST of laughter from Canedy…that turns a bit maniacal*
CANEDY: My daughter and my family ALWAYS take priority, period. That is the balance. And if they need me, that is where I go. That being said, being able to pull away and do the things that I love, I know only supports and feeds my ability to be present with my family. My mom and dad managed to balance career and being parents and I was very grateful that that is what they did because I got to see that. So like tonight, when I was coming to class, Davis was really upset and crying and she wanted to come with me and she missed me and I just told her this is really important for me to do and I am going to be back and I love you and you’re going to be ok. Now if she were sick, I would cancel class. So you learn the priority, she’s always the priority but with that, that urgency of priority can shift. The first few months with Davis…or any child is incredibly difficult. You are not sleeping you have this really, sometimes cute but also sometimes just enigmatic screaming thing which is beautiful and you love it but it’s a lot of work and it’s this huge shift and this shock and there are hormones happening and it was, for me, it was a difficult time. I hit my breaking point about 7 months in, it was September. (Shoutout to the September blog post!) And I just remember one night I couldn’t sleep, I was just laying on the floor in the living room sobbing and Ale (husband) came out and hugged me. I said “I just can’t sleep, I’m exhausted, I’ve hit my wall.” I finally fell asleep on the floor and the next morning I called my mom and my friend decided to fly out that Friday and she would be there the whole weekend so I could sleep and rest. That day I got an audition and I laughed. I got this audition and I was like “There’s no way.” It was for the next day, there’s no way I can do this, it’s for the next day. I can barely function right now. But I read it and I went this is something I could do. I could play this role, this role is a role that is…my role. So I go and get this reiki session and that night Ale made me sleep in the backroom on a blowup mattress and he said “You are not allowed to get up, I will feed her with a bottle and you are going to sleep as long as you can.” And I slept 6 whole hours, it was as if I had slept for 24! I wake up and it’s like this new person! I listen to Bill Withers’ Lovely Day, I had coffee and I drove in and my girlfriend Betina met me, which my friends would do, they would sit with Davis in the car at the fire hydrant while I ran up to do auditions. I had milk stains on my shirt but I went up there and did the audition, nailed it, I booked it and it was ODD MOM OUT. And so, within 36 hours it went from the worst, my absolute bottom, to booking an amazing show. And they were so supportive and supportive of Davis and she would come and be able to nurse in the trailer and so what I realized is that balance doesn’t always feel easy and good. That it isn’t about “It all has to be perfect all the time.” It’s just knowing that this is life. So balance is not me finding it myself, balance is this network of incredible community that steps up and helps you and me saying well yeah it’s gonna be messy sometimes I’m going to be tired, but tomorrow, it’s going to change and I could feel the lowest of low now and tomorrow I could book my next show that goes for 3 seasons. You just don’t know.
ASHLYN: Speaking of Davis, what’s the best thing about being the parent of a five year old?
CANEDY: Every day something is different. And seeing her personality come out is so much fun! Cause you see it, you see the glimmers of who she is and these things start to come out but at 5 she starts to take ownership of who she is and it's just so fun to be able to hangout with her. She’s my buddy and she’ll go places and I get to go places with her and we can play and when we play its like interactive cool play. Like today she drew 2 swing sets and 4 slides and they were GOOD, they were like legit! I was like “This is some good stuff you’re doing.” She has opinions and it's really fun.
ASHLYN: You wear a lot of hats, do a lot of things within the industry, what is it like being a female producer or writer or anything in the industry right now?
CANEDY: What is it like? I know that the industry has changed since I first started. Especially as a comedian and as a comedic writer. There are much more places at the table and much more interest in hearing the female perspective. But you’re still a female in this sort of world of- I mean me too and times up have started to shift a lot of that but as a producer, as a female producer, early on there was a lot of you just go in and bulldoze and you say “Well, this is how it is.” and there would be a lot of people who would be pissed or call you bossy or something else and I was sensitive like “Oh no, I want them all to like me.” And there was this real struggle between wanting to get the work done and then also wanting to be nice. You learn to understand and learn how to set boundaries and be clear about what I needed and what we needed for the project as opposed to trying to make them feel good about themselves. Now I can spot ‘Oh that person perhaps, maybe some of their resistance is that they have an issue taking direction from a woman.’ Ok, that’s good to know. At this point it doesn’t make me sad, it’s just good to know. Because ultimately you want to get the job done. Now that I’m older, there's authority that comes with age that makes a lot of that, not necessarily moot but not the same struggle as when I was younger. Now I’m like “eh you can do it or not. I had a baby, I shoved a baby out of me so whatever you’re doing, that’s fine.” I'm gonna go over here and do my thing because I know what I’m doing and everything is going to be awesome and if you want to be a part of it, great. And if not, I’ll find other people. I have to wear makeup sometimes, that’s annoying. Not so much anymore. Although when I do they’re like “oh you look so rested. You look great, what happened?”
ASHLYN: I’ve given up on makeup for the most part just cause like I don’t want to have to take it off at night.
CANEDY: That's the most annoying part is just the under eye circles or like if I’m sweating and get under eye mascara streaks.
ASHLYN: If you’re not cool with my face as it is, then you don’t deserve my time.
CANEDY: If I have to put makeup on, everybody on the crew should have to.
ASHLYN: How did you discover AWP?
CANEDY So we moved from California to Crossville, TN when I was 11 and my parents were working at a theatre where they paid them nothing. I mean nothing, they obviously needed more money and so they started teaching improv in Chattanooga at a place called the Dance Theatre Workshop. The Dance Theatre Workshop was run by this extraordinary tour de force by the name of Nancy Lane Wright. Nancy Lane Wright, for those of you that don’t know, is Lynn Stallings’ mother. We would go with my parents when they taught improv and we would hang out at Nancy’s house with Nancy and her husband Fred cause they had an indoor pool and it was super cool. So we would hang out there and have! Eventually Nancy asked my mom and dad if they would move to Chattanooga and help her with the training program at the Dance Theatre Workshop. Then Lynn was doing Atlanta Workshop Players and she was doing the Chattanooga version of the AWP. I always just remember all of the kids who were in the Atlanta company were SO cool and they performed at Callaway Gardens and they were so good! Like Corri English was a part of the group and I just was so impressed! Lynn was our Agent and she got us our first national commercial for wonder cereal, never ran but oh well. Atlanta Workshop Players has been a part of my life for a long time. Like almost my whole life. And we did camp and I participated in camp cause my parents taught at camp and my Uncle Mark taught at camp. I was a counselor at camp! So that’s where it started.
ASHLYN: Instagram had a few questions.
CANEDY: Really! So funny! Yes, I know, I’m terrible at social media. Was that the question? Why are you so terrible at social media?
ASHLYN: Yes! I friend requested you like 3 years ago and have never heard anything.