AISHA KABIA // artist profile
All Photos by Peter Konerko for @ This Stage Magazine
What energizes you as an artist?
Watching another artist create is energizing to me. It always has been. When I watch a piece of theater especially, I feel like I’ve had a spiritual experience, like I’ve been to church. Even when I don’t like a piece of art, it still sparks something inside of me. Whether it’s a song, painting, the arch of a dancers foot, a set mock-up, a costume designer’s rendering, it’s all a gentle reminder to me that I too have something inside that needs to be expressed and born into the world.
What’s been inspiring you lately?
Female-driven TV shows inspire me. Orange is the New Black, Veep, How to Get Away with Murder, The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, Scandal, The Mindy Project, The Good Wife, The Comeback, Mike and Molly. These shows make me feel excited and hopeful that women’s stories will continue to be told from all our diverse perspectives.
Also, my grandmother, who just celebrated her 90th birthday, is an inspiration to me. I am in awe of her strength and ability to love so deeply and unconditionally.
“If I wasn’t an artist…”
In my other life I’d like to be a house flipper/renovator/building project manager. I am obsessed with HGTV and am so detail-oriented that I feel I could create beautiful spaces. I’m especially interested in the tiny homes movement and how we can re-imagine the spaces in which we live.
“As a child, I was…”
BOSSY. I was always organizing the neighborhood children, my cousins, my brother and my friends into a group. I liked to organize clubs, play office/school/work. One of my most vivid memories is deciding that a marriage needed to take place in my 4th grade class. I brought my Bible to school and was the preacher under the soccer goal post – I even married several couples! I always liked a wedding!
Who are your artist allies?
Improv artists/comedians. Seven years ago a friend convinced me to take an improv class and I started taking classes at Second City. I ended up making my way through the Conservatory. I’m now at the Groundlings, heading into Advanced Improv in the fall. Improv always scared me but I met talented improvisors who encouraged me to stay. Those who perform improv and standup push me to stay on my growing edge. Their courage to fly without a net, to be in the present moment, to suck and fail and keep going fuels my artist tank! I keep practicing improv because it keeps me flexible and sharp. I love a good challenge, and I’ve found one with improv and comedic material. It’s a constant challenge. “Dying is Easy. Comedy is hard.”
Who are your artistic heroes?
My favorite female artists: Lucille Ball, Alfre Woodard, Meryl Streep, Judi Dench. And I’m obsessed with all the women who have come through SNL.
The artists who have had the greatest influence on me however, have been the tremendous regional theater actresses who I encountered while working for three seasons at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival after I completed my undergrad at UC Santa Barbara. They were my first experience with women living as artists. I learned the importance of consistency, grace, fearlessness, generosity of spirit, and how to work within an ensemble and how to nurture an ensemble. I am forever grateful to every one of them for mentoring me.
What’s your favorite (or go-to) LA “spot?”
The Culver Hotel in downtown Culver City — great Happy Hour, cozy fireplace, and a different jazz fusion band of the week. There is a beautiful sense of history in the building. I feel transported out of LA when I’m there.
Okay. Define art. Go!
Art to me is a force for change. Whether just in the artists themselves or in a viewer. Art creates movement, thought, feeling, catharsis. Art shifts our perspective, bringing us closer to ourselves. It can also serve to join us with other viewers, listeners, readers and create community and dialogue. Art is life.
What are you currently working on?
I am performing in Romeo and Juliet as Lady Capulet for Independent Shakespeare Co.’s Griffith Park Free Shakespeare Festival. It’s an amazing company that I’ve been working with since 2006. We perform for anywhere between 600 to over 3,000 people a night! The festival is running June 25-Aug 30 in Griffith Park. Interestingly enough, I am also the art teacher on Girl Meets World on Disney. I will be in episodes upcoming in the fall.
What’s your creative goal for the next year?
Honestly, to simply keep booking quality work.
It is my goal to continue to work as an actress in theater, TV and film so that I can continue to be a part of our collective human dialogue, to embody whatever life would like to live through me and reflect and reveal the beauty of the human experience!