Living Right With Award-Winning Actress, Kim Coles

There is power in a person’s story because it has the potential to teach and inspire somebody else to do greater things and live a fuller life. Perhaps best known for her five-season turn as the unforgettable “Synclaire” on FOX’s groundbreaking comedy series, Living Single, Kim Coles has another starring role these days – combining comedy and inspiration to empower others with her unique programs around using your gifts, walking in purpose and sharing the power of your story. Pulling from her experiences, research and years in the entertainment business, Kim has a unique perspective on what it means to live an uncommon life – a life that is authentically yours, created from your own gifts, talents, calling, vision and purpose. In this episode, Kim joins Keri Murphy to share the ups and downs of her own journey, and her work in helping entrepreneurs learn how to connect with others by breaking down their own story. Learn her 4 C’s of storytelling and so much more on today’s interview!

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Living Right With Award-Winning Actress, Kim Coles

Let’s face it, when you’re going through a hard time, there is nothing better than that big, bold belly laugh. I’m excited to bring you someone who has been filling our hearts and homes with laughter for over many years. She’s an award-winning actress, a bestselling author, and a title you might not know, Master Coach. Please welcome the most amazing and very funny, Kim Coles. In Living Color, Living Single is probably how most people know you. I’m like, “You’ve been doing a lot of living.” I have to ask, it’s probably such a typical question, but did you know you were funny? Growing up, were you like, “This is my thing?”

I’ll be honest with you. I have a one-woman show and I show pictures of myself maybe up until age sixteen. There’s no picture of me smiling with my whole mouth. I was a pretty intense little girl. I got the things that were funny. I loved Bugs Bunny. I loved Carol Burnett, but I intellectualize how funny like, “That’s funny.” I’m sure I was joyful, but there are no pictures of me smiling. It was about age fourteen that my sense of humor blossomed because I used it to fit in high school. I remember looking at the landscape and going, “I’m going to be teased for being the fat girl, but if I’m the funny girl, I may be able to get people to laugh with me instead of at me.” I didn’t even know I had all of this wealth of huge ‘70s television humor within me and I would perform, I would do funny voices, I funny walks and it made me popular. I was the class president all four years. I was on the cheering squad and all the things that you don’t think that the fat girl gets to get. I got them by being funny. The answer is fourteen onward, I was soaring.

It’s funny because you say the word, fat girl, and I don’t care what size you are in high school. We all feel like we are that person. Growing up, when did you know that you wanted to be on camera? I feel like body image comes into full effect when you’re like, “Now I’m going to put myself out there for everyone to see.”

I didn’t think, “Now I want to be on camera.” There was a transition after I dropped in and out of college about 100 times. There was an acceptance because plus-size modeling became a thing. It became, “There’s a niche that I fit into that I can do my thing.” I started doing fashion shows and hosting fashion shows. My size wasn’t a problem because it was the thing. Even though inwardly, I had my own issues, outwardly, I was having a good time. Stand-up comedy came out of being a model because I was asked to be in a beauty pageant for plus-sized women. They said there was going to be a talent competition. I was like, “I don’t have any beauty pageant talents. I don’t sing or play a concerto. I do know how to twirl a baton because I had been on the twirling squad. I’m going to twirl a baton and make fun of the girls who troll batons and say they want to be Miss America.” Onstage, I ripped off my dress and I was wearing the same little sequin outfit. I had sewn sequence everywhere, and a size sixteen girl twirling a baton. I won first runner up. That was the night that I discovered stand-up is what I should be doing.

Actually, being someone that has been in pageants, I wish I would have done that.

It also spoke to the audience was saying to me, “You’re being authentic, goofy, perfectly imperfect self and we love that.” I tell people I didn’t win the crown, but I won comedy that day. I still hadn’t linked it that, “I want to be on TV.” I knew I wanted to be Carol Burnett, Lucille Ball and all those funny ladies. I didn’t go, “I want to be on TV.” I was like, “I need to be on TV.” I figured that out along the ride.

What you said resonates because most of my clients, it’s so scary to put themselves out there because they’re trying so hard to fit into a mold that they feel like they need to be in. The sooner you can get that you are so good the way you are. What can you do that is truly you?

It takes less work to be yourself than to try to be someone else. Click To Tweet

People resonate more than ever with authenticity. It doesn’t mean that you don’t polish up what you have. It doesn’t mean you don’t sit a particular way and wear clothing that suits you best and get your hair and makeup done. Be the best version of you and learn how to emote or do all the things that we’re doing. Through all that, you have to shine through and the audience knows it, the online audience knows it, the audience sitting in the crowd recognizes that and they will applaud it, resonate with it and want to be in your presence, whatever that means.

It’s this energy. It’s magnetic and people gravitate towards that. I saw you once. I’m like, “I love her. I need to have her.” It was one of those things because you are real, Kim. This is important for all of us to understand what our gifts are, what we bring and how we can bring them out. I’m like, “I don’t need to be you. You don’t need to be me. We can teach the same thing. There’s plenty of people in the world.” Even a little chat we were having. There’s enough in the world for all of us.

People will resonate with you or they resonate with me or they’ll resonate with someone else. Here’s the other piece of it too, it takes less work. If I’m trying so hard to be something else, I’ve spent way too much energy. It’s easier to do you to learn what you need to learn, to be the best version of you. Go put that out and you will be surprised what you were magnetized to. I know you know.

We need more people to know. Let’s go back. Tell me about that big break for you and what that felt like. I feel like I don’t care if you’re trying to make it entertainment or you’re trying to make it in business. There is a point where you work and you work, you develop. You build the muscle, the chops, and then there’s a tipping point. Can you tell us a little bit about that? What that was like for you?

The pageant night was a night I was like, “This is what I should be doing.” Twirling a baton and making people laugh with the baton. The early versions of my act, I kept throwing that baton. That was my act. I started going to a comedy club in Manhattan and it was the club that made Eddie Murphy famous or that Eddie Murphy had come out of. I was like, “I want to go where he’s been.” It was starting to do comedy clubs. What’s interesting is that there were a couple of tipping points. There was no one quite like me. I came up with the Joy Behars, Ellen DeGeneres around, Paula Poundstone was around. I was different. I didn’t talk. I didn’t do self-deprecating humor. I didn’t make fun of myself, especially female comics at the time did too because that makes an audience comfortable. It’s like, “Now we can laugh.” That’s a whole conversation.

In Living Color, when it came around, when they were auditioning people who could do characters and do stand-up when Keenan went looking for those people, I was like, “This is me.” Now I had taken my beauty pageant talents and it turned it into a bit. In my mind, I used to do the last five contestants in the Miss America pageant. I would do Miss Florida and make her Latina. I would do Miss New Jersey. She was spitting and talking and grabbing. I didn’t Miss Mississippi who couldn’t spell her own name. Her name was Kimberly, “I am Kimberly. Thank you.” I did Miss New York. I spin around and do it. That was the thing that got me noticed to be on this new show. We shot the pilot by 1990 and it was on the air. That was like the, “I have arrived.”

I can’t imagine that the rise was steady because it never is. Was there a point that after In Living Color that there was something that came up? You got Living Single. Share with us a little bit about that.

IL 10 | Story Power
Story Power: People resonate more than ever with authenticity.

It was steady for me in the beginning. In 1985, I stepped on the stand-up comedy stage for the first time. I would say by 1986, I was on local television. Maybe ‘87, I was on national television because I was on a show called Showtime at the Apollo as a performer, not as a contestant. I was on a steady rise. In Living Color, steady rise. I got fired from In Living Color. Most sketch comedy shows are extremely competitive. When you work in a place where it’s a family-run show, there’s not always room for everyone to shine. Somebody had to be released and that was me.

Within eighteen months, I was on Living Single and I didn’t even have to audition for that show. That was a gift from the heavens. I’m saying that a steady rise. I had five years on that show. The bump in the road didn’t happen until after Living Single got canceled. I’ve been jamming and now there’s a jam. I did other shows. I did Frasier and some other lovely, iconic, amazing. I did Pilots, but they didn’t get picked up. It caused me to go into a depression because I been jamming like, “What’s going on? Have I lost my mojo? This is supposed to be easy.” Many performers, it takes them a while to get started. I was like a rocket and it spoiled me, but that’s my journey. It set me up for this fall that was depression. I’ve lost my mojo. Keep in mind, I’m not the girl who was ever planning to be famous. I wanted to make people laugh.

They say, when you go and seek fame, you’ll never find it. When you go and do your heart work and do what you love, fame will find you if it’s supposed to.

I agree with you. When people come to me like, “I want to be famous like you.” I go, “You came to have a conversation.” It’s got to be your life work. It’s got to be in your heart. Move towards success and move towards doing well at what you do. If you’re seeking accolades, if the accolades never come, it’s got to be confidence from within. It’s got to be the way you make people feel that’s got to be enough to feed you from the inside. Literally, feed you. There are also people who will do anything for fame. We’ve seen that. We’ve seen people flash quickly or we’ve seen people flash out. We’ve seen that smelled that desperate thing. I remember when I first landed in LA and I left In Living Color and I started going on auditions again.

I remember looking around the room going, “Here’s what I don’t want. I don’t ever want to be that 40-something desperate actress, because you can smell it.” There’s an energy that you have. It doesn’t mean that you can be unemployed, but you don’t want to be unemployable because that makes you unemployable. I’ve never told this before. I actually got that advice from a bankruptcy attorney. I went to go see a bankruptcy attorney because I was like, “I got to figure it out,” because I got into debt because I started shopping. The way I express my depression is I shopped. I shopped away all of that money I made.

I didn’t feel like I was worthy. I didn’t feel like I deserved it. Who am I? I’m this girl who was trying to be funny from Brooklyn. I shopped all of that success away. I went to go see look at my options. First of all, he said, “You’re not ready for that. You’re going to be fine.” He said to me, “The next residual check you get, go get your nails done, go get your hair done.” I was like, “Do I look raggedy?” He says, “Who’s going to hire you if you look like that? You’ve got to show up. I should be telling you to pay your bills and you should pay your bills, but look like the success that I know you are.” I’ve never told this either. I saw him years later, first-class on a plane. He looked at me and he said, “You’re doing okay, aren’t you?” I was like, “I am.” That’s a choice. Of course, people who use that as a way to rebuild themselves. There’s nothing wrong with it. If you have that air of desperation, you can be excited to work. You can be excited to build the next thing that you’re building, whatever it is. When you get into that place of desperation, then it’s not.

We all feel it. I don’t care what you’re doing. We call it the starving actor syndrome. It’s like starving anybody. That desperation, “I need the sale. I can’t make it.” It’s a repellent. That is good stuff. One of the things that you said that I have to hold your hand. We say this together and it was one of those soul sister things that when I read it, I’m like, “I didn’t know we were born soul sisters.” You say, “Things don’t happen to you. They happen for you.”

We came here to learn what we need to teach. Click To Tweet

I say, “What if everything that has happened to you has actually happened for you.” That perspective changes everything.

You went through this depression. You shopped your money away. You’ve got your nails done and you’ve put yourself back together, but tell us what was on the other side of that for you? How did you get to the other side? Someone may be lost their job or they’re in that place where they’ve reached that point where they don’t feel like they’re doing their life work, in a divorce or something happens. There are times there’s always something that’s going to happen.

I went all the way to my version of bottom, whatever that is. I kept feeling bad, “Why am I not working? Who am I now? I want to make people laugh. I don’t know.” I got to that place where I was like, “God, I’ve had a nice life. I’m good. I can leave now,” because it hurts so much. I don’t know if you’ve ever had this thing where you wake up in the morning and you’re like, “Why did I wake up this morning? This hurts so bad.” You go to bed crying. That’s what we have in common. What came on the other side was I’ve got to get myself into therapy because I’m having unhealthy thoughts. I have such awesome parents. They do not deserve a daughter who checked out. My parents are awesome.

Neither one of them deserved a daughter to say, “I’m giving up.” I kept thinking of them going, “I got to figure it out.” Getting into therapy and I happened to manifest a therapist who was actually spirit based. She said, “Here’s what we’re not going to do. We’re not going to go into your past. I’m not going to dig up all that stuff. We don’t have time. I need to get grateful right now. What are you grateful for?” I was like, “Lady, did not tell you I was depressed. I’m blue.” She’s like, “No. What are you grateful for right now? Do you still have a roof over your head?” I was like, “Yes. They come and take it.”

Every day, my job was to write ten things I was grateful for. I couldn’t repeat the list. You’ve heard me do this on stage. “I’m grateful for the five fingers on my left hand. I’m grateful for the five fingers on my right hand. I’m grateful.” Two weeks in, I ran out of things to cheat with. “I’m grateful for this thing.” God said, “Let’s send you some things to be grateful for. What about that pretty, fluffy cloud. What about the fresh air?” I was like, “I can put all that on my list.” I started feeling better and what’s interesting is the next residual check that came in, for the first time I didn’t shop it away. I was like, “No, you can save your home. You can buy some new hair. You can get your nails done and do the things that will keep you.” Looking for things to be grateful for. It’s a great game, like perspective.

It’s the thing that we both believe, what if everything happened for you and not to you?

There’s a Zig Ziglar quote and I hope I get it right. It goes something like this. “You can have anything you want if you help enough people get what they want.” Don’t be selfish. Help others. In that way, you will grow. You don’t stay with the finger pointed at you. How can I help you, you and you? Give in that way. We know the give and it works. Anytime I’m feeling a little stuck, if I give, so much more comes back.

IL 10 | Story Power
Story Power: What if everything that has happened to you has actually happened for you?

That’s actually what I teach when it comes to on-camera work because for us, it’s easy. We’ve been doing it forever. For the people I work with Kim, that’s a scary thing. When you think about who you want to reach through it, instead of thinking about you and what you sound like. You’re like, “I don’t like the sound of my voice.” I’m like, “I love the sound of your voice. I have my moments too.” I don’t care how long you’ve been doing whatever you’re doing. We all have that inner critic. When we can say, “How can I help more? How can I serve more?” It actually becomes so much more fun and easy because it’s not about you. I’m excited to have you at Brilliant.

One of the things I say is I help people to broadcast their brilliance. Brilliant is one of those things for me, it’s one of those words. We all have that inside of us. The work that we do is we help others to bring that forth. Why wouldn’t that be a good thing?

One of the things that you’re going to be sharing, which is something we don’t deep dive into, and that’s why I’m excited to have you join us. We all have these magnificent stories, yet when it comes to being seen, building a business or building a brand, it can be very overwhelming with, what do I share? How do I share it? Sometimes people throw up way too much story too. It’s like, “I did not need to know all of that.”

I’ve done some of it where I’ve told some of the dark moments that I had, but I didn’t tell you. I didn’t take you all the way to the depths. There are some people who teach that take people all the way down. It depends on how much time you have. It depends on what the goal is and what the audience is. I do think that you can still be transparent and share your story. Here’s the thing about a story to me because once I discovered this, “I’m doing this.” For me, it’s about connection. When I hear someone’s story, and by the way it is primal. It is in our DNA as humans. We love story. We resonate with the story. It’s how we learn and teach our kids stories.

We listen to our elders tell us stories, even down to when it was like, “Which berries do we pick? Don’t take those. Those are poisonous. That’s a story. Those are good. Those will be nourishing.” It’s all story. If we go back to that thing, what if everything that’s happened to you has happened for you. You take your life lessons, your triumphs, your mistakes, your lessons. What is your why? Every person who started their own business started their business to fix something, to save something. You know this phrase too, “We teach what we most need to learn.” Someone turned it around and I was like, “We came here to learn what it is we need to teach.”

What if you learn all the yummy and the yucky stuff? What if it happened to you because you were meant to heal it and you were meant to help other people navigate it? Here’s the thing. What happens is that there’s a connection. When I hear your story, I’m going to resonate with it even if it’s not the same life that I have because I’m going to be searching. “Could I have been that courageous? Could I have been that smart? Could I have been that crazy? I don’t know if I could have been that silly.” Whatever the things are, people are looking for themselves in you. You must bring that to the table so that helps to differentiate you from everyone else. You bring you.

You said though that there are two questions that people ask you all the time that you’re going to be dropping at Brilliant.

Sometimes your choices were yours to make. Sometimes they were made for you. It's what you do with them that makes the difference. Click To Tweet

I’m bringing the good stuff. The three major questions are I don’t think my stories are interesting. Are my stories interesting? The next one is how do I tell my story without telling all my business? The third one is how do I tell it? I love to tell people I have a proprietary system. It’s an easy system. We all know the hero’s journey, but the hero’s journey can sometimes be complex. I call it the four Cs, Challenge, Choice, Consequence, Conclusion. If you hit all of those things in your story, you will have a format to be able to get it out of you. We can go in and fine-tune it and add what I like to call humor and heart or add the depth moment, this moment and all the things. If you go through that, that’s an easy way to do it.

It’s easy. I can take anybody’s story and instantly go, “That was your challenge. That was the choice. Sometimes choices are choices you make. Sometimes the choices were made for you.” It’s what you do with those choices and in the end, it’s perspective. When you’re able to come out from it and look at it and go, “What did I learn? How can I teach someone else what I know?” That’s your business. Most entrepreneurs start something that they had a problem with.

Richard Branson started his first business based off of a problem. We want to fix something. We want to make something easier. We want to inspire. We want to help someone get there quicker and faster. It’s all good.

You and I know as entrepreneurs, there are going to be milestones, walls and how do I climb over that wall? Also, issues. I got to learn how to write a thing. Let’s not even talk about InfusionSoft is ConfusionSoft is an email system. It makes it so much easier when at the core of all of it, you know your why and you know why you want to help others. It makes it all so much easier.

It takes the onus off of you. I love you. We could sit here and talk forever.

This is about the connection that we met at an event. This is the other thing, too. You have to get out there and put yourself out there. You were the host of this beautiful event. Did I get to meet you before the event?


IL 10 | Story Power
Story Power: Challenge, choice, consequence, conclusion – if you hit all of those things in your story, you will have a format to be able to get it out of you.

We crossed and here’s what’s funny. You don’t know this. You’re on my speaker’s reel now because you introduced me. We had this great, “Bye. I got to be on stage.” “You’re wonderful. I love you.” We connect and you said, “Come and speak at my thing.” You don’t know when you show up and be authentic. You have no idea what opportunities are there for. This was easy. You’re like, “Do you want to do my thing?” I’m like, “Yes.” We’re all trying to do and all it is just being.

Thank you for saying yes. There’s something magical about getting out and meeting people. We couldn’t have had this connection through a Facebook Live. I’m all for getting yourself out there that way, but nothing will ever take the place of being heart to heart with someone in a space and feeling that energy. I have to say, that’s what makes Brilliant special. It’s like the vibration of the room Kim, is out of control. It’s amazing. Everyone has these hearts to serve and wants to learn to become better. I can’t wait for you to be there and to witness it.

It starts with you. You set the intention for it. I’m excited about it because magic happens on the elevator, in the buffet line or over a cocktail.

Kim, we’re going to tell people how to get to Brilliant, but if they’re not able to come, it’s sold out or for some reason, see this after. I’m sorry. It’s a very sad day for you, but are there other ways they can get in touch with you? How is that?

My website is It reminds me that I’ve started on TV and that I belong on TV. Plus, someone bought and they’re sitting on it and it’s driving me crazy. I was like, “I will not be stopped.”

If you want to know about how you can get in front of this amazing lady and learn her proprietary program on how to build your incredible story out and come and be surrounded by other incredible visionary women, go to If you miss it, we do it every year. It’s about being connected and being your true, authentic self. We want to hear what did you get from this amazing interview with Kim Coles? Please post it. Better yet, please share this. When you are inspired, you inspire others and that is what this world is all about. We got to share the love. Thank you for reading. If you want more inspiration, head over to More than anything, please remember to keep dreaming it, living it and being it. Until next time.

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Our blog features a series of interviews with some of the most visible and inspiring people world wide (ILTV) PLUS inspiration, business tips, and advice from Keri.