Written by | Ray Cornelius
Kim Coles is the “Queen of Reinvention.” She’s an actress, comedienne, author, speaker, supermodel and natural hair ambassador who’s made audiences laugh for nearly 25 years.
Coles is best known as an original cast member on the 90’s Fox sketch comedy series, In Living Color. She went on to star as the quirky but lovable Synclaire James-Jones on the ground-breaking sitcom Living Single and enjoyed a career in the spotlight not often afforded to many of her African-American contemporaries.
Surprisingly, all of that changed when Living Single ended after five seasons in 1998 and Coles found herself without a steady gig. For an entertainer, losing work could mean the end of a successful career but for Coles it was another way to begin again. Returning to her comedic roots, Coles started doing stand-up and conceived the original one-woman show, Oh But Wait, There’s More. Throughout the last decade, she has appeared on talk shows, hosted game shows and starred in numerous TV series like Fraiser and One on One. She also dived into the reality show-realm and appeared on VH1’s Celebrity Fit Club and ABC’s Celebrity Mole: Hawaii.
However, it was during this ‘in between time’ of her career that Coles also tapped into her entrepreneurial side and developed a new self-help initiative entitled Open the G.I.F.T.S. From that, she was able to write her latest book, The Gratitude Journal, which focuses on “appreciating the things you have versus the things you don’t have.” A true survivor, Coles has turned her life and career around, realizing that her true “gifts” were never tied to a gig but instead her “gifts” were to provide the world with love and laughter.
I recently caught up with the Brooklyn born actress to talk about her book and new empowerment movement. We also dished about fashion and how to accentuate the positive when it comes to style. Coles also taught me about knowing “your edge” and the enduring legacy of Living Single.
Let’s talk about your new book, Gratitude Journal…
I wrote this book out of an experience I was having. I was going through a difficult and challenging time in my life and someone told me to keep a gratitude journal for 30 days. It’s a really big challenge when you are not feeling great about something or depressed. But what I realized during the 30 days is that I found myself coming out of this depression and feeling better about my life because I was focusing on what was already working. So I created a tool for people to know that there is someone else out there going through as well. Sometimes we feel so alone but knowing that you aren’t alone will keep you buoyant through tough times. I’m just sharing my journey and understanding that abundance is always around me. It’s a reminder that there is always something to be grateful for. If we focus on what we do have, God will open up the door for more to come in. “If she likes what I’ve already sent her, then wait ’til I send her heart’s desires,” is what I think God is saying. Gratitude is free but it has so much value.
How did “Open the G.I.F.T.S.” come about?
“Open the G.I.F.T.S.” (Gratitude~Intention~Forgiveness~Triumphs~Self Love) is an initiative that I started at the same time. The Gratitude Journal came out of those gifts. We all own a gift inside us and we are all gifts to the world. If you looked at your life that way, you would carry yourself differently. My gifts are love and laughter, so that no matter what I’m doing in the world, I’m always infusing love and laughter. I also try to stay focused on being powerful. We focus so much on being positive when we need to be powerful. Not Donald Trump power but the power to share with others. It’s the power to help others….the power to be in service…the power to be the best you ever.
I’ve heard you mention the importance of knowing “your edge.” Could you elaborate on that…
Knowing your edge means knowing your line in the sand. It’s what you will say ‘yes’ and what you will say ‘no’ to. Knowing your edge also means knowing your limits, your own moral limits. How far you’re willing to go to achieve success. While I think a person should be limitless, I also think you should understand what your ‘nos’ are as well as your ‘yeses.’ I would rather not work then to take something that is not in my realm for the sake of just taking a job.
Speaking of edge,you’re partnering with Macy’s to host a fashion event in Atlanta, what are some must have fashion items for Kim Coles?
First of all, I have a special relationship with Macy’s whether they know it or not because Macy’s was my first employer. When I was 18-years-old during the Christmas holidays, I worked as a Macy’s sales associate. So, I’ve always had a strong love and affinity for them. Anytime I can go shopping or work with them, I will. They have a very soft spot in my heart.
Now in terms of fashion…
I’m a lover of flowy black pants. I think they make the leg look very elegant. I don’t look good in straight leg pants so I think it’s a look that can always be dressed up or down. I also can’t wear heels anymore so I prefer to rock a sparkly sandal or flat. Plus I don’t like for my feet to hurt, which I honestly believe is a fashion faux pas. Too many women are suffering for fashion and I don’t think you should. I think a pretty sandal which draws attention to your lovely toes is the way to go. Finally, I’m a lip gloss girl. I think lips and teeth are meant to shine although I’m forever in search of a red lipstick and when I find it, I’m a happy girl. (LOL)
You mentioned ‘fashion faux pas.’ What are some of your biggest fashion pet peeves?
Well, I think you should dress for your size. I don’t like it when plus size women wear clothing that are too tight or when petite women wear clothing that is too big. (LOL) I’m big on proportion and it’s huge to me. Women can enhance their figure flaws by proportioning everything. Also accentuate the positive. So if you have a beautiful bosom, put those puppies in a push up bra. If you have great legs, show ‘em off. If you have a small waist, where a big belt. Accentuate the positive and we will believe you. Call the attention to your money maker, whatever that is. My face and my smile are my money maker. So if I put on a big pair of earrings that draws attention to my face, then I have won.
You played Synclaire on the hit TV series, Living Single, did you know that the show would have such a lasting effect on pop culture?
I wasn’t aware that the show would have a lasting quality. I was just aware that it was good while we were there. I don’t think you stop to think about “Wow were going to remain in syndication for years after were done.” I think we sat out to make a good show and the effect of making a good show is that they last the test of time. I did know that the show was magical and I knew that from the first day the six of us sat down together and read the scripts for the first time. It felt magical instantly. So I am not surprised that I have nine-year-old kids who know me as “Synclaire” because their moms have introduced them to the show. I wasn’t aware that was going to happen but I am so grateful for it. That doesn’t happen in many acting careers. I know that lightening in a bottle doesn’t happen often and Living Single was lightening in a bottle, no doubt!
Kim Coles will appear live in Atlanta at the Lenox Square Mall Macy’s on Thursday, January 23 at 6 p.m.
Photo Credit: bookkimcoles.com