Kiko Ellsworth talks Port Charles, General Hospital, his new show and much more! Learn more here--->
Kiko Ellsworth, next on our Soap #WhereAreTheyNow Series. Oh my God, what great work Kiko is doing! We touched on his background, his soap history, facing and overcoming rock bottom and the work he is doing now. You must read about the great work he is doing.
Kiko was born, raised and has lived in the L.A. area for his entire life. Kiko had no plans for acting. It was friends of his, who were actors, who encouraged him, really basically pushed him, to give it a try. It took two years for his friends to break him and he agreed to meet an agent. He then started taking acting classes and learned a lot more than he bargained for. To his surprise in one of his classes, he developed stage fright. "I got into a class where I had stage fright. That blew my mind. I had never seen that side of myself before, I thought, this is not okay. So, I stuck to it to be true to me and to find out what was the real me."
Kiko was bartending and taking acting classes. He had a few small roles until he landed his breakout role, Jamal Woods, on Port Charles. "I came on the show in 2000 and was on until it was canceled in 2003. Jamal was born with a lack of economic resources but he had a great vision for his life and a good heart. He was looking to make a better life for himself. He had a love affair with Alison and went through all the ups and downs and everything that goes with a soap couple. After Port Charles was canceled, some years later I played Stan Johnson on General Hospital."
It was Kiko's decision to leave General Hospital. There were some other opportunities in the soap industry that he could have pursued at that time. But Kiko shared with us that he is diverse and likes to try different things. He wanted to "spread his wings" so he elected not to continue in the industry. "I wasn't looking to do another soap. I had just finished Bad Boys 2. I was looking to do more film, episodic work and a variety of different roles." Kiko appeared in CSI, Heros, Dexter, Crossing Jordan. He also appeared in independent films, commercials and did voiceover work. Kiko won an Emmy in 2014 as the narrator in the Power of the PSA. The Power of the PSA was a documentary where they picked a few students from USC's film school and they partnered up with executives and producers from CBS. They partnered up for a mentoring program teaching the students how to create PSA's that would make a difference in the community.
Kiko was working steadily then all of a sudden he hit a wall. "All of a sudden, I wasn't being fulfilled. It became hard for me to memorize lines. I thought am I getting old or what's really going on here." Laughter. "But when I looked at it and got real with myself I realized I didn't want to do this type of work anymore. It was hard to memorize lines because the characters weren’t in alignment with my soul’s calling. I wanted to do work that made a bigger impact for people. So, I started spending more time developing my own projects where I could create the world and the characters that inspired the world."
Although Kiko knew he wanted and needed something different getting there wouldn't be easy. He knew he had to alter the way he had been relating to his career. He started on a quest for healing. His primary vehicle was yoga, 4:00 AM Kundalini yoga to be exact. "In 2009 I had my rock bottom. I couldn't create anything. I didn't have an income. I lost my identity. I really wanted to find out who I really was. Not what I had accomplished but I wanted to know; who am I? When I started Kundalini yoga, I had my first experience with God. In the 4:00 AM classes, it was quiet. I had never been a part of a space that was so sacred and so still. I just went inside of myself and I had this spiritual experience. I felt so vulnerable and so strong. From there I started to build my own spiritual foundation."
Kiko was ready to pursue his goal of developing and creating his own projects. He partnered with Alice Fulks and they created their own production company, A*Light Picture. A*Light Picture creates content and digital material for thought leaders, yoga leaders/organizations, inspirational talk leaders, conscious leaders and they also have developed curriculums to help individuals with their own personal development. "That has always been my dream to create amazing TV and Film that helps people and is supported by a variety of personal development curriculums. They wouldn't only see a cool movie let's say, for example, The Matrix, but they could have something to go with it. Something where they could do the day to day work to help develop themselves and help in their everyday lives."
A*Light Picture's long term trajectory is to produce film as well as TV to go along with the personal development curriculums. Right now their focus is on establishing, growing and creating transformational content to help people develop themselves. Listen to this. Kiko helped a client develop content to support the families of alcoholics. Like Kiko pointedly stated there is a lot out there to support alcoholics (which of course is needed) however there isn't enough to support the family members of alcoholics. That's one example of the creative content Kiko is referring to to help people. How awesome is that!
We have more awesome. Kiko has a brand new show, The Yang Out, yang meaning male and out for where you can hang out, The Yang Out. The show is about men who are interested in developing into a whole, complete and healed man for himself, his family, his community and the world. “It's a personal development talk adventure show. I go around the world interviewing different types of men about the “Man-blocks” they've encountered in their lives and how they overcame them. We are always doing something active, going on an adventure and doing a core discipline like breath work, yoga etc. We are creating a safe space for men to engage in taboo conversations such as; talking about your feeling, why it is okay for men to cry, and why it is okay for men to be sensitive. It's about us being in touch with all the aspects of who we are." How awesome is that!
The first show will launch on August 1st. They will shoot the entire season. Next year Kiko has plans to talk to a few cable networks. But more important than anything, regardless of if the show is picked up by a cable network, is for them, "To continue to engage in this conversation and to create the space for men to be comfortable in doing so." You can check out the episodes starting August 1st on the website or on YouTube. Kiko and his team are writing, directing and producing the entire series themselves. Prior to The Yang Out, Kiko had worked behind the scenes in various projects "dabbling" in directing, writing and producing. However, as time has gone on directing, writing and producing has been less of a dabble and more of the main thing. And whereas now he's only"dabbling" in acting.
We asked Kiko where did he see A Light Picture five, ten years from now. "I see the full development of our production company consistently producing two-four shows and at least one film a year that produces content that truly is helping people all supported by a bedrock of curriculum that gives people a plethora of choices to be able to heal themselves.” How awesome is that!
We were blown away with the work that Kiko is doing. He wanted us to know that nothing he was doing (fulfilling his dreams and making a difference) wasn't anything anyone of us couldn't do. "What I am doing isn't magic. I'm not special. I just put the work in, took more responsibility for my life, invested in my meditation and did the day to day work." A message for all.
In closing, Kiko wanted us to specifically state that he hasn't forgotten us, women! In Kiko's words, "Please let me say how amazing women are. How grateful I am for women and how much I appreciate them. They don't get enough recognition even for the simplest and most amazing things they do. Like birthing every single person on this planet since the inception of the human species. No amount of “thank you’s” could ever be enough." Indeed.
We cannot say enough how much we enjoyed speaking to Kiko! What an incredible vision he has to positively impact our world!
Please check out and support The Yang Out!
Kiko, thanks so much for speaking with us! Keep doing this fantastic work!
I AM KP Smith