You would think any twentysomething who could call themselves a model, actress, musician, producer, and painter would be completely content to take it easy, sit back, and merely coast on the merit of previous accomplishments. Not Katie Chonacas.
Acting alongside Robert Deniro and Al Pacino in Righteous Kill and performing on-stage with 50 Cent during G-Unit’s European tour were early high watermarks, to be sure – but there’s still a whole world to conquer.
Katie’s vast aspirations raise questions about what it means to harbor varied professional interests in the 21st century – is it merely a byproduct of exceedingly talented and interested people? Or will it become the standard in an age where all media converges and the advantages of having more than one “quarter-time” job in a global, rapidly moving economy are more apparent than ever?
Whatever the answer is, whatever future holds, Katie is already doing everything she can to stoke the fires of her many passions – she was more than happy to explain all the ambitious avenues of her life to Primer.
Primer: Everyone can imagine the glamour and benefit of being a successful model, but what are the challenges people may not expect, in and out of the photo studio?
Katie Chonacas: Modeling is a lot harder than it looks – you work long hours and are under a lot of pressure constantly. I am glad this is where I began my career, because it helped me develop a certain work ethic and skills that would help me later on in my music and acting career.
P: Where do you see yourself professionally in 10 years? Would you prefer to be modeling, producing, acting, or singing? Would you trade your success as a model for success as an actor or producer? Do people have a hard time accepting you as being multi-talented? Would you encourage others to branch out as much as you have?
KC: In 10 years, I want to have a strong business platform and still be doing what I love, whether it be giving and becoming more involved in charities, acting, producing, singing, painting, or modeling. I don't think I would trade my successes for anything. I have been blessed to have success in the many things I have tried, and I hope that it just keeps getting better. I am far from where I hope to be, I look up to people like Oprah Winfrey, Donald Trump, Ron Howard, Frank Sinatra, Madonna, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, and so many others who have been successful in their careers. They have all been able to wear many hats and be taken seriously, and that is what I aspire to do. I don't think people have a hard time accepting all my different talents, I just love doing it all, so why not? I would encourage people to just do what they love, no matter what that may be. If it is 5 different things, just do it.
P: If you could offer any advice to a person your age in terms of finding success – what would it be?
KC: It doesn't matter how old you are, if you have a dream, you have to strive for it, or I think you could regret it. Just live life to the fullest and put 110% behind everything you do, that is the best advice I think someone can get. If you work hard and smart, you will find success.
P: Do you think finding success at a young age is a blessing or a curse or both – why?
KC: I think it is both, finding success at a young age can force you to grow up quickly, which can be a negative thing or a positive thing. I think that if you are young and successful, the most important thing is to have a good head on your shoulders, a strong team behind you, and it could be a wonderful thing.
P: What was the turning point in your career that really got the ball rolling?
KC: I think that the moment I am at right now is the turning point in my career. I am so lucky to have so many projects in the works, I can't wait to see what happens over the next year.
P: At what age did you decide to pursue modeling?
KC: I decided to pursue modeling at the age of 13.
P: When did you decide to pursue acting?
KC: I decided to pursue acting at the age of 14 but wasn't able to, for a few years, because I didn't have anyone to help and guide me and let me know what I needed to do to be involved with the business.
P: How did you move from acting to producing? Will you serve any other roles than producer in your upcoming productions?
KC: I always loved the art of making films; being in them is a wonderful thing but being able to work behind the scenes is a whole different ballgame. I was working with a fantastic producer named Randall Emmett and he showed me the ropes – he basically mentored me on several films he was working on and I learned from there. I don't know if I will ever direct a film or something along the lines of that, but it is definitely a possibility. We will see where the road leads me!
P: How did you become involved with 50 Cent and what has it been like working with him?
KC: We connected because of the producer I mentioned before, powerhouse Randall Emmett. Randall had the idea that it would be great to present my music to 50 and his manager, Chris Lighty. Thank goodness they responded and we have created lots of great projects since! Working with 50 puts a smile on my face. I feel so lucky, so blessed. He is an idol to me; I have fond memories of one time after a show in Cape Town, South Africa just listening to his stories thinking he was like a living 2pac – a complete genius.
P: What influenced your decision to move into music after finding success as a model and actor?
KC: I think it was a natural progression. I grew up heavily in the music scene in Detroit – a city that has produced some phenomenal artists, so I think it was always in my veins. My mother was a singer and my sister Stephanie is a classically trained singer who can sing in 5 different languages – so I think watching them was an inspiration to me as well. I feel that modeling, acting, and music all go hand in hand with each other, so when I was presented with the opportunity to start recording music and go on tour with 50, I felt like the world was finally mine!
P: After conquering modeling, acting, producing, and singing — what's next?
KC: Who knows! Start and run an investment firm? Or, as Madonna would say, ‘Rule the world!' I am also a painter, I have some of my artwork on display in Hollywood for the summer at Groundwork Coffee. I think I just want to keep on doing what I love. I have many tricks up my sleeve for the next year that could put me on the map in different industries… like a t-shirt line and perfume. So, we will see what happens!
P: What's one thing in life that you haven't accomplished that you'd like to?
KC: I would love to book a hair campaign in America for a major product. After the campaign, I want to go on Oprah and donate my hair to kids in need.
P: Do you battle any common misconceptions about models or face any undue scrutiny or prejudices because of your chosen career?
KC: I have been very lucky to have positive people around me, and it has been like that for much of my career. No matter what business you are in or the career path you take, you will battle some kind of criticism, misconceptions, etc. I just choose to ignore anything negative, and move forward with everything positive.