Self-Discovery, Confidence & Branding with Actor Stacey Marie Keba
Like many aspiring actors, Stacey Marie Keba struggled with a lack of clarity about her brand. As a former coaching client of mine, I invited her on the show to discuss her transformational journey from self-doubt and overwhelm to confidently presenting her value as an actor to the industry.
Stacey recently walked the red carpet in Paris in support of her role in Universal France’s 2022 French-American Comedy Mon Héroïne. Today she auditions regularly, has numerous projects in the works, and has added producer to her multi-hyphenated career.
Interested in coaching with me? Visit https://dianefoy.com/coaching
[00:00:00.170] – Diane Foy
Hello. I’m so excited to introduce you to Stacey Marie Keba. She’s a former coaching client of mine, and I invited her on the show to share her acting journey, which began when she was taking film and television classes in 2019. I thought it would be a great opportunity for listeners to hear from someone that’s in the beginning of her career and how far she’s come in just the last few years. We’ll talk about her talk about our coaching that we did together and talk about her journey. And she encountered challenges like many aspiring actors, including a lack of clarity about her brand. She openly discussed facing confidence issues and the process of figuring herself out. During this transformational period, she recognized the importance of delving deeper than surface level and took guidance from the coaching that we did together to clarify her identity and purpose as an actor. She gained confidence in her worth and value in the industry. I’m going to read the bio that we worked on together because I think it really captures who she is and also the difference between, if you think about what does your bio say right now, is it full of just the facts of your career and that’s it?
[00:01:36.180] – Diane Foy
Or does it really express a deeper purpose? Actress, writer, and producer Stacey Marie Keba is driven to bring her girl next door with a mysterious edge spirit to every role she takes on. She is excited to have her first comedic supporting role as bitchy receptionist Kate in Universal France’s 2022 French American comedy Mon Héroïne. I don’t know if I pronounced that right. Keba is also attached to Metronome, where she plays Marnie, a cocaine loving waitress who works at Philadelphia’s famous Zenzabar Blue jazz club in the 90s. It’s vital for her to do this work because movies, television, and the craft of acting has provided her with hope, joy, and a safe outlet to express her emotions. Three things that she didn’t have growing up.
She had to overcome a lot growing up in a trailer park ridden with drug and gun violence, along with child predators, having to be a caretaker for her mom at the age of five until her death when she was 18, her dad declaring bankruptcy even after all the years of working overtime night shifts at the factory, and being a victim of sexual assault in college that resulted in PTSD and not being able to graduate.
[00:03:12.660] – Diane Foy
Leading with her values of bravery, empathy, and authenticity, she hopes that by bringing her experience into the roles that she accepts, she can be an inspiration for young women to feel safe, seen, heard, and understood. After spending time living in Philadelphia and New York City, she now resides in Pasadena, California, and is represented by Media Artists Group. I hope you enjoy our conversation. Yay. Hello, Stacy. How are you? Hi.
[00:03:46.050] – Stacey Marie Keba
I’m doing so well. Diane, how are you?
[00:03:48.910] – Diane Foy
Good. I’m so glad that we can connect and you can update me on what I’ve been doing. But first, introduce yourself. Who are you?
[00:04:00.030] – Stacey Marie Keba
All right. Hi, everyone. So my name is Stacy Marie Keba, and I am an actress living here in Los Angeles, California, originally from outside of Philadelphia. And I’ve known Diane for maybe about three years. And she’s really helped me with my film and television career of getting all of the branding and marketing figured out. So that’s really what I’m focusing on now is film and TV. And then in addition to acting, also creating my own TV shows with my fiancée. And we’re trying to get those off the ground.
[00:04:41.370] – Diane Foy
Cool. Yes. And you’re forgetting you had a big movie premiere.
[00:04:48.630] – Stacey Marie Keba
Oh, my gosh. Yeah. So I had a movie called Mon Héroïne, and it is a universal pictures of France film. And it came out December 12 of this past holiday season. And so I got to go over to France, Paris for the movie premiere. And that was my first time across the pond. So it was very exciting.
[00:05:18.240] – Diane Foy
That’s so cool. Today, I think we’re going to take on a journey of… Well, we’re going to look back at our journey together, and then maybe we’ll do a little coaching as well.
[00:05:29.810] – Stacey Marie Keba
Sounds nice. This one’s fun.
[00:05:32.050] – Diane Foy
Think about back when we first started, how did you first come to know about me and to book a session and what were you looking for at that time?
[00:05:49.100] – Stacey Marie Keba
Sure. So I first heard about you through… I had taken an acting class with this one wonderful casting director and coach Mel Mack in New York. And I was on, in addition to taking classes with her, I was also obviously subscribed to her newsletter. I’m subscribed to everyone’s newsletter. And one day she sent out a blast about you and your coaching services. And there was an option to book a free consultation. And so I was really curious about PR and how I could do it myself because at that point I didn’t have all these resources behind me to hire an actual firm and to do the publicity for me. So I was like, Okay, what can I do by myself and what can I learn? And so I booked the that free consultation, and you were just so fun and quirky and loved cats. And I wanted to… In that consultation, you explained all of your knowledge. And I mean, not all of your knowledge because obviously the coaching I learned so much, but just the people that you’ve worked with and have helped. And I was like, Okay, this woman totally knows what she’s talking about and I could definitely learn something.
[00:07:32.970] – Stacey Marie Keba
And it’s been a really great guide for me over the past two or three years. I don’t know how time is blurring together.
[00:07:42.210] – Diane Foy
No. If you think back then, did personal branding come to mind as something you were looking for, or was it the PR thing that you were like, Oh, my PR, I need that?
[00:07:52.900] – Stacey Marie Keba
It was both personal branding and PR that I was interested in. But really, you have to take it back to basics. And if you can’t sell yourself, then it’s going to be hard for someone else to do that for you. And so I also just wanted to figure out who I was as an artist. And it was back in the start of 2020 that I was starting to think about this idea. And then right when the pandemic hit, there was this casting director, Kathy Wickline in Philadelphia, and she had offered a class on personal branding. And so there’s this guy, his name is Rich Henkels. He’s a great businessman. He founded Actors Think Tank in Philadelphia, and he actually taught this course. And it was super short, just a couple of hours. But that course on personal branding got my mind thinking about it even more. And then when I found you, I thought, Okay, I really need to delve deep into this. So I was very interested.
[00:09:11.830] – Diane Foy
What things were you trying on your own before we work together? That either worked or didn’t work or to.
[00:09:22.130] – Stacey Marie Keba
Take care of? Yeah. Well, I think for me, that was very early on in my career. I started taking film and television acting classes at the end of March of 2019. And I had only started going out for auditions in November of 2019, so about four months before the pandemic started. And I really didn’t have any clear idea of what my brand was. And I was also going through and just personal changes of where my life was. And I was trying to figure myself out. And I think I consistently deal with confidence issues. And there’s always the next step of how much more confident can I be? And back then, I left college and I had to be an adult and I didn’t know how to do that. I was just figuring myself out. I felt like my personality and my brand was changing every month or two just on a whim. And so to get really clear and to go more than surface level was really, really important to me. And you really helped with that.
[00:10:58.730] – Diane Foy
What were some things that surprised you about the program that we went through or coaching with me? I think.
[00:11:08.040] – Stacey Marie Keba
The biggest thing was just how much time you spent on understanding who I was and getting me to understand who I was and all of my core qualities and what motivates me, my personality type, all of that stuff, which is not necessarily something you think of when you think of marketing. Anything. So that was really cool.
[00:11:41.060] – Diane Foy
I always think that there’s so many… I see personal branding courses and things out there, and it feels like it’s a quick fix. It’s not really diving into it. Or it’s asking you, Okay, what’s your brand? What is yours? And it’s quick. It’s not like deep dive. So that’s why I’ve really gone into personal development and personal growth is really what personal branding is, or at least it begins there.
[00:12:13.930] – Stacey Marie Keba
Yeah. And I think.
[00:12:14.600] – Diane Foy
You’re not going to share the brand until you know who you are.
[00:12:18.950] – Stacey Marie Keba
I love that because I think as actors, we’re often told, what is your brand? Sometimes you’re asked it in a slate, which is interesting. But other times it could be just a quick when you meet someone in an elevator or you’re reconnecting with someone or you’re meeting someone, and it just feels super artificial and surface level. And I think it can be helpful when you’re brand new to acting and the roles that you go out for because you need to start somewhere. And so people could look at me and I could say, Hi, my name is Stacy Marie Keba, and I like to play the bubbly receptionist that is aloof or something I don’t know. That was a terrible example, but I see that a lot with actors and people love it or they hate it. And they’re like, You could do so much more than what you just described in the past 10 seconds.
[00:13:33.500] – Diane Foy
I think we dive deep into what makes you you in addition to your acting so that you can draw on that because definitely when you’re acting, you’re drawing on your personal experiences. And by sharing those personal experiences, the goal is to make people go, Well, of course, she’s perfect for this role because of this. She is that person.
[00:14:03.550] – Stacey Marie Keba
And every single person has so many different aspects to them. And so fully understanding yourself, you realize that you could have more than one brand or one type. It’s just all shades of yourself. And how you tap into that for, say, a specific role or audition is totally up to you. But really helpful once you learn, like, okay, so if you look at me, I’m really bubbly and sweet. But growing up, I grew up in a trailer park, and I have this roughness wrong side of the tracks to me that I don’t present that way today. But if I needed to and the role called for it, then yeah, I can. If that’s what they want, I can deliver that because I know that that. And so so many things are just… It’s really fun to just dig deep and to see everything that you can do.
[00:15:10.180] – Diane Foy
And it’s just a starting point, too, because it doesn’t mean you can’t act a completely opposite role than who you are. But it definitely helps when you’re new to the industry to be able to present yourself very clear, like, this is this is who I am, and this is different aspects of me, and this is what makes me unique and why I’m perfect for this role. Yeah. Have you gotten a lot of feedback from industry since we tweaked your bio and your photos and all that stuff?
[00:15:53.110] – Stacey Marie Keba
Yeah, I definitely have. And I would say, so since I started this whole process with you, there’s been a few different stages or phases in my career and getting in front of different industry people. And I just had my one year anniversary with my agent, which it’s still going strong. And they’re so great. And they get me some really great auditions. And it’s I wouldn’t be getting those auditions if I hadn’t done the work that I’ve done because I realized the importance of how to put your best foot forward and having all my materials, you helped me tweak them and write the bio and put together my website. It just blows my mind of where I am versus where I was when I started with you because now I go out… Back then, I hadn’t even had any co star auditions. I was going out for maybe a couple of commercial things, and I had a very starter manager, very development. Now, 2-3 years later, it’s a series regulars and lead roles and massive feature films, and so it feels really good. But there’s always going to be those rock throwers and those people that say, We don’t like this picture.
[00:17:40.750] – Stacey Marie Keba
We don’t like that bio. We need you to tweak this or change this. And I definitely experienced some of that this past winter because I was searching for a new manager. And I just had to take a step back because I love of getting feedback and improving and everything. But it’s also like, it can be a lot. I had to step away and realize I couldn’t let that affect my confidence because it did for a bit. And I went back into my shell, which you’ve known me and you know when I go into my shell and I disappear and I’m really shy and it’s really hard for me to get out of my shell sometimes. But when I’m out of my shell, it’s great. But then sometimes someone throws a rock and it’s like, Oh, my God. What am I doing?
[00:18:36.800] – Diane Foy
I think some of the work that we did about core values and what you really want comes to play when it sets you up for when those things happen, you get back up quicker. But also you take feedback and you can look at it like, Is this feedback that I’m going to accept, learn from, appreciate, act on? Or is this feedback not a fit for me? It doesn’t feel right. And to be able to tune into that work of what do you really want? What are your core values? What do you stand for? Because the industry can send you in so many different directions that it might not be. Experts, you think, Oh, well, of course, I got to listen to them because they know everything, right? But they don’t. And it’s just one person’s opinion. And it helps to build that confidence so that you don’t get knocked down too much or don’t go down the wrong path? What did you draw on when you were feeling a bit more knocked down? Was there anything that we worked on that got you back up?
[00:20:01.990] – Stacey Marie Keba
the thing that really got me back up was understanding my worth and what I bring to the table. And all the ways that I’m an asset to this industry and I’m an asset to my own career, which sounds very cheesy, but I do bring things to the table. And so I had to really go back through the confidence lesson and be like, Okay, how am I awesome? And I had to put myself up. And I noticed that there was… I’m so glad that my hunt finding a manager was not successful because it made me reflect and grow in ways that I don’t think I would have if it was like, Cool, I just went went to the premiere and now I have a manager and an agent and everything. It’s like, Okay, what do I still have to work on and how can I improve to be the best for myself? And me and my fiance, he’s a genius writer and he’s really funny. And I’ve pitched ideas for TV shows and different scripts that we can work on. And now it’s like, I’ve really put on my producer hat over the past six months, which is something I always really wanted to do.
[00:21:37.860] – Stacey Marie Keba
now it’s like, we’re getting pitch decks and show bibles already, and everything is on strike right now. So we’re just really taking advantage of this time to be as prepared as we can when the industry opens back up. And I would love to be cast in someone’s project. That’s always an amazing thing. But to realize that, oh, I’m trying to go bigger than that of I want to have my own show. And these are the characters that feel true to me at this time. And they’re vastly different genres. One is a sitcom and the other is something in vein of true blood. And it’s really fun. And so I think when the time is right, where I do reach back out to managers or want to make some type of change like that in my career, it’s like I have so much more to bring to the table, and I’ve learned so much more about myself, and I can make better decisions then as opposed to feeling like, Oh, I jumped the gun. I wasn’t quite ready, and now I’m in this contract with someone for two years.
[00:22:55.840] – Diane Foy
Yeah. I find a lot of actors, musicians, artists that are like, you ask them what’s holding them back from achieving what their goals are. And a lot of times it’s like, Oh, because I don’t have an agent, or I don’t have a manager, I don’t have this, I don’t have that. And you’re like, That’s not the first step. And it’s almost like personal growth, personal development, personal branding is what allows you to get those things. Once you build that up, that’s when it’s time to get an agent. And once you’re very clear on what you want and you’re very clear on, Okay, if nobody’s just handing me my dream roles, I’ll create them myself. I think that’s fantastic.
[00:23:45.920] – Stacey Marie Keba
Yeah. And you’ve helped me think a lot about that in terms of creating your own content. And social media is not my favorite thing. I don’t know if it will ever be my favorite thing, but you did teach me that and how to draw upon stories from my own life and how to share that with people. And it’s so important. And so whether you do it on an Instagram post or if you decide to build a TV show around it or a short film or anything like that, I really realized that actors sometimes are really lazy in terms of like, they want to be given an opportunity to work on their craft. And they’re always waiting for an audition and waiting for an audition.
When if you look at musicians, you might have a team behind you helping you write a song, but they’re writing songs and working on their music and working on their craft. And it’s really up to them to bring something to the table that can then be produced. And with actors, it’s like, okay, get in line. Everybody’s waiting for someone to give them a script to work on. And so realizing that and then being like, oh, I want to work on my own projects and try to get those made, it’s really empowering.
[00:25:28.220] – Stacey Marie Keba
And I would encourage anyone to do it, even if it’s just making skits on TikTok or something like that. Or there’s, they call them Moby episodes. And they’re like web series, but they’re all filmed vertically. And they’re either for TikTok or there’s this new app called Reel Short. And you watch an hour long episode, but it’s like 50 episodes because they’re all a minute or two long. And that’s like, it’s really cool to see how that is now a thing.
[00:26:07.550] – Diane Foy
Yeah, like technology. There’s so many opportunities to put yourself out there without waiting for that industry person to discover you. It’s getting yourself ready so that you’re ready for those opportunities when they come.
[00:26:26.560] – Stacey Marie Keba
And I think now is such a great time for me to do more work on myself and other actors or writers or anyone specifically in the film television industry because everyone’s on strike right now. And it’s just a great time when things are slow to really be ready because I think when everyone’s no longer on strike, the floodgates are going to just open and you’re going to I think it might feel easy to feel overwhelmed if you are getting a lot of opportunities. And I think it’s also going to be those people that aren’t getting the opportunity. It’s like, Okay, what can you do to ensure that you don’t feel like you’re missing out on opportunities?
[00:27:24.850] – Diane Foy
If another actor was going through what you were going through a few years ago, not sure what their next move are, or do they need an agent, or do they need a personal brand, what would you say to them as advice on why personal branding is important and or why they should work with me?
[00:27:53.150] – Stacey Marie Keba
That’s a lovely question. Well, personal branding it’s like… I’m thinking back to when I first started and it can feel overwhelming because you’re probably still at the point where you’re trying to perfect your technique and there’s a lot of hits and misses in terms of… You’re still trying to get to a point where it’s like you’re producing a consistent body of work and things are pretty solid. And so it’s easy to maybe just ignore. I understand that everyone always wants to be in an acting class and they want to put their effort in there. But I also think that people should work with you because you do spend so much time on personal development, and it’s so important to make you a better actor. If you can understand yourself better, then you can make better acting choices or know how to get to say emotional places faster and more efficient. You know how to show up, you know how to walk into the room, and especially with confidence. I just had an audition. It was a second call back chemistry read, and it was in person. And this is the first in person audition I’ve had in two or three years.
[00:29:40.520] – Stacey Marie Keba
And so I was like, Oh, my gosh, how do you show up in a room? How do you act in front of people that’s not just a screen? And so you really help with confidence and understanding your value. And so that’s always just good things to know that you can lean on when you need it. And then it’s like, oftentimes if you’re a newer actor, you don’t necessarily… Unless you’re assigned a specific scene in class by your acting teacher, a lot of classes will have you bring in your own sides and do your own scene. And sometimes that can feel really intimidating as a new actor to know what type of scenes you should bring in. A lot of you’re told oftentimes that a lot of your first auditions are going to be co stars and guest stars. And so you think, Okay, let me try to get my first job on FBI Most Wanted. And so you might be really tempted in your acting class to bring in interrogation scenes or something that would fit a procedural when that might not be the best fit for your brand and the roles you might go out for.
[00:31:02.070] – Stacey Marie Keba
And there are other co star and guest star types of roles you can get on other TV shows that might suit you better. So it really challenges you to think out of the box in terms of what you see most people going out for. So I think it was James Killiary. He’s a casting director in New York. He mentioned this. It’s like, Okay, you could go out for CSI, or you could go out for a juicy little co star on Bridgerton. Which one fits you better? And once I thought of that, I was like, Oh, yeah, that would be a lot more fun. And it would fit me better than trying to be this really intimidating person or this person that’s a perp, which I can’t really see myself playing. So it just opens you up to other possibilities than what you’re initially told as an actor.
[00:32:11.700] – Diane Foy
Yeah. Stay tuned for part two, where we’ll do a little coaching session about money blocks.