Katharina Baron

August 30, 2018
credit: Max Threlfall

Actress, Model, Writer, and Director - Katharina Baron Kowalewski is a true multi-talent. She graduated from CELSA Sorbonne and FU Berlin in Journalism and MBA and began her career with documentaries and then moved on to film projects in the fashion, automobile, and lifestyle industries before she moved to Los Angeles.

How did you get into acting and directing?

I studied journalism at the CELSA Sorbonne and FU BERLIN and had a special focus on TV journalism. I started making documentaries for French TV stations, then I directed fashion, cars and lifestyle branded content, and then commercials. It was a very natural evolution. The acting happened because I lived across the street from an acting school in Paris. After walking my dog there every day, playing in front of the school with the actors, they finally convinced me to do classes. I did it for fun and later realized that it can actually be a profession. 

When did you know you wanted to move to Los Angeles?

The first time I came here on a vacation, I thought the lighting is great. The light during the golden hour was the most magical thing I have ever seen and I was also fascinated by the proximity of nature: Malibu, Joshua Tree, Big Sur.  It all seemed like a big suburb, not too many skyscrapers (as I don’t like high buildings) and lots of green. You could live as if you are in the countryside but still be in a big city. I like to write and read and it seemed easier to find places to relax and be calm. 

What career and life advice do you give to young creative talents who want to make the move to Los Angeles?

I think many people don’t realize that living in LA doesn’t mean you are on a permanent vacation. You have to know what you want and where you are going. Many creative professions are really about hard work, talent and having a long-term plan. Ideally, you should work on your craft back home and be successful so you have something to give and offer and not wonder what you can get.  For any creative job,  life in LA is better when you are already established back home. Especially actors need to have management and representation in place and upcoming projects to qualify to move. 

credit: Max Threlfall

How did you prepare for your move to LA?

I was living in NYC and one day I just knew it was time for LA. I canceled my lease, packed my bags, shipped my stuff, sold the rest, or gave it away, and just moved. I don’t think you can prepare. I looked for a place while staying in a sublet and followed my intuition. LA felt like home and I didn’t want to live anywhere else. 

You've been living in Los Angeles for 2 years now - how has the city influenced your work?

I love LA, simply because I think I am in a natural flow here, there is an abundance of things I love around me. I love healthy food, and a healthy lifestyle, which LA offers. Whether it’s going to the beach, Kundalini yoga, or just a hike, the massive amount of movie premieres, art shows, great restaurants, and nice friends, LA offers a very easy lifestyle. Oh, and did I mention that the weather is great :)

What are you up to now? 

I am part of free the bird, I love that there are initiatives that show how many female directors are out there. I’m also directing a video series called the Privacy Diaries  #BringingPrivacyBack, I will appear in a movie on Mary Pickford directed by the talented Jennifer deLia and produced by Julie Pacino When and I consult with PicsArt, a new app and social network with already over 100 million active monthly users.

credit: Max Threlfall

What's your recommendation for perseverance when things get tough?

A few years ago I did Vipassana in Germany, for 10 days I mediated without a phone in a silent retreat from 4:30 am to 9 pm with only short breaks. These experiences teach you a lot about life. You are less scared and you are able to focus. I meditate more, I see people I love and I trust life. Great friends and like-minded people remind you of your true value and will be there for you. The most important thing is not to allow the now to define your tomorrow. LA is a city that runs on energy, but you attract who you are, so work on becoming a better person every day. This will allow you to create a family away from home. You have to be ready to be there for your friends to support them when they need you, share and help. The toughest moments can be the most beautiful one because you may discover how much people around you love you and if you turn this situation around and look for the lesson in it challenges make you grow.

And don’t forget to call home when you are far away. I call my mom and sister every day. That keeps me grounded and happy. At the same time, you have to be able to say no to certain things and to certain people and influences. LA doesn’t have to be superficial, but you need to protect yourself. 

What do you look for in people you collaborate with?

I look for people who are kind, friendly, have good manners, are hard-working, talented and are easy to work with. It’s all about energy so you need to feel comfortable around them but also admires them. I love to work with people that could be my friends. It’s the best feeling to connect with them on a human level and share the same values. In the end, work should be fun and you should enjoy what you do. So don’t add stress by putting up with bad vibes. And always work on finding a solution quickly and calmly, be a good communicator so the people around you appreciate you for trying to be a team player. 

What's your advice to other creatives who are planning to move to LA?

Get the best lawyer you can find. This is the first step and she will tell you what your options are.  I also think it’s great to live central at the beginning like West Hollywood, as you might want to walk if you are European. Sometimes it’s great to join places like Soho House or Neue House or even We Work if you are creative. Join the unions of your professions as soon as you can. I am a member of SAG -AFTRA , Women in Film and Gaba Film-initiative.  For apartment search I like to ask friends, look at Facebook groups or at craigslist, but be careful to weed out a lot of scam.  My favorite art gallery is  Show Gallery in Hollywood - I am responsible for its opening :). To work as an actor you need a manager or agent, talking about the industry join IMDBpro it’s great to look up projects and people you are thinking about working with. I love Nine Treasures Yoga- Kundalini yoga and very good for your mental health and I love Pilates.  There are screenings all the time at theaters like Aero Santa Monica with Q&As with the casts and crew, so take advantage of going to events in your industry. Get a car or uber everywhere,  sometimes it’s more practical to uber as many places have valet parking.  

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