Rising Star McKenna Camille On The Five Things You Need To Shine In The Entertainment Industry
Everyone is going to have strong opinions about everything you do, especially music. I have got amazing compliments about the music, but of course, there have been a couple of people in my life that think they could “teach me a thing or two” about music, or don’t like what I am putting out in general.
As a part of our series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing McKenna Camille.
McKenna Camille was born and raised in Oregon and has always loved performing, but it wasn’t until high school that her journey as an artist really began. Struggling with anxiety, OCD, and depression at such a young age, McKenna now uses those painful times as a catalyst for her music career turning those experiences into powerful songs such as her hit Bad One which discusses anxiety and bullying. The carefree, fun side of this up-and-coming young artist can be heard in her summer hit Strawberry Shortcake. Not just a singer/songwriter, McKenna is studying acting at the prestigious Tisch School of Dramatic Arts at NYU and is well on her way to a successful career. Growing up on a lake, McKenna is an expert in all water sports and was a member of the show/trick water skiing team, Portland Spectacular. When not working, writing music, or volunteering she enjoys playing golf, tennis, and spending time on the water or in nature.
Thank you so much for joining us in this interview series! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?
I grew up on a lake in Oregon and spent most of my free time by the water, learning how to water ski, wakeboard and many other water activities. I started swimming at an incredibly young age and instantly fell in love with the water. My dad started teaching me how to drive a boat before I was even three and by the time I was old enough to get my boat license, I was already teaching people how to drive. Spending time outside, specifically by the water has been the most impactful thing for me growing up. I have found such a great appreciation for nature and the outdoors. My parents gave me a phone and let me have social media considerably late (compared to all the other kids at the time) so I was able to grow up without those distractions and enjoy things like reading and helping my dad in our yard. Going to school in New York City now, I can honestly say the biggest change in moving here has been the lack of garden space for me, which makes me appreciate it that much more.
Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?
This is probably one of my favorite questions to be asked because I get to talk about teen pop sensation Hannah Montana. When I was around six the show Hannah Montana had just started on Disney Channel, and I was obsessed (I still am). I remember jumping on the bed singing the theme song while my dad (who remembers almost every song and episode of Hannah Montana to this day) watched with me and that is honestly when I was like “hey, I am going to be Hannah Montana when I grow up.”
Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?
This may not be the most glamorous answer, but for me the most interesting thing has been recording my music in the studio in LA, specifically when we are recording background noises where I am saying things like “ew” or making random noises into the mic for several minutes. I find it so funny that I am in a professional studio doing these things…for my job.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
For one of my first ever auditions, I got an email and it had like one sentence of information in it, which I thought said something along the lines of “Audition for a Disney commercial” and I was so excited. The unfortunate thing is that the audition was right after an event I was volunteering at. The event was a bubble run, I was running the bubble machine and was volunteering starting at about 6 am. So, all morning I was in the hot sun, running a bubble machine, getting more and more covered in soap as time went on and finally it was time to jump in the car and go to my audition. I took off my bright orange volunteer t-shirt and put another shirt on but didn’t have time to do much else. When I got to the audition, I was shocked to find out that I had read the email completely wrong. I was auditioning WITH a commercial FOR a Disney Channel star, who ended up being Matt Timmons aka Woody from Suite Life on Deck, a show I watched a lot when it was airing. I find this incredibly funny because as I am auditioning with a commercial about a foot product for matt, I am covered in soap and mud. The lesson I learned is to always have a change of clothes in your trunk.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I am very biased towards my own music videos and such so I would say those. I am working on eight new videos right now which is SO exciting. I love doing music videos because it is where my passion for acting and my passion for music really come together. I also edit and produce all my music videos, so it is really nice to have multiple areas of interest for me to intersect in such a personal way.
You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
My biggest piece of advice for anyone entering this industry is there are 100 people that are going to tell you can’t do it or you shouldn’t, but honestly just do what you want!
We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?
1. Kids are typically exposed to film and television at a very young age and these shows and movies can be so influential on young kids. I know I always say that half my personality is taken from Hannah Montana, whether that is a good or bad thing.
2. The reality is the world is a very diverse place, and it is really important for the media we are consuming to reflect that, and I am excited for when that happens.
3. Not just on screen, but also behind the camera it is really important that we start seeing some diversity. The majority of those behind the camera on big projects are still white men, which I think is easier to get away with than it is in front of the camera because we aren’t actively seeing them. Even so, the people behind the cameras are crucial to the outcome and message of a show or film and I think it’s time we see some stories created and told by some women.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
- Everyone is going to have strong opinions about everything you do, especially music. I have got amazing compliments about the music, but of course, there have been a couple of people in my life that think they could “teach me a thing or two” about music, or don’t like what I am putting out in general.
- Don’t make music for other people, make it for you. I think when recording my first EP (which is not out yet) I was so wrapped up in what other people wanted me to put out that I didn’t consider the music I wanted to make and experience. I love the songs I have on that EP, but some of them just aren’t me.
- Very often, you will be the only girl in the room. I have found it incredibly common that I am surrounded by many, many men. All the time and the hardest thing about that is when you are a teenage girl, oftentimes you will get talked over, your ideas will get shut down, etc., not just because you’re a girl, but also because you are young.
- Going off of #3, It’s okay to have an opinion about your work. If you don’t like something, change it. Personally, I tend to be very opinionated and outspoken, but in the entertainment industry, it feels like having an opinion, especially being a woman and not being a big powerful celebrity, it is taboo to have an opinion about anything, even if it is your own work.
- It can get lonely. Especially being in college while I am actively pursuing my career, I have had to miss out on a lot of fun things my friends are doing because I have an audition, or a self-tape due, or a photoshoot or blah blah blah. It is one of those things that many people will never understand.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Create the space you need to be productive in your home, but make it separate from where you will take breaks. Go outside often and switch up where you are editing from or creating from frequently.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I am only giving this answer because I was thinking about it for a class, but to be *unique* I would start an anti- e-book/pro book movement, especially for kids. I know that might sound silly, but I just can’t imagine not reading physical books all the time as a kid.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
I am incredibly grateful to many people that have helped me in my career. My many mentors, including Adrian R’Mante, Matt Timmons, my acting coach Joey Paul Jensen, my producer EJ, my favorite engineer Marcus Culbert.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I’m gonna make what I want to make, and other people are gonna like what they’re gonna like. It doesn’t really matter.” — Billie Eilish
I was always the kid that didn’t care that everyone was making fun of her for wearing crocs all the time or a skirt in the snow, but somewhere in high school (of course) I got really tied up in others’ opinions of me and in the past couple months I’ve kind of realized like why even bother worrying about that. “I hate black, why am I wearing black all the time? It makes me so sad. Everyone is telling me it’s winter and I shouldn’t wear colorful clothes. Everyone is telling me to have a minimalist style and apartment, etc. but that just isn’t me at all.” I am so much happier when surrounded by color and I have come to realize that I won’t ever make everyone happy and as a perfectionist, this is hard, but I just need to be myself and create things I am proud of and if that means that I end up on a worst-dressed list somewhere, then I will know I am doing something right and I’ll check “on worst dressed list” off of my list of obscure goals.
Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)
Elton John. I don’t think I can explain any further, I mean he is Elton John.
How can our readers follow you online?
This was very meaningful, thank you so much! We wish you continued success!