Keri Ann Kimball has always been drawn to true stories and nonfiction work. Like many people, it is true stories that draw her into a film, script, or television series. Her love of nonfiction led to the entrepreneur founding Kimball Entertainment, a management and production company for film, TV and new media that specializes in true stories.
Kimball Entertainment develops projects and works with writers, directors and producers to create original content. Then, the company works to bring the content to life on either the silver screen or television.
As an entrepreneur, Kimball had a desire to work with young, unknown artists, to help them grow their ideas. Since opening the company’s doors, she has worked on a variety of high-profile projects and there are more in the pipeline.
Keri Ann, what triggered the birth of Kimball Entertainment?
Kimball Entertainment was born of my desire to work with and create content with young unknown creative artists. I enjoy discovering new talent, guiding and advising them in the entertainment industry by managing them and producing their projects. Kimball Entertainment is focused on making meaningful projects that shine a light on the voiceless and inspire young female artists to manifest their dreams. I have found that most artists have a range of artistic outlets which has led me to managing the artists and producing their works in a variety of ways. These ways include: musicians having “Fine Art Shows”; singers who host shows and/or go into acting; actors who become writers/producers; writers that direct and produce their own films; and even any talent who enjoy creating clothing lines in the fashion world. As a result, my work tends to be busy and diverse which I passionately enjoy.
The industry faces a lot of competition especially from big and already established record labels and other production giants. How do you handle the competition?
Working with undiscovered artists and projects based on real life stories minimizes my competition in the industry. I have been very fortunate in obtaining the “Life Rights” to very interesting and unique stories in the past I have worked on projects about the legendary Robert Evans and the first “It Girl” Evelyn Nesbit. Currently I have secured the life rights of Kathryn Childers—one of the first five women allowed into the United States Secret Service. “The First Five”, a TV series loosely based on these women and how they broke the glass ceiling in D.C. I am in development on real-life story of a woman caught up in the Mexican cartel and I am partnered with Randy Jackson in developing “Michael X”, who was influential in the black rights movement in London. All my TV and film projects are very exciting and relevant. I am selective when it comes to all of my talent and clients. I am more selective when it comes to the musicians. I prefer to work with singer/songwriters with a unique sound and stage presence, I am fortunate enough to have the ears of Randy Jackson from American Idol to help with my music artists selection.
Kimball would not have founded the company had she not had some incredible mentors. The likes of Randy Jackson, Robert Evans, and others helped Kimball learn the entertainment management ropes. From there, she was able to build on her mentors’ teachings to find even greater success.
You have been very successful in the entertainment industry, if the numbers of productions you’ve done so far are anything to go by. What do you attribute this success to?
I attribute my success in the industry to the amazing mentors I have been fortunate enough to have guided and directed me: Shari Redstone, Randy Jackson, Robert Evans, Cathy Konrad, Lorenzo Doumani, Keri Selig, Sherry Lansing, Billy Gerber and Quincy Jones. They have all taught me how to be strong and wise in their own unique way and they have inspired me. I think it is important to have mentors in life and in work. The relationships I have acquired and developed in Hollywood and in the business world have been invaluable to me personally and professionally. As my friend Brian Raid, from Club House’s “Raiders Coffee Talk,” says, “This is not the movie business, this is the relationship business,” and because of my relationships I have been fortunate enough to find success in an industry I am passionate about.
Many cases of discrimination and harassment against women venturing into this industry have been reported. How does Kimball Entertainment ensure that it provides equal opportunities to people of all genders?
I know that many people in the entertainment industry have been challenged with some form of harassment which I believe exists in every industry; I have experienced my fair share. I will always do my part and advocate on behalf of my clients and support women and minorities in the entertainment business. I found that the more of us that stand up and do the right thing by advocating for women and supporting minorities, the more that becomes the norm in the entertainment business. I enjoy the storytelling process and I think every artist has their own unique message, so I have always been open and willing to give every person and story a fair chance. I also think that we have a responsibility in Hollywood because of our great influence on the audience. We need to be mindful and aware of the messages we put out to the world.
Copyright theft has always been reported by different artists or script writers. How does the company ensure that copyright laws are not infringed on for the clients?
There are many rumors of script and/or story theft in Hollywood. I have not had any experience with this primarily because I obtain “life rights,” work with long-standing friends and colleagues and I have an amazing entertainment lawyer, Jay-Jay Lord, from Wolf, Rifkin, Shapiro, Schulman and Rabkin. The Industry also has many ways to protect the artists and their property by registering material with WGA, ASCAP and other organizations. These days there is so much content and so many stories and platforms for distribution. I don’t think copyright theft is as predominant as it has been in the past.
Kimball has consistently evolved in the entertainment industry. She praises her daughters, nieces, and nephews for helping her stay on the pulse of society. By staying in-tune with what younger generations are interested in, Kimball has been able to produce content relative to audiences. This is one of the biggest issues content producers face. Kimball’s own family has helped prevent this barrier from occurring.
How do you ensure that you provide quality content to keep your audience constantly hooked?
I do my best to stay relevant and provide content that is interesting. I work with young artists and maintain good relationships with artists in all arenas. I manage writers, directors, fine artists and musicians; so I am always exposed to new artistry. I also raised two girls from the time they were three- and four-years old and they are now 24- and 25-years old. They have kept me on my toes and keep me up to date. Because they come from a culturally diverse background, I am well versed in the challenges they have faced as young women of color in society, and I bring that cultural sensitivity to my business. My girls have kept me informed on what is hip in their world and as a result I have been able to be more up to date with the relevant artists of their generation; and my nephew and nieces, who are much younger, inform me of the interests in their age group.
What is the most daunting challenge you have faced since you ventured into this industry so far?
The biggest challenge I have found in this industry is finding people who are willing to take financial risks, both inside the industry and with private equity that I have raised for projects. It seems that always in retrospect one can see the benefit in taking the leap of faith but taking that first step can be daunting. I have been fortunate enough to work with financiers who respect the arts and enjoy being on the cutting edge of innovation, even if it can be a big risk at times.
Following the outbreak of the coronavirus, how has the production of films by the company been affected?
The unfortunate events of COVID have changed the world and the entertainment industry. However, this industry is very resilient and adapts to change quickly. Lorenzo Doumani and I were set to make a film of his just before COVID. We have pushed the film start date many times because of COVID and we will hopefully be shooting in 2021. I have had to pivot like most of my friends in the entertainment industry, but I have found it to be a blessing in disguise. I am currently heading business and creative development for TAP STUDIOS a Creative Branding Agency in Hollywood and I am working on a few animation projects that I would have never dreamt of prior to COVID. HAIBU is a project brought to me during this time and I have been able to raise private equity for this amazing, game-changing animation franchise. HAIBU is a next generation approach to animation based on a little girl who travels the world saving animals. We partnered with an important non-profit, WILD AID, in this animation franchise to ensure that we make an impact and change the world to stop wildlife cruelty. I have also partnered with TAP Studios and JOPR to create COVID compliant events to help brands and individuals in the entertainment industry get back up and running again in 2021.
Hollywood is a difficult town to succeed in, but it is just as difficult to stay on top of the entertainment industry. Kimball has done both and continues to thrive in Tinsel Town. Kimball Entertainment has been in business for 30 years thanks to its continued commitment to top-quality content.
What is the greatest achievement that the entertainment company boasts so far?
I think the greatest accomplishment that Kimball Entertainment has made is the ability to sustain its existence in Hollywood. I have been in the business for 30 years and I have seen many companies and people come and go. Many people think if they show up in Hollywood with funding, they are golden. The truth is content is king and relationships are everything in this town. I am most proud that Kimball Entertainment has been able to achieve great relationships with non-profits and support their causes in various ways which has been the most rewarding of all my success. The non-profits we are affiliated with are The Artist Project, St. Jude, Flying Hero Club, Wild Aid, The Brain Mapping Foundation and Beauty Gives Back with my dear friend Eden Sassoon.
Where does Kimball Entertainment seek to be in the next five years in the entertainment industry?
In the next five years, Kimball Entertainment intends to create more innovative content and influence its audience to make the world a better place by its choice in inspirational projects. I would like to see more female driven projects with female writers, directors and producers attached. I am also looking forward to creating projects that speak to the younger culturally diverse audience and their view on our world and the future of our society. We also intend to work with forward thinking companies in the industry like “Good Planet Innovation,” which is a non-profit founded by Michael Kaliski, that helps the entertainment industry to go “green” and create production sustainable companies within the entertainment industry.
Keri Ann, what is a day in your life like?
A day in my life usually consists of waking up early to meditate for 20 mins; then working out or playing tennis with my trainer, Andre Roberts; replying to emails and fielding phone calls while monitoring a talk on Clubhouse at the same time. Then, it’s having Zoom development meetings for some of my projects; running over to Four Seasons or the Beverly Hills Hotel for a lunch meeting; then an afternoon matcha latte meeting at Hollywood’s SOHO House; stopping by my producing partner’s house, Lorenzo Doumani, for some time in the sun by the pool while we discuss our future projects. Later, I send more emails and field more phone calls until dinner. My evenings, on the rare occasion that I don’t have an event to attend, I read a script or develop a project and then stay up way too late watching Netflix. All the while dragging my little Morkie, Baby Buddha Bear with me everywhere and calling my mom a few hundred times in the day.
What is something most people don’t know about you?
Something most people don’t know about me is my love of science, quantum physics and astrophysics. I find it fascinating and very mind blowing. As my friend says, “The Earth spins perfectly in its orbit without human compulsion or permission,” there is nothing more amazing than that to me. I know how precious life is, every minute of every day, so I do my best to honor the gift of life by giving back and helping others.
Can you share two of your favorite quotes with us?
“There is a principle which is a bar against all information, which is proof against all arguments and which cannot fail to keep a man in everlasting ignorance – that principle is contempt prior to investigation” – Herbert Spencer
“It’s not really about the movie business, it’s about staying in the picture” – Robert Evans
If you had the power to change just one thing in the world, what would it be?
I believe we all have the power to change the world and I believe it is unfolding as it should. If I can be an ambassador to consciousness and mindfulness in any way through my work and inspire others to do the same in their own unique way, I will feel I have accomplished my life’s purpose.
Kimball has been in the entertainment industry for 30 years. Her longevity in such a difficult industry shows the CEO and Founder’s dedication. Despite being in the industry for three decades, Kimball isn’t resting on her laurels. In 2020, Kimball Entertainment brought K-Star PR under its wing. The addition of the PR firm adds to Kimball Entertainment’s depth and ability to promote its work.
Even with 2020 being hit hard by COVID-19, Kimball Entertainment has battled on. The company has big plans for the future and will continue on its mission to deliver high-quality content from inspiring writers and producers.
For more information on Keri Ann Kimball and Kimball Entertainment, please visit https://www.kimballentertainment.com
Images credit: Bret Green
Journalist and author. Contributor