Dec. 18, 2012
By Tiobe Barron
When local actress/writer/acting coach Kim Maxwell discovered a grant for small businesses, she “just decided to go for it.”
Intuit, the company famous for producing QuickBooks accounting software, is sponsoring “Small Business, Big Wishes,” which will grant 15 small businesses up to $5,000 each. Intuit uses three criteria to select the 15 winning businesses: how accurately the business represents the small and local mold, the impact the money will have to transform the small business, and a popular vote held online. The voting closes Thursday.
Though the contest was already underway when Maxwell found out about it, she decided to enter anyway — and she’s already earned her way into the “most loved wishes” category,” putting her that much closer to winning. If she wins the funds, Maxwell plans to expand her acting and writing workshops and build a professional website, which she will link to a YouTube channel that will feature the work of local youngsters.
Maxwell moved from Los Angeles, where she acted in film and television, to Ojai in 1992. Once settled in Ojai, Maxwell co-founded the former Theater 150, and also co-founded the Ojai Playwrights Conference, in which she says her passions for acting and writing collided. Maxwell used both venues to teach youth and adults her specialized toolset for opening up and telling their own stories, often breaking through stage fright and social norms to empower her students. More than teaching them to act or write, Maxwell says she provides a safe space for people to share honestly about their lives and the not always picture-perfect situations they have been through.
“It’s cutting-edge,” says Maxwell. “There are not a lot of people doing this work with young people, giving voice to what they are going through.”
Should she win the Intuit grant, Maxwell plans to keep the content the same, but to expand her company’s presence. Along with classes for adults, teens and pre-teens beginning in the New Year, plans for a KMS website are underway, along with a YouTube channel.
“(Student skits) are typically very funny, and they are the perfect length,” Maxwell says. “We are developing where we want to go next. The YouTube channel would be a chance for exposure for students’ work. We have a diverse, interesting lot in Ojai. It is important people in the community have a voice.”
This philosophy is something Maxwell takes very seriously in her work. Indeed, the mission statement of her new enterprise is “To teach people to launch their stories loudly and unapologetically into the world; to laugh more, risk more and have bigger lives.”
“This is something I’ve developed over 20 years,” explains Maxwell. “When you help people discover their story, it tends to uncover something deeper.”
Based on the public response, it appears the community is as excited about KMS as Maxwell herself. At the time of press, KMS had approximately 350 “likes” on its Facebook page, and nearly 450 votes for the Intuit competition.
“The response from people has been amazing. People write the nicest things. I feel honored,” says Maxwell.
Voting closes Thursday; visit www.loveourlocalbusiness.com and click the search icon to find and vote for Kim Maxwell Studio.