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Talking her way to the top

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Former Campbellsville resident finds success in Hollywood

By Leslie Moore

 

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When she tells people on the streets of Hollywood that she is from Kentucky, Kristen Brockman says she always gets the same response. "Oh, well that's why you're so friendly."

But Brockman, who has lived in Los Angeles, Calif., for eight years, says her small-town background has helped her reach her dream of hosting her own show.

"I think being from Kentucky, when you bring that to a big city where people may not be as open and friendly, it can really help you," Brockman said. "People really like that and seem to take to that."

Brockman hosts and produces the show "K-Brock on the Block" for the online network BiteSize TV and recently added two new shows to her resume that air on same the network.

Brockman says the first, "Girl Spot", is a lighthearted, fun version of "The View" geared toward a younger demographic. Topics range from fashion and beauty to dating advice. "Hollywood Today" covers entertainment news stories and features celebrity guests. As a producer, Brockman says she has to stay constantly updated on happenings in the entertainment industry and researches discussion topics for the shows.

"I really love my job because I get to show up and be myself, and just have fun," Brockman said.

Brockman does freelance hosting in her spare time, and recently hosted a promotional event for the drink neuro BLISS on the Santa Monica Pier.

"We set a world record for the most people laying in a hammock at one time," Brockman said. There were 125 hammocks set up instead of one giant hammock.

But finding steady work has been a long time in the making for Brockman.

After graduating from the University of Kentucky in 2004 with a degree in broadcast journalism, she hosted the NBC-affiliated "All For You" on Lexington's WLEX-TV. But Brockman said she always wanted a career in the entertainment industry, and knew opportunities were limited.

When she first went to Hollywood, Brockman worked a series of modeling jobs in addition to cocktail waitressing.

One of Brockman's first gigs was smiling in an advertisement for a dentist. Her first big break was as a "briefcase beauty" for NBC's game show "Deal or No Deal."

But Brockman says in order to get jobs, a person has to audition first. And the stress of rejections can take a pricey toll on one's spirit, she said.

"You get closer and closer and then if you don't get it, that's a let down," Brockman said.

But Brockman says rolling with the unpredictability is in the job description. Applying lessons from her pageant years, Brockman said she grew a thick skin and learned to accept that sometimes, it just isn't meant to be.

Last year, Brockman went to France and co-hosted a game show pilot for TBS. Although she had a lot of fun, the show wasn't picked up.

"You can only stay sad for so long," Brockman said. "You have to move on to the next job so you can pay next month's rent."

One recurring gig Brockman was offered about five years ago proved to be her saving grace. Started by her friend Mellisa Nielson, Charity Angels is a business that partners with charities to help them maximize their fundraising. As an "angel," Brockman hosts charity fundraisers and encourages guests to open their wallets and donate. In the end, Brockman says, it is a sales job but it's to raise money for many different causes.

"For me, it was a way for me not to remain a bartender or cocktail waitress," Brockman said. "I would much rather be at an awesome fundraiser, getting paid to do something really good, than be a cocktail waitress."

Brockman said she is grateful to now have a steady career, which she says is rare in the entertainment industry. But now that she works nine-to-five and then some, Brockman said she doesn't get to come back to Campbellsville to visit as much as she used to.

"The first year I moved out here, I was here for about six months and all of a sudden I realized it hadn't rained the entire time I'd been here. And that never happens back home. I miss it," Brockman said.

Brockman said she hasn't seen her mother, Jeanne Brown, since Christmas, the longest they have ever been apart.

Brockman's father, Roger Brockman, now lives in Indianapolis, Ind., but is also formerly of Campbellsville.

Even though Brown says as much as she misses her daughter, she would never want to hold her back from pursuing her dream.

"I had a lot of friends tell me 'I just can't believe you let her go,'" Brown said. "But I'm like, not only did I let her, I helped her. And I'll do the same thing for Kelsi [Brown] too because ... I want my kids to go in whatever direction their heart takes them in."

Brown will get to visit Kristen in Los Angeles in just two weeks. And Kelsi, Brockman's younger sister, just returned from a visit a couple of weeks ago. But this wasn't Kelsi's first trip to California. She has visited her sister several times and last December, wrapped up a four-month internship with the Los Angeles clothing company One Grey Day.

"Honestly, I remember the first time I went, it was exactly what I thought it would be," Kelsi said. "It was Hollywood, you know?"

Throughout the years, Kelsi said she has done the typical tourist activities like going to Disneyland, spending the day at the beach and watching outdoor movies at the popular hotspot The Grove.

During Kelsi's most recent visit, Brockman took her to the filming of her favorite show, "The Big Bang Theory."

But she says her internship and getting to live in Hollywood for a while has given her the opportunity to have a lot of unique experiences, such as dressing actor Rob Lowe for an award show.

"It's funny, my favorite restaurant in L.A. is a barbecue place [Baby Blues]. It's like the only restaurant in L.A. that serves sweet tea."

For now, Kelsi will stick with painting in Campbellsville but hasn't ruled out joining her sister in Los Angeles to pursue a career in the fashion industry.

And to her sister or anyone else dreaming of finding success in Hollywood, Brockman said she has some advice.

"Remember why you came here, because there's a lot of distractions out here and it's very easy to go off track," Brockman said. "And a lot of people come out here and decide it's not for them, and that's OK, too.