About Kitty

Homeless to Hollywood to Holland...

Kitania KaveyIt really is amazing to reflect on my life. There's so much that has happened, so many experiences I've had. And the story continues...

I was in New York City during the 1970s, adopted by a white mother, who then gave birth to my brother, who is black. I remember Vietnam protesters, people swaggering around in platform shoes, the completion of the building of the World Trade Center, the bicentennial celebration, the garbage strike (really awesome as a child!), and visits to Harlem with everyone looking like, far out, man.

We moved to upstate New York, where country living gave me daily access to exploring the woods, picking wild raspberries, blackberries, blueberries and strawberries - all of which I hated - and wild apples, which I ate by the bushel curled up in the limb of a tree, always with a book. I raised chickens from eggs in incubators, and had my first pet chicken, Muhammad Ali (renamed after we learned he was a she). My mom would take us secretly on joy rides in the car through the mountain roads - during the gas crisis, and you could always encourage her to drive fast through big puddles after a rainstorm.

But while the outer life looked ideal, my inner self was desperately lonely. I wanted to be related to anyone, someone. I was essentially a throwaway child, and couldn't get over the feeling of loss and abandonment by those who should have been responsible blood parents. I was sure there was something terribly wrong with me, having been discarded by my 'real' parents, then moved through two foster families before adoption. Some people don't remember much of their early childhood. I do.

I learned about suicide at around age 10, and began seeing the first of a long line of mental health professionals. We moved out of the country and back into the concrete jungle, this time to West Philadelphia. The city was in turmoil, crime was rampant, and the MOVE bombing happened not far away. Sexual abuse and blackmail became the norm my life, and culminated in a rape when I was 15.

My attitude and emotional health spiraled down out of control. I was barely present in my life, and I turned to drugs and alcohol for help. I left home, left school, and wandered around the country, sometimes hitchhiking, sometimes without food, and usually without a safe place to sleep.

Once I was completely outside of society, I stayed. The anonymity of homelessness in America suited me. The dangers were not so different than what I had already experienced when I lived in a house.

There was no way out, and nothing I felt I had available to me to return to. I had failed at life, so perhaps took some measure of comfort in the others who were there with me. Vietnam vets, who were suffering from all types of undiagnosed mental and emotional issues were there with me. Hundreds of teen runaways lived in secret places all over the US, banding together where no grownups were allowed. No one ever gave their real name, we just had nicknames. That suited me, as I had no real name of my own.

Storytelling was what we did most to pass the time, and we all had dreams of "being something" or "doing something" with our lives, but few could define what that meant, and none had a plan to get there.

I had a child, and gave her up for adoption. I couldn't bear to have her live the life I had. She was at that time also the only human being on the planet I knew to be genetically related to me. My guilt and sorrow over her loss only served to make the hole in my heart ever larger.

After the motorcycle accident, during which I lost part of my vision and sustained a brain injury, I knew I wouldn't last long on the streets, and I would have to change my life. I didn't have health insurance, or rehab. I had also had the effects of a stroke and cardiac arrest to cope with. I was dead for a little bit - long enough to talk with my grandmother. She told me I had to go back, there were still things I had to do.

The next few years I tried to find my place in society. I learned how to walk without trouble, to use my hearing to compensate for the poor vision, and how to utter a sentence that had a complete thought in it, in the right order. My head felt as if it was permanently stuffed with cotton. Thinking and planning was muffled, clear thoughts seemed to be far away. I tried a couple conventional jobs, and was fired from both. The second one, my boss gave me a label - disabled. I had not heard that applied to me before, and it felt restrictive. Even my dreams and fantasies were curtailed by that word, like walls were boxing me in.

And life went on, as it does. I met my birth mother through an online search (Soundex Reunion Registry) and searched on my own for my half brother, finding him not long after. I learned about the Social Security Disability program around 1994, applied and was turned down. My brother went to court with me when I appealed, and through the grace of God we won.

I still hadn't found my place in society, nor had I been able to do much on my own. I ended up homeless again, and this time I took forceful action to get out of the situation.

I found in the entertainment industry I could work when I was well, and easily 'book out' when I was too tired or too sick to work. An agent took interest in me, and I began working as much as I could, modeling and acting. I couldn't do lines of dialogue, so my agent would book me on background work. I couldn't see well, and couldn't drive, so he would book me with my then-boyfriend who would patiently lead me around the maze of hazards on each set, and make sure that I got enough food to keep my blood sugar under control.

I got to play the role of anything other than what I was - in photos I was beautiful with hair and makeup done professionally. In acting I was an airline stewardess, a checkout clerk, or a security guard, and my imagination made it seem real to me. For a few hours at a time, I was whatever that character was, and I had an identity, a job and a purpose. It was quite therapeutic.

I was living in Manhattan during September, 2001. I had moved back to NYC to study voiceover, and I was taking acting & auditioning classes too. New York is my birthplace, and to be back in the energy and excitement was terrific. And then, on September 11th, everything changed. The world watched on television, listened to radio, and I was there. It was the single most devastating event of my life, and took me a long time to recover enough to at least feel like I wanted to continue on in this new, shocked and vulnerable world.

I eventually moved on to Los Angeles, and tried my hand at ever bigger things: directing, producing and screenwriting. There were small successes, and I found myself living in the life I had before only imagined was possible for other people.

There were red carpet events, awards for my work, and I ended up living in an expensive downtown loft with a concierge and valet parking. It overlooked the same street where I had been years before - Skid Row - and I mingled with homeless people and rich people, although always more comfortable with the homeless.

I was now surrounded by people, and still always felt alone. In the best of people I often found prejudice. I wasn't disabled enough to fit in with some, or was too disabled to fit in with others. I experienced discrimination because I was a woman, something I hadn't thought was a liability. Some people were more concerned with me being able to "pass" as a non-disabled person, or as a Caucasian person, or even to try and teach me to downplay that I was a woman. Everyone was categorized and grouped and labeled. Great talent was often overlooked in favor of who knew who, who slept with who, or who was doing drugs with who.

For many reasons, I chose to give up that Hollywood lifestyle. I could never be thin enough, young enough, talented enough, or any of the other images and ideas people expect you to be. I went back out into the unknown, moved to a country I had never been to, to live with a man I had never before met in person.

Europe is very different than the US, and the Dutch are very different from their close neighbors. If life is all about learning, I've definitely put myself in the class that challenges me the most. Although my physical condition has gotten substantially worse since 2007, I continue to write, and to share my story with anyone I think it might be helpful to. I judge myself so harshly, I am not afraid that others will do so for sharing the bits and pieces one usually hides away. I have learned and continue to learn life's lessons the hard way, so if I could dissuade someone else from walking the same twisted path I have been down, I would feel that my life really has had a purpose.

I repeat patterns, over and over in my life. I remember from long ago the belief that life will be better somewhere else. If you could only move; change your residence, location, job, etc. - you know, the grass is always greener... Let me tell you, I have changed my location/my surroundings and I still do the same things in Europe that I did back in the U.S., including homelessness. At least it has brought me an understanding of how people on both sides of the world get trapped in really bad circumstances, and maybe a bit more insight into how to get out of there (again). Each day that I have, I remember to be grateful. Many of us have so many things we take for granted: running water, food, shelter. Those are some of the greatest luxuries of my life. I'm so glad I've had the opportunity to have so many other experiences to draw from to help me learn compassion, empathy and appreciation for those around me, and those who are yet to come into this great story.

Through it all, what sustains me the most is my faith. I believe that there is someone watching out for me, no matter what. It's unconditional love from above. No matter how much I screw up my life down here, I know where I will go when I die (again)... and it's good. Whatever you believe, know that there is someone watching out for you too. You are not alone.

Disability

Generally speaking...

I was born with a bad left eye, and damaged my right eye in the motorcycle accident. My vision is pretty bad, but I have glasses for distance. I suffer from the after effects of a Traumatic Brain Injury. I'm also dealing with various other health issues, including problems with my back (I walk with crutches). Luckily, I have health insurance. I also have years behind me to get used to living this way. I can't drive a car, don't retain new information well, and can't resist cakes and muffins, but I can do a lot of other things - and that's what counts.



A Few Interviews/PR:

  • Art & Prose Magazine, Issue 5 - Kitty Kavey - Award Winning Screenwriter and Director
  • Dream Reachers (book) - Collection of interviews with famous and noted people.
  • Hollywood Scriptwriter Magazine, page 18 (PDF) - Kitty Kavey Triumphs Over Many of Life's Milestones Winning over 30 Screenwriting Awards
  • LA's The Place Magazine - The Power Within, The Story of Kitty Kavey, a Woman Who Wouldn’t Give Up
  • Lifted Magazine - Kitty Kavey, An Inspirational Human Being, Screenwriter and Friend
  • Press Release - Kitty Kavey Wins Top Honor at the deadCENTER Film Festival
  • Press Release - Hollywood Screenwriter Kitty Kavey Continues to Win Awards in 2007