What It Means To Be Real In Your Storytelling


This Week’s Episode:

It’s the end of my first semester at the University of Hawaii and my roommate Shannon and I are cramming for finals. At around 9 at night, we decide to take a break so we go get a bite to eat at King’s Bakery. 

After our delicious late night snack of Sweet Hawaiian Bread French Toast, we hop back on our mopeds, wind in our hair, heading back towards our dorm.

That’s the last thing I remember. 

The next thing I do remember is waking up in a hospital bed five days later. The pain is so severe I can barely turn my head. I learn that a masonry cement truck had run a red light and hit us. 

I’m dizzy, nauseous and my head is pounding as the doctor comes into my room. I ask him if he can give me something for the pain.

“No Kymberlee, I’m sorry. We can’t give you anything because your brain is swelling right now.” 


“You’re going to have trouble with dizziness and nausea for a really long time. You’ll probably have trouble with balance and headaches for the rest of your life.” 

Ready for the bad news? According to him, I’ve also lost my sense of taste and smell… forever.

Now, lying in this bed, I have a choice to make. I can let others decide what happens in my story next, or I can take the reins of my story instead. 

I chose the latter. And because of that pivotal decision, doors and opportunities opened up to me that would have never been options. Dreams have come true all because I took my life in my own hands.

My guest today, Kurt Kanazawa, also had a choice to make when he was faced with a diagnosis. He was on a very specific life path when everything changed. In this episode, you’ll hear about it and answers to questions such as:

What’s the benefit behind telling the story that you don’t necessarily want to tell? How can your history spawn creative storytelling for other creators? And what’s a powerful way to open a story?

What you will learn in this episode:

  • What is possible when you take control of your story
  • Why the truth of your story can’t remain hidden for long
  • What it means to be real in your storytelling (no matter the medium)

Who is Kurt?

Kurt Kanazawa is an actor and writer born in Los Angeles and partly raised in Hawai'i. He graduated from The Juilliard School in Vocal Arts, and lived for several years in Italy, where he starred in the Italian drama series, Provaci Ancora Prof! He is fluent in Italian, and is of Japanese and Filipino descent. He is based in Los Angeles. 

Most recently, Kurt can be seen in the ensemble feature film No No Girl, a multi-generational Japanese American family drama, written/directed by Paul Daisuke Goodman. At Tribeca, Cannes, Hawai'i, and BFI London Film Festivals, he played Stanley Hayami in A Life in Pieces: the Diary and Letters of Stanley Hayami, a V/R film co-produced by the Japanese American National Museum, and has also appeared on Bosch: Legacy and Grey's Anatomy. Trained in martial arts, and an alumnus of Columbia University, UCLA TFT, and the Manhattan School of Music, he was formerly an award-winning opera singer. After a diagnosis of vocal dystonia ended his singing career, a casting director scouted him in Rome, where he landed his first acting gig.

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"Storytelling is an art form - and Kymberlee Weil is the master! I’ve been fortunate enough to work with some of the most talented creatives in the world, and Kymberlee is close to the top of that list. She has an uncanny ability to uncover nuance and layers in a story - details often overlooked by the author - and has a deep understanding and connection with the value of well-executed presentation. Working with Kymberlee is more than a journey, it’s a transformative experience."


"Kymberlee helped me tremendously in the weeks leading up to my TED talk and afterwards. I have given hundreds of talks to audiences big and small. But the TED stage is a different beast -- every word matters.Kymberlee kept me on point, focused, and she took the time to figure out what my objectives really were and how to get me there. She is a true master of her trade and I am extremely grateful to have had the opportunity to work with and learn from her."


"I thought I had public speaking down pat. I've addressed audiences all over the world ranging from 62 to 1000 people. But going into that red circle at TEDx, and connecting with a vastly diverse audience is like moving to another planet. Kymberlee made that move effortless and exciting. As a former Green Beret, I have followed a lot of quality leaders and coaches, and I would follow Kymberlee anywhere… Especially into the red circle."