When The Millennial Source developed our weekly segment “Headliners,” the idea was to profile influential movers-and-shakers in the world.
Keltie Knight is living proof that life can have multiple paths and a great example of what Headliners is all about. From television and dance to podcasts and books, Knight has turned hard work into success in a diverse amount of ways.
We were excited to chat with her this week to pick her brain and learn about her approach to realizing her dreams and setting new goals.
A performer at heart
As a little girl, Keltie Knight dreamed of becoming a dancer. In fact, she was enrolled in dance classes as a child and worked obsessively at this passion throughout her youth. Not only did she discover her talent in these formative years, but she also found herself to be a formidable personality with an eye for achievement.
We asked Knight about a critical moment that shaped her path in life and she remembers these years instilling her with a strong work ethic and a need for independence.
“When I was in elementary school, my dad lost his job. At the time, I was taking ballet class and jazz class. I remember my parents coming to me and saying ‘we’re not going to be able to afford you taking these classes anymore.’ Even though I was super young, I always remember how helpless I felt,” she recalled.
“I wanted to be able to help my family, but I was like nine. I think that’s why I had my first job when I was like 14 years old and I’ve always been a really hard worker because I never want to depend on anyone else to take care of me. So, I’ve become sort of this fiercely independent person.”
Dancing turned out to be more than just a childhood dream as Knight went on to make it a profession fresh out of high school.
Her dancing career eventually led her from her native Canada to the United States, where she worked on several music videos for names like Kanye West and John Legend, toured with the Radio City Rockettes, joined the Knicks City Dancers and the New Jersey Nets Dancers professional dance teams.
In a throwback interview with Dance Spirit, her then-manager described her drive and humility as a professional dancer. “She’s always in class, and she’s always picking up new skills,” said Anastasia Miller.
“She has never assumed that she’s made it. She always wants more.”
Knight (then, Keltie Colleen) attributed her work ethic to her dancing days, commuting relentlessly from performing arts school to dance studio day after day.
“I developed a work ethic that people don’t have when they are given things easily,” she explained.
The next chapter
Knight is now a well-known television personality. From a string of smaller gigs as a television presenter, she went on to be easily recognized as an on-air correspondent and weekend co-host for The Insider.
In addition to interviewing many celebrities, Knight has covered major media events like the Grammys and Emmy Awards as well as being a judge for the Miss USA pageant and eventually joining Entertainment Tonight as a correspondent.
But, she hasn’t stopped with television. Knight, along with co-hosts Jac Vanek and Becca Tobin, hosts the successful weekly podcast-turned-television-show on E! Entertainment, “The LadyGang.“
They offer raw, unfiltered perspectives on pop culture along with relatable celebrity interviews and a realistic, insider’s look behind the scenes of the modern Hollywood zeitgeist.
The podcast’s success has been great, and its creators have branched out with their first book, “Act Like a Lady,” a self-described “manifesto that redefines womanhood for the twenty-first century lady.” Working now toward becoming bestselling authors, the lady gang considers this project a complete labor of love.
“I love this book so much,” Knight told us. “I’m such a big reader, so to have a real publishing deal and be putting a book out and see it on sale at Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Books A Million is so crazy to me. We worked for a year on this book and I think it’s our heart and our soul. It’s so vulnerable. I think a lot of people are going to see themselves in our stories.”
We were excited to chat more with Knight to get inside her head and learn about her motivations, inspiration and ideas on success and hard work.
You’ve gone from professional dancer to television personality to founder of the popular podcast The LadyGang. What has this journey been like for you?
The journey has been a lot of work, but what I love about this is it’s proof that you don’t just have to have one dream in your life. You can, essentially, re-dream a new dream all the time. You can decide you want to do something and then change your mind and want to do something else. That’s kind of what I’ve done. I feel like I’ve had 15 jobs.
Where did the idea for LadyGang come from?
Becca and I have known each other in New York when she was on Broadway and we had sort of talked about, she was starring on Glee and I was doing my job as an entertainment reporter. We kind of wanted to start our own thing because people were having great success with that and there’s something nice about having a job that you can’t get fired from because it’s a job that you made up. Then, we knew Jac and that’s how we all got together.
Describe your entrepreneurship journey using three words.
Hustle, dedication, consistency. We are 5 years in and I think this fifth year was the year where everyone was like ‘wow, you really did something!’ and I was like ‘yeah, you didn’t notice for the first four years when we were hustling and our credit card was maxed out and we weren’t sure what we were doing.’ You just have to be patient and know that there’s going to be good months and bad months and times when you feel like you’re winning and times when you feel like you’re losing.
Describe your mind in three words.
Full, anxious, hopeful.
What are 3 words you would use to describe your character/ you as a person?
I think people would describe me as hard, dedicated and full of anxious energy.
What does it mean to be “successful”?
I thought for a while it was going to be having a nice designer handbag or even an Emmy, or one of those things, and I’ve realized that – especially through this quarantine and being kind of cut off from the world – for me, happiness is doing something I’m passionate [about] and that I love and having people around me that lift me up. I mean I love a handbag, but you know.
How have you been handling life during the pandemic? Any tips for people self-isolating for coping with lockdown?
I am living by the mantra of ‘be gentle with myself’ and ‘be gentle to others.’ I try not to be too “judgy” of other people, except when I see them at barbecues without masks on and just deciding that the pandemic’s over when really scientists haven’t told us that yet. OK, so I am judging a little bit, but I’m trying to be gentle with myself at least. So, some days I feel I can get up and do everything on my plate and crazy to-do lists, and then some days I just lay in bed and eat cinnamon buns and that’s the way it’s going to be.
What’s your spirit animal? And why?
I don’t know if I have a spirit animal. I’m going to say unicorn because she shouldn’t be special, she’s just a regular horse. But somehow she thinks she’s like a unicorn and magical, and she’s fooled everyone.
Where do you get your inspiration?
I love watching other strong women and what they’re doing. I get inspired by watching all these people build up their little communities. It’s so cool right now with [the] media how you don’t have to be the most famous person in the world. You could build up your own little community of like-minded people. I think that’s what LadyGang is.
What advice would you give your younger self?
Alright, 20-year-old Keltie. Number one, stop messing with your hair and your eyebrows. That’s like first, vain. I would say to just go live. Being such an independent person who is so motivated and driven, I just started working and it’s always been about the work for me. I wish that I had had the knowledge to just go and live in Europe for a year, go to Australia or just travel around when I didn’t have a mortgage and bills to pay and all that stuff. When we get out of school, we feel the pressure to get into the real world and start ‘doing it’ and I wish there was not that pressure. I wish that you could just go live a little bit. Because life is long and you’re going to be fine.
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Princess, ballerina, Radio City Rockette, on the stage, on Broadway – something like that.