INTERVIEW: Breaking’s Kim D’Armond

(Kim D’Armond)

You may not know the name Kim D’Armond, but chances are you’ve seen the talented character actor in an array of high-profile projects for Showtime, ABC, NBC, CBS, Netflix and Amazon.

From comedy to drama, her resume lists some of the industry’s most popular and renowned TV series including I Think You Should Leave, Home Economics, Superstore, This Is Us, Bosch, and Fresh Off the Boat.

Kim’s additional credits include the Showtime drama Super Pumped: The Battle for Uber starring Joseph Gorden-Levitt, Kyle Chandler and Uma Thurman. She is also remembered as ‘Nanny Katie’ in the Disney/BBC feature, Saving Mr. Banks

D’Armond has also worked with some of Hollywood’s A-list talent, giving her many opportunities to really hone her craft.  

Most recently, Kim plays the role of 911 operator ‘Wendy’ in the film, Breaking, with John Boyega, Connie Britton and Michael Kenneth Williams in his final role.

The film is based on the true story of Marine Veteran Brian Brown-Easley who takes a bank and holds several of its employees as hostages when he is denied support from Veterans Affairs, setting the stage for a tense confrontation with the police and the 911 operators (D’Armond).  Watch the trailer below:

Reel 360 News had the chance to chat with Kim about her career.

What’s your origin story?   

I grew up with a pretty average childhood in Indianapolis. I rode my bike everywhere and played outside until it was dark.  I was very shy as a child. Maybe that’s why my mom signed me up for acting classes when I was very young.

I do know that I loved it, but was very overlooked by the teachers who were mostly pushing the over-the-top “precocious kids” style of acting, which I just wasn’t able to do at all. I mean, I failed miserably trying to be like that! 

Then, around when I started high school, we suddenly had these gritty, hippie-type teachers who taught a more realistic style of acting. That’s when I actually started to learn how to act. 

How did you break into the television industry?   

After I graduated from school in NYC, my first jobs were small roles on soap operas like All My Children and As the World Turns.  AFTRA was my first union.  This was before it merged with SAG to become one union. 

In addition to various on-camera roles, I actually did a number of voices on As the World Turns, I think because I had a truly midwestern accent (the show took place in Illinois).  I always seemed to be the voice of someone delivering bad news! 

And I guess I’m destined to always be the voice of that lady on the phone. 

Kim in Superstore

Tell us about your mentors. Who did you enjoy working with the most?  

I studied acting with Mike Nichols and Gene Hackman in New York at the New Actors Workshop, and that was pretty amazing. 

Gene taught a great acting class.  I still do some of the exercises he gave us.  He also directed us in a play where I was the captain of a girls’ basketball team who was very angry that there was a guy on the team.  He was on the team to prove that sexism goes both ways. 

But does it really?  I remember saying, “Gene, I don’t understand.  Why am I so angry?”  Well, as a middle-aged woman, of course, NOW I understand.  That really ticks me off!  And then later I saw the movie “Hoosiers” and realized that I was playing the Gene Hackman role! 

I also studied with Ian McKellen at The National Theatre’s Summer Programme for American Actors (say that three times fast!).  He was completely and unexpectedly fun and kind.  At The National, usually if there is a celebrity teacher, the class takes place in the theatre, the celeb will pontificate for a while, a couple of students will do monologues, and then the celebrity will pontificate some more.  But Ian’s class took place in a regular room. 

Ian was surprisingly soft-spoken.  He was wearing jeans and sneakers and standing in the corner.  He greeted us and quietly said, “All right then.  Shall we play?”  We then proceeded to play theatre games and do improv.  Ian did not pontificate or even really direct. He was always just one of the players on one of the teams.  We had a blast in his class! 


Why do you act?   

I just can’t imagine doing anything else!  I enjoy being me, but through the lens of another person, if that makes any sense.  There’s something very freeing about that. 

How did you prepare for your role as the 911 Operator Wendy in Breaking

There actually wasn’t all that much preparation that I needed to do for this role.  It was all there in Abi Damaris Corbin and Kwame Kwei-Armah’s amazing script.  Those words!  I did work with a dialect coach and listened to the recording of the actual 911 call (which was so very powerful). 

I was simply a lady trying to do her job, who was not really prepared for that particular situation.   We shot those scenes live (as opposed to me doing my part in a recording booth). 

I really did talk to them on the phone every day of filming.  I was right in the next room!  We also shot footage of me talking in the 911 call center, but it was not ultimately used in the film.  I think it served the film better to have me be the voice of that lady on the phone. 

Do you enjoy playing comedic or dramatic roles?   

Kim in This is Us

Oh, do I have to choose?  I love them both!  I weep pretty easily, so dramatic roles are very satisfying to me.  But there’s nothing like that feeling you have when you get a laugh!

What was it like working with 2022 Emmy-winning Tim Robinson on I Think You Should Leave? Was there a lot of improv on set or was it mostly scripted?  

Working with Tim on I Think You Should Leave was so much fun!  We had a great cast!  I can’t speak for every sketch.  But there was really no improv in our sketch.  Everything needed to be word-for-word, exactly as written.  

What is your ideal role?   

My ideal role would be very dramatic, but also tragically funny at the same time.  Does that exist?  Maybe I’ll have to write it! 

What is your process when taking on a role? 

I start by reading the words.  If they are well-written, like in Breaking, sometimes that’s all I need. 

But when I have trouble relating, then that’s when I need to use the techniques I learned in drama school. 

I feel it’s important to bring my whole person to a role.  I have a lot of life experiences to bring to a scene, and that adds a lot to any situation.  It’s so important!  

Which actors do you look up to?  

Oh, there are so many great ones!  I know this sounds cliché, but I have to say Meryl Streep, of course.  But so many others!  Ann Dowd, Sam Rockwell, Murray Bartlett, Jessica Chastain.  And of course, Gene Hackman. 

How does an actor sustain a career?  

I don’t know!  Ask me again in 20 years! 

What’s next?  

Well, Breaking and Super Pumped are both out now, one in theatres and the other on Showtime. Beyond that, the future remains to be seen! 

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