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Life and Work with Gigi Collins

Today we’d like to introduce you to Gigi Collins.

Gigi has worked in Film, Television, Commercials, and Broadway theater for over three decades. Starting in the entertainment business as an actress and commercial model, her first significant opportunity came as the stand-in, photo double and stunt double for Nicole Kidman on her first three American films in the early 1990s. After a decade of being in front of the camera, she switched positions and became a makeup artist and stylist. First as the Head of the Costume Department on Riverdance for 5 years and then back to film and television with over 15 years as a Makeup Artist. “It has been a positive asset to relate that experience with the talent and endeavor to give them a healthy and well-rounded experience. The business can be difficult on the psyche so I enjoy playing that supportive role, no pun intended!”

Her other forays and interests include art, design, interior decorating, music and all things Vintage from the 20’s to the 90’s. Then last year, the light dawned. “I have enjoyed a career in Film, Television, and Broadway Theater since the early 1990s. As a Visual Arts major and Theater minor at the University of North Carolina Charlotte, that career in film production beckoned early.  My love for visual art and design never waned however, and has now come full circle. I started creating stone balance sculptures in 2016 on our mountain river trips. Around the same time I also started a small business.  I love taking care of people in that business, but my creative specter kept looming and baiting me to center.  I realized I needed to switch gears, simplify, and pursue the visual art. I’ve been blessed to field a good many interests in my life, but creating art has always been the one thing that inspired me the most.”

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
“The ability to rediscover and reinvent yourself as you move through life and explore different passions is one of the greatest blessings of our country and culture. Sometimes it is not the right path, you might fail, or you simply grow in a different direction, but you keep growing and cultivating. When you do find your niche, dig in and stick with it. Cultivate is a great word and failure can be an important ingredient in cultivation. Just keep going! What have I learned the most in life? It gets tough, and the wolf knocks at the door sometimes, but I love what I am doing and what I am creating, so I knock back.  Sometimes you have a good cry, you get out the frustration, but then you regroup and get back on track. There are always solutions to problems, so it is important to become a good problem solver. It is an old and wise adage: When in deep water, become a diver.”

Please tell us about Gigi Collins Art.
“I am currently working with larger acrylic mixed media pieces because I like texture and I am a very tactile person. I take a lot of photographs and love color palettes that I see in life. After choosing a few elements and layers, it’s good to let them breathe on their own on the canvas. The learning, growing, and exploring is amazing. There are so many more resources than when I was painting in the 80s.  It’s incredible.  For example, I was able to enter an Abstract Art competition for an art exhibition at – it is a beautifully curated site for all types of artists and mediums, and offers incredible advice and support. I received a Special Recognition Award and a place in the exhibition which was a true honor, because there were many artists with amazing pieces from all over the world. It felt great to be included in this talented group.  Being involved in that kind of global community on this level simply wasn’t possible 30 years ago.”

There’s a wealth of academic research that suggests that lack of mentors and networking opportunities for women has materially affected the number of women in leadership roles. Smart organizations and industry leaders are working to change this, but in the meantime, do you have any advice for finding a mentor and building a network?
“My father taught me that the day I stop learning is the day I leave the earth. This is a wonderful philosophy because you have the ability to learn, grow and cultivate your whole life long. It really is about the journey and not the destination, so take the time to build on solid ground. If you have a healthy interest, then, by all means, try it on!”

“Cultivate your life intellectually, emotionally, and spiritually. How you treat yourself, others and your environment is everything. Most importantly, have gratitude and give back no matter where you are in life. Giving can be the smallest of free things: a smile or kind word, and gratitude is as simple as saying thank you. Both are vitally important to well-being.”

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