“Spend a little time doing things that make you feel good about yourself, so you don’t
have to spend so much time doing things that make you feel good.” is Emmy Award
winning producer, Michele Kanan’s, guiding philosophy. She is an Emmy nominated
writer who recently won an Emmy Award for her work as executive producer on the hit
show, Amazon Prime’s STUDiO CiTY, and is the wife of actor, producer, and author,
Sean Kanan and a mother to four grown children. While Michele is clearly a woman of many
talents, and makes it all seem effortless, she shares the lessons she learned about
starting over, creating meaningful success, and choosing happiness over complacency,
along with her strategy of “Don’t get in the ring if you don’t want to get knocked out.”
*You’re now an Emmy Award winning producer for STUDiO CiTY, a hit series on
Amazon, but you were living in a small town, running your first husband’s
medical office, and raising your children, as well as volunteering for charities,
and being extremely active in your kids’ school PTO. Was there a turning point in
your life that led to such a dramatic shift in your career?
I remember playing Bunco, a popular dice game that a group of mothers and I would play weekly to socialize, drink wine, and unwind from the monotony of child rearing. It was our version of a bowling league. One night, maybe it was the liquid courage from the wine, but I posed the question: “If money was no object, and you could do whatever you wanted, what would you do?” After a puzzled pause, one friend blurted out that she would renovate her bathroom. Many of the other moms mirrored similar type responses. That night I got the message loud and clear, as I tossed and turned while trying to fall asleep, as this was when I did most of my best thinking as it was the only time that I was alone, uninterrupted and didn’t feel guilty for being alone. I realized that I didn’t have a shared drive or vision with the people who were my peer group and close friends. Where I didn’t feel inspired or visible, they were content. I had dimmed my inner light in order to fit in for the sake of my children. I guess I was just seeking approval by suppressing my dreams to the point that I lost myself. In the morning, I then made some bold changes and began some intense self-examination. I read my own journals to determine who I was, what I liked, and what excited me. I made a schedule for the week that included me this time.
I got the kids on board by enrolling in classes so we could be homework buddies…ok so it was at NYU and I was living in California…but I found the mental stimulation I was looking for and I was willing to fight for it. With the support of my kids, I was regaining the pre-mommy person I had buried under all the diapers, homework, carpools and drive-thrus. However, in a marriage, when one mate grows, and the other doesn’t, my first marriage abruptly ended. It was crushing for me to realize that I had to choose between being the strong, independent woman I wanted to be, and the lost little girl that was married to my now ex. Was this why my mother’s generation was so emotionally unavailable? Finding myself in a messy divorce, I had to resign myself to focus on my career with a resume tied to my ex and doing it alone.