Kat Cressida | Motivational Speaker
Ted X UCLA | May 18, 2018 | Kat Cressida

Speaking

KAT CRESSIDA – “SPEECHLESS”

Keynote Speaker / Voice Over Talent / On-Camera Host

KAT is an internationally recognized voiceover actor whose credits include voices for Walt Disney Animation, Pixar Animation, Cartoon Network, and several AAA (premiere) Video Game studios. Her voice can be heard on top Sports Networks, including ESPN, FOX Sports, and FS1, as well as on National Radio + TV Campaigns – from McDonald’s to Michelob – and everything in between. 

KAT’s passion for performing manifested as a child, accompanying her father to meetings at DISNEY. By age 10, she was performing everything from Broadway Musicals to Shakespeare… EVENTUALLY leading to a scholarship to UC Berkeley.  At Berkeley, her passion extended to Communication- specifically, how to make both Shakespeare and the written word RELEVANT to the modern age- and the youth of today. 

KAT was graduated Cum Laude with honors from Berkeley and was inducted into Phi Beta Kappa. Her first position was as the only woman agent at the legendary William Morris Agency, Beverly Hills, where she represented top TV + Film writers. Desiring to be on the acting side of the industry her leap of faith led to success almost immediately landing National commercials and several Guest-Stars, including MURDER SHE WROTE, DIAGNOSIS MURDER, BABYLON 5, FRIENDS, CAROLINE IN THE CITY, and an NBC pilot, starring Tea Leone + Michael York. 

It was while playing York’s fiance for NBC, that her career took a dramatic turn. It was York’s suggestion that she consider Voice Over.  Voice Over – or acting with only your voice using facial expressions to put across a believable performance.  After training in this vastly different form of professional acting – KAT soon found success voicing Animation, Commercials, Anime, and the new technology of Video Games – and her career for 18 years as a Voice Over pro for DISNEY, DREAMWORKS, MARVEL, ESPN and dozens of other major Studios FLOURISHED (ironically – KAT was eventually signed by the William Morris Agency– where she had been an agent a decade before!)  

And then…

In 2012, during a routine doctor’s visit, with no symptoms or warning – KAT’s life – and career– came to a terrifying HALT. 

To say she was left SPEECHLESS… would be a gross understatement. 

KAT was diagnosed with an incredibly rare form of cancer– so rare that ALL the ‘specialists’ insisted her tumor was either completely benign – or so malignant it was inoperable and she would be dead within the year – and it was only at her insistence and several rounds of tests and biopsies that it was at last properly diagnosed. Generally only diagnosed in much later stages- once the cancer goes viral it is almost always… FATAL.  

Her cancer- Dermatofibrosarcoma Protuberans– is notoriously associated with a dangerously high death rate. Due to this “early” diagnosis- KAT was in Stage 3 – but the tumor was unfortunately in an unprecedented location: lodged hidden behind her jaw- and beneath the brain skull cavity… right where several crucial bodily functions and receptors intersected.

KAT went under the knife in 2013. This type of cancer is so rare, a special microscope needed to flown in from Germany. There were several potential outcomes to her 10-hour surgery; the worse being death. In order to save her life, her surgeon might sever the facial nerve and remove large parts of her face – leaving her unrecognizable, deformed… and WITHOUT THE ABILITY to move her face …  or SPEAK … again.  SPEECHLESS.

The surgery was a success – but it was also physically and emotionally devestating.  Her journey through diagnosis, treatments and recovery – eviscerating.  She needed to slowly learn to speak again, and was left looking like something out of a horror movie – deformed skull and face, Frankenstein stitches running up and down the left side of her face and neck, one eye permanently shut, her face swollen beyond recognition.  For a person who depended on their Voice + Face – and everything connected to it – for their livelihood, the future seemed hopeless.

Infections, setbacks, depression and a follow-up diagnosis that showed the Cancer was still present – required a cruel 4 months regimen of radiation wearing a Hannibal Lecter mask bolting her to a steel platform every day .

Adding insult to injury- much of KAT’s recovery was marred battling the Health Care industry – as they were unwilling to cover a number of necessary procedures to fully recover- requiring her to drain most of her life’s savings.  Thanks to her fierce battles against the Health Care system – KAT’s persistance – and her unwillingness to see OTHER patients suffer this cruel fate – she managed after 4 YEARS to change internal coding rules with BLUE CROSS, via her Health Care (SAG-AGFTRA Producers Health Plan).

During a difficult 2 years of recovery – KAT needed to LITERALLY re-learn how to speak. 

AND — every winter since her initial Surgery, while the world celebrates the Holiday Break — KAT goes back under the knife for follow-up surgeries.

Anxiety, post-traumatic stress, depression, lack of confidence, disorientation, night terrors, loss of hearing, pain… and what these various conditions then contribute (or rather – TAKE AWAY FROM) to one’s life … have BECOME part of the ongoing battle KAT has chosen to face head-on.

KAT has regained her place as a top Voice Over artist – but emotional and physical scars remain – leaving her with several non-visible disabilities and PTSD.  Her journey has unexpectedly and expertly prepared her for her role on the speaking circuit to address “hidden disabilities”, “return to work issues”, “depression”, “life-changing trauma and illness”, “cancer recovery”, “Health Insurance reform”, “PTSD”, and “life after loss”.

KAT believes NO ONE should ever have to face a frightening diagnosis alone… or be mis-diagnosed or fraudulently misled about their prognosis; NO ONE should have to fight for the right to be whole, feel whole, in the wake of an illness; and everyone deserves – regardless of their particular disability – to earn their livelihood… and thrive.

Above all: NO ONE SHOULD BE LEFT FEELING DISEMPOWERED… or SPEECHLESS. 


WEBSITE: katcressida.com/videos
WIKIPEDIA: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kat_Cressida
IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0187570/

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