do the hustle: how keltie knight rose to the top and got a gang of ladies on her side
keltie knight wears so many different hats, its no wonder she can claim fashionista on her resume. in case you're wondering, the rest of the list includes co-founder of the ladygang podcast, correspondent on entertainment tonight, former rockette and knicks city dancer... oh, and she recently announced a new series on E! based on the popular podcast. What's more, she's really f*cking funny. Her personality, humorous tales and insane stories keep her followers—er—gang of ladies we should say, coming back for more keltie. i mean, is there anything she can't do? the answer: slow down. which is why you should pause and take a few moments to read more about this bad ass babe and how she manifested her own career through a rather unorthodox path, no filters necessary.
The Void: With no filter – who is keltie knight?
Keltie Knight: I am a really ambitious woman who is passionate about really odd things. I love attention and I also love using my attention for good.
The Void: In your book, Rockettes, Rockstars and Rockbottom, you talk about your first few years in NYC. You highlight your struggles like living in a mouse-infested apartment, your partying, your rock star romances and trying to get your dancing career off the ground. Tell us a little about your struggle and how you persevered to achieve the success you have today?
Keltie: I think that when you have nothing, that your expectations are lower. For me, since I was about 5 or 6 years old I knew that I always wanted to live in New York. When I moved there, I thought if I could just get one, just one, dance job then I’ve made it. Looking back on when I first moved to NYC, I can see what a beautiful story it is to have struggled so much but at the time you’re just in survival mode. You can’t even understand what is happening around you because you are just so worried about how you’re going to afford to eat and how you are going to even pay for the subway to get to the dance class that you also can’t afford. This was before I even had a credit card, it was just the cash in my pocket.
I really love all the crazy, weird jobs I did to stay afloat -- I handed out power bars in Times Square, I was a perfume spritzer downtown (spritzing people as they came off the subway, which they loved), I was a gogo dancer at clubs at night. I just did all these weird things. I look back at how hard I worked for 100 dollars and now in my life, I realized how fast I can spend 100 dollars.
It’s an emotional thing but for me, but I feel that I was so good at being rejected as a kid because I was never the “best in the class.” So, when I got to New York and everything was really, really hard it just felt normal. I think that’s my success, the no’s and the rejections have never stopped me in my tracks, I just kept going in spite of them.
The Void: You’ve done so many different things in your life so far, from being a professional dancer to starting The Lady Gang with your co-founders to being a correspondent on one of the biggest entertainment television shows. Tell us how you’ve evolved from one stage to another throughout your life?
Keltie: I think that the through-line of all of it is that I have always been a performer and I’ve always loved attention. I didn’t really realize that people don’t feel this way until I hired my assistant a couple years ago. She literally hates to be on Instagram, she doesn’t want to be on camera, she doesn’t want to be on my Instagram story, she hates attention, she just wants to fade into the background. I don’t know what that’s like. I always thought that everyone just wants constant attention and people don’t. I do know there is something about my personality that I love to be out there and entertaining people.
I got into dance early in life, but I always felt I had a bigger personality than the dance world would allow. When you’re a backup dancer, or a rockette, or dancing for the Knicks or whatever it is, you are a part of a team, you’re not really supposed to be the person that is outspoken or drawing attention. I’ve been told “stop pulling focus” and I thought “damnit, I don’t know how.” This led me to start creating my own content, which led to me work for CBS. I fell in love with creating content for television. It took another decade of hard work, but eventually I proved myself and this past August I was offered the job on Entertainment Tonight.
The Void: What was one of your more challenging moments that that you had to really find your own strength to move forward?
Keltie: I had this really pivotal moment when I was in middle school. I had a really awkward phase, like most people do growing up. I was going to the movies with these other teenagers and The “cool guys” came up to me to gave me a drink - I was so excited. I took a sip of it to find out it was urine. Everyone was out to make fun of me, to make me humiliated in front of everyone else at school. I became know as “pee girl.”
I remember this moment really vividly because it was the time that my brain switched over and I was like “I can’t wait to prove everyone wrong about me”. I hate that so much of my motivation has come from proving those a$*holes, the ex-boyfriends who dumped me, or people who were like “she’s ridiculous, I hate her,” wrong, but I would be dishonest in saying anything different.
Now it’s just me continuing to prove myself wrong about me. I think my hustle has shifted over – I am trying to be a better friend, a better wife, trying to be supportive of my family. I do believe you can have it all but I do think I was so deep into my career mode for 15 years that I never really stopped to be like “wow, look at the sky”.
The Void: Why did you start The Ladygang and what do you and your co-founders want to achieve with it?
Keltie: Becca Tobin and I started The Ladygang over lunch many, many years ago. we were so frustrated that everyone that could offer us jobs seemed to be men and it felt like our lives truly depended on if those men liked us that week. We really wanted to empower ourselves to create something that was our own. Our dream all along was to make a television talk show and then we thought well no one is going to give us a show. Podcasting was so new, everyone was just starting to listen to Serial. So we decided to make a podcast and brought Jac Vanek on board (because we needed to look cool and she’s the coolest!).
The entire podcast sounds like a television talk show. It’s in three acts in a way that a 22 minute television show would be. We did that on purpose because we wanted to have a proof of concept going forward. With the hopes that one day it would turn into an actually television show. Along the way, we had no idea that we would launch a subscription box, merchandise, live shows called “ the ladyhang”, and a ladygang scholarship program.
It’s all coming around. It has taken 2.5 years of hard work and not paying ourselves. It’s really, really cool. Our motto and manifesto has always been that we want to be unapologetically ourselves and empower women to feel more normal. We empower people by talking about the really embarrassing things that happen our lives.
The Void: In a few words, what’s one piece of advice you would give to the younger you that was dreaming big?
Keltie: Slow down and try to enjoy because these will be the best days of your lives...and really connect with the people around you. Do not be afraid to speak complimentary about yourself. I play this self-deprecating kind of girl– I do that in meetings, in auditions. I realized that it’s okay to say “I am actually really good at what I do and here’s why I am an asset to you,” you can do that without being stuck up or without being a jerk. That’s a hard lesson to learn. We are taught to belittle ourselves, that we are less than, or to just accept what is given to us. More women should be more okay with standing their ground and being proud of the things they have accomplished because men will not shut up about what they’ve accomplished.
The Void: You are an open book – what’s something people don’t know about you?
Keltie: The thing that only my closest, closest friends know about me is that I actually am very anti-social. I am actually an introvert. Whenever I am not working, I really don’t like to be around people. I will hide out for days on end. My friends will be like “are you just doing Keltie right now?” I think that’s why I am successful out in the world because I save up my energy.
The Void: the void is all about the power of music and I know your husband is in the music industry – how has the power of music influenced you?
Keltie: I think the power of music has been everything to me. Being a professional dancer and getting to dance for those artists that have created iconic music has been amazing. My first job in television hosting was at Live Nation and I met my husband in that office building. He was working at Live Nation at the time. I loved music so much that the first content I created at CBS was a show called “fangirl” where I went around and interviewed bands and artists on their tour bus. from there, i was sort of known as the music expert.
The Insider, my old show, pulled me up to do television for the first time and they were mainly music interviews. If I hadn’t been a music lover, and if music hadn’t been in my life, I would have never had the job that I have now. I still do many of the music interviews over at Entertainment Tonight and it’s really cool. Being a music lover, even though I can’t sing a lick or play an instrument, has affected everything!
I was just having a conversation with Zac Efron of all people about music in your life and there is something about music that acts like a yearbook... a bookmark if you will. You can hear songs from 15 years ago or two years ago and know exactly what you were doing with your life at that time. It’s like there is a soundtrack to your life and I love that.
make sure to check out the ladygang!