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Yasmin Kassim on Craft, Comedy and Owning Her Confidence

Interview of Yasmin Kassim by Ella Cigognini

From recording musical parodies on YouTube to starring opposite Hollywood A-listers, Yasmin Kassim knows about craft. The Perth local knew from a young age that a career in the arts was it for her, going on to professionally pursue acting, singing and comedy, in Melbourne, and all the way to Los Angeles. 

Last week, I sat down with Yasmin to chat about her life as an artistic quadruple-threat, the passion she holds for her career and what’s coming up next.

ELLA: Hi Yasmin, tell us what got you started into your craft? 

YASMIN: I liken my journey with the arts very similar to my journey with my sexuality. I always knew it was there, but it never felt like an option to me. I was always doing different kinds of creative things, like acting, singing and dance, but you know, I always felt like I wasn’t supposed to do that as a profession. 

Yasmin shares that as a young girl, she felt that there was no clear path through the arts for her, no way in. This was until she got into the Western Australia Academy of the Performing Arts (WAAPA).

Y: I got into WAAPA for classical voice, I was originally going to be an opera singer. Then my parents were like, ‘Go to a top 100 university, and then if you still want to do acting after that, we’ll support you.’ 

After completing her arts degree at the University of Western Australia, Yasmin took her chance to pursue her dream in the ‘big smoke’- Sydney. After travelling from agency to agency looking for representation, she found that she didn’t’ ‘fit’ the mould that they were offering.

Y: There was really only one type of brown girl on agency books. Now, it’s so different, thank goodness. 

It’s amazing how much the industry has changed. It’s amazing in regards to diversity, in regards to opportunity for filmmakers, with government funding and incentives. I’m so grateful to be Australian right now, to be coming to not only create things that I’m writing or producing, but to also come back for these comedy festivals and to be in something like Brown Women Comedy.

This is what I love about it, they’re all so different; acting, writing and stand up. But what I love is my permission to be imperfect.

E: Yes! Brown Women Comedy, what are you doing with this part of your career at the moment?

Y: So, I did every night at Adelaide Fringe Festival and now I’m on every night here at Brown Women Comedy in Melbourne, amongst doing some other shows. It’s such a fun show, such a fun audience.

I think it is the first group they’ve had of brown women doing comedy, and now they’re up to their second or third year.

Pursuing a career in the arts requires a great deal of vulnerability from the individual. They’re required to act, write and speak from a range of emotions, from spaces that are deeply personal and intimate. 

We watch the final scene that was cut and cleaned from 150 different takes, but never the process that leads to the perfection. We watch the lines delivered flawlessly up on stage, and read polished scripts, but we are not privy to the labour that provides us with all our favourite entertainment. 

Y: There’s something that comes over me with standup. It’s very similar to when I play a character as an actress, or when I’m in a writer’s room tossing around ideas. I just feel like I’m the bravest part of myself.

I can be a little people pleasing, not wanting to upset anyone, but as soon as I’m a character, I could throw a glass at a wall and not give a damn. Or if you put a microphone in my hand, I will say anything and I will call you out in the audience. And I do think it’s this repressed part of myself that I so wish was more in my everyday life, where I’m just brave and fun and fearless.

I hope that whatever our format ends up being, people start feeling seen and more comfortable. To just be themselves and know that it’s okay that you don’t fit into a box.

E: You said that you are the bravest part of yourself when you’re in a writers room, behind a camera, or on a stage doing standup, I’d love to know if there are differences in your creative processes when preparing for each one?

Y: I have a lot of different ways to get into a character…and I feel like my process for each one is different, but the feeling I get when in flow is the same. And that’s a part that I wish I could’ve shown the younger me, and helped her to access that kind of freedom and bravery and fun.

This is what I love about it, they’re all so different; acting, writing and stand up. But what I love is my permission to be imperfect.

Yasmin Kassim is no stranger to hard work, determination and passion. She’s worked alongside Daniel Radcliffe, Mindy Kaling, Alex Russell and was one of the first Australians to book the CBS Comedy Diversity Showcase in the US. She’s currently a writer on two films and is working on bringing her own projects to success here, and across the globe, hoping to bring her passion for creativity and craft with her. 

Y: I feel so passionate about sharing my story, being bisexual, being biracial. It’s important to me to start normalising that, and also exploring the kind of intricacies and emotions that come with never feeling like you’re enough for anything.

And it’s something I feel so passionate about, and something I bring to the characters I write and talk about in stand up, because as much as I want to entertain people, I want to have a really strong message.

And I just want young brown girls out there that are hiding their sexuality to feel more comfortable. Anyone that’s out there, especially that’s biracial, you know how it feels to not fit in.

Yasmin will be performing with the Brown Women Comedy Group from April 6-21 at the Melbourne International Comedy Festival, and is currently co-writing a comedy/horror film called TIK/CROC

See here for tickets to her upcoming shows, and here on follow her on Instagram.

Ella Cigognini

Ella is a Melbourne-based writer who is looking to pursue a career in telling human interest stories. She is a Journalism graduate from RMIT University and is hoping to use her skills to travel the world writing and telling stories of people from all walks of life.

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