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Meet Trailblazer Keili Fernando

Today we’d like to introduce you to Keili Fernando.

Thanks for sharing your story with us Keili. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
Growing up, my family instilled in me that it’s okay to share what I’m experiencing and feeling through a creative outlet because what I create might just inspire someone else. I hold that close to me everyday and do my best to make each day count. I know my elders went through a lot to bring my family over to the States, and their stories inspire me to continue to work diligently towards my goals. Music has always been a part of my family. We’d sing whenever we all got together, and “The Sound Music” was probably the most played 2-disc DVD set in our collection. As for how I got started with camerawork, my parents were photo and video hobbyists, and being the curious, young girl I was, I wanted to get in on the action. Art was never in short supply at home. My mom was a watercolor painter as well. She has been a big influence on my creative journey.

I established my production company, KLiF Productions, in 2018. That same year, I also released my debut EP, called ‘411’. I was able to go on tour and produce music videos for all of the songs for that record. The latest–and last one–is “My Esprit,” which will be released on April 3. The special thing about ‘411’ and all of the music videos that went along with that project is that I was able to collaborate with my community. A lot of these friends grew as artists alongside me at UC San Diego.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
Looking back over the past several years, there were definitely ups and downs, but it’s all part of the journey. I’ve learned to think quickly, on-the-job, and outside the box. Having a thick skin is necessary when it comes to being an entrepreneur, especially when pursuing the arts. I’ve been put down and turned down many times over the years, but I’m fortunate to have a strong support system that supports and believes in me. To help soften the blow, I also remind myself about “the why.” Why do I keep going? Well, I really am passionate about creative expression, community, and positive impacts. After I remember this, I usually find my drive again. I’m a firm believer that “when one door closes, another one opens” and “everything happens for a reason.” I personally focus the majority of my energy on the things that are important to me and make sure that I do my part in my community, especially in this current climate that we’re in.

Please tell us more about your work. What do you do? What do you specialize in? What sets you apart from the competition?
Photography, film, and music. Let’s start with the camerawork. KLiF Productions is a production company based in Orange County. I get the pleasure of helping people capture special life chapters, whether that’s live concerts, engagements, graduation photos, welcoming a baby into the world, or producing a film project. I’ve done a wide variety of photo and video work over the past decade now. I’ve had the opportunity to work on film projects that have gone to film festivals, and my photos have been featured in various publications. The real reason I enjoy this line of work so much, though, is that I get to connect with others during significant life moments.

As for my music, I’m known for being a singer-songwriter in the folk/pop genre. I usually perform with my acoustic guitar or ukulele and sometimes with my brother. I love it when people tell me that they are able to imagine a picture or a scene when they listen to my songs. As a lyricist, that’s an amazing feeling. I think what sets me apart from others in this category is that I produce my own music videos and promotional materials. But honestly, as long as I’m enjoying the process—and others are too—then I’ll keep doing it.

We’re interested to hear your thoughts on female leadership – in particular, what do you feel are the biggest barriers or obstacles?
This is an interesting question, especially with so many people celebrating International Women’s Day just several weeks ago. I think our society has made significant improvements towards gender equality, but there is still plenty to be done. One of the biggest barriers that I’ve personally faced is being thought of as “less technical and therefore less of an artist” compared to my male counterparts. I was first exposed to this notion in my late teens and still face this today from time to time.

Thankfully, I’ve developed a great network of good, diverse people who’ve vouched for me time and time again. I think it’s important to not shy away from the uncomfortable feelings when this happens. It’s better to accept and embrace those natural feelings of insecurity, then turn them into strength. Lean into your passion. Let it drive you, then turn it into action. And finally, make a difference to inspire the up-and-coming generation of female leaders, but don’t forget your allies along the way.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
KLiF Productions, Maddy Hobbs, Aaron Freeder

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