Actor Kiko Ellsworth Shares About Transformation, Voice, Racism and Love – HPP 94

Kiko Ellsworth

Actor Kiko Ellsworth began his career thinking that acting was the last profession he would ever pursue. It wasn’t until he got on stage that he realized how terrified he was to express his voice in the world. At that moment, he knew he needed to use acting as a vehicle for self-expression. But that was just the beginning. After years as a successful actor on TV and film, he decided to give it all up after hitting rock bottom and went on a search for a more fulfilling life. What he found is both simple and remarkable, and a testament to what’s possible when we listen to ourselves.

Show Notes:

Fear of expression and acting on stage – 02:47
“And I was a very different type of hands-on person, and a couple of friends of mine pretty much kind of convinced me over the course of two years just to try it out. I ended up getting on a stage and I had stage fright, and I was freaking out. Most of my life I was scared”

Giving up acting and pursuing a spiritual practice – 06:23
“Acting started that conversation with me. It was the primer; it was the appetizer. But the full course really didn’t come, because when I went into entertainment, that got me started doing these things. And I started a voice, but I still wasn’t like, here, I still wasn’t really present”

The power of my first marriage – 14:00
“The thing about her is that she had something when I met her. She had something that my soul self wanted, and I wanted it for myself, she had herself. She had a cohesiveness. She just had, where she was okay with herself. And she had the power of self, and there was something about her. I just had to be around her”

Discovering self-love – 19:05
“When I loved her, and gave her my blessing I was like, oh, this is what it means to show up. I showed up with my voice, it was like this—my voice, what I was saying, was in full alignment with my heart, my heart was fully open. My heart was saying it, my body was saying it, my mind was saying it. It’s like all the aspects and capacities of me were saying the same thing was, I love you”

Skewed perceptions and sanity – 23:31
“I was stable-y unstable. I think where I was unstable, I know where I was unstable in a major way was kind of like I was basically on the spectrum. The way that I saw things wasn’t the way they were happening. It wasn’t in large part how people were experiencing me or the situation that I was a part of with them”

Routines that keep me sane – 28:23
“It was learning how to sleep in and learning how to stay in bed until my eyes just popped open. You know what I’m saying, instead of just forcing myself to get up. Because at one stage of my life, loving myself was forcing yourself to get up—And I always start like the day before how I get into my night, my evening before so I can wake up properly. Because if I can wake up properly, that’s setting me straight”

Empowering all to love – 31:47
“And it’s really about us coming into balance and healing and whatever it takes for us to come into that sort of balanced, loving space, peaceful space for ourselves—And it’s really about us all coming from that place of wholeness, and joy, and for each of us what that love is”

Evolving Men of Color Summit and racism in America – 34:25
“So the growth and those things that those conversations and things need to be addressed as we talk about how we evolve to go forward, because we can’t evolve without healing the pains. We have to address the pains, we have to address the energy blockages, we have to address the things that we’re not saying and our concerns and things like that”

Full Episode Transcript


Dr. Will Van Derveer, Keith Kurlander, Kiko Ellsworth


Kiko Ellsworth  00:00

It’s important that you speak love into the air. It’s vital for our survival and for us to be able to thrive that anyone that’s listening to this, that you strengthen up, that you courage up, woman up, man up and speak your truth of love into the air into your relations into the world at your workspace, and be willing to sacrifice the things that really don’t matter, because this world needs to be filled with your love.


Keith Kurlander  00:37

Thank you for joining us for The Higher Practice Podcast. I’m Keith Kurlander with Dr. Will Van Derveer, and this is the podcast where we explore what it takes to achieve optimal mental health. Hi there. Welcome back to the Higher Practice Podcast. I’m excited to dive into another episode with you. Today we’ve got a really interesting person’s story. We’re interviewing Kiko Ellsworth, he was an actor for most of his career. Early on he really focused on TV, you probably have seen him in many different shows, done some film and he’s got a cool story to tell us about his own personal transformation of recognizing that something was really shut down inside of him, that he didn’t feel like he was freely being himself in his life and pursued acting first. That’s sort of a path to awakening that as you’ll hear, and then also, recognizing there was much more he needed to discover about himself. So it’s a cool meandering through a lot of different topics around personal transformation around what it’s like to have a voice in the world, what it’s like to be shut down with your voice, around racism. We go through a lot of different places, so I’m excited to dive in here. Kiko Ellsworth was a shy boy afraid to speak, and an Emmy Award winner igniting the heart and others, Kiko is also an inspirational speaker and high performance coach from being VP of a local domestic violence nonprofit to becoming a Kundalini yoga teacher and producing films. Kiko combines his worldly experiences to deliver transformational teachings through his online school and coaching programs, Kiko has spent decades alchemizing unconsciousness into light, continually fulfilling his manifesto, “Once you have you, you have everything”. Let’s welcome Kiko to the show.  Hey, Kiko. Welcome to the show.


Kiko Ellsworth  02:43

Hey, thank you for having me. What’s going on, Keith? What’s going on, Will?


Keith Kurlander  02:47

Yeah, great to have you. We’re xcited to hear more about you and what you’re up to now in your past and that’s a good starting point. I’m just intrigued about your journey here. I know that you spent a lot of time acting, TV actor, you did some film like, I’m really curious, just let’s like, let’s kind of start there, what was it like to be an actor? What was coming up for you psychologically, as you were exploring that you were committing to that career, you were really trying it out while you were facing yourself at that moment in time. And then we could kind of go through the stages of getting you up to where you are now. So maybe to start us off there, like, what were you thinking about and as yourself as a person as an actor, and you were a visible actor. I saw you a few times, like when your name came by and what do you I was like, Oh, I know who this is. So just Yeah, what was that like?


Kiko Ellsworth  03:37

It’s kind of like you were there, the way you were just talking. When I first started to be honest with you, where I was at mentally when I first started, I never wanted to become an actor. I thought it was kind of corny growing up. And I was a very different type of hands-on person, and a couple of friends of mine pretty much kind of convinced me over the course of two years just to try it out. I ended up getting on a stage and I had stage fright, and I was freaking out. Most of my life I was scared. I was scared of my dad growing up. And our parent’s generation didn’t necessarily have a lot of tools that we have, and the support. Some of the tools were like, might have been drugs and alcohol, and that’s it. But we have a lot more tools now. So when I got on that stage, it was like the culmination of all those fears, and I had stage fright. And I just remember, like the side of my face was burning, I couldn’t talk and my body was locking up, and I was in this class trying to deliver these lines on this sort of showcase night. And my teacher interrupted the scene. And she was like, Kiko just talked. I just talked. And I’m like, yeah, trying. I can’t get it out. And I got off that stage, and I kind of shook it off, and I kind of cursed at myself. And I said, “F” that. I’m like, what was that? That wasn’t me. that wasn’t the truth, and what was all this fear and this blocking down and this personality. My mom has always called me her sunshine, and I wasn’t shining. And so that’s when I really committed to it. It was really about effort, my path and my commitment to be more me, and to be true to myself, because at that point, I was a liar to myself.


Keith Kurlander  05:48

So it’s almost like what I’m hearing is like acting at that moment in time became your spiritual and personal development path?


Kiko Ellsworth  05:55

Absolutely, completely.


Keith Kurlander  05:57

Where you wanted to learn how to express your voice basically?


Kiko Ellsworth  06:00

Completely it, that’s all it was, I didn’t care about being, it changed later on. And then it changed again, and I left and we’ll get to that, but it was all about that, it was all about being true to me. And how do I frickin express myself authentically, that actually where I can really feel good? And where’s my voice? I didn’t have a voice.


Keith Kurlander  06:23

This type of story excites me just because I’m so into it, how do we express ourselves freely? Give us a couple more nuggets as you go along and act? How you started to unlock your voice, and where it was on musicals blaze TV did happen all everywhere, were you just seeing it happen? Any stories you can share here?


Kiko Ellsworth  06:43

Well, acting, that got me onto that path of wanting to be aligned with myself. Acting got me, it started that conversation with me, it was the primer, it was the appetizer. But the full course really didn’t come, because when I went into entertainment, that got me started doing these things. And I saw a voice, but I still wasn’t like here, I still wasn’t really present, I still wasn’t like really activated the internal parts and aspects of me weren’t put together. They weren’t cohesive, and I still didn’t make sense to myself. That just started the conversation. Where it really anchors it in, is when I actually started Kundalini Yoga, and that was, I think, probably about nine or 10 years later.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  07:36

Oh, wow. Okay. Yeah.


Kiko Ellsworth  07:37

So that happened, and then I walked away from the industry, probably about eight or nine years in. And then about nine or 10 years is when the Kundalini I ended up taking a Kundalini yoga class, because I hit rock bottom in my life, ended up reading a book, got into this class, four o’clock in the AM. And I realized how tight I was in this, I was like, what am I so stressed out about? Why am I all again, I was trying to do these chants, my throat was locking up on me, I noticed I was sitting there kind of like this. And I was like, trying to shake off this tightness, this energy. And I was like, okay, obviously, I’m doing this to myself, because I’m here four o’clock in the AM. There’s a lady teaching the class, it was me, her and her dog Chloe, was just like the three of us and I’m like, What am I so stressed out about? What am I so locked up about? It’s like, there’s something here that I need to and want to look at. And when I kept doing that, I kept going to these classes and there was something about this one particular mantra it was, Sat Siri Siri Akal Siri Akal Maha Akal Maha Akal Sat Nam Akal Moorath Wahe Guru And it goes, it means the true great, true, great, great, deathless great, deathless beyond death, beyond death, truth is the name. Something about the beautiful divine, and I didn’t, I was chanting that for like, three months. And I was like, What does this mean? I didn’t even know what it meant. But that’s when things really started unlocking and I remember at that time, my voice was locked in my throat. So it’s hard for me to do it now, but my voice was very throaty, and heavy. And I was like, it was more like up here, and it was really locked into my upper chakras. It was like I was just stressed in like me, everything was just stressed, stressed now just doing that. And so I just remember that my voice started to drop, and I started to relax. And I had my first experience with God, my Creator there in a yoga class, we’re not even talking about God. We were just there with the self and blinding and the creativity started coming, the voice started coming through the mantra and the relaxation and the breath and the breathing. And I ended up doing an EP and album because like this, just the creative flow, the energy that just started coming through. That’s one of the biggest shifts for me with regards to being myself, and creativity, and there were ones after that, but that was the next one.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  10:28

I wonder if you could fill us in, Kiko. You said that you hit rock bottom right before that class? And can you tell us a little bit about that trajectory?


Kiko Ellsworth  10:36

Yeah, that was sort of at the tail end of that portion of my entertainment career. And I walked away from it, because there was a point in time where I was like a fork in the road. And I was offered this part in the show, remember that show heroes back in the day? wonderful show, right? Yeah, I had a part on here, and it was gonna get bigger, but I had a fork in the road. And I was like, okay, either you’re going to invest in your own spirituality, because what you truly want, I just wanted myself, or you’re going to get this role and get money and be on a show and get sort of these external trinkets of whatever. And I remember making that choice, and I ended up not canceling the trip with my wife at the time. And I ended up losing the show and going on the trip with her because at that time, I couldn’t do both. It was like, you got to choose this, or cancel this and postpone yourself. And I remember I ended up doing that trip, and so I started going down that path of like, really investing and sacrificing for myself, but really getting myself.


Keith Kurlander  11:51

Kiko, right before you made that choice, was it pretty intense for you about the choice? Were you like, kind of in a crisis of like, what do I do here? Which way do I go? Or was it a little more mellow for you, and you were just kind of calmer and was able to just kind of think through it?


Kiko Ellsworth  12:07

Yeah, I was more calm. I was clear about what was important. I didn’t want to make the choice, I wanted to try both. But it was a little tough. But I wasn’t in a major crisis. Deep down, I knew the choice that I had to make, and I made it. After that, I ended up hitting rock bottom, and I ended up walking away from my agents, because I was trying to figure some things out. And I remember just crying to my wife, I was crying to her in the bedroom. And I told her I was like, I can’t do anything, I can’t make money, I can’t I don’t even know who I am, I don’t know how to dress, I don’t know who I am. I was literally not a caterpillar, but not a butterfly. I was in this phase, where I was just like the muck. I was in this metamorphosis, but I just couldn’t do or produce or do anything. And she just whispered in such a beautiful self, and so kindly and gently she said, Well, you know, you could go back to acting, and that was like the biggest light bulb. I was like, Oh, yeah, that’s right. I do know how to act. I have all these bills piling up, and I can’t. I don’t know how to make money doing that. That’s how gone or deep I was into excavating myself, that I forgot in the external world that I could actually make money doing acting. I had been doing professionally for eight, nine years already at that point, 10 years. So that was my rock bottom, and from that thing, from that point, really, things started to kind of shift and I started to build my internal foundation of self, whatever you want to call it, your spiritual foundation and all that stuff I started.


Keith Kurlander  13:44

When was this rock bottom, like when you were you’re already on kind of a spiritual path I’m hearing, but you were like, I don’t know what’s going on, I don’t know what to do, I don’t know how to pay my bills. Like how many years ago was that?


Kiko Ellsworth  13:54

That was I think that was in 2009.


Keith Kurlander  13:58

Okay, so some good amount of time ago.


Kiko Ellsworth  14:00

Yeah, yeah, that was in 2009. And basically, I went through these phases, I was going through these phases. I basically dropped my ego. I said, you know what? I’m not investing in the things that I built with my ego, because I know that I’m going in another direction. I want to know who I am, my spiritual self, I want to know, have that spiritual strength, and I didn’t have that strength. Now the thing about my wife at the time, she had that. I really committed in the relationship with her like back in 2004 when we bought the house. The thing about her is that she had something when I met her. She had something that my soul wanted, and I wanted it for myself, she had herself. She had a cohesiveness. She just had, what she was okay with herself. And she had the power of self, and there was something about her. I just had to be around her. I learned from her, I love her, we built a life together, and so she was my mentor, and she held the space for me for like a decade in our marriage and really sacrificed a lot because when you’re dealing with somebody who’s in the way that I was, and many of us are unconscious to who we truly are, and we’re somewhat fractured in our identity, and we haven’t made ourselves whole, just yet. When we’re unconscious, to who we are, the person that is in our space can be abused, unconsciously.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  15:37

You mean abused by taking too much from the person who’s working through things?


Kiko Ellsworth  15:43

Because here’s the thing, I was self destructive myself. I didn’t know how to even love myself. It sounds cliche, but I had no idea how to love myself. So I had no frame of reference on who I was, and so my behaviors, and where I was coming from, wasn’t from a whole and healthy place. And this person that’s holding the context for me, trying to help me to find myself, if you will, they’re going to get hit with a lot of this unconscious energy. It’s going to be expressed in so many different ways. And it wasn’t until many years later that I finally got it, and it was literally when we were co parenting, we had decided that we were going to complete our marriage. And we completed it, we were co-parenting. She ended up having a boyfriend later on. And she came to me and she said, you know what, I’m locked up. My heart is locked. And I want, I would love it if you gave me your blessing so I could give my heart to this man. And it was very impromptu, and we had a completion ceremony. And it was the most amazing thing that I’ve ever been a part of, more amazing than our wedding, and we had tears of joy, we were kind of afraid, it was exciting. We had all these emotions mixed in one, but that was the first time I finally got it, because I was giving her my heart with love so she could experience love for herself from another man, in me giving her that blessing me wanting her to love and hurt me telling her like I really do want you to be loved, go ahead, love yourself, give your heart to this man. That’s when I got it for myself, that’s when my heart unlocked. That’s when everything clicked for me. That’s when just like boing, it just came in. So that was the next big Aha! And that’s literally when I became a man at that point, and I want to say that that was in 2018?


Dr. Will Van Derveer  17:40

At that moment of generosity and giving, and is where you receive the most.


Kiko Ellsworth  17:46



Dr. Will Van Derveer  17:47

Wow. That’s powerful.


Keith Kurlander  17:49

Yeah, it’s a beautiful story there too with your wife and the way she supported you, and I know she’s on a different path now. You guys aren’t together anymore it sounds like. But then I also know 2018, so I saw that you’re more now involved with like you’re wanting you did some work on empowering men of color, right? Isn’t that more current now that you’re doing some work with trying to help men also get empowered? Is that one of the things you’re up to now?


Kiko Ellsworth  18:14

Absolutely. I want to take it back for a second.


Keith Kurlander  18:17



Kiko Ellsworth  18:17

Interesting for what I’m about to say, but me and my former wife are more together now than we’ve ever been in our entire lives. I just came back before this interview here. Before this, I just came back from her place helping her to rearrange some stuff in her shed, because some of the things are kind of heavy. And so I just spent an hour and a half or whatever going over there and helping her and that’s the biggest joy that I’m able to go there and help her, and now I’m finally able to show up properly. Because throughout my entire marriage with her, I just didn’t know how to show up, and it’s okay. Because like what you were saying earlier, it’s like, because I knew that I was learning, I was messing up a lot, but I knew I was learning. And I wasn’t getting it, but there was little thing I was getting. But then I finally got it.


Keith Kurlander  19:05

Let’s hang with that for a moment, like when you are unable to show up as a husband in the way you would have wanted. Like, how are you showing up? Can you give us a little story of an example how you would have shown up differently if you integrated?


Kiko Ellsworth  19:17

Absolutely, absolutely. I think one of the main things is that I was very disconnected in the sense of I wasn’t empathetic towards her nor myself primarily. And I was always missing her with regards to her emotions, particularly when she was pregnant. And that was one of the biggest, I don’t wanna say slip ups but I literally just couldn’t get what her needs were. I couldn’t feel what she wanted, I couldn’t feel what she needed. But it wasn’t because I didn’t care for her, it wasn’t because I didn’t love her, It’s because I was so, if you will just sort of fractured and not put together myself, I wasn’t held just yet. I didn’t have this together. I mean that saying what we hear that’s so cliche like, then I just hate saying it, but it’s so true because I’ve officially experienced it for myself . It’s literally impossible to give somebody something you don’t have. You cannot love somebody until you love yourself first, but that’s cliche, but it’s like, how Will loves yourself, and how I love myself, and how Keith you love yourself. That’s all gonna be very different. I had to learn, first of all, what is the experience of Kiko loving himself? I don’t know, you know what I’m saying? What if I go, and I bought myself a car that’s love, right? Maybe that’s where I started, things like that. But then I didn’t realize it’s like, no, no, loving myself are the little things, it’s how I discipline myself, it’s how I go to bed, it’s how I am able to speak my truth and really speak what’s on my mind, or say that I’m sorry, or whatever the case may be. There has to be my alignment with my soul on that definition of what love is for myself. But like that inciting incident is one, I’ve had that experience, when I loved her, and gave her my blessing. I was like, Oh, this is what it means to show up, this is what it means to show up. I showed up with my voice, it was like this, my voice, what I was saying was in full alignment with my heart was fully open. My heart was saying it, my body was saying it, my mind was saying it. It’s like all the aspects and capacities of me we’re saying the same thing was I love you. This is how I show up, I had never showed up like that before. And so I finally had that experience, and so it’s like, okay, now I can repeat that. Now I know what it’s like to show up.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  21:49

I can only imagine what the impact of that was for her. I mean, did she feel that? How does she react to that?


Kiko Ellsworth  21:57

Many different ways. She says now, he’s the best ex-husband I never wanted to have. That’s what she says now. On that day it was a blessing, but then she was angry with me for a little while, because she was like, why does it have to be after I leave you or whatever. And I was like, why didn’t freakin put the timer on this thing and say, I’m gonna do it after this happens. This is divine agreement we have. This is karma stuff, this is on divine time. And this has nothing to do with me and this and stuff like that. So yeah, but now we are totally good. I mean, we’re literally a force. A force of love. She’s my best creative partner on the entire planet. I mean, we’re literally doing some amazing things together. We have like lots of plans, and the people whoever I end up being with, that’s just something they need to understand. And everyone’s like, that’s weird, it’s like, it’s actually not weird at all. It’s actually very, very normal. It’s like, we’re all a big tribe, and just because like we change the hat, you don’t leave the tribe, just because the roles may change, you still take care of the tribe, you see what I’m saying? You don’t frickin leave the tribe just because oh, this is not working out between me and her. So I’m gonna leave the entire tribe, or I’m gonna shun this person. No! You still operate like a tribe, you still take care of each other, you still love each other. And I’m saying you just gotta put your own little emotions in place and put them in order and like work through that, heal that stuff, woman up, man up, whatever, you know what I’m saying? Do the work!


Keith Kurlander  23:31

Yeah, we talk a lot about mental health on this podcast, like, I’m curious for you like, what your mental health was like through this journey of yours? Did you ever struggle with your mind and your emotions in a way that was really disordered and disturbing? Or for you, was your mental health more in a stable way, and you’re just in your constitution, like, how’s that journey been for you?


Kiko Ellsworth  23:55

I was, like, stably, unstable. I think when I was unstable, I know where I was unstable in a major way was kind of like I was basically on the spectrum. The way that I saw things wasn’t the way they were happening. It wasn’t in large part how people were experiencing me or the situation that I was a part of with them, and it wasn’t like, when we I remember at the tail end, when we have already completed our marriage, she was like, well, since is over now, I might as well tell you these things I wasn’t gonna tell you, I’m gonna tell you now, and I was like alright great. She ended up telling me some things about some situations how people, some friends of ours, really got deeply offended by my behavior. And she told me how they took that, and I was like, I remember that. I was like, I had no idea, I didn’t see it that way. And I wasn’t disagreeing with her or them, but I was like, I saw that completely different. And I was like, but I get what you’re saying, I was like, she told me like I don’t know two or three of those instances, I was like okay, like, I’m missing something here. Something’s wrong, something’s wrong. I wasn’t like the type that would try to be suicidal or anything like that. I was stable in that sense. But how my perspective and how I saw things was very skewed.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  25:20

Right. What would you ascribe that to, Kiko? I think I know what you’re talking about and I certainly have been there myself in my journey with mental health and with my life and with my ex wife. And when she was reminding me of when my ex-wife was pregnant and things, crazy things I did, but how would you, in your frame, how do you think about that the way that you are seeing things differently from people around you? And where that kind of filter or that bias or whatever you would call it, where did that come from for you, do you think?


Kiko Ellsworth  25:49

As soon as she told me those things, as soon as I said, something’s wrong, I literally picked up my phone, and I called my dad right away. In a loving way, but I pretty much was like, Dad, what’s going on? I was like, demand, I was like, what’s going on with me? I was like because I heard that he and my sister, my sister is sort of like, I don’t know, not a psychologist, but she does some sort of therapy and all this other stuff. And they had said, I think, over the years at some particular aspect, whether I had not a disorder or ADHD, or they thought that I was on the spectrum in some particular way. Because I, the way that I approach things, the way that I see things, or I didn’t get certain things, but I got other things. So I probably had something to do with that. I never had an official diagnosis, but I do believe that I was having some sort of fractured, skewed experience. That was basically an imbalance in some particular way, that’s just what it is. But I also know that consciousness will cure anything, high doses of consciousness.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  26:04

Mega doses. Right?


Kiko Ellsworth  27:02

Right, like one of my mentors told me, it’s like Kiko, you know, people don’t have freewill, they only have free will within their level of consciousness. It’s like, if you want someone to choose something else, you have to expand their consciousness, and they can actually choose it. But until then, you can’t expect them to choose it. So over the years, just my pure dedication of love of just life and growth and evolution and wanting to be this just better and better and better and better, better in whatever way that just brings in more consciousness. And that alone is what I truly know, in my experience aligned everything for me; to where as I can feel what you’re feeling what you’re feeling, and have a proper perspective and the said scenario, feel what I’m feeling and make the highest choices, and not have as little as my experience a little skewed of a perception of what’s happening within me or without, as possible. And that just comes with the Kundalini Yoga, the breath work, eating that proper diet, being in nature, listening to myself, having a relation with myself, you know, hearing myself talk, just all those different things, paying attention to my inner world, and cultivating that, and then allowing that to naturally express itself in a hopefully balanced and healthy way.


Keith Kurlander  28:23

Yeah, nice. Do you have a lot of routines these days that are keeping you aligned? Like are you a guy that’s like really gotten connected to like, maintaining routines that help you and things like, what’s your days look like?


Kiko Ellsworth  28:35

I’m definitely both. Yes, definitely routines. But like over this last year, I had to learn how to sleep in. I had to learn how to sleep because with like, the four o’clock, the 4am yoga classes, I was doing that for years. And there was a time for a few years, I was doing meditations every day and doing this particular mantra for like, 30 minutes. So there’s times in my life where there’s an order for a certain level of that sort of dedication and consistency. But there was that time, that I’m actually in the tail end of right now where I had to learn how to love myself. And for me, it was learning how to sleep in and learning how to stay in bed, and my eyes just popped open. I’m saying instead of just forcing myself to get up, because at one stage of my life, loving myself was forcing yourself to get up. But then later on a few years later, it was like now love yourself by keeping your butt in the bed. So yeah, so I have different routines, like right now I’ll just say we’re the most important routine right now, I’ll say it is my nightly routine because that’s the one that sets me up for the next day. And I always start like the day before how I get into my night the evening before actually so I can wake up properly. So because if I can wake up properly, that’s setting me straight, but that’s also predicated by the night how I go to sleep.


Keith Kurlander  29:55

So what does that look like?


Kiko Ellsworth  29:57

Yeah, so for me like my phone goes off like at 7am to 8am, right around that just depending on like that day or my daughter, or if I’m expecting a call, but basically from seven to nine, I have that transition period, my phone really goes off. And then I just have to make sure that my daughter or my wife can get in contact with me if something happens because my phone goes outside the pager. So that’s just really dedicated for them, so I don’t have to worry about that. So this can actually go off, so I have my boundaries, healthy boundaries with this, that’s like the main thing right there, because I think that’s where a lot of us can go wrong if we don’t understand how destructive this can be to our psychology. So there’s that and then getting into bed at a certain hour and drinking my water and making sure that I have my sacred time, so I might even go out on a walk at night. Sometimes I do a fire, sometimes I play my drum, sometimes I say, Okay, now I need to watch a movie that I enjoy, and then get to bed at a decent hour. Right now, I’m not totally strict with that hour, because I’m not getting up totally early. But I’m actually going to start dialing that back in and really start to go to bed like you know, by 10 by 9:30. Like how it used to be, because I’ve allowed myself to kind of expand a little bit. And then I get up, I’d make my bed every single day, every single day. Every single day I make my bed, get up, drink my water, and turn on my little lamp over there. Often I used to take cold showers, but since I moved here, I do that half the time in the summer, I do it. So I really load up on the water, my vitamins, do my yoga, my breath work, and I look at my plans for the day. And I do that the night before as well, and then I look at my plans and I do my reading. And that kind of gets my day going, and then I get out and do my exercise, my yoga and things like that run, it’s things like that. So that’s how I get going.


Keith Kurlander  31:47

Yeah, great. Well, let’s get back to the question I asked before about what you were up to recently and empowering men. You had, I think it was like a men of color kind of conference or something. Can you say more about what that was or is?


Kiko Ellsworth  32:01

Yeah, I work currently with evolving men of color, because there’s a lot of just trauma that we as men of color experience that just needs a particular conversation. And it’s really about us coming into balance and healing and a whole whatever it takes for us to come into that sort of balanced, loving thing, space, peaceful space for ourselves. But I started working with women for about a decade, I was working in the female empowerment realm. And then from there, then I had transitioned to working with men and women of color. And so basically, I kind of I’m a swinger, and that sort of makes sense. I actually work with evolving men of color, but I also work with men, and then I also work with women. Because at the end of the day, it’s really about us as men and women coming together in that balance and that harmony in that respect. That’s the end goal, being able to say I love you to my sister, and really not mean anything sexual, but really being able to see the divine spiritual being in that woman’s body or being able to say, Keith, I love you, brother. Will, I love you, brother, and I can mean it. And I don’t feel weak, I don’t feel less than a man. And it’s like just coming, it’s really about us all coming from that place of wholeness, and joy and for each of us what that love is. And so about that conference was an all day virtual summit involving men of color. It was an all day celebration. And we’re gearing up for 2022 which is going to be more based on the conversation between the masculine and the feminine in saying the things that we need to say because the women need to feel safe from us. They protect us from the inside out, we protect them from the outside in, and they haven’t felt safe. But we need to do our job as men, not just men of color, all men, men of color and do our job and protect the divine feminine energy, that Yin energy from the outside in because they do their job, for the most part protecting us from the inside out, and they’re just as strong as us, but we create that balance together. So 2022 is really about bringing that whole conversation together, and with that sort of love and respect and balance, it has to happen when it comes to that balance.


Keith Kurlander  34:25

Kiko, you said something that stood out to me: evolving men of color need a particular conversation? Can you say a little bit more about that?


Kiko Ellsworth  34:34

Everyone has a different thing that they go through, and especially with the climate right now, just like that we have different realities. And just like say, for example, the police and black men, we all know what’s on the news right now and what’s always being put out there. So there’s a different reality that men of color experience than other men and then there’s the collective that we all men experience, but with men of color, there’s just like addressing that sort of reality. When we go out into the world, there’s a different level of concern just as men of color that we have when we see a police car. There is an adjustment, there is one way or another where we handle it well, or not, there is an adjustment that we have made or have to make with regards to how we just seeing a police car, there is a preparation, there’s a, okay, either you handle it this way, and there’s gonna be fight, or there’s this, I’m educated, and I know my constitutional rights, my bill of rights, and I know what I’m gonna record, I’m gonna put my window up two inches, I’m going to actually close all my other windows, make sure I lock my doors get in my recording device. It’s like those types of things, it just becomes like, there’s just a different experience. So the growth and those things that those conversations and things need to be addressed as we talk about how we evolved to go forward because we can’t evolve without healing the pains. We have to address the pains, we have to address the energy blockages, we have to address the things that we’re not saying and our concerns and things like that. So yeah, that’s really those sorts of things, and what does it take for us to move forward?


Dr. Will Van Derveer  36:15

Yeah, I mean, one of the most powerful conversations Keith and I have had on this show is, we spoke with Resmaa Menakem, who wrote a book called my grandmother’s hands, basically detailing this huge structure of racism in America over multiple, multiple generations. And like this intergenerational trauma, and just really, his book really helped me understand the difference in a whole different way of what you’re talking about, of what a man of color faces in the world, the kinds of concerns he needs to have are very, very different from what someone who looks like me needs to be concerned about the world. It just brings up for me how much healing there is to do. And I want to figure out ways that I can help people like you do the work that needs to happen, and to be a part of the solution.


Kiko Ellsworth  37:09

Yeah, I have these different tribes in multiracial. Some people might be Hawaiian, or white, or black, all these different, one of the most beautiful things is that the part of the tribe that’s Caucasian, it came as a big surprise to me, but I brought something up to them with regards to racism. And then I found out that they’re taking courses on racism, white supremacy and white privilege. It really blew my mind, and how open they were to having the conversation with me because I wasn’t coming from a place of victim or blame. I was just coming from a place of let’s fix this, the racism, white supremacy, and that’s established that’s in our country, I can’t fix that, that needs to be disassembled from within. That’s not something that I’m upholding or that I need to like, try to break it down, I’m not gonna break that down. That’s something that like, if I’m doing something to you that I need to look within myself and say, okay, what’s here? And what needs to happen over here? I know, for me, in our culture, like we have a totally different job of reparations for ourselves, that we need to work on, let alone what needs to happen outside of us so we can stop feeling the trauma of the constant threat in so many different ways.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  37:09

Yeah. I hear you.


Keith Kurlander  38:28

Yeah, thanks. Please tell people what you’re up to, like, what do you want people to know about you right now? Where are you headed into the future?


Kiko Ellsworth  38:38

Yeah, I just finished doing a conference, I’m not sure if you’re familiar with the American Occupational Therapy Association, AOTA. I just did a keynote. And we actually did a keynote movie, so we made them a movie, as well as a keynote together, something that has never been done to really inspire their membership of like 230,000. I think members nationwide, or people that are occupational therapists, community nationwide, I don’t want to mess that up. But like, really, like, what I’m doing is, I really want people to know about the power of love. I think that’s the really first thing and I never thought I’d really be talking about that, and us together as a tribe, us all together, and us really learning how to be with ourselves and love ourselves. And I’ve just, for me, I’ve started to actually really start doing these keynotes and speaking, and really actually putting out for what I can stand for that force of love and that force of good and what I really want people to know is that it’s important that you speak love into the air. It’s vital for our survival and for us to be able to thrive that anyone that’s listening to this that you strengthen up, that you courage up, woman up, man up and speak your truth of love into the air into your relations, into the world, at your workspace and be willing to sacrifice the things that really don’t matter. Because this world needs to be filled with your love, it needs to be filled with my love. And that’s going to look like a variety of different things, but that’s going to look like all of us having our voice respecting each other. I respect that Will you look different than me, I look different than you Keith you as well, but I respect each other. But we all should have the space to speak our voice, and to love ourselves, respect ourselves, love each other, and be able to find that balance between all of us. It takes courage. But love is the only power that we have, it’s the only real power of everything else. What else is more powerful than the power of love? Why do men go out there and work? Why do we come back and defend our family because we love our wife, we love our children as why we do things. That’s why mothers can lift cars off of children or men or whatever the case may be because of that love that love is the only real power that there is. So if there’s anything that I want people to know, it’s going to be I mean, that’s what I stand for. But that’s also I want to help to put that love, bring love on the map even more. That’s a collective thing, it’s not just all of us.


Keith Kurlander  41:39

That’s beautifully said, so we asked this question, you’ve already probably answered this, but we’re gonna have you redo it and distill it down. We ask everybody, same question. Last question is, if you had a billboard, and had a paragraph on it that every human would see once in their lifetime, they get to tell him like three to five sentences. What would you say to that person?


Kiko Ellsworth  42:00

You are the only one, You are the love, You are the power. That’s it.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  42:08

Love it.


Keith Kurlander  42:09

Love it. Thanks Kiko for being on the show.


Kiko Ellsworth  42:11

Thank you. Love you, brother.


Dr. Will Van Derveer  42:13

Great to meet you, Kiko.


Keith Kurlander  42:18

If you’re new to the podcast, or you haven’t listened in a few episodes, we recently launched in the Integrative Psychiatry Institute, a psychedelic therapy training that we are accepting applicants into right now. So we’re really, really excited about this training, psychedelics are a revolution in psychotherapy. We already have ketamine available, we’ve got anticipated approvals of MDMA and psilocybin coming. We really see now that psychotherapy is going to undergo another wave, another revolution, so we’re so excited that we’ve really worked hard to put together this training that is going to get people really up to speed and how you do psychedelic therapy properly. It’s really designed for therapists and doctors involved in psychiatry and other allied mental health professionals who really want to get involved now with these medicines that are really helping change lives. So if you’re interested in applying, now would be a great time to do so. We’ve had hundreds of applicants within a couple of weeks. So it’d be a great time. spaces are limited, and the program starts sometime in the middle of the summer. We’ve got some amazing faculty in the program, we have Michael Pollan speaking, we have Rick Doblin, a lot of the really pioneers in the research behind these medicines are teaching them this program, which is the whole smorgasbord of different faculty to really give a well-rounded approach. So if you want to apply that is it psychiatry We look forward to connecting with you again on the next episode of The Higher Practice Podcast where we explore what it takes to achieve optimal mental health.

Kiko Ellsworth

It wasn’t all peachy for me starting out like many of us. Whereas I had no voice, could not formulate opinions, found it terrifying to speak to people, was mostly stone-faced and expressionless, and had little to no social skills, I allowed courage to flow through me, took creative expression classes, acting training, vocal lessons, and then the shackles disappeared from my soul and I began to have a deeper experience of life, became an accomplished and sought after series regular, an Emmy Award winner, voice over artist, fully expressed man, musician, vocalist, husband, friend, proactive father and advocate for those who have not yet found their voices.

Kiko Ellsworth is an American film and television actor. He was born and raised in Los Angeles, California to Lorna and Andrew Ellsworth.

To learn more about Kiko Ellsworth, visit