Martina Kelades, Professional Speaker, Actress, Author, and Founder of Life Out Loud — Mental Health Consulting & Creatives
1) What is your profession and what are the specific dimensions of your work?
I am a multi-passionate artist based in Halifax, Nova Scotia. I call myself a Vulnerability Speaker in the field of Mental Health and Personal Wellness, an Actress, Author, Podcast Host on the Life Out Loud Podcast, and CEO and Founder of Life Out Loud — Mental Health Consulting & Creatives, a unique service promoting mental health and wellness in workplaces and life in general. I created the Life Out Loud Podcast as an addition to my business — an opportunity to talk about our many interactions with the world around us, with one another and within ourselves to highlight and support our well-being. The show combines monologues, sharing parts of my journey and navigating life’s situations. The show also consists of guest episodes where we have the opportunity to learn from the experiences of others. My acting career began in 2020, during the pandemic when I needed a creative space for play. I was discovered through that space and since, I have been cast in principal actor roles in tv and film, a feature film and a Netflix series, both currently in post-production. My work also expands into commercials through national and local marketing campaigns.
2) How did you come to this type of career?
I only intended to be an entrepreneur and start a mental health business when burnout ended my 10-year career as a Personal Development Counsellor and Instructor. At the time, I had been working over 60 hours a week — co-founded a mental health organization, taking on more clients, and maintaining a social life that was not conducive to prioritizing my health and wellness. These were masks to cover up previous trauma and problems in my relationships. I am fortunate to have had a CEO who recognized the decline in my mental wellness and offered a safe space to discuss my health. With the support of my employer, physician and therapist, I left that career. However, during the exit, I felt an incredible loss of purpose. My identity was firmly attached to who I was as a career woman, and I fell into a deep state of depression. Diagnosed with Anxiety, Depression and Adjustment Disorder, I took a year to initiate the healing process. During that year, I discovered the unique opportunity of starting a business of personal narratives and encouraging difficult conversations in life and in the workplace. I place great value on sharing my life journey with others on set, in the studio, in writing, speaking and through social media platforms to engage, encourage and invite others to live a life with meaning and on purpose. Through my struggles with mental health, I committed to using my pain as my pulpit — creatively expressing my experiences using personal narratives to normalize mental health conversations and to encourage emotional wellness in all areas of my work — this was the birthplace of Life Out Loud.
3) Tell us something about your process of study and formal and/or informal education and the nature of your degrees and/or training. When, where, and how did you become educated and qualified to do what you do?
I went to university immediately after high school because “that’s what you’re supposed to do” — a narrative I had felt conditioned by societal expectations and standards. And as a child and youth, my parents spoke adamantly about the importance of education — and the challenges I might face, especially as a Black child. In 2003, I received a university entrance scholarship through the Black Educators Association of Nova Scotia, and after high school, I attended St. Mary’s University in Halifax. At the time, I didn’t have a real sense of what a Bachelor of Arts program would provide me, and after my first year, I took a year off from my studies and worked. While working, I learned about the Human Services program at the Nova Scotia Community College (NSCC). I knew I wanted to work with people, but I wasn’t sure in what capacity. So, in 2005, I enrolled and completed the Human Services Diploma in Addictions Counselling in 2007 and started my career as a Professional Development Counsellor/Facilitator. While working full-time, I felt led to complete my degree. So, in 2012, I enrolled as a part-time student at Mount St. Vincent University and completed a Bachelor of Arts Degree, Psychology Concentration, achieving the Dean’s list first class honour recognition. It was an incredible experience for me, learning and working in the Human Services field simultaneously, which ultimately helped cement the theoretical parts of my education. I encourage youth today to relieve some of the pressure to have their academic pursuits all figured out before they graduate high school. It’s often a heavy burden, especially when one is unsure about “what they want to do when they grow up.” But career pursuits are constantly changing and evolving, which is ok. And I’m glad I trusted myself to take time off to think about using my time, energy and resources to discover and pursue meaningful and purposeful work.
4) What were the greatest obstacles that you had to overcome to achieve the success that you now experience? What challenges have your experienced and how have you overcome them? What goals do you have left to accomplish?
One of the most significant obstacles I had to overcome was navigating the depth of my mental health condition post-burnout. I was off work for a year, and that year led me through a vulnerable and emotional process of understanding who I am. My identity was closely wrapped within my career, and when I was no longer working in that position, I felt abandoned — not by anyone, but myself. How could I be a Personal Development professional and not have cared for myself while supporting others, and how could I experience burnout when I was often facilitating the importance of self-care? I carried a lot of shame and guilt, and because of that, I spiralled into a depressive state. During this time, I spent many hours in bed, feeling defeated, until I learned about the power of vulnerability. It moved me in a way that started a new journey of personal discovery. I wanted to know more about vulnerability — I became overly curious about how vulnerability was showing up in my life. I started writing again. I started researching. I learned about self-compassion. And most importantly, while tuning in to one of TD Jakes’ online sermons, I was reminded of the promises of God. TD Jakes’ sermons were hugely instrumental in this process, ultimately leading to my breakthrough. This transition didn’t happen overnight, but these resources, in addition to my therapy work, comforted me and helped me see that there was still hope and that purpose remained within my life. During this season in my life, I asked myself, “What do you want to do with the time that you have left?” As long as I have a pulse, God has a plan and a purpose for my life (and that’s the same for you too). What do I have left to accomplish? I still have much to achieve in developing my mental health speaking business and brand in the Film and TV industry. The answer is to continue to show up with authenticity and intention, build and nurture connections with others and communities and keep my eyes focused on my work as a storyteller. I want to be a light for others. I want others to know that they are not alone. I want to serve my community in a new and unique way through my pursuits as a professional Speaker and Actress.
5) Did you have any role models or mentors either in your domains of entrepreneurship, work, research, and creation or outside of them? Who were they and how were they instrumental in shaping you as a person and as a professional?
I have had many role models throughout my life that have helped shape my journey. Firstly, my parents have been instrumental in my life. They have sown strong seeds of faith in my life at a very young age. My faith has carried me through many hardships and challenges I’ve experienced so far on this journey. Regarding business mentorship, I have had seasonal mentors on my journey to support me during various times of building and business growth. As an Actress, I am incredibly grateful for my acting mentor/coach, Shailene Garnett, a Black Canadian Actress known for her roles in Diggstown, Murdoch Mysteries, Sons of God, and many more series. Shailene and I filmed a scene together during my first day on set as a principal actor, and from that moment on, we stayed connected. Shailene has given me her time for guidance, scene studies, audition coaching, and more.
6) What does your daily work routine look like? Where is your place of business/production and how do you stay focused and productive?
I primarily work from home. I start the day with body movement. Morning movements are the best way to move energy through my body, and exercise helps me with clarity and focus. I also spend some time in the morning in meditation and prayer. Then, after a hot coffee, and some breakfast, I get to work. Meetings, presentations and scheduling creative content afternoons for myself is the general routine. Usually, I like to have soft, down-tempo, ambient music playing in the background or silence when I’m in a creative space. Then, I turn my phone on DND and get to work. I also work with priority lists to help me focus on what is essential and urgent. As an actress, I participate in in-person and online acting classes, and I also have an acting mentor/coach who I meet with virtually from home. Audition requests can come at any point during the day, and when that happens, I’ve learned to adapt my schedule and designate time for scene study/prep and then recording self-tapes.
7) What are your guiding principles? What informs how you do your work and how you engage with your co-workers, clients, customers, or consumers?
First and foremost, my faith is central to what guides me and keeps me grounded in service within my community. Because of the nature of my work, some of the other guiding principles are vulnerability, trust, courage, empathy and integrity. These principles have been nurtured and developed through my experiences in therapy. To lead and have difficult conversations with my clients and groups I work with, I needed to be vulnerable, dive deep into my challenges first and get comfortable with the uncomfortable. This personal development work has been incredibly transformative for me and has shifted my perspective on how we engage with one another in our everyday encounters. My work around self-development and growth is constant and helps strengthen the guiding principles I strive to build within my business.
8) What are you working on now and when and how will it be shared?
As a multi-passionate artist, I work on various projects simultaneously. I am working on a few projects involving writing and creating through multiple media platforms. In my business specifically, I am in the process of a re-brand, which will transition my business to a full speaking business — and less training as I have done in the past. Once this process is complete, I will share the re-launch on social networks and various speaking platforms. Additionally, I am preparing for the launch of season 4 on the Life Out Loud Podcast. I look forward to returning to the studio and sharing and learning from life and my guests. And finally, as an Actress, I am finding ways to build my craft – I have been looking at ways to dive deeper into the psychology of acting and further skill development.
9) What are you proudest of in your career?
I’m most proud of my ability to turn a challenging situation into a courageous career. All the things that I have been through have provided me with an opportunity to share and support others in my work. I am also proud that as an Actress who has only been in the industry for a few years, I have had the opportunity to perform in tv series, a feature and several commercials. The journey is just beginning for me in my career, and I’m allowing myself to be patient in the growth process, and I’m excited to see where it will take me.
10) What are you proudest of in your life?
In my life, I am most proud of showing up for myself when it feels heavy and difficult. I’ve spoken a lot about my journey in therapy and the power behind my voice. I am proud of my growth progress and being open and honest about my needs as a form of self-care. My experiences humble me because they taught me how fragile life is. We have this moment, so I committed to being conscientious of living each day with intention and staying focused on my purpose.
11) What fiction or non-fiction book should be essential reading?
This is a hard question to answer because there are so many great storytellers out there. However, one of the books I’ve enjoyed is More Myself (2020) by Alicia Keys. More Myself is a beautiful account of Alicia’s upbringing and her recognizing and honouring her worth. Her stories inspire and empower us to become courageous; it encourages us to discover our identity and voice and to do so unapologetically.
12) What TV show or film should be essential viewing?
One of the first shows that come to mind is This is Us (NBC). I appreciated the stories in this TV series because of the intricate ways the characters’ lives were presented and the presentation of how personalities, life’s challenges and successes intertwine within the relationships we have with one another. If readers have not yet watched this series, bring your box of tissues for each episode — it’s quite moving.
13) How do you relax and take care of yourself?
Self-care has been a journey for me. As someone recovering from burnout, my body, mind, and spirit are susceptible and reactive when my cup empties. I’ve had to learn ways to take care of myself through communication — communicating “no,” when I know I don’t have the capacity or availability. I’m taking care of myself by learning about my vulnerabilities and more about self-compassion. I care for myself through nutrition, movement, and leisure (travel near and abroad). Most importantly, I understand that self-care is a daily practice and not just a thing we do. I relax by meditating, praying, music, writing, laying in my hammock and watching clouds, grounding myself by the ocean, and surprisingly, sitting in silence.
14) What’s next?
Only God knows. However, I’m focusing on writing, building my speaking business, and working more as an Actress. It may sound like broad goals to some, but I have an intense desire to bring those areas of my work together to create something meaningful that will shine a light on the paths of others. It will happen — in due time.
Martina Kelades is a multi-passionate Artist in Halifax. She is a Vulnerability Speaker in Mental Health, an Actress, Author, Podcast Host on the Life Out Loud Podcast, and CEO & Founder of Life Out Loud — Mental Health Consulting & Creatives, a unique service promoting mental health and wellness in workplaces and life in general. Martina’s roots are grounded in sharing stories that have been silenced to serve communities and individuals in living a life on purpose – using various platforms to tell life stories to educate and support personal awareness for individual and organizational mental health and wellness.
Martina places great value on sharing her life journey with others through her social media platforms to engage, encourage and invite others to live a life with meaning and on purpose. Through her struggles with mental health, particularly related to Burnout, Anxiety and Depression, Martina committed to using her pain as her pulpit — creatively expressing her experiences using personal narratives to normalize mental health conversations and encourage emotional wellness — this was the birthplace of Life Out Loud.
Martina has been an active member of the Halifax Chamber of Commerce since 2018; she was a Business Leader of the Year finalist (2018) for the Halifax Business Awards and has served as a judge for the Business Awards over the past three years.
As an Actress, Martina has been cast in principal actor roles in TV and film, including Diggstown and Trapped. Additionally, Martina has had actor roles in a feature film and was cast in a Netflix series, both currently in post-production. Martina is excited about continuing to pursue her work in the Film and TV industry and merging her experience in mental health to expand her career as an Actress in meaningful ways.
Martina holds a Human Services Diploma in Addictions Counselling from NSCC and a Bachelor of Arts Degree, Psychology Concentration (Hons) at Mount Saint Vincent University. She is also an ACTRA union member.