Kyle Stefanski plays a boxer in the upcoming film Gotti starring John Travolta. He is also known for his acting performance in Acts of Violence, Unto Us All, and The Righteous and the Wicked. Stefanski shot four scenes opposite of Travolta. His character shows a different side to Gotti. Aside from acting, he serves as an executive director on his own charity foundation called Rhonda’s Kiss. Stefanski talks with us about his experience playing in the Gotti film and his foundation.
ATM: Tell us about your role in the new film Gotti.
KS: I play a character named Anthony who is a prized fighter in the neighborhood. Essentially my character is there to show the humanistic side to Gotti, a man who most people looked at as a sociopath, gangster, and put him behind bars. Why were people crying in the streets when he was finally indicted? Why were people up and arms about it? It was really important for people to see this side of him. He is like a father figure in the neighborhood.
ATM: How did you embody your character, Anthony, as written into the script?
KS: I actual love boxing. I trained with a celebrity trainer prior to this role named Ricky. He is a four-time world champion. He has a boxing gym near Universal Studios in Los Angeles. He has trained some names such as Will Smith for Ali. This character was already up my alley.
ATM: What is your favorite boxing move? Left hook? Weave?
KS: I have been working on my left hook lately. Body shots have been great for me.
ATM: In another interview you stated, “I feel most alive when I face my fears and am living in courage. One of my values in life is growth as a human being and working to be my best self. “ Let’s go more in depth with your meaning on this phrase.
KS: For me, life is about problem-solving and continuously solving problems. There have been moments in my life that I have shied away from facing my issues. I can tell a lot of people relate to this. It is a matter of getting up and putting one foot in front of the other to keep moving forward. To keep facing whatever is in your path. You face it as solution based. I live a life that has a lot of stress, anxiety, and pressure.
When I am continuously facing these issues every day and coming up with solutions with other people I feel I am in my path. It is something I have searched for personally for a while. I feel self-connected with what I am doing. Do you understand? Can you relate to that?
ATM: I do. I feel when you face your fears life is so much better.
ATM: I feel sometimes it is just you and your passion against the world. Sometimes people are not going to believe in you or your craft. People are going to laugh and question what you are doing. The type of quality you must master is resilience. This goes along with your profession Kyle as an actor in entertainment. I say the best people are the ones that get through the no’s.
You are going to have the yes’, but it is about you persevering after you receive ten no’s. They teach us to go far, to dream, and that sky’s the limit, but they do not teach us resilience or how to emotionally get past rejection and the substantial amount of no’s. In an interview with another actor and I, he admitted he just kept getting denied. I said, “I know how that feels.” He is living his profession today.
KS: You gain experience, strength, and wisdom from facing those fears and getting those no’s. You learn from it and you adapt and you do something different the next time.
ATM: A lot of people want to know the secret to success, well it is not money. I believe the number one answer to the secret of success is rejection.
KS: Yes, how you react to rejection.
ATM: Yes. The best way is to use rejection as a motivation. If you know in your heart that you want to do something, then you must keep going no matter what. The end is going to be the best result. The best feeling is when you are stuck and are not aware of the end. You are saying to yourself, “I do not know what the end results are” or “No one is believing in me”.
KS: I agree with you. If you are not working a 9 to 5 or an entrepreneur, then you are really that one that has that vision. No one else gets or sees it exactly the way you do or read what you read or saw what you saw or talked to the person you talked to. They are not in your head connecting the dots like you are. You have to be resilient and know that what you believe is a true statement and mission. People are not going to know it, but you get followers.
ATM: How did this film help you shape your uniqueness for future roles?
KS: I went toe to toe with John Travolta in a couple of scenes. I felt so in the moment and connected. I honestly felt I could do it with anyone after that. He is one of the best and also an icon. I truly felt I can be at the table. I had to develop my craft. I am not saying I am the best out there. I know it is in me. I felt this as an actor. This is extremely important for actors.
ATM: You have an awesome foundation geared toward helping people dealing with cancer. Any personal connection with cancer?
KS: In November of 2014, my mother passed away to cancer. I turned that negative into a positive with my family. We created Rhonda’s Kiss. She was diagnosed in August and died in November it was very abrupt. We had to figure out how to make since of this. The mission is to put on events, raise money for people with treatment. We help with the cost for wigs, transportation to and from the hospital, help with co-payments, rent, childcare, and the list goes on.
These are people living with cancer and trying to beat it. It is the middle to low income families we target. This year we have started to focus on program building in hospitals and organizations. We will do community visibility events such as back to school. We did Mother’s Day initiative with celebrity makeup artists.
ATM: What are your motives to continue the marketing for this foundation?
KS: I would like to have Rhonda’s Kiss be a complete movement. I would like everyone to know more about what it is. We are in three markets and soon to be four. Cancer is everywhere. It is the second killer behind heart disease.
ATM: Name one of your best memories associated with your foundation.
KS: It was the first event I did in Los Angeles. Once it was complete I knew what I was on to. It was the next chapter to turning this into a movement. All of the wonderful people I have been introduced to have touched my heart in a fantastic way.
ATM: I really do love your foundation. I believe your mother would be super proud of the man, father, and actor you have become today. Good luck with your movie and keep going with your foundation.
Stefanski is currently shooting another movie, which will be released in August. The Gotti supporting actor shows a humanistic side to Gotti. Additionally, he continues to advocate for people living with cancer and wants to help and change the outlook on the cancer community.
Gotti is Now In Theaters