Today’s Notable Young Professional is Toronto Raptors In-Game and NBA TV Canada Host Kat Stefankiewicz, who’s recognized as one of the city’s most familiar sports personalities. We caught up with her to find out how she balances it all and what advice she would share with other young professionals…
Describe what you do in less than 140 characters. Go.
I am a TV & digital host/personality, an actor, and the in-game host for the Toronto Raptors.
What was the inspiration for your career route?
From a young age, there was a daily dose of both performing and sports in my life, and I knew that I was passionate about both. But to combine the two? It never crossed my mind. I graduated from the triple threat Music Theatre Performance program at Sheridan College and weeks after graduating, I auditioned for the Raptors Dance Pak. Boom. The combination of performing and sports showed up.
If you ask anyone in the entertainment world how they got to where they are, everyone’s story is incredibly unique. After that, doors kept opening for me with the Toronto Raptors organization and I kept saying yes to the new challenges, landing me where I am today. If you believe that making your passion your career is possible and hustle at perfecting your craft, someone will give you that chance when you least expect it and that is a very cool thing.
What is the most memorable milestone in your career so far?
This past season I had the privilege of hosting the Rising Stars Challenge, All-Star Saturday Night, and the NBA All-Star game when it set foot north of the border for the first time in NBA history. I was able to work with vets that have been putting on this spectacle of a weekend for years (the one that I’ve been watching for years from my couch in awe!) and to be a part of something so historical is something I’ll reflect back on for years.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years, 10 years, 20 years?
With a creative soul comes the restlessness of wanting new challenges and outlets to be, well, creative. Thanks to my pre-professional world training and the opportunities I have landed within the business, I am able to dabble in more than one creative realm and am always open to new challenges. Do I love where I am? Absolutely.
In 5, 10, and 20 years I will definitely be somewhere hosting, performing, storytelling, and bringing people a little spark of ‘feel good’ to their day. I couldn’t imagine life without it. I also secretly like the spontaneity of not knowing what’s next so I think I picked a pretty great career route for that!
Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
I honestly feel like I’m still learning every day so that will be my first bit of advice: never stop learning. There is always someone better than you; let that drive you. Work hard and when you think you’re working hard enough, immerse yourself in your craft even more. Listen to advice from others but trust your gut when it comes to what you absorb. Socialize, network, but don’t be too pushy. And have someone or some few to tell you that you’re super badass and an idiot for quitting when you feel like quitting. Accept that you will feel like quitting. And then go for a run, punch your pillow, sleep it off, and get back to what made you choose this route in the first place because you’ve got this, champ.
Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is it (or they) important to you?
The MLSE Foundation is something dear to my heart because of their constant efforts to provide underprivileged youth a safe place to ‘play’ while using sport as intervention. What an incredible thing.
Cancer has affected my family time and time again so the Cancer Society is something that I support wholeheartedly as well.
One of my best friends was also diagnosed with MS in the past year, which is another cause that I deeply care for and hope to learn more about so I can always be there for her.
Lastly, mental health initiatives. Mental illness should not be hidden and it is so wonderful to see people speaking openly about it these days.
What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career? How did you overcome it?
One: accepting that not everyone will like you and your talent and being okay with that. And two: the transition from a crop-top clad captain of the Raptors Dance Pak to the suit and tie world of sports reporting and hosting, AKA being respected despite the stereotypes that the transition held. Overcoming number one was a matter of growing and being more confident in myself. Overcoming number two was a mix of loving the challenge of breaking stereotypes and proving to people through hard work that I could play the game successfully too.
What does the word notable mean to you?
Being respected for what you contribute to the world and making an impact on the lives of others in a positive way.
Where is your favourite place to wine/dine in your city and why?
Ooh! I love wining and dining. And I love trying a new place every time. I recently moved and have King West at my fingertips, which is alive any day and night of the week. I am sucked in by the atmosphere of restaurants in addition to the food and drink. I’m the girl that Googles the restaurant’s photo gallery when someone says we are going there. The Good Son, Julie’s Cuban Restaurant and Cocktail Bar are among my favourites.
What’s the most visited website on your Internet browser? The most played song on your phone?
Pinterest. I’m a huge advocate of ‘me time’ and also have a hard time focusing on one task. (I blame creative brain!) So when I man procrastination station, Pinterest is my mini escape.
Fast Car by Jonas Blue. It reminds me of the comfortable simplicity of high school days mixed with the awesome reality of living that big city hustle.
Who’s one person you think everyone should be following on social media?
Jimmy Fallon. If you were to ask me my dream job, it would be the female version of Jimmy Fallon. And he makes you laugh, which the world needs more of.
What’s your favourite country to visit and why? And what’s the next one you plan on travelling to?
I have a bad case of wanderlust and drool over Instagram photos of my friends’ adventures daily. I have yet to claim a country as my favourite. Life is always good on the West Coast of Cali, though. Next one? I’m craving the green fields and bottomless beers of Ireland. And snowboarding in Switzerland.
What gives you the greatest FOMO?
My Mom would tell you that I’ve had a FOMO problem since I was a kid, which I frown at and then agree with because she’s always right. Right now? Summers are so sacred in the city and there are always 542.7 incredible events happening every weekend. I am not handling this well.
What’s your guiltiest pleasure?
Red wine. Hockey Wives. Any real estate show because I’m a part-time daydreamer who gets giddy at the thought of having properties around the world. My grandma’s cherry cheesecake. And pretending to be an online shopper. I rarely check out.
What’s something you wish you didn’t spend so much money on? What’s something you wish you spent more on?
I wish I didn’t spend so much money on my daily coffee fix. I wish that I spent more money surprising my dearest family and friends with gifts because I am grateful for them every day.
And finally, what does success look like to you? Work, play, or otherwise…
Success is when you start physically living those dreams that give you giddy goosebumps. And with that comes finding your happy place.