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Katie Day, 28
Owner and Photographer, Katie Day Photography;
Writer and Actor, The Mystery Hour; Improviser, The Improvadors
Becoming one of 417-land’s more sought-after wedding photographers is not a career Katie Day saw for herself. The former advertising pro used to shoot photos as a hobby for family and friends, but eventually a certain bride wouldn’t take no for an answer.
So Day gave it a shot. “It was kind of an exhilarating experience,” she says. “I realized I was decent at handling stress.” She raised her rates, and brides kept booking. “A year later, I was like, ‘Am I wedding photographer?’”
But photography isn’t Day’s only interest. A theatre actor in high school, Day tried out for (and made) the Missouri State University improv troupe while in college. A lifelong Saturday Night Live nut, Day now has writing and sketch-acting roles with The Mystery Hour, Jeff Houghton’s televised talk show on Fox KSDK. She also plays with The Improvadors, a troupe specializing in private parties. “[Comedy] is like a childhood dream,” Day says. “All these random ideas have a place to go now.” Day even got a chance to meet her hero, Kristen Wiig, during a photography gig in New York.
On a more serious note, Day makes regular mission trips to Haiti with her church, The Bridge in Nixa. She also takes part in Girl Talk, a confidence-building ministry for teen girls, and in the past she has offered one-on-one mentoring for women who have gone through miscarriage—a passion based on her own experience.
She has since had two children, 3-year-old Callie and 1-year-old Emerson, with husband Jared. She has another one on the way.
Occupation: Katie Day Photography, owner, photographer; The Mystery Hour, writer, actor; The Improvadors, improviser
Education: Missouri State University, BFA Art & Design
1. How did you end up at your current job/profession?
I graduated as a graphic designer and plunged right into the advertising world. Photography became a hobby and creative outlet, but soon people began to ask me about portraits. Then it spiraled into weddings, events and commercial work. I realized I was spending more time on my hobby than my day job, so I took a risk, followed my heart, and quit! It’s terrifying and freeing to own your own business.
The Mystery Hour is new in my life. I’ve been obsessed with Saturday night Live and Late Night Talks shows since I was 6 years old and would sneak out of my room and watch them. I’ve been doing improv comedy for about 10 years now, so when I got the chance write for Springfield’s own late night talk show, it was a dream.
2. Where do you find passion to do what you do?
I am motivated by funny, witty people. My clients are hilarious. My improv and writing team are the funniest people in the world. As long as I can be in a room with laughter, I am excited to get the job done!
3. Tell us about your family.
I’m married to Brad Pitt’s clone, Jared Day, the hottest English teacher in all of the 417 area. (Don’t be surprised if you can’t tell him and Brad apart. It happens all the time.) My daughter is Callie Rose (named after my grandmother), age 3. She thinks she lives in a musical 24/7. My son is Emerson Allan, age 1, and my husband’s identical twin. Honestly, it’s like I wasn’t involved in the process of creating him whatsoever.
4. What are your hobbies (when you’re not working)?
I love planning elaborate ridiculous parties for very little reason. Super Bowl, Oscars, Tuesdays, oh and game nights! I would have a game night every single day of the week. Scattegories, anyone?
5. Are you involved in any charitable organizations? (If so, what are they, and what is your role? Why is it important to you?)
I am active at my church, The Bridge, Nixa. We are constantly doing outreaches, for example: packing food to ship to Nicaragua or planning community events. The most rewarding thing I’ve ever been apart of was travelling to Haiti to construct housing. I love Haiti and plan on going back the second I’m done bearing children. Apparently, pregnancy and malaria-infested third-world-countries isn’t “recommended”.
6. Are you a member of any professional organizations? (If so, what are they, and what is your role?)
No, none that I can think of.
7. How would you define the secret to success?
If you want to do anything great, you have to be willing to leave your comfort zone. Shooting weddings is risky, high-stress, and uncomfortable. Standing in front of hundreds of people at an improv show and having no idea what your next line is? Terrifying! Dressing up like a mermaid and flopping around on stage like an idiot at The Mystery Hour? Embarrassing! But being willing to take a risk or be silly or be uncomfortable has made all the difference. It’s why I have my dream jobs!
8. What's your favorite thing about your career?
I can stay home with my kids and make money. It’s such an unbelievable blessing.
9. What's your favorite thing about working in 417-land?
I think Springfield is the coolest town in the world. I moved here for college and just never got around to moving back home. When you’re a photographer, you really get to know a city. I think I have every inch of the historic Commercial Street memorized. Also, I make my husband take me to the Branson Landing for every minor special occasion. If I could write a love letter to this area, I would. Actually, I’m going to. Hang on.
10. If you could go back and give the high school version of yourself one piece of advice, what would it be?
“Oh, Young Katie, stop obsessing over that high school crush. Get over him. He’s not worth your time. You end up marrying Brad Pitt’s clone. You’re fine.”
11. What was your “dream job” at age 5?
I wanted to be Molly Shannon on Saturday Night Live. So I basically ‘made it’ if you call The Mystery Hour, Saturday Night Live Jr. like I do. My new dream job is to become an author, so if you know any literary agents. I’m kidding!* (*Not kidding. At all.)
12. List three traits that define a successful career:
Work hard and be nice to people and try not to take everything so seriously!
13. Why are you a 20 under 30?
I’m guessing that I was one of the only 20 people nominated. I’m kidding! I don’t know! Maybe you guys needed a weird, quirky one to sprinkle in with all the legitimately successful ones?
14. What projects do you have on the horizon at your job that you’re excited about?
I’m currently working on growing another child. So that’s taking up a lot of my time. (And my uterus. Amiright?)
15. What completed project are you most proud of?
I lost 70 pounds after I had my second child. Apparently running is “good for you.”
Fill in the following blanks with five words or less:
Laughter makes life worth living.
A day at work wouldn't be complete without a dance party in my kitchen with my daughter.
Ten years from now, I hope I'm still kind of young and hip. But I’ll probably be wearing fanny packs and collecting tiny spoons.
If I won the lottery tomorrow, I would buy the Dixie Stampede. That’s a joke. Of course I’d give it to orphans and to that organization that Sarah McLaughlin is always singing about.
The best part about being a 20 under 30 is that you’ve made me feel very special. Thank guys! I love you! (Too soon?)