Meet Candace Kita, the Safety Expert for Women in the Entertainment Industry.
“Who in the world is Candace Kita, and what does she know about women’s safety?”
At some point in our lives, we’ve all experienced it: Inappropriate behavior that makes us uncomfortable, frightened or seriously threatens our personal safety. Candace Kita is an actress who has experienced both wanted and unwanted attention in Hollywood. She devotes her spare time to teach women quick and easy safety tips that help you avoid or respond to attention you don’t want.
Candace has written a book, ‘The Hottie Handbook: A Girl’s Guide to Safety”, a primer for women who want to be smart about self-protection. This book is a collection of top 10 lists on personal safety, with topics that include surfing the internet, blind dating, dorm room, travel, car and work, among others. She has included first-hand, personal stories of safety from women from all walks of life -women ranging from models and actresses to teachers and stay-at-home moms.
At this point, you’re probably asking yourself what makes her an expert? For over nine years, she was stalked and harassed by a man she had never met. He sent her over 2,000 pieces of mail, cyber stalked her, contacted acquaintances and friends in an effort to find her whereabouts and believed God was telling him he would get to marry her.
Why Candace? Because her photo was used to illustrate a prepaid phone card. That’s all it took to catch the attention of one unhinged person.
Let’s be clear here: Candace is not famous. She’s a working actor and model. She’s not an Angelina Jolie or a Jennifer Aniston. She’s just someone who earns a living in the public eye. And she got lucky: having a public profile meant the LAPD’s Threat Management Unit finally took her case. However, it took five years for them to accept it and in the meantime she decided to take matters into her own hands.
And she discovered for the average woman, there is
(a) little guidance available for what you should do if a random, potentially dangerous person decides that you’re his reason to live and
(b) If this could happen to her, it could happen to anyone. And that’s a lot of women who need the same guidance it took her years to find.
In the process of protecting her own information, she realized how much personal information is readily available to almost anyone. With the advent of the internet, the average person puts out as much personal information about themselves – or more – as she did as an actor. And all it takes to ruin your life is one person for whom the phrase “socially appropriate” is meaningless.
I sat down with Candace for a quick Q & A about safety:
Q & A
1. Did you write “The Hottie Handbook” with only beautiful women in mind?
No. As a sexist term used to describe beautiful young women, I realize the term “hottie” has had negative connotations. However, I want to reclaim “hottie” to describe any woman that is getting attention, wanted or unwanted, from the opposite sex. This is a book for any woman and for all ages.
2. What type of research did you do to write “The Hottie Handbook”?
I’ve spent the past five years researching inappropriate behavior. My research included meetings with the FBI, LAPD Threat Management Unit, threat management specialists and numerous interviews with women from all walks of life. I interviewed not only actresses and models, but housewives, school teachers, stay-at-home moms and career women.
3. In “The Hottie Handbook,” you’re pretty blunt and straightforward. Do you think this will offend some readers?
It might. But one of the main ideas I convey in “The Hottie Handbook” is understanding the motives behind courtesy bias .¨ that is, the tendency to tell people what you think they want to hear in order to avoid hurting their feelings.
As young women, we are taught to be nice, kind and sweet. We learn to be accommodating. Polite is good, being impolite is bad. We don’t want to refuse the guy who wants our phone number, even though we’re not interested. We don’t want to appear “rude,” “stuck up” or “snobby.” But if a weirdo is intent on playing hardball with you, you need to fight back. You need to learn how to react properly in an uncomfortable or threatening situation. Time-appropriate bitchiness is a good thing. We need to be aware of people’s underlying motives. And remember, inappropriate behavior is someone making you so uncomfortable that you comply or respond in hopes this person will stop their actions toward you.
4. If there was one safety tip that you would want readers to get from reading your book, what would it be?
If someone is behaving inappropriately toward you, don’t let them have the upper hand. Remember to listen to your gut instincts, sixth sense or woman’s intuition. If someone appears to want something from you, they do. Don’t second-guess yourself. It’s really that simple.
5. What types of safety issues are addressed in “The Hottie Handbook?”
Topics include dating, travel, surfing the internet, car safety, safety at home, online dating, campus life and safety in the workplace.
6. You have played sexy women throughout your career. Some of your acting roles include playing Mel Gibson’s girlfriend in “Complete Savages,” a sexy Hooters girl in “I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry” and a cheerleader in “The Bad News Bears.” Do you think this sends the wrong message to young women?
No. Being sexy and beautiful does not preclude your right to be safe. Nor does it justify someone behaving inappropriately towards you.
7. Do you think celebrities like Kim Kardashian are teaching girls to be sexual too early? Do you think this sends the wrong message to men?
Jessica Simpson and Kim Kardashian are going to be who they are and I’m not here to change them. They are among the current icons for fashion, music and pop culture. I’m certain Mae West was racy for her era. They are not sending any more of a wrong message to us than Marilyn Monroe or Jayne Mansfield did in their time. “The Hottie Handbook” doesn’t judge current cultural icons. Rather, it deals with keeping women safe in today’s modern world of online dating, cyber stalking, cyber bullying and identity theft.
8. Are you a feminist?
Yes. Gone are the days of burning bras and no makeup. I embrace beauty. But I believe being beautiful or sexy does not give anyone the right to behave inappropriately towards you.
9. Your book is a “handbook.” What is the difference between this and a regular book?
I wrote “The Hottie Handbook” as a collection of top 10 lists to make it easier to use. Going on a trip? Flip to the Travel section and look up the top 10 list that pertains to your situation. Read it and off you go.
10. Are all of the stories in your book true?
Yes. They come from more than five years of interviews with women from many different walks of life. The names and locations have been changed, but the stories are candid and real.
To learn more about Candace Kita and The Hottie Handbook: A Girl’s Guide to Safety, visit: www.hottiehandbook.com.