Kevin Maleike — Associate
Some time ago, I was reminiscing with my family; we spoke of youth and marveled at how our individual personalities had emerged early on. My mother jumped at the chance to tell the story of how eight-year-old Kevin walked up to her and said, “I need to be at this address next Saturday at 2 p.m.” I then handed her our church bulletin with a notice that the Philadelphia Boys Choir was holding auditions at the Seminary. She said I didn’t ask permission. I simply called the number listed, scheduled myself a time, and informed her when I needed to be there. I wanted a chance to perform and nothing would stop me from trying. Call it precocious or better yet, assertive and organized. Either way, this story sets the tone for much of my life.
When I was growing up, performing was everything to me – school plays and musicals, community children’s theater, and of course dancing (five days a week). I was always busy in one creative pursuit or another, but I was organized and everything seemed to get done. Performing builds confidence, and as time progressed, I really started putting myself out there. I ran for student council and eventually served as class president. Although performing and organization were constants in my younger life, I never realized how much these skills would shape my career.
I wanted to study theater so I applied to Marymount Manhattan College – they said yes to the college but no to the theater program. Undaunted, I crafted my own degree in Theatre and French. I studied and translated 17th, 18th and 19th century plays such as Odieppe (Oedipus) and Tartuffe, performed whenever I could, and started taking classes in ballroom dance. I created an apprenticeship with the dance professor at Marymount and was soon asked to teach college classes in ballroom dance. Professor Kevin…who knew? And from that experience, I realized that, regardless of whether I was initially accepted or not, I could create the path I wanted in life.
After college I immersed myself in ballroom dance. I found a partner and we hit the circuit, traveling, competing, and winning – we weren’t officially pros, but we qualified for the USA Nationals which was a big deal to me. All the while, I worked full time at a New York City based construction company. My boss was “old school”, a Brooklyn-born Italian lady who would not accept no for an answer and never took shenanigans from anyone. She was one tough cookie. I admired her fighting spirit and her ability to face adversity, bounce back, and keep moving forward. Her strength and perseverance really rubbed off on me and I soon felt that I could tackle anything.
Acting was, and is my first love. People say it is difficult to break into the business, but I decided to go for it. I had the fortitude to withstand the many rejections and kept at it until I became a working actor. “Working” isn’t the same thing as “famous” and, like many actors, my version of working meant having a day job, and mine was a doozy. I worked as an executive assistant for two CEOs and the CFO of two real estate investment trusts. I had 3 bosses, supported 2 companies, and fielded constant requests from executives, the asset management team, and the broker/dealer network. It was like drinking from a fire hose but I maintained my sense of humor and threw myself into this scrappy, commercial environment and something really clicked. More importantly, I built deep interpersonal relationships and earned the trust of the senior most people and rapidly became the go-to person for board members, investors and external contacts. I learned more about the business than I could ever imagine and it was a great gig.
It took a pretty special group of people to lure me away. When I joined Daruma they told me that while my skills and background qualified me for the job, my drive and creativity was a big part of why I was hired. They also told me this was a place to learn, grow, and build a career and I am doing just that. Every day I find myself pushing the ball forward for Mariko, the investment team, and the firm and I am taking on new responsibilities every day. This is an environment where “the show must go on,” and I am honored to play a role in this production.