Kristina Kuzmic On Her Upcoming Book Tour, Working With Oprah & Being The Friend She Wished She Had

Kristina Kuzmic certainly knows how it feels to rise above the ashes.

It may have taken her some time, but she wants others out there to know just how important it is to believe in yourself. After fleeing the war in Croatia at a young age, she immigrated to America where she and her family landed in Boston. Today, she is a champion for everyone around her having gone through a divorce, been a single parent, faced poverty and battled depression. In other words, she is the friend she wished she had when she was dealing with these difficulties.

Kuzmic has more than one billion views of her inspirational, hope-filled videos that range from everything from “4 Things Every Woman Should Stop Wearing After Becoming A Mom” to “Joy After Tragedy.” Now, she is preparing for her “Hope and Humor” tour that kicks off in San Diego along with a book tour that starts in Boston. We caught up recently with Kuzmic, who chatted about how she became a viral sensation creating hilarious videos about juggling all of life’s challenges.

Photo Credit: Kristina Kuzmic

In 2011, you won “Oprah’s Search for the Next TV Star” and had great success with your show, “The Ambush Cook.” You caught the eye of other networks but turned them down. Was that one of the most difficult decisions you have had to make?

Yeah, it was difficult at the time, but I just followed my gut. Everyone wanted to present myself in a way that wasn’t honest. I felt I’d be better off if I did it as I wanted as a single mother at the time with two kids. I certainly didn’t want to see another perfect person create another perfect meal. That’s where my parenting videos came from. I wanted to help people because I was struggling so much.

What was it like working with Oprah?

She was amazing. I was talking to someone about hugging Oprah and they said hugging her is like taking a warm bubble bath. That’s so true. I don’t know if I would have the confidence to be as vulnerable as I have been if I hadn’t talked with her about her own struggles. We had a powerful moment when she grabbed me by the shoulders and told me to stay the way I am. She gave me a pep talk and made me not want to fall into a mold. I was always too much of something when I was growing up – too curious, too talkative. I felt like when you’re too much of something, you’re not enough ironically. I have to be who I am. Whenever I tried to fit into a mold of something I was not, the outcome was never good.

Photo Credit: Kristina Kuzmic

What do you think it is about your videos that has such an appeal garnering more than three million social media followers?

People can tell you not to try to impress anyone, but I approach the videos not as standing on a pedestal, but the fact that I have been through that and let’s work through it together. A lot of people I have met through the meet and greets on tour have told me they feel like I am their friend.

Do you think you have gained popularity due to your ability to keep things real and relatable?

It’s interesting so many people say to me ‘get out of my head; that’s what I am feeling.’ The reason we feel alone is because no one was talking about it then. The truth is, I have never met a human who hasn’t struggled or had crazy, weird thoughts. Every video I have created is what I needed at some point when I was alone.

Photo Credit: Shalan and Paul

How do you find inspiration for your videos?

When I first started out, I started with what I needed at the time. I needed to laugh and I needed hope. I had gotten emails from people over the years who were struggling and then it grew into a bigger passion. I started thinking about how I could help people. Unfortunately, I can’t respond to every email so I think of the book as a reply to all to all of my fans.

When you were just 14, you and your family were forced to flee the war in Croatia and move to Massachusetts. How difficult was that adjustment?

Massachusetts is considered my first home in the US. It will always have a special place in my heart. I was the weird kid when I first moved there, who didn’t fit in and couldn’t speak English and wore the weird clothes. I first started working on losing my accent when I was in Massachusetts. My older two kids were born in Boston. I just love the city in general, walking down Newbury Street. It has so much to offer and it’s always fun to try out new places. I am now in LA and it’s just so different from Boston.

Photo Credit: Shalan and Paul

In your book coming out next week, “Hold On, But Don’t Hold Still,” you talk about some heavy topics like contemplating suicide. How did you find the inner strength to turn things around?

I got to a point where I became disgusted with how deep a depression I had sunk. I was almost obsessed with self pity. There were two options at that point – call it quits or fight. I tried to think of the only thing I was confident in myself and I knew I could cook. I used some of my food stamps and started feeding people. If you stop focusing on the long list of things you can’t do, it’s life changing. You need to figure out what you can do. There’s a section in the book that talks about being a recovering pessimist. It takes no work to focus on the negativity, but so much work to focus on the positive. I realized then my attitude had to change first. With the book tour, we are hitting five different cities starting in Boston. I am really excited to be coming back to the city I love so much.

What do you want people to take away from your shows?

I hope everyone feels more validated and realizes they have the tools they need to live their life and make themselves happy.

Photo Credit: Kristina Kuzmic