Improv is life for Kristin McCollum, who is a recent arrival in Hell’s Kitchen but feels right at home here — and shares that love as a tour guide for the Transit Museum and Radio City Music Hall. This is Kristin’s West Side Story.
So, what’s your New York story? Born here, or just arrived?
I moved here officially at the end of last year. My two kiddos, wusband (not a typo — we’re very happily divorced) and I would come to NYC regularly to see as many shows as we could — we’re a family of actors, so Broadway was our Disney World. We would stay in and around Hell’s Kitchen, which to me felt so right — the idea of living here started to grow because of that. Once the two kids were in college I realized I could start the next chapter of my life and knew exactly where I wanted that to be.
What was your first job? What do you do now?
I’ve always acted in various capacities — film, TV, commercial, VO, theater. I’m still doing that but now incorporating my obsession which is, basically, New York. I’m a Transit Museum Tour Guide and a Radio City Music Hall Tour Guide and I also teach improv classes and perform at Improvolution in the West Village. Improv is life.
What’s your favorite New York minute (or moment) so far?
I love how in this city of 8 million people you can randomly run into people you know on the street or in train stations — it’s bananas to me how that happens.
Share with us why you love Hell’s Kitchen
The people — I had no idea how friendly people here would be but man, they are!! Especially having a dog — you see the same people walking or at the dog park and start up conversations and friendships so quickly. It’s been incredibly heartwarming.
What’s your superpower or hidden talent?
I gotta say — it’s improv. When I said improv is life, I meant it. I raised my kids using it, had a successful divorce because of it and continue to use it in all aspects of my life. It helps put you in a positive mindset, mentally saying “yes, and” to people and possibilities, while taking the focus off yourself and onto other people and experiences. It’s incredibly freeing — and anyone can do it!
What else should we know about you?
I’m just so grateful to be here!! My son goes to Fordham-Lincoln Center and is trans — we are originally from Texas and have been really disheartened by what’s happening there and in other states in regards to the trans community. Being here with such welcoming and accepting people, businesses and policies has been immensely comforting and gives us hope.
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Kristin’s Favorite Hell’s Kitchen Places
Fresh from Hell — 326 W47th Street (bw 8th/9th Ave)
It’s delicious and healthy! Perfect for lunch.
Frisson Espresso — 326 W47th Street (bw 8th/9th Ave)
Love both locations (one is right next door to Fresh from Hell, which makes it super convenient) — the people are very friendly and fun!!
Amish Market — 731 9th Avenue (bw W49/50th St)
It’s never boring to grocery shop there — the wide variety of people and employees — there’s nothing like it. They also have great produce and an amazing selection of gluten free items.
Clinton Fruit Market & Plant Market — 681 9th Avenue (corner W47th St)
I’m so happy the redo is done!! And my dog Rory and I love walking past the plant market and saying hi to their cat. Not sure if the cat likes it but hopefully we’re wearing it down so love can blossom.
Delphinium Home — 353 W47th Street (bw 8th/9th Ave)
Sooooo great for gifts and the guys are always so kind — it ties for best gifts with my next favorite place…
DOMUS — 413 W44th Street (bw 9th/10th Ave)
Another perfect place to find gifts. And I love the ladies there and totally enjoyed watching their European adventure unfold on Instagram
MCC Theater — 511 W52nd Street (bw 10th/11th Ave)
We were blown away by Wolf Play there — and we love supporting new work!!
Mud Matters Pottery — 654 10th Avenue (bw W46/47th St)
I walked past this place all the time during the pandemic, hoping it would reopen and I could take my first pottery class. It finally did — and I did — and have had such an enjoyable experience, making new friends in the process. Their teachers are amazing!!
You can follow Kristin on Instagram @krispix8. If you know someone who would make a great West Side Story (or you would like to nominate yourself), please fill in this form — w42st.info/WSSnominations
You can check out more West Side Stories and reader recommendations on W42ST’s Hell’s Kitchen Local App.