Credit: Annie Shak
Monica Ten-Kate is the star of FreeForm’s television show, Monica the Medium. It’s a bit of a detour from traditional reality television. While the show follows Monica through her daily life as a college student in first State College, Pennsylvania and now San Diego, California, it has the added bonus of watching Monica work as a spirit medium. The show is in its second season and Monica’s readings are uncanny. After watching the show, you’ll be more confident in a belief in the afterlife. For Monica to get that much information correct with complete strangers, there has to be something to it.
TheCelebrityCafe.com’s Jesse Cook was able to speak with Monica this week about her move, her gift and what her future holds.
TheCelebrityCafe.com: What’s the biggest challenge you’ve had to get used to since moving to the West coast, a personal change?
Monica Ten-Kate: I would say probably meeting new people and making friends. I know that kind of sounds lame, but yeah, the biggest challenge has been making new friends. We’ve made some great friends through our roommates, and obviously we’ve met their friends, but making friends by myself. I don’t want to rely on making friends through my boyfriend or roommates or whatever. So, I think that’s been the hardest part, is me meeting new people and making new friendships. And people that I vibe with, because I love California, but I’m not really into, like, the Cali surfer dudes and all that, and the same with some of the girls too. Some of the girls aren’t my vibe either. It’s just like trying to find people that fit with you, you know? I think that’s been a challenge.
TCC: How do your West coast clients differ from the clients you saw in your hometown?
MTK: I would say they differ in the sense that everyone’s so go with the flow and relaxed. I had a lot of people like that in Pennsylvania, people who were very open to spirits, but I think the difference is the people that I go up to in public, in California, they’re so much more open to it. Because they were open to it in Pennsylvania, but definitely a lot more skeptical. Whereas in California I think they’re, to mediumship and spirituality, they’ve seen more, they’ve heard about it more, that they’re a lot more open.
And I think also, that there’s been a lot of different kinds of deaths, which is kind of interesting. One of the things that I remember being fearful about when I was driving across the country was, what if spirit can’t come through because the way that people died isn’t part of my frame of reference? Like, what if there’s all these surfing accidents or they died in a wildfire? What if I can’t grasp that information because it’s not part of my spirit dictionary? And then the thing is, I think I’ve seen different kinds of passings from what I would’ve seen on the East coast. Kind of interesting.
TCC: I know your father was worried that you couldn’t make a career out of being a medium and I know that you’ve begun to prove him wrong. What kind of long-term work plan do you have in place? What heights do you aspire to reach?
MTK: I would say that I plan on doing this work until the day I die. Whether it’s on TV or off, I will still be doing this work as a medium and sharing my gift. I guess some of the upcoming plans that I have is that I’m in the process of writing my first book. That’s something that I’m very excited about and really, kind of long term, I want to start doing more and more of the events because I’ve been doing a lot more in the past year, but really I want to go on a national tour and I want to hit as many cities as possible. Maybe one day go international and share my gift with as many people as can witness it live and in person, because the one-on-one readings, I can only do so many, so I want to kind of do that.
Yeah, I’m still finding ways to share my gift and touch the hearts of many and help heal people. But also, maybe 10 years from now, I’ll want to take a little break from doing this professionally so I can be a stay-at-home mom or something, but I’ll still be doing this work in some way, shape or form, even if it’s not as a career, you know?
TCC: If you had never felt the pull of spirit, what career path would have appealed to you?
MTK: This is crazy, but I always growing up had a dream of being a producer behind the scenes of a television show. Growing up, I always wanted to be a producer of like an Oprah or an Ellen, always a daytime talk show. But still, the fact that my dream job was to be a producer in TV is kind of crazy considering that I have a TV show. It’s kind of like I got the best of both worlds – I got to share my gift on this platform and do this work as a medium, but I also got to see the ins and outs of television and behind the camera and how it all works. And it’s just really fascinating to me. It’s always been something I was very interested in, how you can hear people’s stories and how people who are sitting at home watching something that way, that you can kind of put it together and display that. It’s really cool.
TCC: What was the first moment you realized you were different from your friends?
MTK: For me it was around 15 years old when I was in high school. I started hearing and seeing, sensing things around my friends and acquaintances. Especially when people would be telling a story about someone who had passed in their childhood and I would hear the end before they finished telling it. And I was like, hmm, that’s strange.
It started with one particular friend in art class one day. She’d lost her mom and was talking about how her mom had died and all these things. Before she would say anything, I would hear it and I was like what? This is crazy and I thought it was just a coincidence or something, but this was a new girl. She was new in the class and I didn’t even really know her well yet. So, that was kind of the first indication that there was something different. But I was always intuitive and empathetic growing up, an old soul kind of thing, but that was the first time as far as sensing spirit where I realized okay, this is different.
TCC: How did you discover it was spirit trying to communicate?
MTK: Well at first I did not realize it was spirit. I thought I was crazy, thought maybe I have a brain tumor, maybe I have mental illness. But once it started happening with more and more people, I was like okay. Maybe this isn’t just a lucky guess or coincidence, or maybe I’m not sick because it started happening more and more. And once it started happening with strangers and I would repeat to them what I was sensing or hearing, they’d start crying and be like how’d you know that about my mom, or how’d you know that about my dad. And I was like, uh, I don’t know how I know that.
I really remember even being back in high school, having, how funny is this, having to Google “what does it mean when you hear voices.” You feel like a crazy person when you’re doing that, but I remember learning about mediums and being like, oh my God, this is exactly what I’ve been experiencing! Like the way that they talk about their gift is just what I’m going through now. So I was kind of able to piece together what was happening, and like I said, once I started delivering the messages, I was like okay, this is inevitable, that spirit has been doing it.
TCC: They use camera effects on the show when spirit starts calling to you. What does it actually feel like for you when spirit tries to come through? Do you hear them too? Or is it just a mental image or physical feeling?
MTK: The editing effects that they add in after the fact are actually pretty similar to what’s going on. It is a good way to show what’s happening within me and everything that’s going on around me. It’s kind of like I totally zone out everything that’s going on around me and I’m just paying attention to the spirit that’s starting to kind of knock at my door. It’s just this feeling that kind of washes over me where all of a sudden I can’t really catch my breath, I can’t breathe, and I start to feel and hear things. And I think it’s just like a light switch turns on and all of a sudden I’m just zoned out and I’m only paying attention to spirit. So that’s really what’s happening.
TCC: Can you do a reading from a distance or do you need to be in the same room as the client?
MTK: I give readings over Skype, Facetime. I can do them over the phone although I prefer to see the client. It just makes it more personable. I feel like the client, or person being read, they enjoy the experience so much more getting to see the way… Because spirit is not just the words that are coming out of my mouth. A lot of times people will tell me your energy was almost like the persona of my mom was being reflected through the way you talked with your hands or the way your facial expressions were. It’s a full thing that I want them to be able to have – the experience of not just hearing me but seeing me as well adds to it.
TCC: I know you hold the hand of the person you’re reading if they’re in the same room. What techniques do you have for making the connection stronger if it’s virtual?
MTK: I hold their hand because in person, when there’s a lot of people around me and when there is a lot of commotion… If you’ve been watching the show you’ve seen me doing readings at a carnival or at the Belmont Amusement Park and the mall. These places can be very distracting and very loud. So when I hold their hand it does help me kind of just focus and zone in on just them and their loved ones, but I really don’t need that in order to connect. When I’m doing Skype or Facetime, I always have it so they’re in a private, quiet room, so the issues that would’ve come up where I really kind of need that extra boost, I don’t need it there because it’s quiet and there’s no distractions and it’s easy. So I just don’t have that issue come up luckily.
TCC: You interact with other mediums on the show, from James Van Praagh to the girl you’ve been mentoring. How is your practice different than theirs?
MTK: I also had my medium mom, I call her, from last season, Maureen Hancock, and yeah, James Van Praagh from this season. I would say me and Maureen Hancock, the way we work is very similar, as opposed to someone like James Van Praagh. He would be referred to as a very traditional medium, more like the UK mediums in the way that he delivers the messages from spirit. And if you go to one of these events where we do our work, you can just tell the difference.
I always say, that might be the traditional form of mediumship where if somebody stands in the way you have to connect, but I’m like I just talk to dead people plain and simple, people. I let them come through how they want, they come through with their personality. I’m the medium with zero filter. I literally have zero filter. I had to learn for a long time even how to do stage mediumship with doing these events, which is where I don’t run around the whole audience, but I can connect to spirit just by standing on a stage. And that was something all the traditional mediumships were like you need to learn how to do because it helps enhance the experience for everyone sitting in the audience. They don’t have to turn their necks and look at the back and all this stuff while you’re running around. And at least I’ve gotten better at that, but I’m still going to connect the same way I do in the sense of no filter and let them come through fully with their personalities. It’s just fun. It’s very different but very fun. I love the way that spirit comes through.
TCC: Do you have a favorite medium that you admire and wish to be like? If so, who and why?
MTK: Yes, Maureen Hancock. She’s my favorite medium. I absolutely love her. Like I said, she was on the last season of Monica the Medium and we just did some events together in the Boston, Massachusetts area last week. They call her “the comedium” because she’s not only an incredible medium, but she literally could be a stand-up comic. She is so funny. Seeing one of her events, it’s like you get two tickets for the price of one – you can connect to your loved ones and you literally laugh your ass off. I want to be more like her in that sense. She brings a lot of lightness to the topic of death.
TCC: Do you see yourself coming back for a third season? What aspects of your life do you feel like the show should explore in upcoming seasons?
MTK: I don’t know. I’m crossing my fingers that we’ll have another season, but it’s never guaranteed. Like I said, even if I don’t have another season, I’ll still be doing this work as a medium, but if it does happen, I think there is so much more to go into on the spiritual mediumship side of things that I think we haven’t seen yet. And a part of it too, the part of my life that is expanding in going on tour, I think it would be fun to maybe follow me on tour and do readings along the way in different states across the country. There’s still a lot of fun things we can do, but we’ll have to see. I’m crossing my fingers. We’ll see what happens.
See the season 2 promo:
Jesse Cook is a writer living in the Southern Tier of New York state. She loves food, books, and dark fantasy in all mediums.