Interview: Kayla Kelly is quickly establishing herself as a remarkable actress throughout the Great Lakes area

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 Kayla Kelly has two distinct advantages as an actress.  First, she found her passion early and over a lifetime has developed her remarkable range and ability as an actress. She can not only do straight, dramatic roles, but she excels at comedy, too  Secondly,  living in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula,  not far from Wisconsin/Illinois state-lines,  she is quickly establishing herself as an actress of renown throughout the Great Lakes states.

As a child, she was a performer before she even learned how to read. As a little girl, she entertained her family by performing skits with cardboard boxes, puppets and costume scraps. She would stand on tables and sing at the top of her lungs, and record make-believe radio broadcasts. As she grew up, Kayla joined a theater group and school choir; she had set her sights on becoming an actor.

Absent from acting for a while to raise her family,  she returned to acting at the age of 32 when a friend encouraged her to become part of a play.  In early 2016, shortly after appearing in that theater production, she was cast in her first film role.

Although her resume may not reflect a large number of film roles yet, remember Kayla also does commercials, and an occasional play, although film keeps her quite busy, and she still has a family which she gives of her time.  But watch her.  She is presently engaged in a number of productions. And the new year has just begun.

You have said that you feel blessed to be able to pursue your life’s one passion. At what point in your life, did you recognize acting as being that passion?
My uncle was an actor in the local community theater. My family went to every dress rehearsal for each play he was in. It was thrilling to see my uncle pretend to be someone new in each production. This is definitely what sparked my interest in acting, even when I was only about 5. I forced my little brother into putting on skits with me for the family every other week at my grandparents house.
What was your first role?  Talk about his character.
It wasn’t until I was 12 that I got up the nerve to join community theater. The first production I was in was a play called Oliver! You may know it; the story of Oliver Twist. Of course, that story has mostly male characters. I was cast as an unnamed character in Fagan’s gang. I got to sing, dance and wear my hair in a French braid under my 1920’s style hat, and have a dirty face. I think I had one line, “No, sir” or something like that. But I can still remember the lyrics to some of the songs. Though it was an extra role, it was a fantastic experience for me.

Oh, and I forgot to mention that I was playing a boy.

Yes, I am familiar with the play. It was one of my favorites. But, you as a boy? Even at twelve years of age, I cannot imagine you as a boy. That must have been a stretch.

Well, they put lots of “dirt” on my face. Haha. That helped!

Do you sing yet? I ask in case a director is interested in casting someone required to sing.
Are you presently active in both community theater, and for what everyone recognizes you for, film? You are quickly establishing yourself as being one of the finest actors throughout the Great Lakes area.
I have been an actor in a few productions in recent years, but film has kept me quite busy. Unfortunately, the rigorous rehearsal schedule in community theater makes it too difficult for me to be involved at this time. I go see my friends plays and root them on, secretly wishing I was up on stage with them instead of in the audience.
I’ve been working on writing screenplays, and it takes up a lot of my extra time. I also have a few part-time jobs and a small photography business.
That’s understandable. I understand that theater can be very demanding in that respect.    Let’s talk about writing your screenplays.  I understand that you are looking to crowdfund a film. Is this based on a screenplay that you have written? Are you at liberty to talk about this film, in as much as you would in a crowdfunding campaign?

So, one is a feature to be filmed in Wisconsin. The other, is a series to be filmed in Michigan.

For those who may not be aware, you live in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. This has given you the distinct advantage of working both sides of the Great Lakes, hasn’t it?

Yes. I’m very close to Wisconsin. A while back, I wanted to get something funny into my demo reel. There are never enough comedies being made… So I decided to write my own piece.

That is very smart.  Tell us what we should look for in looking at your reel. Which clip did you write?

People thought it was awkward and funny, and I considered writing an entire season. But, I didn’t know many cinematographers at the time. I asked my friend, who I know through the UP based web series, “Northbound,” that I’m in if he’d film it for me, and he did.

I got busy with other things, and though I’ve been asked tons of times if I’ll do anything with the web-series pilot I made (aka the piece I wrote for my demo), I let it go by the wayside. Until recently. Now I’m gearing up to create a TV pilot based on the same character. “Veronica Pratt, All American Awkward Mom.”

Yes, I recall that. It seems we did an article on this, didn’t we?

I believe we did.  I want this pilot to be successful in catching the eyes of distributors, so we can go forth with a unique series.

I thought this was a clever concept. Did you find your cinematographer? How is this series developing?

We are still looking for crew, and have made some casting progress. I want to start finalizing the cast and crew in January so that we can move forward with production. I would love to hear from crew who would like to be involved in a unique comedy series.

How is the cast and crew situation in the UP and Wisconsin? Or are you prepared to start filming down here if need be?

No, the film is set in Wisconsin. We have a location, and a director from the Milwaukee area. The casting process on the feature film will also begin very soon, with that project to be filmed in the summer. I’m hoping for some exciting things to develop on the feature as well. It is a thriller.

 

You have recently become involved in a film production which you speak very highly of in what is possibly the most challenging role of your career. You do know which one I am referring to. Would you like to talk about this?

Sure. Not the most challenging, however. But the production itself was very exciting.

Can you talk about this?

Yes.

And talk about your character.

The film is “An Intrusion,” written by Nicholas Holland. I met Nick on St Patrick’s Day 2017, at a filmmaker event in Detroit. He was a speaker at the event and I loved how honest and passionate he was about filmmaking. I was introduced to him at the after party, and sometime later, he contacted me to audition for the role of Julia Hilt.

Now Julia Hilt is a complicated character. Tell us about her.

I’m a huge fan of Keir Gilchrist, of Netflix ‘Atypical’, and he and Scout Taylor-Compton (of the TV show Nashville) are also in the film.

This sounds intriguing. This would give us, and I may have lost count, was it four (or five) productions in which your presently engaged? You are very busy.  Which one of these are due to release first?

I am involved in a lot of projects right now, yes.

Yes, this gives us plenty to watch for in 2020.

Well, I’m working on two of my own projects, filming a western in Arizona in May and there are a number of other projects before then. The first film to release in 2020 is Harley Wallen’s Agramons Gate, coming out in February. Also releasing in 2020 is ‘A Christmas Hero’, starring Michael Welch (of Twilight and Joan of Arcadia) and I believe ‘An Intrusion’ will also be out. Northbound’s final season will also release on SeekaTv, and I just wrote and starred in a short film, Mommy Heist, which will be hopefully be released in January as well.

On this note let’s conclude. I want to thank you for your time, Kayla. Are you satisfied with how the interview went? Is there anything you would like to add?

Yes, I’d like to say that if you’ve ever had a passion, or a dream, go for it. Know that things won’t come easy, they won’t come cheap, but if you really want to make something happen, you have to give it 100%. I was told that it is a bad idea to become a film actor in my thirties, that I’m too old to start a new career or I should prepare for rejection. But you know, when you hear those things, it makes you push harder to prove then wrong. 3 years later, and I’ve been involved in about two dozen indie film/ TV pilot/ webseries/ commercial projects. And I live in the middle of nowhere. My next big goal is to land a guest star role on a network television series. Going to work hard to make that happen.

 Thank you.
Thank YOU! And could you please link my IMDb to the article? It’s: IMDb.me/KaylaKelly
Kayla Kelly – IMDb
Kayla Kelly, Actress: Blood Moon. Kayla Kelly was born and raised in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. As a little girl, she entertained her family by performing skits with cardboard boxes, puppets and costume scraps. She would stand on tables and sing at the top of her lungs, and record make believe radi…
imdb.com

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