Introducing Kirby Kelso; A Down To Earth And Exceptional Entertainer Within The Industry
In this highlight we turn our attention to Kirby Kelso, a profesional trained and experienced actress in the industry. I asked Kirby a series of questions, here is what we discussed;
Tell us a little about yourself, where your from, grew up, what H.S./College you attended etc.
I kind of grew up in a couple different places, but I claim Kansas City as home. I’ve moved over 30 times in my life so I don’t really have any deep roots anywhere, but KC is where I went to high school and I feel like that’s really when you grow up. During high school I NEVER went to class. I would make up any excuse to get out of class. I used to pray to catch other peoples colds so i could stay home sick! I told my algebra and chemistry teachers I didn’t need what they were talking about because I was going to be an actor. They didn’t believe me and my school counselor (forcefully) suggested I take the ACT test just in case I changed my mind. After filling out the questionnaire about my interests I received a letter from The American Musical and Dramatic Academy to come and audition. I took a road trip with 3 friends to St. Louis where they were being held. I GOT IN! Say what??? I NEVER had planned on going to an acting conservatory but the universe made it happen! AMDA completely changed everything about me for the better. Still to this day, It makes me strive for perfection, I want to be the hardest worker, the best performer, the most professional in the room. I am so grateful that I took that chance.
What inspired you to be an entertainer? Early experiences worth sharing?
I had always wanted to be the center of attention when I was younger (and some things never change) I remember I was always trying to put on a show for my parents. When I was three, I sustained a concussion pretending to be Nancy Kerrigan in my living room when I fell and smashed my head against the coffee table.We call that the Tonya Harding table. After that, it was clear figure skating was not going to be my future. It was an endless series of concerts in front of the fire place alternating between selections from Selena, Bette Midler, and Sheena Easton. I know, cutting edge music for a 6 year old. Finally, when I was 9 I got my big break! I had been cast as Dorothy in my elementary school production of The Wizard of Oz. I was really big time at that point. When my parents would go over to a friends house there would be a good 30 minutes set aside when I would perform. I would belt Bye Bye Birdie and recite monologues from Austin Powers. Again, very age appropriate stuff. I don’t think I really “found” performing…it sort of was just something I always wanted to do.
Talk about a time where you have faced adversity/conflict and have triumphed.
I have had a life long struggle with my weight. I mean STRUGGLE. I’ve been up and down all over the place and unfortunately in the industry your look is everything. After my dad passed away my junior year of high school I put on 60 pounds in a summer. At that time I didn’t care about health, looks, or anything for that matter. After 5 years of finally trying to get my weight under control, I have officially lost 150 pounds and it has changed everything about me. I feel better, look better, want to be better! It changed the roles I can play and now I truly feel like myself and I can’t believe I spent so much of my life being so unhealthy. Plus…I really love shopping and buying new clothes. When you come from a place where NOTHING fits you and all of a sudden one day…EVERYTHING fits you…how am I supposed to stop myself? If I wasn’t in the industry, I may not care as much about my appearance, but that’s the way it works. I’ve chosen to really pursue this and it takes sacrifice. No more cigarettes, no more taco bell, no more Colt 45. Now it’s all about skin care and hitting the gym. No matter how hard you work, there is someone out there who wants it more & works even harder so it’s very important to always be on top of your game. It’s not uncommon to have less than 24 hours to prepare for a casting. So it’s best to just live a lifestyle that’s conducive to looking fierce.
What do you believe sets you apart from other entertainers?
I feel comedy is really something that comes naturally to me. Everyone has that one thing they are just blessed with and it turns out mine is comedic timing. I didn’t realize that I was so well suited for comedy until I attended conservatory. Turns out, I am a really great Improviser. Not to toot my own horn, but there are so many different actors that have so many different and unique qualities that I wish I could master; Comedy and Improv just happens to be mine. I have had other performers ask me how I’m so quick witted or “how did you come up with that?”…I really can’t explain it, it’s just the way my brain works. Some times it gets me in trouble because I’ll say some really off the wall stuff for the sake of the joke. But when something comes to me…I almost can’t help myself. I have to make the joke!
It’s just an impulse. My friends at AMDA really helped me hone this. Any time I would make a remotely funny joke…they would say “write it down” I think knowing what other people found funny really helped me sharpen my skills and I’m so grateful.
Do you have other interests or hobbies?
I enjoy going running, my boyfriend of 100 years Joel, and I am the proud mama of a perfect Persian princess kitty, GiGi. Also : Online shopping, coffee, Cardi B, and lip gloss.
Any projects you have out or currently working on?
Currently I work for a company called American Immersion Theatre. More specifically, we mainly host murder mystery shows. I am so lucky to be able to call myself a full time actor for this company. It’s all improv, all the time. I constantly get to play dress up. We have so many themes and so much fun. Our company also hosts princess parties. It’s just such a blast to dress up as a different character everyday and oh yeah..I get paid for it ?!?! Since 2016 I have signed with my first agency, shot numerous commercials, and this year I have received my SAG eligibility. So between Murder Mystery Company and castings I find myself very busy and getting to perform all. the. time. As an actor…what more can you ask for?
Where would you like to see yourself in 5 years?
Where do I see myself in 5 years? This question is so important to me. I remember at my AMDA graduation one of our teachers, Dan Daily, asked us that question. He had us write it down and I remember writing “In 5 years, I would like to see myself paying my bills strictly acting. I want to be a paid actress.” Almost 5 years to the day…I had been promoted to the assistant director position of the Dallas branch of American Immersion, and I had shot 3 commercials and…I didn’t have to bartend or wait tables any more! (although, the years I spent waiting tables were some of the best years of my life..but that’s a different story. Shout out to Red Lobster.) I had reached my goals! It was definitely one of the best moments when I realized I had done what I set out to do. I am now on to a new list of higher goals and I can’t wait to completely smash them. I know it’s all about the journey..but I feel like I’ve been pushing so hard to make a career…I didn’t even realize I was on a journey! It’s important to appreciate how far you’ve come. I am currently Dallas based but in 5 years I 100% see myself living in an Industry city…now, which one should I choose? Endless possibilities.
What advice can you give to aspiring entertainers?
NEVER. STOP. GOING. My mother tells me all the time “Just give it 10 years, and if in 10 years you haven’t made it, give it 10 more.” The entertainment industry is one of the hardest to break in to and you’re going to get a million ‘NOs’ but it only takes one ‘YES’ to start your career. Just one! That helps me all the time when I don’t book those jobs that I really really want. Stay in classes all the time. Eye on the prize.
How can we follow along in your journey? Social media?
If you would like to follow my journey I mainly use facebook and instagram, but I will say I am kind of private on social media. I keep my career and my meme sharing separate. I just think it’s more professional that way. But if you want to know what I am up to, you’ll just have to wait until you see me on the big screen!