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Daily Inspiration: Meet Kyra Grace

Today we’d like to introduce you to Kyra Grace.

Hi Kyra, so excited to have you on the platform. So before we get into questions about your work-life, maybe you can bring our readers up to speed on your story and how you got to where you are today?
I am a California native raised by New Yorkers. My childhood was pretty incredible, we moved from Pasadena to a very small town called Santa Rosa Valley that’s between Thousand Oaks and Camarillo. Santa Rosa feels very much like upstate New York, a lot of farmland and 20 minutes from any grocery stores/civilization. It was amazing as a kid, I would ride my bike for hours on the horse trails and get lost. We lived on an avocado orchard which is hilarious because I hate avocados and so does my family, but we would donate them to the food banks and give them to our neighbors. My dad built my brother and I an incredible treehouse, we had 1.5 acres to run around on, and I would spend hours on my swing set. It was definitely a dream for kids. We ended up moving to Thousand Oaks my senior year of high school to be closer to the town. I graduated from Thousand Oaks High School in 2016 and decided that I would attend the American Musical Dramatic Academy (AMDA) to get my BFA in Acting. I knew I wanted to be involved in the movie industry when I visited my dad on the set of Drumline at four years old. My dad, Shane Hurlbut, is an ASC cinematographer who’s been in the business for over 30 years. I remember watching the drummers and crowd go crazy and feeling this rush of excitement for what the characters went through. That’s the power of movies and that’s when it clicked for me.

From that moment on, any chance I got to be on set with him, I immediately took. If I would have had it my way, I would of been one of those set kids who travel from movie to movie with their parents. My mom and dad knew the nature of this business and how easy it is to have a family fall apart and they were determined to not have that happen. My mom, Lydia, stayed home with my brother Myles and I while my dad would be gone for half of the year or sometimes longer. She sacrificed so much for our family to survive, my appreciation and gratitude for her is endless. Any time it was the summer or I had a break at school, I would go on set. Being on set was like going to Disneyland, 12 hours felt like 2 hours and I couldn’t wipe the smile off of my face. I would study the actors and director and watch each take and how the smallest adjustments made the biggest difference. That’s when I knew I wanted to pursue a career in acting. My parents refused to have me become a child actor and said that if I still wanted it when I was 18, then they would send me to performing arts college. I was so mad at the time, but looking back I’m so thankful; they’ve always had my best interest at heart and want me to succeed more than anything. As I got older, my dad wanted me to see the hard work that it takes behind the camera and got me a job as a PA at the age of 15 and a half. It was on the set of Need For Speed and wow, let me tell you it was a HARSH learning curve. I was thrown into the deep end and made a lot of mistakes, got yelled at, and shed a lot of tears.

However, that experience shaped me into who I am today. I got to spend a lot of time with my dad, something that is very rare. I feel like the movie industry is portrayed as this luxurious job, but it can be the opposite. Everyone is working a minimum of 12-15 hours and up to 6 days a week. My dad definitely missed a lot of my childhood memories and milestones, but he’s telling people’s stories and creating art that inspires. He always made an incredible effort to maintain our relationship and I’ve always felt close to him. I continue to still work with him on set whether it’s in front or behind the camera and love it more than anything. One of my favorite times we worked together was on the Netflix movie, Holidate back in 2019. I was cast as Gemma, one of the party goer’s in the bathroom helping her friend get the wine stain out of her white dress. It was so cool being in front of the camera and watching my dad do his thing while I did my thing. I’m looking forward to having more moments like that. Since graduating last year with my BFA in Acting, I’ve been auditioning, tutoring online, managing social media for creatives, and PA’ing when the opportunity arises. I’m a hustler who always needs to be working and earning money. I love collaborating and being apart of all types of projects and continue to push myself to be better. If you want to be successful in this business (and any business really) you need to be consistent, kind, and work your a** off.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
It has definitely not been a smooth road, but I feel like nothing great comes easily. As an artist, there are so many challenges you face. One of them is the massive financial struggle you face by doing a lot of projects for free and having to find side jobs that can cover the expenses of living in Los Angeles. With those side jobs, it’s good to make sure they are flexible so that if you get a last minute audition, you can have someone cover you. Another challenge is the “fear of the unknown.” Let me be extremely blunt, only 2% of actors make it. That means that we could all be on this path that will not lead to success and will leave us scrambling to find a job that will never bring us as much joy as acting. This is terrifying and is in the back of my mind always. It’s about finding the balance between understanding the reality and still having room to dream. There are so many things in this business that are out of your control and you really never know how your work is received. It’s very rare that you get feedback after an audition, so you just have to assume you did your best and that it was good enough. My personal struggle that I’m constantly working on is comparing myself to other people. I fall into that trap ALL THE TIME. I have to remind myself that we are all on a unique journey and that what is truly meant for us will come to us.

As you know, we’re big fans of you and your work. For our readers who might not be as familiar what can you tell them about what you do?
I am an actor and content creator. I am most proud of getting a bachelor’s of fine arts in a field where a lot of people don’t undergo training. That was extremely important to me and is something I preach to people who want to be serious actors. I recently co-starred in Netflix’s “Holidate” with Emma Roberts and Luke Bracey. I played the role of Gemma, the girl in the bathroom on the night of New Year’s Eve who was helping her friend get a wine stain out of her dress. It was such an amazing experience to watch Emma work and to play such a fun character. What sets me apart from others is my insane work ethic and passion. I’m in this career for the long haul and have a love for acting and filmmaking that is constantly burning inside me. I will never settle and constantly push myself to discover new things and to learn more about the craft. You can’t stop learning as an artist. You always need to absorb information and observe life. I want to play a massive range of characters and in order to do that, I have to live, study, and put in the work.

What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
I believe this industry has the potential to shift in very big and positive ways. I think we are finally starting to see a little more diversity and more female presence. We are nowhere close to where we need to be, but I’m happy with the small progress. This is an incredibly white male-dominated business and there is more of an awareness now that things need to change. There are initiatives in place to hire women on sets and especially women of color. I’ve noticed the majority of times you see women on a set, they’re white. There also many incredibly gifted black, Asian, Latinx, native American, and Indian women creatives in the film business that deserve a chance. I hope that this effort increases even more and that the world behind the scenes and in front of the camera accurately reflects the world that we live in.

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