Today we’d like to introduce you to Kelsey Hewlett.
Kelsey, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I decided I wanted to be an actor when I was eight years old. My favorite movie was Hocus Pocus. I was old enough to understand that the plot of the movie wasn’t real and the actors were just “pretending,” but I was still young enough to feel a little spooked by the characters and the story. Having seen the movie on the Disney Channel dozens of times, I remember going to a garage sale with my dad– one of his favorite hobbies. I found a Bette Midler cassette tape (the soundtrack from Beaches), and I recognized her face from Hocus Pocus. But she looked so different! She wasn’t a witch at all! My dad bought the tape for me and I listened to it until I wore it out. And then, of course, I watched her entire filmography. I was absolutely fascinated by how one person could believably portray so many different characters and emotions. I was mesmerized by the art of storytelling, and I knew it was what I wanted to do with my life.
I earned my degree in drama from the University of Oklahoma and promptly moved to Tinseltown. I’ve spent the last eight years working in film, television, commercials, and stand-up comedy. Every artist has a different definition of success, and it is usually rooted in why we chose this career from the start. Feeling like I have served the script and the team well and left my heart in a scene is the most fulfilling part of this business.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
Nothing about this business is easy, but most things worth doing aren’t. There is no consistency whatsoever in this industry. In my first year in Los Angeles, I gained and lost representation, accidentally auditioned for porn in a shady director’s garage (I left as soon as I figured it out, I swear!), lost ten pounds on the poverty diet, and regularly cried myself to sleep from loneliness. Eight years later, I’ve built precious relationships, expanded my acting résumé significantly, and performed stand-up on the most revered comedy stages in the country. Even so, there are still peaks and valleys at every turn. I have definitely experienced my share of failures, but there is always a silver lining– after you’ve fallen flat on your face a few times, my God, are you fearless!
What do you do, what do you specialize in, what are you known for, etc. What are you most proud of? What sets you apart from others?
Meryl Streep said it best: “I’m curious about other people… I’m interested in what it would be like to be you.” The art of acting is rooted in empathy. I love wearing someone else’s “shoes” as my own and learning how to walk in them. I am able to experience life, just briefly, from an entirely different perspective. It has made me a much more compassionate human being. It is always my hope as an actor to convey that to others through the stories I tell, and perhaps they will become more compassionate too as they relate to a character’s pain and joy and struggles and triumphs.
Is there a characteristic or quality that you feel is essential to success?
This industry is all about relationships, so I try to be the kind of professional I would want to hire. I always try to think more about what I can give than what I can take. It is important to consistently find ways to contribute.
Dana Patrick, Joshua K