Today we’d like to introduce you to Anna-Sophie Keller.
Thanks for sharing your story with us Anna-Sophie. So, let’s start at the beginning and we can move on from there.
I grew up in Germany in a pretty cultured family – my mom and grandma took me to concerts, plays, marionette operas. We listened to a lot of classical music. So, I always liked the theatre. Plus, I was a very dramatic child… in my mind, always making up elaborate stories and making friends act them out with me. I used to film my siblings reenacting Disney movies with me! I moved to the States with my family at the end of 3rd grade. I didn’t speak any English then at all and had to learn on the fly when my parents stuck me in school shortly after we moved, so it’s funny that I grew up to be the major English grammar police.
When I was about to graduate middle school, my mom actually spoke to the high school drama teacher, Mr. Wagoner, to allow me to audition for their show as an incoming freshman, and I GOT IN! That usually didn’t happen that a freshman was in the first show of the year since auditions were held before the summer for the following season. I absolutely fell even more in love, being on stage. I had roles in shows (with incredible production values for high school standards!) such as Sweeney Todd, Thoroughly Modern Millie, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, and Alice in Wonderland. When I was a Junior, my friend Aimee introduced me to film by sending me to be an extra in The Blind Side, which was filmed in Atlanta, GA, and that just opened up a whole new world to me. I really wanted to be a film actress, but now I finally had a taste and an “in” to the industry.
So, in my senior year, instead of doing theatre, I started becoming more active in extra work on shows filmed in Atlanta. I went to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), where I was a Performing Arts major, but in lieu of the big stage plays, I got my feet wet in acting on screen in, student films. I graduated a quarter early and moved straight to LA, super eager to get going on my career! I knew the importance of networking, thanks to my early opportunities in the industry, so I made sure that I attended as many mixers and events as I could, apply for all the auditions I found, and just kept working working working. So far, I’ve booked feature films, commercials, web series, tv shows, and I’ve even written some sketches and am planning my very own web series with a German friend of mine that we hope to bring to fruition soon!
Has it been a smooth road?
It definitely hasn’t been a smooth road. Growing up with German parents and going to school with a somewhat biased theatre department, I know the value of hard work and am not a stranger to hearing “no” (ha!), so personally, the number of rejections that tend to make many beginning actors feel unwanted wasn’t as big of an obstacle for me. Opening the doors to even get those meetings and auditions was tough. How do I get someone to notice me? Why am I not being invited to these auditions that are PERFECT for me?! I used to sit at home, watching shows and films with roles that I had seen auditions for and thinking, “I could’ve done that better…” This is super dangerous and not good for your actor mind and a good road to depression. Bad Actor Thought! My advice is DO it better! Los Angeles is filled to the brim with artists who want to work. Get on a Facebook group for actors, directors, models, etc. and find people to help you recreate a scene, collaborate on something new, meet new friends with similar struggles… whatever you need! Find people with whom you can grow + help each other to make your portfolios awesome! Unfortunately, I’ve learned that most of the people who are going to hire you don’t care about what you “could” do but about what they know you “can” do. If you have a cool talent, film it! Don’t just write it on your special skills. I had “pool player” on my resume for ages, but I never filmed a short clip showing that I can play. So, finally, I set up my phone while I played, shot a super quick 1-minute clip, put it on my online resume, and actually got a reply for a commercial looking for pool players!
I think another good piece of advice that was given to me that I feel the need to pass on is to have a hobby that has nothing to do with your job! Do something that will keep you sane when you’re not booking or just feeling down. I love to bake and play pool. Both of these are great for taking my mind off my day. Even if I didn’t have a rough one, it’s still great to have something to de-stress at the end of the day. Hollywood is a very demanding business + it’ll totally drive you crazy if you don’t take breaks. And you never know what could happen – I funnily ended up coaching an actor for a role as a pool player, because he happened to be playing at the table next to me one night. He took a video of me, sent it to his director, and actually put me in the film!
Now, these two pieces of advice are not geared specifically towards women in Hollywood but are bits of advice I would give to anyone. Why? Because that’s how you become successful in this industry (I believe). By creating what you want and doing what you love and just not giving an s#!$ about the gender stereotypes that people are going to place on you. You should be conscious of your type, but you need to figure out how to work and use it to create your unique brand and stay true to yourself. No person is just one single type. I was always told that I’m the Disney girl next door, but I LIKE to do more tomboy, non-girly things… like billiards. So, instead of accepting that I will never be cast as a grungy billiards player, I filmed my own material and SHOWED what I can really do. I was put in a film by the same director who told me I wasn’t “grungy enough” after sending him a video proving I can do. So now, I’m the pretty girl in a bar of biker dudes, but guess what, that exists. I just showed Hollywood what it was missing.
We’d love to hear more about your work.
I got my start in the theatre and have a pretty good resume ranging from plays and musicals to one-acts and 24-hour play festivals. I’ve used my German background (I also speak it) as an advantage in Hollywood and have even booked internationally when I was cast in a role on a German reality/soap opera “My Life in Miami Beach.” I’ve also had the pleasure of speaking German and English for a role in the film “Pen Pals,” produced by my friend Marem Hassler. I’m part of an on-going web series entitled “Donovan & Simms,” and I was also part of a series “On the Job,” which you can see on Funny or Die. A few years ago, I assistant produced and acted in my first feature film, “All By Myself.” I have to be honest that this one’s not my favorite moment because it didn’t turn out as I’d hoped, but I still love it because I learned so much from the experience. It was a great growing moment for me. I’ve booked commercials and numerous shorts as well. Currently, I’m working on putting together a YouTube channel or possibly IGTV bits with a friend of mine about the hilarious differences between Germany and the US. We’re currently deep in the brainstorming process and can’t wait to start filming some episodes soon!
Like I’ve said before, you need to be proactive in doing your own things. This past year, a friend and I put a project we were working on hold and I haven’t been going out for auditions and acting as much as I’d like, but I always like to keep busy, so I asked myself what is something else that I’m interested in. Modeling. By then, I’d watched enough seasons of America’s and Germany’s Next Top Model to believe I could make Tyra and Heidi proud! As an actor, you are your brand. So, instead of sitting around, I decided to vamp up my modeling portfolio, because I’ve been noticing that more and more casting calls are asking to see your Instagram or are specifically looking for Influencers. I’m not an Influencer, but my social media can at least look like I am! Again, showing people what I can do vs promising them what I could do. I started contacting photographers and friends around town and setting up my own photo shoots. I had concepts and ideas ready to go and actualizing them. It’s an amazing feeling as an artist and as a person to see a finished product and know that you had a part in making that happen.
In addition to my artistic work, I love to teach people. I’ve been giving German lessons for a few years now and hope to continue doing so for years to come! Second languages are so important, and it makes me sad how overlooked they are in the American School System. I come from a high school where a second language wasn’t even a requirement to graduate! That’s insane! Speaking another language (albeit by birth and need to survive, haha) has helped open doors for me in my career and I’m super grateful for that, so now I’m passing that on!
So much of the media coverage is focused on the challenges facing women today, but what about the opportunities? Do you feel there are any opportunities that women are particularly well positioned for?
Everything?! haha I don’t think there’s anything that women can’t do in the industry. Because Hollywood is still dominated by men – however, that’s definitely changing nowadays! – it’s so refreshing to see women DP’s, screenwriters, filmmakers, etc. because they offer different perspectives on stories. You can argue all you want, but men grow up differently from women. We have different hobbies, different life experiences, and different perspectives, so women are great storytellers. A friend and I were looking for a writer for this WWII period piece we were interested in producing together, and we came across this wonderful writer, Liz. She’d previously written a pilot dealing with the same era that made my friend (a GUY) fall in love. He said, “I HAVE to work with her!!” It was a fantastic script, and so badass that a woman wrote a war script – definitely unexpected.
I love seeing determined and empowered women working for themselves and taking their own steps to realize their dreams, instead of waiting for the industry to discover them. I love the stereotypes that women are loud, bossy or they nitpick too much… guess what, that makes a great producer!
There are so many opportunities out there for women in Los Angeles. Get on social sites and join groups. See who’s hiring and what they’re hiring for. Can’t find anything you like? Set up your own project and bring people together to create something AMAZING. I love finding other creative women to collaborate with, and it’s cool because you’ll not only make new friends but gain experience and stellar connections.
- German Lessons – $50/hr
- Website: www.annasophiekeller.com
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: www.instagram.com/anna.sophie.keller
- Twitter: https://twitter.com/asophiekeller
- Other: www.imdb.me/annasophiekeller
Kevin Weaver, Jack Lue, Morgan Swank, Marem Hassler