Kelly and I met our Sophomore year at Wilton High School and pretty much became instant friends and confidants within a month of knowing one another. From high school shows to college phone chats to pounding the pavement in the city TOGETHER, she is a pillar of wisdom and calm and is destined for great things. I know we will all see her in her own TV series one day! She suggested we meet at an adorable coffee spot near her apartment on the Upper East Side, Hutch and Waldo and I am officially obsessed. We sat inside, surrounded by plants, exposed brick walls, and an open wall so we could still feel the summer sunshine. There also just so happened to be the cutest puppy laying near our table to make things even more perfect.
Drink of Choice: Hazelnut Coffee
AF: We have Kelly Marie Kesler on the blog today at Hutch & Waldo…which is HOW close to your apartment?
KK: Like a block…
AF: I would live here!
KK: The funny story about this place is that I walked right past it when I was going to my Laundromat…which is right down the street and I said to myself, “Oh my gosh Annabelle would love this place…with all the plants.”
AF: It is absolutely my aesthetic.
KK: It is Instagram worthy!
AF: So what did you get to drink?
KK: I got a cold brew with almond milk.
AF: And how is it?
KK: It’s very creamy.
AF: I got an iced coffee with OAT MILK because apparently that’s in now?
KK: We’re so trendy.
AF: What is your drink of choice usually?
KK: It depends on the season. I have to have my coffee every morning.
AF: Have you always been a coffee person? When did this start?
KK: It all started when my parents got a Keurig. It was after college… I became addicted. It was so easy! Now I have my own mini Keurig and I pop in a Hazelnut pod. That’s my go-to. Usually black. But I have to have my pumpkin spice latte in the fall or in the winter I love peppermint mochas. You are the one that got me into those!
AF: I am!?
KK: Yes because I think one of the first times I ever had coffee was with you! We were in Wilton in the Starbucks. I think you were getting some crème brulee thing and I got the peppermint mocha and that was my first coffee!
AF: Well cheers! I’m glad I was there for your first coffee experience! Wait is your Keurig in your bedroom? I feel like that would be the dream to just get out of bed and press a little button.
KK: No… it’s in my kitchen.
AF: I guess it’s good incentive to get out of bed haha. I love coffee in bed.
KK: Rob and I have gotten to this point where he knows I am a little grumpy before my coffee… and he’s an early riser so he’ll bring coffee back for me. It’s a little treat.
AF: I used to be a morning person…I don’t know what happened but somewhere along the road I decided I cannot do anything until I have my coffee in the morning and he’s learned that and brings it in to me. We’re so lucky! So… tell us how you got the city, where you’re from, how you discovered your love for performing… the whole back-story!
KK: I was very shy as a child except for when I was on stage. For example in church choir… one time apparently I pushed my way to the front at age four. I wouldn’t talk to anyone but I loved to perform and I was a little ham. In middle school I started really getting into it. Being on stage was a great way to be myself and play different characters. It stuck with me through high school and I continued to study theatre in college. Growing up in Connecticut we were so close to New York City, the path just kind of became something I knew was attainable!
AF: And our theatre program was so good. That facility was incredible…
KK: I didn’t fully appreciate that until I got to college and was like, “Oh one of my high school performances was better than some of our college productions…”
AF: Our shows were so beautiful.
KK: And the kids were so talented and loved performing.
AF: Everybody put in 100%.
KK: The whole community embraced it. It was definitely awesome. It was a great place for us to grow up and to hone our craft!
AF: Kelly played Fiona in Brigadoon in our high school and was brilliant. That Scottish accent was so good.
KK: I don’t think I could do it today! It was hard!
AF: So when did you move to NYC?
KK: 2015! I graduated in 2014, then lived in Boston, and then moved here!
AF: And tell us what you did in Boston that year post college?
KK: I did a few short films while I was there because I wanted to start a reel so I did that! I mostly worked and saved up money for that year.
AF: That was nice… you got to hang with your parents and then you jumped into the acting company NYC…
KK: Yeah I studied at T. Schreiber Studio and Theatre Conservatory for their one-year program. I thought that was really great because after college I wasn’t sure if I was ready to move to New York. Getting more conservatory style and intensive acting training was good for me. I also gained a little family through that conservatory.
AF: And you’ve collaborated with a bunch of them!
KK: We’re still all really close for the most part which is very rare. I’ve done plenty of other programs and usually people after a while drift a part so the fact that we’re all still so close is so great! We all hold each other accountable.
AF: Yes! So then you also did UCB. You’re such a good example of somebody who really got rooted in the city. You moved here and you never stopped educating yourself.
KK: I felt like I needed more. When I moved here I was still such a little baby and still didn’t really know what I was doing. I wanted to be sure I had a showcase because I didn’t get that with my college program. I wanted to take more business classes to know how to market myself. It’s something I’m still learning. There’s so much to learn!
AF: You have to be in the city to figure a lot of it out.
KK: A lot of the things I learned… it takes a little while for it all to sink in.
AF: So what are you working on now? What’s a typical day?
KK: I have been doing more video audition submissions. I am transitioning more into TV/FLM… I love theatre but my niche is more commercial. I also do dog walking. That’s pretty much it!
AF: And so how are you fulfilling yourself creatively? You’ve talked about how you’ve wanted to start a web-series… how is that going?
KK: It’s still more of an idea! I realize it is just a lot of work. That’s still there but it’s on the back-burner. It’s going to happen at some point but I want to start with small projects and build up from there. I want to make sure it looks good! I just finished an original sketch comedy video and that might turn into a series! (Go check it out here). I just had an idea and met these two guys from “More Smoke Comedy” and I teamed up with them and it was the most fun. We were cracking up on set. I hope to do more stuff with them! It’s all about collaboration.
AF: You and the boys!
KK: It’s just the start!
AF: Well starting anywhere is key! People will say, “Wow…she created it.”
KK: Right- it means you are doing something.
AF: That’s amazing. Well I always ask people what has been a high and a low living in the city? What’s something that has fed your inspiration or what’s something that’s been really hard to overcome?
KK: I think a high has definitely been having motivated friends in the city. Like you for example! My other friends they’re always doing something, auditioning, creating… I’m definitely more of a laid back type so it’s a struggle for me to really be motivated. I have a few weeks where I’m super productive and then I’ll get into periods where I kind of drop off a bit That’s probably where my low points come through. I realize, “Wait a second… I haven’t done anything for my career this week…” Those periods are times I’m battling with. It’s definitely getting better. I’m able to notice. I would get down on myself for not being as proactive and get mad at myself and that doesn’t help!
AF: It’s so easy to have those ruts and get into a game of comparison. Some days you need to take those days to chill! You can burn out!
KK: With our career it’s not like other jobs where you have a pile of work and you do it and then you’re done… it can be as little or as much as you want and it never stops! Finding the balance has been difficult! Sometimes when I am really motivated I can recognize I’ve done a lot and know I can take a break and then in periods when I’m out of it I comment on it and realize that tomorrow is a fresh chapter.
AF: How do we find that middle ground? I think most people are still searching for that. The city is so extreme and we imitate those extremes. I think you are doing great!
KK: It’s hard to put yourself out there. If there’s anything I’ve learned… you HAVE to do that.
AF: You have to just throw the fear aside.
KK: Yep. “Here I am.”
AF: It’s scary. It’s hard to feel like you’re never going to be good enough.
KK: It happens to all of us. There’s so much rejection and everyone’s trying to do it. Trying to feel special is challenging. We are human beings. We have off days. We’re going to be this or that. You’re dealing with the human body.
AF: And one person’s opinion in the room! That one person has the power to give you a job or not give you a job. It’s about finding the confidence in yourself and still continuing to put yourself out there! I always ask… what are your words of wisdom or what’s a quote that has been encouraging to you lately?
KK: Just keep going. That’s where I am right now. Just keep going. It’s easy to let things get you down… but if you keep going and pursuing what you want to do eventually you’ll get there.
AF: Well that’s exactly what I needed to hear. You’re such a calm presence. You’re destined for great, great things. Cheers.