Kelcie Stranahan: As Long As I’m Acting, I’m Happy

At 20-years-old, Kelcie Stranahan has decided what she wants to do for the rest of her life: be an actor. That’s an exciting revelation for someone who had always planned on being a dancer and only took an acting class as a fun way to hang out with a friend.

And it looks like that acting class is paying off: Kelcie had her first leading role in Saturday’s Lifetime movie, Last Hours Of Suburbia playing a teen who is blamed for the death of her best friend (played by Switched At Birth‘s Maiara Walsh.) Kelcie talked exclusively with Celebrity Teen Scoop about her challenging role in the movie and what projects she has coming up next – and who is there every step of the way as she pursues her dream.

Celebrity Teen Scoop: Tell us a little bit about working on Last Hours Of Suburbia, and your role in the movie.
Kelcie: I had an incredible experience working on Last Hours in Suburbia. This was my first lead role so I knew it would be a very demanding shoot, but I enjoyed every second of it. My role as Grace required me to have a wide range of emotions. I worked harder than I ever had on a character. I loved Grace and discovering who she was as a person, how she felt about herself, how she saw the world and how she dealt with the accident.

She has so many different layers and it was my dream to get a part like this where I could be so connected to the material and character and constantly learn new things about her that helped create who I felt she was. It was difficult to put myself in Grace’s situation because of what she goes through and  the possibility of killing her best friend and facing jail, but its also what drew me to the script. It was such a challenge but to be given the opportunity to take the challenge and have a group of people believe I could do it was so encouraging.

The movie tackles all sorts of topics like personal struggle, dealing with the loss of a loved one, self-discovery, and the power of an incredible friendship. John Stimpson (the director) had such a fantastic image and idea of what he wanted that it inspired all of us to make it real. He was responsible for helping me to create Grace, and let me experiment with the character but also pushed me in the direction of what he wanted which together allowed me to constantly learn and think about Grace in new ways. He is so enthusiastic about what he does as well as all his projects, and I’m so thankful he believed in me and gave me the chance to help make his vision come true.

CTS: Have you always wanted to act? How old were you when you started?
Kelcie: I never initially wanted to be an actor. I had been a dancer since I was little and planned on having a career as a ballet or tap dancer. I had a friend who was an actor and decided to take a film class with her for fun and never expected to love it! I’ve always been very shy and although I had done dance shows and competitions, being in front of so many people and having to remember lines and act made me really nervous.

I kept going to classes though because something about acting was so compelling and interesting to me. I loved being able to use my imagination so freely and create a completely unique character no one else could create exactly the same. The work never stops and there’s always something new to find out, more questions to ask, and there’s never a right or wrong way to do it.

My goal in acting is to continue to create, for others and myself. I’d love to be able to have some kind of effect on someone watching my work, whether its to spark their own imagination, to make them feel something or to just take them away from life for a second and put themselves in my characters situation and how they feel. I still love to dance and It’s always been a way for me to express myself and feel connected to the world, but acting is what I feel I need to be doing for the rest of my life, and as long as I can do that, I’m happy.

CTS: What are some of the shows or movies you watched growing up that made you want to become an entertainer?
Kelcie: I grew up watching all different kinds of movies, but my parents made sure to show me a lot of the classic films that helped inspire me. I liked watching Breakfast At Tiffanys and A Streetcar Named Desire and would play them over and over. They were so captivating and I wanted to be in movies that people wanted to watch numerous times.

I’ve always been interested in psychology so I was drawn to movies that dealt with how people think or people in mental institutions. Movies like Ordinary People, One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest and Girl, Interrupted were on my favorite movie list. I also loved movies with strong or interesting female characters like Monster and American Beauty, and hopefully get to play dramatic female leads like that.

CTS: Where did you grow up?
Kelcie: I grew up in Lafayette, California outside of San Francisco. My parents were really supportive and would fly down with me when I started acting and going on auditions in LA when I was 15.

CTS: What other roles have you had before playing Grace in Suburbia?
Kelcie: Before playing Grace I had the opportunity to play a few different kinds of characters. My first professional role was a young version of a suspect on Without A Trace. After that I filmed my first movie, Avarice with Brad Dourif and Jason London where I played a young girl involved in the discovery of a mysterious and magical box. Next I shot a horror film called Under The Bed, playing the love interest of the main character. Then I headed to Canada to make the video, Hiding, and played the mean girl of the school. I’ve been very fortunate to have all of these opportunities and I hope the list keeps on growing!

CTS: What’s your favorite part – and your least favorite – about filming a movie or TV episode?
Kelcie: My favorite part of filming a movie is definitely getting to develop a character and react with everyone else in the film and the entire process of a characters journey but there’s a lot I love about making films. The amount of wonderful people I have met and the things I’ve learned from them is an experience I am so fortunate to have been able to have. I love the environment and being on a set, traveling to different places, and every experience on a film is so different, I try to take in as much as I can.

Especially on the set as Grace, I’ve been able to make some amazing friends. Maiara Walsh who plays my best friend who gets killed in Last Hours of Suburbia is a close friend and amazing person and we got along so well it helped develop our relationship in the movie too. Getting to learn new things from other actors on and off set is so important to me and just watching other actors around me work is gratifying in itself.

CTS: Besides acting, what else do you enjoy doing?
Kelcie: Besides acting I love to dance ballet, tap, jazz, salsa, hip hop anything! I also enjoy photography and taking pictures. If I wasn’t an actor I would probably be a photographer or child psychologist since I love kids, but I think I’ll always still take pictures and read psychology books.

CTS: What other projects do you have coming up?
Kelcie: The next project I have coming up is a webseries on YouTube called Runaways. It’s a teen drama about a couple at a rich private school who goes missing the same time a murder happens, and involves a group of the teenagers at the school who are interrogated and all their stories intertwine. I play Lily Mars, the mean girl of the school who likes to have everything her way. Grant Harvey who plays Jackson in Last Hours Of Suburbia is also in Runaways so I had the pleasure of working with him twice. Right now we are just wrapping up with the second season which will be coming out soon on Awesomness Tv!

CTS: Who are your role models?
Kelcie: My role models have always been my parents. It seems like fairly typical answer but my parents really do inspire me and push me to do things I know I can do. They have been so incredibly supportive all my life and have given me so much love even when I was difficult! My mom and my dad taught me and my siblings to go after what we want and be passionate about what we’re doing.

My dad has showed me that I’m capable of so many things I thought I wasn’t, and to continue to persevere when things are tough because not only will it be worth it in the final result, but the process will help you grow and become a better person. My mom has always been there to help me stay grounded and remember that so many people have helped me to be where I am today, and how important it is to remember to be kind and gracious. She’s shown me that being happy really is the most important thing in life, and love and compassion towards other people as well as yourself can help achieve that. Both of my parents have the qualities I hope I will always have. I have been taught to treat other people with kindness, be passionate about the things I love, go after my dreams, and above all be the person I want to be, and I hope someday I will be the same and teach this to my kids.

CTS: Who would be your dream co-star?
Kelcie: I have so many dream co-stars so I’ll have to narrow it down a little! For men I love Kevin Spacey and Michael Shannon. The characters they play are so complex and yet they are so authentic and full of life. For women I would love to act alongside Charlize Theron or Marion Cotillard. They play such strong women who are complicated and have so many layers to them and you can see that in their performances. All of these people are acting role models for me because they have the kind of career that I want and portray characters that are so compelling to watch. I love to study them and try to figure out how they do what they do so brilliantly, and I hope someday I will have the same quality as them that makes people want to watch me.

Last Hours Of Suburbia will air again on September 29 at 6pm on Lifetime.

Filed under: Exclusives,Featured,Kelcie Stranahan

Photo credit: Angelo Kritikos

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