It’s going to be hard. — I can’t tell you how many times I didn’t book the role. Or how many doors were slammed in my face. Or the numerous times that I have applied to agencies and to have continuously been denied. The tears that I’ve shed because I was heartbroken by something not falling through.
As a part of our interview series with the rising stars in pop culture, I had the pleasure of interviewing Hannah Mikelle Kelly.
Hannah Mikelle Kelly, 22 years and is actively pursuing an acting career. She grew up in the church as the daughter of Pastors Michael and Annette Kelly of Central Triad Church. Her goal is to impact the world.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Well, I’m not sure if this qualifies as a story or not, but as a kid, I knew that acting was the thing that I’m supposed to do. I would watch different films and TV shows growing up, and I would find it astonishing that these people on this screen have created a whole new world. Fictional characters, invented by someone’s imagination, could feel so real. Or how dramatic documentaries have made the past feel like the present. My parents can tell you that as an infant, my first experience in a movie theatre was a Robin Williams’ film, Patch Adams. They said that I watched the movie. I would laugh at it when at the time, the only person that made me laugh was my dad. The power to impact lives in such a manner as these shows and films are incredible. This has been a goal of mine, to impact people’s lives that I have never met.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
This is more inspirational than impressive. I was probably 18 and helped my friend with her thesis paper; she wrote it as a play and performed as a reading. The day of the reading was the first day that I met everyone, and we read through the play a couple of times. I had the lead, and I was stoked. So we went through the reading, and it was great! When I was getting reading to leave, one of my cast mates walked me to my car, and he told me, “Kid, I have been on sets with the best of the best, and they all have this thing in them that is hard to describe, they have ‘it.’ I want to tell you. You have ‘it.’ Hopefully, this will help; when you look at the word ‘heart,’ the word ‘ear’ is in the middle. God whispers to your heart, He whispers into your ear. Once you hear Him and follow, nothing is impossible.”
I got in my car, and I wanted to cry because he confirmed that I was on the right path. I didn’t know that he was a Christian, and he didn’t know that I was, but he listened to God and told me what I wasn’t hearing through the doubt that I had about myself and if I was doing what I am supposed to.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
Ah, yes. When I was about 15, I had my first modeling gig as a hair model. I went from long curly brunette hair to a platinum blonde pixie cut. I looked as if Tinker Bell was my sister. So anyway, the time came to model and walk the runway. I have never been on a runway at this point. I was nervous, and I didn’t know what was going on because the plans kept changing, then next thing that I knew was that I was on stage and was pushed by one of the stylists as she whispered, “Go on, walk the runway.” I walked the runway in front of an auditorium packed with people. I went to my family afterward to find them giggling. I asked them what was so funny; my mom then pulled out her phone to show me the walking video. I looked like a newborn giraffe… I was so embarrassed. I never wanted to walk the runway again. But about three years later, I did a fashion show that my mom had to drag me to do because I hated the thought of doing it again. With this show, I did 100 times better. Even did the classic Lynda Carter, Wonder Woman spin half-way down and totally rocked it!
The lesson is just because you think that you completely sucked at something, embarrassed yourself, you can’t give up. Find a different way to do it, and try it again. I would’ve failed entirely if I hadn’t tried the runway one more time.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
Ok, well, I’ve been working background on a show called Legacies, and I’ve been pitching a script to them that I wrote for the show. My brother and I rand the mid and post production of a short film on the market of becoming a limited series. And I also have an opportunity to work on an upcoming show that is set in 30 BC.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
Ok, the first time I went to Comic-Con, I sat in on a panel that featured Michael Rooker. Man, he was so cool. The way he interacted with the audience was fantastic, but my favorite part had to be when the time slot for the panel was over; there was still a short line of people for questions, and the Mediator said, “Ok, we are out of time for questions…” Rooker cut him off and responded, “No. This is my panel. And it’s over when I say it’s over!” He then jumped off the stage and ran down to the fans in line and held the microphone for them as he answered every last question. After watching him, I told myself, “When I make it, I’m going to do what he does.”
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Don’t work yourself too hard. Listen to yourself when your body says to take a break. Surround yourself with people who have a similar goal. Listen to music when you’re trying to create. I like to do a Bible study about being creative. There is a good Bible study about C.S. Lewis & J.R. Tolkien about how they used Christianity to create their stories. You see, when you’re connected to the one the created the universe, the one who thought of everything, it’s kind of hard to run out of ideas.
You have been blessed with success in a career path that can be challenging. Do you have any words of advice for others who may want to embark on this career path, but seem daunted by the prospect of failure?
As harsh as this sounds, don’t be afraid to fail, and if you do, it’s not the end. Failing is apart of life. But failure allows you to learn. So don’t be afraid to fail.
Take classes to help hone your skill, so when the time is right, you will be that best that you can be. Every set that you get on be kind. Be friendly, take time to talk to people, the PAs, the ADs, etc. Make connections with fellow cast mates and crew and then keep in contact with them. Kindness will take you a long way.
Can you share with our readers any self care routines, practices or treatments that you do to help your body, mind or heart to thrive? Kindly share a story or an example for each.
Stick to a routine the best you can. Get involved with your church, serve. Serving helps you to put people first. Do a Bible study. Bible studies help you to understand who you are supposed to be. Listen to music that makes you want to dance and sing-a-long.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
1: It’s going to be hard.
I can’t tell you how many times I didn’t book the role. Or how many doors were slammed in my face. Or the numerous times that I have applied to agencies and to have continuously been denied. The tears that I’ve shed because I was heartbroken by something not falling through.
2: Be patient.
I thought that I was going to have supporting roles in films by the age of 15. And when that didn’t happen, I felt that I’ve failed. I thought that I was doing something wrong, that maybe I wasn’t meant to act.
3: Don’t base your progress on someone else’s success. Everyone’s timing is different.
I used to get frustrated watching Disney Chanel because those kids were my age, starring on a show, and I couldn’t even book a commercial. It was so discouraging, but I had to remember that everyone’s time is different.
4: Don’t give up.
Never give up, no matter what. When people laugh at you, take it in your stride. I can’t tell you how many people said that it’s stupid. They told me to do something else. But I’ve had a bad habit of not listening too well.
5: Trust Jesus.
This is the hardest part and yet the easiest thing. He knows what is best for you. Even though things might not make sense, He will always be there for you. Once he opens a door, it can never be closed. Just trust His timing. Trust Him.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“You can’t please everyone.” This is one that I am still working on. You get caught up wondering if such and so liked your work when you forget that you have the biggest say in your work. If you don’t love it then you didn’t do it right.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
Oh, of course! There are serval close friends and family members that have encouraged me to pursue my dreams. My dad and my brother have always been in my corner, cheering me on. Telling me that I can do it when people kept telling me that I couldn’t. But one person, in particular, is my mom. She has pushed me to be the best that I can; she had wiped my tears when another agency denied me. She would drive me back and forth to classes. She would listen to my heart and help me to gather the courage to go back out and try it again. She wouldn’t give up on me, even when I was ready to give up. She has been my rock more times than I can count. I love my momma.
You are a person of enormous influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
I would love for a revival; to see God’s outpouring all over our nation and the world.
We are very blessed that some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
Ah man, there are a couple of people that I would love to talk to. Robert Downey Jr. is at the top of my list because he made a significant impact on my life as Iron Man. He never gave up when he failed. He did what he could to make himself better. He seems like a really cool guy to talk to, and the stories that he could tell. Another person that I would love to sit down with has to be Gal Gadot. She seems like an incredible person to talk to. She knows what it’s like to keep waiting for a role, almost quitting, then she gets to portray one of the most iconic heroes, Wonder Woman! I would love to talk to her about everything.
How can our readers follow you online?
They can follow me on Instagram ( The_Hannah_Mikelle_Kelly), Facebook ( Hannah Mikelle Kelly) and TikTok (HannahMikelle).
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!
Thank you so much for the opportunity