Katelynn Newberry: “We’ve only got one planet”

I would love to see more movement toward protecting the environment and the animals that are dying and going extinct from deforestation. NBD. We’ve only got one planet, we really all need to work together to protect it. We’re all going to be pretty pissed when there’s nowhere left to live or the air is […]

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I would love to see more movement toward protecting the environment and the animals that are dying and going extinct from deforestation. NBD. We’ve only got one planet, we really all need to work together to protect it. We’re all going to be pretty pissed when there’s nowhere left to live or the air is too toxic to breathe or there’s nothing left to eat. You’re not going to be able to eat your money (or maybe you will, I don’t know your life or what you’re into). Don’t want to do it for yourself? Please do it for your grandkids. Please leave them a place to live.

I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Katelynn E. Newberry, an Atlanta based actress/model with 50+ films, numerous commercials, industrials, and print jobs under her belt. She finds herself working on sets all over the Midwest and Southeast.

She can be seen all over Ohio as the face of the Ohio Lottery’s “Lucky One”. She is best known for “Notes From Melanie” which she brought home the award for “Best Performance in Fest” and received over 200,000 views on YouTube, “Auditorium 6”, which she brought home two Best Actress awards for, “Homecoming Revenge”, a Lifetime Movie original, and “Dark Iris”, which can be viewed on Amazon Prime. She has also worked with brands such as “Samsung”, “Honda”, “G&E” and “Xerox”.

She has modeled for numerous magazines and companies both locally and nationally, fashion designers and photo workshops.

KateLynn currently studies at Drama Inc. with Claire Bronson and Scott Poythress in their Advanced Scene Study classes.

Her latest film Widow’s Point is released September 1 on DVD and Digital.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Hey! Thank you so much for having me! I grew up in a super small town in Western New York, called Boston. I have two younger brothers, an older brother and an older sister. I’ve always been really close to my family. My mom has always been my best friend, I’ve always been able to tell her anything, and she’s always been supportive of my creative endeavors. We have an amazing relationship. I spent a lot of my time growing up with my Grandma and Aunt, whom I’m also very close to. All of the women in my family are artists (my Mom can pick up any medium, and right off the bat she’s amazing at it). They’ve always been a huge influence in my life and because of that, art was always very prominent in my life. I’m also very close to my Dad (he’s also my number one fan), he’s got a more structured, business mindset, which I think has helped me go out and pursue a career where I’m my own boss. I’m always calling him for business advice.

My Mom (who is the strongest person I know) is bipolar. I spent a lot of my childhood watching her struggle with it as she worked towards regulating it. She was always so unapologetically herself, she didn’t try to hide it from us. I think that was really important, I think the level of honesty with my siblings and I was important but also watching someone brandish their “flaws” was important. She taught me from a very young age that it’s okay to be imperfect (which I didn’t completely understand until I was older). Watching someone go through that is not easy, but I never held any resentment toward her. I’m not a parent, I’ll probably never be a parent, so I’ll never understand the struggle of trying to raise children while going through a huge internal battle of your own. I think this really helped me empathize on a whole different level. You will never truly understand what someone is going through. It definitely helped me on my journey of living unapologetically as well (the fact that I’ve always got her on my side cheering me on helps too). I’m so thankful for her, and remind her all the time that I hit the jackpot when it comes to parents.

I’ve always loved animals. I got my first cat when I was five years old (which started my lifelong journey as a cat lady). I was definitely that kid that brought animals home with me. Every now and then my parents would let me keep them. I once called my parents and asked them if I could bring home an iguana. I told them “I loved it with all of my heart”, they still don’t let me live that down (and I’m still that dramatic to this day).

I was a pretty artsy kid. I started singing when I was probably 5 years old. I remember singing songs from Sesame Street with my Mom. It was something I stayed interested in throughout my childhood. I worked with vocal coaches on and off growing up. I remember being asked “What do you want to be when you grow up?” and I’d tell people “A singing veterinarian”. I also liked to and build things, paint, dress up and doodle on all of my homework. I think that had a pretty big impact on how I use my imagination today. I also spent a lot of time outside as a kid. My friends and I liked to build forts and fish. I actually had terrible stage fright. I took ballet classes when I was 7, but when I was told I had to perform in front of a crowd, I told them I had to go to Disney World and then I never went back.

I was not a fan of school. I don’t like being in a structured environment where I have to go to the same place every day. I like to do my own thing, I like to carve my own path, and I like changing things up. I did enjoy my art classes (go figure) and I enjoyed chorus (even though with my stage fright). When I was a freshman in high school I was placed into an alternative education program due to anxiety (which I still suffer from today). The structure was a little different than a conventional school, so I didn’t dislike it as much. I spent my whole high school career in a school of about 150 other students and a dog. Most of the kids had amazing artistic abilities, so it was kind of a neat environment to be in. The teachers are people that I will remember for the rest of my life. They were kind and supportive. I’m still friends with a few today.

When I was 16, my Mom started to get into photography. Being a 16-year-old girl that liked to dress up, I spent a lot of time in front of her camera. When I was 17, I started getting really into photography with her, and I really thought that was my path. I went to school for it and ended up in front of the camera more often than behind. I think that’s where I realized I wanted to pursue something with performance.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

I actually didn’t have any ambition of becoming an actor. I moved to Cleveland, OH when I was 22 to pursue a career in music. I was working with some guys out there on a solo project. When I was 24, I was signed with an agency in Cleveland to make some extra income as a model. Through them, I had interest from an agency out in LA. They liked my look and wanted me as a commercial actor. The downside was that I would have had to move out to LA to sign with them. I had never acted before, so I declined and decided to stay in OH. This was when I started to explore acting a little bit to see if it was something that I’d even enjoy doing. I fell in love. I worked with a couple of incredible coaches in the beginning (JW Myers and Pamela Daly), and started submitting myself for independent films. I’ve been doing it ever since! Last year I relocated from Cleveland to Atlanta to try to compete in a bigger market. So far I’m loving it!

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

I feel like as an actor, everyday on set is new and interesting. No two days seem like they’re the same. One of the most interesting things that I think I’ve ever done was a 30-page short film that we shot in one take. It was almost like a theater production. All of the actors and crew had to be very on point in order to pull it off. There were a lot of moving parts, but we pulled it off. It was a unique experience for someone who has only ever been on the film side of acting. I loved the freedom I got and loved being able to portray the character completely uninterrupted. We spent a whole entire day rehearsing, and a whole day shooting. It was a really neat process.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting?

The funniest or most ridiculous mistake I ever made on set was probably on the VERY first set I had ever been on. I had been cast as an extra for the movie “Faults In Our Stars”. Let me tell you, I had NO idea what I was doing. I had never been on a set before, so I was really flying by the seat of my pants. They had featured me pretty heavily in the scene and I had an interaction with Laura Dern. She was going to run up to me, frantic, handing me her insurance papers as her daughter is being wheeled in on a gurney. Easy enough, right? So they call action, Laura runs in, frantic, handing me the papers, and I just stood there, like an idiot (she was probably like “What is this person even doing”) because I had NO idea what I was doing. The director called cut and obviously directed me….to take the papers instead of just starring at Laura. It honestly wasn’t the worst thing that I could have done, but sometimes I think back at it and giggle a little.

Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Haha, I learned that I needed to take some improv classes. If you’re a new actor trying to break into the industry in any capacity, do yourself a huge favor and take some improv classes! Not only is it super helpful to have experience with improv (you need to be ready for anything on set) but it’s fun too!

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I just wrapped on a film called “Pretty Metal”. It’s a proof of concept film about an all-girl pop group who loses a member, so they decide to try something different, they decide to try metal. It’s a super fun, quirky little comedy. It was a blast to shoot!

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television?

Film and television portray real life, and real-life is diverse. If we want to tell stories more accurately, that has to include everyone, just like real life. It’s very important to hire actors to portray the characters in these stories correctly. It’s important to start shying away from stereotypes, as some of them can be harmful. We are constantly consuming media, so if we’re seeing harmful stereotypes, we start believing them. Also, more diversity in movies and television means more diversity with jobs. There are so many talented people, they deserve to be seen and heard. There are so many amazing people in this world and so many incredible stories that can be told, lets tell them. I’d love to see more films with leading women, POC and people from the LGBTQ+ community. I’d also love to see this diversity when it comes to directors, cinematographers, writers, etc. Let’s tell their stories. I’d also really love to see more films that pass the Bechtel test. I think we are on the right track, but there is still a lot of work to be done.

How can that potentially affect our culture?

Media and pop culture are like a window to our culture. It’s a window into a life that we might not understand. To me, it can people empathize and I really feel that during this time we need empathy. That’s why it’s important to tell these stories and to create a more diverse industry. The more stories that people see, the more diversity that people see, the more things become normal and accepted.

What are your 5 things I wish someone told me when I first and why. Please share a story or example for each.

Standing up for yourself does not make you difficult to work with, I wish that would have been the first thing someone would have told me when I started. You have to be your top priority and you have to protect yourself. I’ve been in situations where I have had people make me incredibly uncomfortable, and when I first started out I was afraid to speak up because I was afraid that I was wrong or “difficult”. You are not wrong, you are not difficult, you deserve to be respected just like anyone else.

Learn how to audition. Auditioning and acting are very different. Audition is its own craft, and it’s very important to learn. You need to get good at auditioning in order to book. When I first started acting, I was terrified of auditioning. It was like everything that I had rehearsed would go out of the window as soon as I’d enter the room (partially because of that stage fright that never really went away). I had to and still do have to actively work on my auditioning skills.

Learn the business. This was a piece of advice that was actually given to me by my acting coach, but I feel like it’s important to talk about. He said it to me over and over and over. I remember being so irritated and thinking to myself (the newb that I was) “I know it! I know the business already”. I’m still learning every day. Learn as much as you can, pay attention. This is not just about acting, there is so much more that goes into this. It’s a business and if this is the career you want, treat it like a business.

Don’t be afraid to be ugly. This was kind of hard for me. I was so afraid to play characters that weren’t physically beautiful, but honestly, the ones that I’ve played that are completely stripped down and broken have been the most liberating and cathartic. One of the most “stripped down” character I’ve ever played was an addict named Lola in a film called “StraitJacket” (coming in 2021). There was no vanity involved with the character. I was free to do anything within the character.

There is power in “No”. This was also some great advice from my coach. This has been really important for me. I think that sometimes, especially when actors are new, they’re afraid to say “No” because they feel it might make them seem difficult. If you say “Yes” to everything, you’re going to burn yourself. Saying “No” might close one door, but in my own experience, it has opened a ton of other doors. I’ll be honest, I still have a hard time saying “No” when a project comes up (it probably comes from my FOMO). I know that I can’t say “Yes” to everything though.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Honestly, just make sure that you make time for yourself. Remember that above everything else, above being an actor, you are a human being and you have needs. This industry can be a little overwhelming sometimes because it’s non stop, but you’re important and your mental health is important. You won’t be able to be the best version of yourself if you’re burnt out.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire 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. 🙂

More diversity in the entertainment industry is one of my big ones. I’m pretty passionate about creating equal opportunities and stories for all people. I’m interested in other people’s stories. Other than that, I would love to see more movement toward protecting the environment and the animals that are dying and going extinct from deforestation. NBD. We’ve only got one planet, we really all need to work together to protect it. We’re all going to be pretty pissed when there’s nowhere left to live or the air is too toxic to breathe or there’s nothing left to eat. You’re not going to be able to eat your money (or maybe you will, I don’t know your life or what you’re into). Don’t want to do it for yourself? Please do it for your grandkids. Please leave them a place to live.

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?

Honestly, I worked with an incredible acting coach in the beginning, his name is JW Myers. He really believed in me. He was never afraid to tell me that I could do better, and he really pushed me to learn the craft. He was always blunt with me and never sugar-coated anything, and that’s something I need as a person and performer. He also really pushed me to learn the business side of things too, which is really important. He was the one person that I would go to if I needed any career advice, and he really helped me navigate the industry.

Can you please give us your favorite Life Lesson Quote? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My dad always says “Don’t sweat the small stuff, and ya wanna know a secret? It’s all small stuff”. It’s honestly super relevant to my life. I’m someone who suffers from anxiety, and I definitely get in my head sometimes. When I get anxiety, or stage fright or whatever, I hear his voice in my head saying that, and a lot of the time it helps! We worry and overthink so much. When’s my next gig, I’ve got to do this, I’ve got to do that…don’t sweat the small stuff. This life is a journey, don’t forget to enjoy it while you’re here.

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 just see this, especially if we tag them. 🙂

I’d definitely want to sit down with Taika Waititi. One of my favorite movies ever is “What We Do in the Shadows” (the series is amazing too). I love how he blends drama and comedy together perfectly. He’s a pretty big inspiration to me. I love how multi-talented he is. I love seeing him on screen, but everything the does off-screen is incredible as well (obviously). I can’t think of another writer/director that can have me laughing hysterically one moment and quite literally sobbing the next. I have been following his career since “What We Do in the Shadows”, and it’s neat to see someone consistently rise up. He deserves every ounce of recognition he’s getting.

How can our readers follow you online?
You can follow me on Instagram @katelynnenewberry! My website also has my other links, www.katelynnenewberry.com.

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