I think if we could find a way to become more connected, that would be great. Social media has been a blessing and a valuable resource in many ways, but it can also be so harmful to our mental health and self esteem. I would love to be able to encourage people to unplug and find a way to reconnect offline and place less value on your followers and more in your own self worth. We need to spend less time “hating” on people and more time listening to others.
As a part of my interview series with popular culture stars, I had the pleasure of interviewing Kelly Bartram. Kelly started her career as a model in Chicago where she appeared in various fashion websites, shows and Chicago Bride Magazine. From there she moved to Nashville, TN where she landed the lead role in the film Where is Good (2015) earning her the best female lead award at the Faith Film Festival. She has appeared in various commercials, music videos, fashion and television shows throughout the southeast and just wrapped her second feature Be Still and Know(2019) to be released in the fall.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
Thank you for having me!
I have been acting (or “playing pretend”) for as long as I can remember. My brother and I would put on little plays for my parents since we could talk. It wasn’t until middle school, flipping through a Kohl’s magazine and looking at the other models, that it dawned on me that this is something I could do for a living. And ever since then my mind was made up. Of course back then I had no idea how to go about making this a career so I started by modeling for my friend’s in photography class and writing, directing and starring in my own short films.
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
There’s so many it’s hard to keep track! The one that comes to mind actually happened off set. I was working an event for women in music and was able to meet and talk to Lauren Alaina, Jesse James Decker and Martina McBride. Being in such an intimate setting with these powerful, beautiful, successful women was so inspiring. It’s moments like these that keep me motivated and encouraged to keep doing what I do.
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?
About a week after I made the decision that I was going to be an actress (we’re talking middle or early high school) I flipped through the paper to look through the auditions for community theatre that were sure to be my big break. I found one that was for that day so I rushed over to the casting call not fully sure what I was auditioning for. Turns out it was for a musical so half way through the audition they asked for my sheet music so I could sing the song I had prepared. Well, seeing as I just up and decided to go to the casting an hour prior, I didn’t have anything ready. So I decided to sing the only song I knew by heart in that moment, “Happy Birthday”…off key…with no music. It was horrible. Needless to say now I always make sure I’m fully prepared for whatever I’m going out for.
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
I just finished producing my first short film this past fall which will be hitting the festival circuits soon. It was an incredibly humbling yet exciting experience to get my feet wet behind the scenes. I have so much respect for all crew positions-they’re the first one’s to set and the last one’s to leave and never stop working. Being around such driven, hardworking individuals drives my passion to someday write, direct and star in my own feature film. I also just landed a guest star role in a television series and my second feature Be Still and Know premieres this August in Nashville.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
I feel like everyone I meet in this industry is fascinating and full of interesting stories. It’s one of my favorite parts of this job; being able to constantly meet new people and look up to those who have been doing this longer than I have and just soak up all of their knowledge.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
Make sure you’re doing this because you love it. Not for the money or the fame. If you love it, those things will come in time when they’re meant to. Enjoy the journey. I try to always imagine that I’m in an interveiw maybe 20 years from now telling my story of where I’m at currently and the struggles I’m going through. From that perspective the “problems” I’m having just seem so small in the grand scheme of things. And always try to find the humor in every situation. We can get so worked up over making silly mistakes that won’t even matter in a week, month or a year from now. Try to laugh at yourself and move on.
You are a person of great 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’m flattered! I think if we could find a way to become more connected. Social media has been a blessing and a valuable resource in many ways, but it can also be so harmful to our mental health and self esteem. I would love to be able to encourage people to unplug and find a way to reconnect offline and place less value on your followers and more in your own self worth. We need to spend less time “hating” on people and more time listening to others.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- This is a business as much as it is an art. When I first started out I had no clue about having industry standard head shots, how to self tape, casting websites, networking or any of that. In fact just this past year I started actually paying attention to taxes and write off’s and how to organize my acting business that way. Most actors, I would say, get into this because they love the art and it can be hard for those who are more creative to get into the business side but it helps tremendously and can only benefit your career.
- Don’t listen to the opinions of those who aren’t in the industry. It can be emotionally exhausting listening to the well intended “advice” from friends or family who don’t understand how this industry works. People get curious so they ask questions that they don’t understand come across as rude or hurtful. (“How much are you even getting paid for that?” ,“ Have you been on anything I’ve seen?”, “Oh you’re an actress?…so what’s your real job?”, “ Make sure you have a back up plan.”) Just smile and let them know that you’re enjoying the process and excited to see what comes next and understand that those kinds of questions are usually coming from places of love and just a lack of understanding of how this all works.
- Find hobbies outside of acting or modeling. I can’t stress this enough. When you’re passionate about something and you really want to succeed at it, it can be easy to consume yourself with that. But it’s also easy to burn out and become overwhelmed when you do. Find other hobbies, learn a new skill, volunteer. Not only will this keep you active but it will also enrich your performances by giving you more life experience. Also you’ll have something more interesting to say to the casting directors when they ask “So what do you like to do?” as well as more things to add under the skills section of your resume that you can actually do!
- Work on yourself-your emotional, mental and physical health are more important than any job. Stay active, eat well, meditate, practice self love, nourish your mind. These are what matter in the end and will ultimately also be beneficial to your career.
- Treat everyone with respect. Everyone’s job is challenging. You never know who that student director or production assistant will end up being one day.
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
“Say ‘YES’ to life!”-My mom. I was extremely shy growing up and passed up on a lot of opportunities as a kid due to fear. My mom taught me very quickly to say “yes” to life as you’re more likely to regret the decisions you pass up on than the ones you take. No matter how scared I might be of a new opportunity, audition, etc. I always have that little voice in my head of my mom telling me to say “Yes!” and I’ve never once regretted it. Say yes, take risks, be bold and figure out the rest along the way.
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?
Without a doubt my Mom. She was there from the beginning and never once doubted me. She’s always the person I call whenever I blow an audition or the first to know when I book the job. I can always count on her to be my number one fan.
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. 🙂
There are so many! But if I had to choose one right now I would have to say Brie Larson. I started watching her career ever since Room and have been so fascinated by her talent, passion and drive. If I could model my career to be just a fraction of what hers has been I would be one happy gal.
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Facebook: Kelly Bartram
Thank you so much for joining us. This was very inspirational!
Thank you again for having me!