“I did ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’ at the Virginia Samford Theatre when I was 11,” she says. “That show, and the director, made me realize I wanted to do that as my career. It was so much fun. I was in love with it.”
Soon after her stint as Scout, Kelly signed with an agent in Atlanta, and she’s been working pretty steadily ever since – short films, a psychological thriller called “Through the Past Darkly,” a movie called “Fear” and a horror-comedy called “Big Freaking Rat.”
About two years ago, Kelly, whose family moved to Atlanta when she was 15 because of her father’s job, began landing leads, including “Quiet in My Town” and the Lifetime Movie “Strike Her Dead.”
Now 20, Kelly is one of the stars of “Family Camp,” a faith-based family comedy from the Skit Guys comedy duo – Tommy Woodard and Eddie James. It opens in theaters tonight.
In it, two polar-opposite families are assigned the same cabin for a week at church camp.
“My family is the Ackermans, and we go to this church family camp because my dad is a workaholic and my mom thinks it would be good to go,” Kelly says. “We’re stuck in a yurt with this other family, a wacky, crazy, stereotypical church-camp family. One of them is named Billy Graham. The whole movie is about finding dynamics in a family and exploring that.”
For Kelly, “Family Camp” is another step into the career she loves – it’s her first big-screen comedy.
“I love this,” she says. “It’s something I’ve known in my life since I was 11, and I knew I wanted to do it for the rest of my life. I really love storytelling. I want to do it for as long as I can.”
She calls her parents and older sister “so supportive.”
“I didn’t realize that it was uncommon for a kid to not have that support when they say they want to act,” Kelly says with a laugh. “They were so supportive. I never felt like they didn’t want me to do it. I’ve just had this dream, and they’ve been believing in me and loving me throughout it.”
Though she hasn’t done theater in a while, Kelly would like to get back into it, but right now, it’s back to auditioning for film and TV roles. Oh, and seeing herself on the big screen in “Family Camp.”
“It’s a super big moment for me,” Kelly says. “I’m going to Birmingham, and we’re going to get my friends and family and go to the Summit and watch it there. That’s the theater that I grew up going to in Birmingham.”