Born and raised in upstate New York, actress Kelly Barry-Miller started performing at a young age. She acted, sang and danced on stage up through high school, then her family relocated to Dallas for her college years, where she put acting on the back burner while she immersed herself in her studies. After spending some time overseas doing missionary work, Kelly settled into a domestic life but never got acting out of her blood.
Fast forward to today. Now calling Minneapolis home, Kelly’s revived her acting career but these days it’s on camera, rather than on stage. In the last couple of years, she’s chalked-up many credits that include commercials, music videos and films, such as God’s Green Earth, Ultimate Redemption, Remake, and Gray State (the latter two currently in production) and an appearance in a Rascall Flatts ABC television special.
Many of the models and actresses I’ve spoken with also work on the other side of the camera, usually as a hobby or sideline. For Kelly, photography is a passion that she does semi-professionally. In fact, if you’re planning on getting married in the Minneapolis area and want to capture the event, I’d highly recommend contacting her. Speaking of that, I contacted Kelly about an interview and she gave me such a flattering response, It really made me wish this site had a larger readership to present her to. However, if I continue to feature ladies like this, I’m sure this site will get a larger readership.
CHRIS CHARLES: You started performing at a very young age. Would you say your mother pushed you at all, or was it all your desire and she simply encouraged you?
KELLY BARRY-MILLER: I would say I bugged her like crazy to be in the performing arts, but she was more than happy to oblige. Every performance, without fail, I’d look into the audience, and there she was giving me her signature loving wink and smile; ever an encourager, and silent support …never pushing. She’s my hero!
CHRIS: You started out acting in theater. Do you miss it?
KELLY: As Oscar Wilde once said; “I regard the theater as the greatest of all art forms, the most immediate way in which a human being can share with another the sense of what it is to be a human being.” I miss it terribly, but am thankful for the foundation. Being in front of a live audience, and getting that immediate feedback (whether positive or negative) intensifies the mystique of the stage, and is so enlivening. When you mess up it is BIG and humbling; when you do well, it is intoxicating, and fulfilling. Far better high than any drug, I imagine. When film slows down a bit, I hope to get back on the stage …it is definitely my first love!
CHRIS: What would you say have been your most mentally and physically challenging roles?
KELLY: Two films I’ve worked on this year, as a lead, have been extremely challenging yet vital to my growth as an actor. In one film I was literally torn from my on-screen husband’s arms and assaulted (manhandled) by military operatives. The sheer terror/fear I had to manifest within the character had me reeling for a few days. Another film, I play a preacher’s wife with a scandalous past, and a daughter who is abducted by a snuff film serial killer. Needless to say, lots of tears, and gut-wrenching scenes. The objective is to be able to pull oneself out of the character immediately after filming, but some scenes are harder than others to get back to a “normal” state.
CHRIS: You’re also a photographer and I see you’ve taken a lot of photos of musicians performing live, and in the studio. I’ve dabbled in photography and that’s always been one of my favorite subjects to photograph. How about you ….what are your favorite subjects to shoot?
KELLY: I am absolutely in LOVE with photography, and anytime I can get my hands on a camera, I’m in heaven. My friend and fellow filmmaker, MJ Johnson and I (Phoenix Memories) photograph and videograph weddings on the weekends, when we are not working on film projects. Women are absolutely radiant on their wedding day, so they have to be my favorite subjects right now. Also, taking pictures of people pursuing their passion in life, whether it be a musician, actor, pilot, teacher, child, etc. Seeing them in their element and loving life, is addicting. I am honored to be there to witness another’s journey in life unfolding, and capture it in time.
CHRIS: Have you ever considered photography as something you could fall back on in case you decided to quit acting or would you never quit acting?
KELLY: It is so important to have a backup plan, in my opinion, in any industry, especially with the economy the way it is, and photography seems to be something that everyone asks for. I hope to keep it with me always, and continue the process of learning and growing, whether I stick with acting or not. I’m not sure I could ever quit acting, per say, as once it gets in your life-blood, it’s there for good.
CHRIS: I know you sing as well. Ever perform with any bands?
KELLY: I’ve been singing my whole life, but seemingly let every other art form take precedence. Probably because I am far more self-critical on voice. It has been a joy for me to lead a Jr. Choir, perform in adult choirs and catch a few solos here and there, but I am itching to take it to the next level and really focus on singing again. I am currently in talks with a local recording artist, to collaborate on one of his projects, so we’ll see where it goes from there.
CHRIS: I hear you do a mean southern belle accent. Do you pattern it after anyone in particular?
KELLY: Oh lawd have mercy, why Mr. Charles I do believe you have me blushing! (said in a thick southern drawl). I lived in Dallas, Texas for 16 years, so the southern accent comes rather natural to me now. The cool part is when you get a room full of actors together and everyone breaks out into different accents at different times. We get to be forever silly, and get away with it.
CHRIS: So, you do other accents, as well?
KELLY: I think I can mimic just about any accent, but there is no guarantee it will be audibly palatable.
CHRIS: You look like a natural redhead, so has being a redhead ever gotten you picked for any parts or modeling gigs because that was what they were looking for?
KELLY: My normal hair color is auburn, so I would classify myself as being a natural redhead, however for film purposes it helps to “enhance” the red. It is a blast, NOW, and YES, it has helped me book a few great gigs, however …growing up, I was mercilessly teased for being so fair and freckled. It has been nice to be chosen for certain film shoots and modeling gigs because of the red hair, but it can either work “for” or “against” one in this industry, as many redheads get typecast in vixen or seductress roles. Those are fun, but it is nice to obtain diversified roles, rather than being typecasted for a particular look.
CHRIS: Has anyone asked you to dye it for a part and if so, would you?
KELLY: I haven’t been asked to dye my hair yet for a part, although I think it would be fun to try other colors.
CHRIS: Your latest film, Gray State, is currently in post production. The website doesn’t give a synopsis of the film, but it deals with subversive activities and surveillance, which are subjects at the forefront of many news stories these days. Can you tell me about the character you play in the movie?
KELLY: I play a doctor and wife of a high-profile college professor, who is faced with the role of having to do things against her will, to satisfy the new world order and its systems of governing the people. The same system she once dutifully served is now turning on her, and there is no escape, or refuge. She is literally torn from her freedoms, and becomes an enemy of the State. It is a Movie Trailer which is sure to be shocking, yet really make people think about life as they know it, and what “could” happen. Director David Crowley has an intensity for filmmaking that it truly inspiring, and I was honored to be able to work with him on such a dynamic and mysterious project, with a fantastic cast/crew. The trailer should be coming out soon
CHRIS: So what is something you can tell me about yourself, that I could not find out otherwise?
KELLY: Hmmm, you want secrets do you? Well, I can tell you that I know quite a bit about the extreme challenges of losing weight, as I spent three years trudging to the gym, watching every morsel I put in my mouth, and losing 100 lbs. naturally. I literally felt androgynous for 15 years, so when all the weight came off, I had NO idea how to handle it. People would tell me how beautiful I looked, and I would cringe on the inside, still thinking I was hideous (because that was my perception). Even now, I get uncomfy when someone compliments me, but am learning how to appropriately respond.
CHRIS: Wow …I wouldn’t have imagined that. Looking like you do now, you’d be quite an inspiration to girls wishing to shed a few pounds and look the best they can. In closing, anything you’d like to say to the readers and your fans?
KELLY: Wow, that just sounds so strange. It is really hard for me to comprehend that there is a possibility I have fans, since I am just an average gal following my dreams and working hard. However, I can say how VERY grateful I am for the people who have been encouraging, supportive and loving towards me while I have been on this journey – I am forever grateful, and hope they know I am their biggest fan as well
CHRIS: Oh, one last question, Kelly: If you could get Bono to sing you a lullaby, what song would you request? KELLY: (Laughing very hard) Ohhh Chris, you WERE paying attention to my crazy Facebook posts!! Hey, who wouldn’t want an amazing rock star like Bono, singing them a lullaby at night?! I’ll take “The Sweetest Thing” in acoustic, if he so desires (gives a wink).
In front of Carlo’s Bakery (of the TV show Cake Boss) during a photo shoot Kelly did behind the camera. She sent me a couple other samples of her work, but since I don’t like to post photos with guys in them at this site, I’ll just link to this one from her Civil Air Patrol photo shoot and this sunrise photo on Orchard Lake.
Studio shoot with MJ Johnson
Kelly as “Rita” in Doug Phillips’ upcoming film Remake. Her character is
a pastor’s wife who’s forced to reveal a dark secret from her past.
Originally from the San Francisco Bay Area, Chris flirted with the music business there and in Nashville before joining the U.S. Army and serving in South Korea. He remained in Asia for several years afterwards, teaching English, traveling, and covering the regional entertainment scenes. Currently in a mindset between Seoul and San Francisco, besides Idol Features, you can also catch his writings in the print edition of the monthly magazine, Effective.