What better way to celebrate young Hollywood than speaking with Emmy-Nominated actor Kelly Jenrette?
Kelly’s portfolio extends from writing and producing short films to acting in theater, sitcoms, movies, and more. So, when Compulsive got the chance to interview her we needed to know how she made it to Hollywood.
“Acting and storytelling were something I always enjoyed doing. In elementary school, we would write stories that the teacher turned into books, but as I got older, I allowed fear to set in and I felt people who were on TV were chosen to do that.” Unknowingly, Kelly was actually one of those people. Following two years at Xavier University studying Forensic Psychology and seeing all of the science courses she had to take, Kelly went back home to Atlanta to pursue a degree in theater at Georgia State University.
“In my mind, I would have graduated and landed that role of a lifetime.” Contrarily, once graduating college she performed in theater roles all around Atlanta, GA, and in Albany, NY. After working on a piece with Kenny Leon in Atlanta she decided to move to Los Angeles on faith to further her career.
“Faith without works is dead, so what can you do to move things forward? I did research on theater companies and different places that held auditions before I moved there.”
After years of putting in work and too many “no’s” to count, Kelly landed comedy roles, and television commercials, and was eventually nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama Series for her role as Annie in “The Handmaid’s Tale.”
Hollywood can be cutthroat and very competitive but “there is only one Kelly Jenrette. No one can bring what I can bring. I stand out by being authentically me. I don’t know how many people auditioned for Amara but when I did, I gave my interpretation of the character and how she showed up in that role.”
That mindset landed Kelly the role of one of the main characters on “All American: Homecoming,” Amara Patterson. “Amara Patterson is the heartbeat. She brings everyone together and holds people accountable. She challenges people and goes after what she believes in full throttle and sometimes doesn’t count the cost. She feels like she’s rooted and grounded in love for the students, her niece, Simone, and her sister/Simone’s mom.”
Kelly stated that she relates so much to how her character on the show is family-oriented. Similar to the role Amara plays in Simone’s life, Kelly plays in her niece’s and nephew’s lives. She also relates to how “Amara is a truth-seeker and go-getter and sometimes doesn’t count the cost of what is right and how others are affected by the decisions that are made.”
Kelly Jenrette professed her superpower is kindness. She explained her secret to getting herself out there, above being kind to others is her relationship and submission to God. It was not until she got to a place where she asked God what her assignment was that God began to open doors for her. This is also what keeps her grounded in the industry and capable of facing any challenges as a black woman in Hollywood.
“I feel if I focus on being black then it limits me.” However, the “freedom I have in Christ allows me to respond from a place of love and grace.”
We are looking forward to seeing more of Kelly Jenrette on the big screen. As we anticipate the new season of “All American: Homecoming,” Kelly was able to give Compulsive Magazine the exclusive, disclosing that viewers need to be prepared for some heat! “When I read the first episode I said, ‘Ohhh, y’all messy! We comin’ out the gate on fire and the season continues to get hot!’”
We cannot wait to see her amazing outfits and what the new season has to offer.
— Photography by Diana Ragland