We had the good fortune of connecting with Kellie Carroll and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Kellie, what led you to pursuing a creative path professionally?

I pursue an artistic & creative career because it’s a calling, it’s a passion, and it’s a driving force of motivation & happiness in my life! I am a choreographer, director, and children’s theatre director, managing three locations of our children’s triple threat conservatory, The Acting Studio. I also pursue choreography and directing opportunities outside of the “green walls” (the color of each studio location!) and dream of having an artistic … well … empire. I am very inspired by the work of Debbie Allen – as a performer, as a choreographer, a director, producer, children’s dance studio, entrepreneur, and creator. I would love to continue to grow these theatrical studios, create safe spaces for kids to grow artistically and personally in their self-worth and self-acknowledgement while continuously pushing my creative capabilities in new adventures and opportunities – hopefully one day working in the LIVE musicals niche of the business! The theatrical industry is hard, harsh, and unforgiving – it’s also nurturing, encompassing, inspiring, welcoming, ever-changing, and full of endless possibilities (made slightly harder, of course via covid, but “now is not forever.”). For me, performing on stage – especially for me, dancing – is a thrill. It’s captivating and sets my heart on fire. I feel my most authentic and capable self when dancing. As I grew older, that turned into a passion and pursuit to create choreography and bring to life stories that we know, love, and relate to. Performers have the opportunity to connect with people, to make them feel like – “Yes, I know that feeling” or yes, I want that feeling. I’m not alone.” We have an opportunity to honor old stories again and again and to tell brand new ones that we’ve been yearning to hear for lifetimes. We get to honor the past work of artists and are constantly encouraged to be brave enough to create NEW work and ideas! It’s one of the most electric and alive avenues that I can be a part of!

Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
In addition to my passion of musical theatre and training young professionals at The Acting Studio, I have recently opened my own Life Coaching Business to help other pursue power-performance-and purpose. But it stands true – that once a dancer, always a dancer! I LOVE dancing. It is my first love (or at least tied with my dog, Charlie!) I danced my entire life at Top Hat Dance Centre in the DFW area, received a degree in film at KD Conservatory College, then through my remarkable mentor, Paula Morelan, met my current partners of 12 years –Shane & Erica Peterman. The three of us opened three theatrical studio locations – The Acting Studio – and guided a graduated student,Hannah Lewis Fisher to open a fourth independent location of her own! Business #1 – THE ACTING STUDIO is a children’s triple threat conservatory with bright green walls. That shade of green means love and acceptance. The hope in painting the walls that color was to remind any student who walks in our doors that any place in our studio, they would each be surrounded by love and acceptance. We strive to teach technique and the tools to truly be a professional, regardless of age, in this industry! Additionally, we teach “Life Skills through Stage Skills.” We want students to take any lessons they learn here and apply them to their every day lives. Namely, accountability, bravery, risk taking, self-worth, selflove, self nourishment, respect, responsibility, and the ability to follow any dream that they are bold enough to create! I started primarily as the dance director and have evolved to wear any hat the company compels me to! We teach ensemble & team connectivity. We teach the disciplines of ballet, tap & jazz, vocal range, and the Meisner acting technique. We teach how to be a professional in the musical theatre world, AND how to be the best version of yourself in the world you create! Our studio attracts students who know that THEY WANT TO DO THIS and to strive to excel in this business. It’s a privilege to watch students grow in their self esteem, their technique, and their ability to do multiple pirouettés while under the center stage lights (and potentially a wild, glitzy costume 🙂).

We teach voice lessons, classes in musical theatre, acting, film, audition prep, techniques in ballet, tap, jazz, original broadway choreography – all with an emphasis on the musical theatre industry and becoming a professional as a young artist. Between all of the locations, we produce 3-6 productions every year and coming in Spring of 2021, we look forward to producing Into The Woods. We have a Triple Threat Performing company that gives back to the community with local performances. We also travel to NYC, Disney Land & Disney World! But the whole theme underneath all the TECHNIQUE is the LIFE SKILLS THROUGH STAGE SKILLS. We want kids to feel free to be who they are, explore their bravest selves, take risks, try new things, embrace their gifts and talents, and be well-rounded, compassionate people who feel connected to a community. “It’s a community of courage,” as one of our Founders, Erica Peterman, likes to call it. “Be Brave. Be Bold. Be You.” What lessons have we learned along the way, after 12 years and four locations? … if you can produce a musical with nearly a 100 kids, you can do just about anything! We learned that ballgowns need their own dressing room, props will always go missing, the dog in the musical will get the most applause, and someone’s wig will always fall off. We have also learned that anything is possible. Cheesy – but true. We have thankfully managed to keep our doors open during covid. The kids have risen to the occasion remarkably. THEY are never to be underestimated. We can still tell stories- even with masks, 6 feet apart on stage, and through zoom. It has re-enforced our core values … and our cleaning skills 😉

I am also a woman who has survived the loss of her big brother to suicide and strive to become a mental health advocate in my life. Losing him, with no warning signs and so suddenly, was heart crushing. Navigating the grief process is a full time job, in addition to doing my best to show up for my family, my actual full time job and responsibility to the community, is a hard path to walk.  I wear his loss and legacy like a badge of honor and guiding light for each new step I take in life. Business #2 – I am excited to have started a new life coaching business. The difference between coaching and therapy is that coaching is forward driven – discovery vs. Recovery. Coaching encourages one to use their own POWER through self discovery, purpose discovery, and thought provoking challenges! That’s the inspiration behind my tagline POWER-PERFORMANCE-PURPOSE … it’s about owning your power to become center stage of your life in the role you are meant to play. I want to co-create with people in their lives behind the scenes, not just on stage!. www.kelliecarroll.com 

Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Pre-covid or during covid times? Let’s say a no covid world — So, let’s start with theatre! One of my partners and the CEO of The Acting Studio is also the Producer of Watertower Theatre in Addison … ain’t nothing like live theatre, folks! Uptown Players also holds great seasons and atmosphere! (That is … if you’re not seeing an Acting Studio Production!) If you’re with me, then we’d grab drinks ahead of time – maybe margaritas and fajitas at Mi Dia (can’t ever get enough – their Tampiquena steak dish is iconic!) or a glass of Blantons whiskey ( my brother’s favorite) at Houston’s or Table 13. I’m also a steak woman, so we’d hit up Bob’s or Perry’s steakhouse – but be warned, I don’t often share food! But hopping all over Addison is usually a win! Any place that serves Blanton’s – raising a glass to my brother makes any moment and any place special. Nothing beats the hospitality of il Calabrese in Southlake (independently owned!) or at Mena’s in Flower Mound where I’m handed a swirl before I’m even seated! If all those places are booked, I’d probably take. you to my own backyard for some mean BBQ made by my own pops! I love feeling like a regular, so I hit my favorite places on repeat mostly 🤷‍♀️ 🙂 The tater tots at MovieHouse & Eatery in Flower Mound can’t be beat, in addition to their reclining chairs … Fort Worth – literally just drive, park, and then adventure! My sister and I went to the Dior Exhibit at the Dallas Museum of Art – sincerely stunning. We’d see which exhibits were on the docket for that itinerary for sure! I’ve never had any short of such a lovely experience there, for sure! A huge part of my life is what I call pockets of “coffee and contemplation” so : Hola cafe, Aussie grind (close to our Frisco Acting Studio location), nest cafe, ascension coffee … (I did have some help from friends on this one!) So … you could grab coffee then come to one of my classes 😉 .. I mean, who doesn’t want to take a kicks & splits class?! (although it’s ages 10-18 fyi haha! for now!) I mostly dance, drink, and eat, so …. (Never at the same time – safety, first!)

Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Tough question! : I’d love to dedicate this shoutout to any person who has survived the loss of a loved one and the students that I teach who helped hold me up after the loss of my brother by reminding me of who I was and meant to be. I continued to teach and strive to inspire – in return, they were the ones that taught me about resilience, mindfulness, acceptance, and creative innovation. 

Website: www.actingstudiotx.com / www.kelliecarroll.com
Instagram: @theactingstudiotx @kelliekcarroll
Facebook: The Acting Studio

Image Credits
The Acting Studio Acting Studio Productions Photographers : Sunnybrooke Studios Photographer of Headshot : Lucas Atkins

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