Kelly Washington is a CYT Atlanta alumni who caught the acting bug and eventually moved to Los Angeles to pursue her dream…and she’s made good on that dream. Proof: Kelly guest stars on tomorrow night’s episode of Parks & Recreation (Thursday, April 3 at 8:30pm on NBC). Kelly was nice enough to let me pick her brain about her CYT days and her exciting experiences on the set of one of the most popular TV shows around…
Kelly (center, with Amy Poehler and Nick Offerman) plays a high school student leading the Prom committee facing budget limits, and works with the Parks department to overcome the challenges.
So you were a part of CYT Atlanta since its inception…any favorite roles/shows?
CYT Atlanta’s first show was mine as well. It was Tom Sawyer (Russell House) and I played Becky Thatcher. It opened my eyes to the world of acting, and I never looked back. That role also gave me my first kiss, hah! Since it was my first CYT show, it was also my favorite. I had such a blast and made some lifelong friends.
How did performing in musical theater prepare you for the world of professional acting?
Musical theater will always be a part of my life. It’s where I started performing. I even went to Pace University in NYC as a Musical Theater major, until the acting work in film took over and I decided to move to LA. Something I’ve learned in LA is the idea of people performing “big” and “over the top” can be totally foreign to many actors. So when it comes to sitcom, some of the crazy out-of-the-box opportunities that I have enjoyed are more unique than I realized. I will always geek out over great songs from musicals and sing them loudly in my car.
Okay, we’re dying for some behind-the-scenes info of working on Parks & Rec.
Parks and Recreation is truly the GREATEST show ever to be a part of. It was a blessing, and they welcomed me into their family with open arms. Getting to improv, or “fun run” as they call it, with Amy Poehler, Adam Scott, and Nick Offerman was incredible. Hard not to laugh though. They are comedy GENIUSES! It’s a lot of work and non-stop filming, but who wants to sit in an empty trailer when everyone on set always has a smile on their face, even if it’s been a 12-hour day?
Is acting your main focus at the moment?
Acting is what I live and breathe. I just graduated from Upright Citizens Brigade, the improv training center started by some of the improvisational greats, including Amy Poehler! I still take multiple acting classes every week. I think it’s important to never stop learning. And of course auditions take over your life, which I love. I have a few things in the works, that I can hopefully share soon!
I heard you also have a guest spot on tonight’s episode of The Middle (Wednesday, April 2 at 8:00 on ABC). This is a big week for you! What was it like working on that show?
Working on The Middle was great! They shoot on film, which is insanely rare now and that could be the only chance I ever get to be on actual film. I loved that everyone ate lunch together, cast and crew alike. The actors were all super professional and prepared, and not a single diva attitude in sight.
If you don’t get a chance to see the Parks & Rec episode live, fear not. You can go to nbc.com after it airs and watch it online! Yesssss.