THE KEY TO KELSEY OLUK’S ACTING CAREER IS…SHE’S EVERYWHERE
In the teens of the 2000’s an actor’s best friend is diversity. There was a time when the brass ring was feature films. The advent and popularity of a number of cable services and streaming entertainment content has all but obliterated this old standard. You’ll see the same group of celebrities at the Oscars, Emmys, and other numerous award shows due to the incredible storytelling opportunities available on a vast array of platforms these days. It’s both a golden era and a bit of the Wild West. The preconception about creating an established career has been set aside. The benevolent product of this is that more actors are focusing on interesting projects rather than playing it safe; this results in the audience being the big winners. Actress Kelsey Oluk has taken full advantage of this environment. She can be seen in feature thrillers (such as M.F.A.), web-series (“Destroy the Alpha Gammas”), commercials for major brands like Taco Bell, and award-nominated music videos (as she was in Feist’s “1234”). She can even be heard as one of the voices in a Marvel production, one of the most popular brands in features, streaming, and television. Oluk’s ubiquity is the outcome of her talent and exuberance for the craft in general. Her desire to create is as immense as the number of projects she can be seen in these days.
“Destroy the Alpha Gammas” is set in the world of sororities just as the name alludes. The web-series might be described as a guilty pleasure as it concerns itself with the baser nature of those involved in Greek life. DAG is a sexy/edgy comedy driven by top 40 hits, love triangles, and cat fights in the vein of Bridesmaids and Pitch Perfect. Written by and starring pop singer/actress Leah McKendrick, DAG’s stellar cast includes Oluk alongside Jon Robert Hall (Glee), Lindsey Morgan (Emmy Nominee-General Hospital), and Sara Fletcher (Comedy Central’s My Secret Girlfriend). Kelsey’s work in the horror film Kenneyville got her noticed by the show’s producer and her background in musicals cinched the deal. When Carrie, the newly elected President of Delta Pi, loses her boyfriend to the President of the Alpha Gammas…Carrie declares war on them (after an initial attack from the AGs). It’s a timeless girl next door against the snobby girl next door story which leaves you rooting for the DPs. Kelsey appears as Jamie, an endearing but eternally “uncool” Delta Pi sister. Oluk found the process of filming content for the web very encouraging stating, “I’m always interested in new ideas and new ways of telling stories; ways of pushing what’s possible even further. It always takes artists (like Leah McKendrick who created and starred in Destroy the Alpha Gammas) to push the limits of our expectations and create a new normal. I love being a part of anything that is trying to do something out of the box. The show was hugely ambitious, and by using the medium of the web, they were able to do things and have a freedom that isn’t possible when you are creating for a network. The last 5 years have seen a major change in how networks and studios value web content. It’s a good feeling to be part of that.” The admiration is not one-sided as McKendrick states, “I loved what Kelsey did in ‘Destroy the Alpha Gammas’ so much that I brought her back for a role in M.F.A., the feature I wrote. In “Destroy The Alpha Gammas”, I really got to see Kelsey’s playful/silly side. When I worked with her on M.F.A. I saw a completely different facet of her. She’s definitely an actress who transforms completely into the role. While both projects were so different from each other, one a musical comedy & the other a dark thriller, I knew Kelsey would bring spontaneity and life to both characters. I love working with her; she’s quick to adapt!”
M.F.A. is the inverse of a superficial comedy like “Destroy the Alpha Gammas.” This feature Thriller, directed by Natalia Leite, is the tale of an art student who taps into a rich source of creative inspiration after the accidental slaughter of her rapist. An unlikely vigilante emerges, set out to avenge college girls whose attackers have walked free…all the while fueling a vivid thesis exhibition. Noelle (played by Francesca Eastwood) is struggling in her Fine Art class. As one of her fellow students, Kelsey is blunt in her criticism of Noelle’s work. The two scenes in which she criticizes Noelle’s work help to spotlight the change in her art pre and post killing spree. Kelsey’s role is a gauge for Noelle as an artist and as a vigilante. Kelsey admits that she took delight in being particularly “bitchy” with her role as she felt this exhibited personality traits she has seen among others in her own life. She concedes, “I love playing unlikable characters. They are much more fun. You get to say and do things that you wouldn’t do in real life. The part of you that you have to suppress because it’s not ‘nice’ gets to come out and play. I also love playing villains as there’s so much already built into the character. I’m fascinated as to why bad or mean people are the way they are. What got them to that point? I do enjoy playing the kinder characters as well but I think those characters carry more pressure. They’re the vehicle for the story and are amazing in their own right. The darker characters usually feel more free to me. It’s tapping into a side of you that doesn’t get to express itself often, so it can be liberating. I love constantly changing and challenging myself with the characters I get to play.”
Oluk received an immense amount of exposure when she appeared in Taco Bell’s “Liv Mas Scholarship Campaign” which was featured heavily before the College Football Playoff National Championships on ESPN. Kelsey was featured in both the dancing section of the commercial (aimed at inspiring dancers to apply), and as the close up face for dreamers. The commercial was awarded the Teamworks Media’s 2016 March Adness Award.
One of the biggest names in entertainment these days is Marvel. One of the most sought after forms of acting work is voice over. Oluk was able to combine these two with her appearance on “Marvel’s Monsters Unleashed.” Kelsey made use of her expertise with accents and dialects contributing the voice over for the comic book character Elsa Bloodstone, a Monster expert. Bloodstone provides context for the monster invasion in a news report style interview.
Kelsey Oluk’s career seems to be the modern template for an actress. The opportunities are varied and foster creativity. The validity of each is respected among the community of creative individuals who are responsible for setting the standard of the industry. For Oluk, it’s more about being able to spend her life pursuing her passion. She states, “It’s an exciting time to be an actor. I love both acting and voice over. I love comedy and drama. I love acting and dancing. I’m in an environment where I get to do all of these things with exceptional professionals. As long as I love what I’m doing, it doesn’t matter what form of the art it is…simply to be doing that which you love is an amazing life.”