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“What I like about photographs is that they capture a moment that’s gone forever, impossible to reproduce.” – Karl Lagerfeld
Young starlet Kelli Berglund got her start on the hit Disney series “Lab Rats,” portraying a young bionic superhero. Recently Kelli starred along side musical icon Dolly Parton in the film, “Christmas of Many Colors.” In this editorial we went out with photographer Gregory Keith Metcalf to capture the real ‘Kelli’, the girl she is away from the red carpets and film premieres. Let’s just say we were charmed by her ability to be sweet, goofy and quite hilarious all at once, as we chatted about what it is like literally growing up on camera, the difference between who she really is and the curated life she showcases on social media, to her most romantic moment ever. Enjoy!
Kelli Berglund – Beyond the Lab
Justin Howard – Let’s talk about what you like about your job?
Kelli Berglund – I like talking about ‘real’ things like that. Especially when I get asked constantly, “If you had a super power what would it be and why?”
Justin Howard – Good. Let’s get started then. What is your philosophy behind acting?
Kelli Berglund – Honestly, I was never taught anything specific about acting. I am the first person in my entire family to do this. Ever! I have never taken an actual acting class before. I have worked with coaches on certain projects for things. I have never been into the whole class thing, where you get preached at what is right and wrong about acting. Because there really isn’t a wrong way to act. It is literally just being a person. That is what being an actor is. You need to be confident with your decisions, be it a yes or a no. But if you are going to go full force into the character, It is important to be prepared, obviously that is a huge thing.
Justin Howard – A lot of people, a lot of actors, talk about emotional resonance you are trying to invoke within the audience. How do you breathe life into your characters?
Kelli Berglund – So far, the roles I have played haven’t been overly dramatic or serious. I have done the Disney thing, I have done the cute movies. I haven’t been able to dive head first into a role and show the audience a deep, cool, emotional character. I mean there have been elements of that in the roles I have played, but I would love to go deeper with it. I get a lot of influence from the movies I watch. I see little things that other actors do. I have disagreed with acting coaches before when they tell me something like “You should play it this way, because this is how your character would be feeling.” I think in my mind “No, I am playing this character and this is how I am going to be doing it.”
Justin Howard – Let’s talk about that for a moment. Tell me about a moment on screen where you feel like you truly nailed it.
Kelli Berglund -If I had to pick a moment or a scene, it would be from the movie “Raising The Bar” that I filmed in Australia last year. It is a really cute, feel good movie. Very similar to a Disney film, but it isn’t a Disney film. There is a moment in the film, where I am talking to my mom and I feel like I am being betrayed by all my friends. My character is getting depressed and is so hard on herself. I sat on this couch with this crew of thirty people watching and saying “And Go!” It was different than being in an audition room, where it is intimate. You are literally just talking to one person behind a camera. It was this entire crew watching me, where I had to go into this monologue about how upset I am and telling my mom about that. Basically bawling my eyes out. I am super proud of it because it is one of the heavier scenes I have done in my acting career so far. It was really hard to do because of the way the filming worked out. They would say “We need ten minutes to set up this shoot, but stay in it. Let’s do it again.” I would be like “OK.” When you are in that, it is really hard to come out of it and hear “That was great! Let’s do it again!” You have to work with the flow of the schedule. The flow of the director, it is hard.
Justin Howard – What moment did you take from your own life to give that scene its reality, its life?
Kelli Berglund – I have had moments in my own life where I felt that the whole world hated me. I have felt extremely upset with myself, because I was way too hard on myself at one point in my life. I remember being with my mom, sitting in my room when I was 15 and breaking down completely. My mom is very understanding. I had a very similar situation with my mom to the scene in this film. That was the biggest influence for this scene. I just sat there and recalled what I went through, what anyone would feel going through this and just did it.
Justin Howard – You’re still very young, fresh out of the madness of your teen years…
Kelli Berglund – Still a little mad. Ask my boyfriend.
Justin Howard – The world has seen a lot of tragedies lately. From the events in Paris and Orlando, to Berlin. People are being very hard on themselves and they don’t know how just ‘Be.’ Having gone through a period in your life, where you felt the whole world hated you, do you have any advice for those still struggling?
Kelli Berglund – It was really hard to go through that as a teen, because I didn’t understand it.
Justin Howard – I think it is hard, no matter what age you are because I don’t think it is something easy to understand. You just end up thinking the world hates you, because that is what you feel, what you see. Any reflections you want to share?
Kelli Berglund – It is so much easier said than done. I can’t be like “This is what you will do and you will feel better about yourself.” Every situation is unique unto itself. The way I got through it, was to learn that time heals all. That was my specific situation, I was so young. I was dealing with people who were my age, just nasty people. With that sort of thing, you grew up and you learn that those things don’t matter any more. That feeling never truly went away. It is something that I will never truly forget. It made me feel insecure with all aspects of my life. Not just what I was dealing with in that situation. But like I said, it’s so easy to be like “Just feel good about yourself. Pat yourself on the back.” I have friends I can go hang with out, but they aren’t people I can have these types of conversations with. I think people like that, be they friends or family are so important. For me to have that support network was huge. Nowadays being unique and confident, and raising your voice to whatever it is you support is kinda a trend now. Which is awesome. There are so many more people now who are proud of who they are and what they do. It is really inspiring to watch these people. You just have to find the good things in life.
Justin Howard – As a celebrity you are on social media. Social media can be tres brutal. How do you deal with it?
Kelli Berglund – I just don’t. When I was younger, just starting in this business I got a lot of followers on Instagram and Twitter. I was super curious about what people would say about me. I would post these selfies and ask people what they thought. I would read through the comments, and there were just dumb people out there who will say random things on your Instagram to make their presence know. It makes no sense. Even now I just got my hair done and half the people voice to me how much they hate it. I am like I really didn’t ask you, but that is fine. Some people are like I love it and that is the nice part of it. I just really just try not to read it and laugh it off. This is fake, this is internet, it is not real. I always think, “I would love to hear you say that to my face, but you probably won’t.” I don’t know, I just try to put everything within the context of the situation. It isn’t that important in the long run. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, that doesn’t mean I have to listen.
Justin Howard – That is healthy to have some distance to it. I think that is key to develop, the understanding that it is artificial. Someone can sit here and see you, thinking they know you. Being on Disney, people think they know you from your roles. Talk to me about that.
Kelli Berglund – I love this question! That is my biggest thing. People are so judgmental, be it positive and they think you are the most amazing human. Which feels awesome, but I have my flaws too. You don’t know my hate. There are people who are like “I hate her, she is trying too hard.” It is really hard being a child actor, because you have such a wide audience of people. You have older people who see your show, you have kids who are impressionable. My biggest thing is showing people who I am, but honestly my fans on Instagram are never going to truly know who I am. Because the people who know me are my family, my friends who see me everyday. That is the reality, you aren’t going to know me unless you are spending every single day with me. When I was younger I was all about putting out a good image, I should post this today, and post this later just to post something because it is cute. I was always struggling with whether I should post this because it is good for my social media, even if I didn’t want to. Social media is so huge these days, and I like posting…. But.
Justin Howard – Social media is part of life.
Kelli Berglund – It is. Right now I am twenty, not sixteen any more. I am about posting whatever it is I want to post. People aren’t always going to like it. I can’t please everyone. But I want to show people who I am as much as I can without giving up too much. Because my private life is just that, private.
Justin Howard – Let’s talk about that for a moment. Everyone has many parts to themselves. The intimate part you share with friends and family, the part the world sees on social media that is completely curated and then the part of you are an actor, is the role you play and people identify that role with who you are. If there is one fact that people should know, what it is? Who is the ‘real’ Kelli?
Kelli Berglund – I am a goofball, I really am. You can ask my family. I do like to come off very mature and serious, in the right situation. But I really am the most stupid, craziest person. Like when I get together with my sister and we just get crazy. I come off very poised on the carpet but a lot of people would say this too, but I am have always been the annoying one in my friend group. I just feel like I am completely rambunctious and outgoing. It is a side of me that only comes out occasionally.
Justin Howard – l enjoy this bit of honesty. It is like your are the wild child.
Kelli Berglund – Yes, I enjoying being a little bit rebellious. I think people can see that side of my personality from social media. I like to think my style is a bit more edgier then your normal Hollywood starlet. I have always been well behaved, yet I tend to be low key rebellious as well.
Justin Howard – On that note, tell me about your most rebellious moment?
Kelli Berglund – I am so going to get hate for this one on Instagram. When I was younger, I used to sneak out of my house. My parents caught me one time. It involved a pillow on the bed… It was honestly one of the first times I snuck out of the house. I did it quite a bit. I know that sounds horrible. But I went through that phase in my life. I wasn’t doing ‘bad things,’ I was just hanging out with my other 16-year-old friends. I snuck out one time for this girl who is now my best friend. At the time she just randomly called me and at the time I barely knew who she was. She asked if I was going to this party… I was like “First of all why are you calling me? How did you get my number? Two, I don’t know, maybe?” She was just like “We are going and we don’t know any one. We want to see you and you should come!” I was like “Ok.” So I snuck out of my house and I put a pillow in my sheets to make it look a body. I then used my hair extensions as hair, by pulling my sheets up it looked like I was in bed. My little sister woke up twenty minutes later and complained to my dad that she had a tooth ache. So my dad comes in and checks on me, only to discover that there isn’t a body in the bed. He calls me and I make up this story about being at In & Out with a guy I liked. It was a lie, definitely was a lie. I don’t know if he ever found out about that one. That was my most rebellious moment as a teenager, and it was hilarious to be caught like that.
Justin Howard – The hair extensions visual make the story. Absolutely hilarious!
Kelli Berglund – It was lame, honestly. I was only there for twenty minutes. The older senior boys picked us up and ten minutes later I had to approach them and ask for a ride home. They told everyone “Kelli got caught!” Screaming it at the whole party. It was pretty embarrassing.
Justin Howard – Let’s switch gears and talk about fashion…
Kelli Berglund – Yeah!
Justin Howard – Love it how your eyes just light up with that. Favorite designer?
Kelli Berglund – Just one?
Justin Howard – Ok, who do you like to wear the most?
Kelli Berglund – Who can I afford? I am really big on shoes. That is the first thing that pops in my head. I love Joseph shoes! They are always so good. They are just really expensive. That is the thing, I don’t really spend tons on clothes. I spend it on shoes. Other than that I tend to head directly to top shop for most of my clothing needs.
Justin Howard – What was your favorite runway show?
Kelli Berglund – The Alice & Olivia show I went to. It was the one that took place in LA. Really beautiful, I have always loved the Alice & Olivia show. They are very girlie, and I like to be girlie with their stuff sometimes. I like it how it can be girlie, yet it keeps an edge to it. It is an unique edge. It is not all about leather and spikes. They have cool unique designs that keep it edgy. What I mean when I say I like edgy things, is that yes, I do like leather. I love zippers and stacked jewelry. I like things like ripped jeans and crazy prints. Basically things that have a unique vintage feel to them. I freak out over those details. Oh, jackets! I have so many jackets. I can wear the simplest outfit and pair it with a jacket, and the look is perfect.
Justin Howard – Kimonos are my thing.
Kelli Berglund – Yes, that is my boyfriend’s thing too. He goes into the girl sections of vintage shops and buys kimonos. Totally a hippy. He is so cute.
Justin Howard – Talking about romance. Tell me about the most romantic moment in your life.
Kelli Berglund – In life or with my boyfriend? Well, I had an extremely romantic moment with my boyfriend before he was ‘officially’ my boyfriend. I never really went to concerts before I started dating him. Now I go to them all the time. He is a musician and he loves going to concerts and seeing people perform. Even if he has never heard of them because it was good to experience all this stuff. So we both really love the 1975. They are my absolute favorite brand. He is a big fan of them too. I had the biggest crush on him at this point. We were just kinda talking, nothing was really solid. He went to their concert with me in LA. If any one has been to a 1975 concert, you know exactly what I am talking when I say the vibe is just super chill. You feel like you are high without being high. The music, the lights and the way the singer moves on stage make you feel like you are in a euphoric moment. They are my favorite band, so not only was I freaking out and having the time of my life, I was on cloud 9, and I was with a guy that I liked. There is a song called “Falling For You,” and he had his arms around me, and he started singing all the lyrics to me. He kissed me at the very end of the song. It was the best thing ever. I have had boyfriends before but this experience was most romantic moment for me.
Justin Howard – Favorite piece of clothing?
Kelli Berglund – Oh…. I have a lot. We have to go back to shoes. My Joseph shoes. They are gold platforms. I have worn them as the base for seven red carpet outfits. One of my favorite pieces of clothing has to be my leather jacket. Another is my pair of flare cream colored jeans from Alice & Olivia. They are simply sample items I love. A regular go to piece is one that my fans from Instagram are familiar with, it is my jacket from Nasty Gal. It just has all these patches on it, and I adore anything with patches on it. I love that jacket!
Justin Howard – Here is the moment, where you can say anything you want to.
Kelli Berglund – I want to make this good… I would just say, I am super excited to about my career, and the ability to see my fans grow with me. Because they are getting older like I am. That they are accepting of me through all my ups and downs. We are all human. Especially when I have grown up in the spotlight. You are just trying to be on your best behavior all the time. I just want to thank my fans, and my family and friends who have supported me throughout everything. That they support my work means the world to me. I can tell them on Twitter how much I love them, but that is over the internet. But if I could say one thing in front of them, sitting like we are right now, it would be, “You have no clue, how much it means to me that people care about what it is I do.” That is pretty awesome!