Rolling Out

Vanessa Baden Kelly explains developing characters as a writer and an actress

Vanessa Baden Kelly explains developing characters as a writer and an actress
Vanessa Baden (Image source: Instagram – @vdotkelly)

Vanessa Baden Kelly is an acclaimed actor, screenwriter, and author. Her career began as a child actress on the beloved TeenNick show “Kenan & Kel” and continued acting in movies such as the 2014 drama “Secrets of the Magic City.” Kelly also has worked as a screenwriter on the popular TV series “Giants” and carried her skills as a writer into the world of nonfiction books, penning her first collection of essays titled Far Away From Close to Home.

Rolling out sat down with Kelly to discuss her career and the differences between writing a character and performing as one.

As a writer, you’ve created characters for popular shows like “Giants.” You’ve also performed as an actor on a variety of TV series. What do you think is the difference between the two?

Really, it’s all about control. As a writer, like when I was writing “Giants,” you help shape the characters. You mold them. As an actor, you kinda just have to perform what’s on the page. You may get to discuss with the writer where a character arc is going and how they envision certain things, but you don’t have the same freedom. But as the writer, you know, that’s my mind’s eye.

Have you ever had a situation where you as a writer disagreed with an actor about the direction you chose to take a character? 

Absolutely, I don’t think it’s possible to not have that dynamic. Sometimes, as an actor, you won’t understand exactly why your character chose to do something, but you don’t know that the writers have a plan to explain that behavior six episodes down the line. I think I have a real advantage in having done both acting and screenwriting, so now I can sit down with actors and explain the process because I know what it’s like to be in their shoes.

Find out how Kelly deals with writer’s block and other obstacles to her writing on the next page.

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