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Omar Kelly

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Omar Kelly
Barely two weeks after setting up a profile in BackStage.com's talent database, 10-year-old Omar Kelly was cast from his picture and résumé in "What's Going On," a public service announcement about nutrition for New York's School of Visual Arts. The PSA was set up as a game show in which contestants were asked questions about their eating habits. Depending on their answers, they would receive a positive or negative response from a drill sergeant character.

"When I first walked onto the set, I thought it was cool," Kelly says. "We were just regular kids answering questions." He was asked what he had for dinner, and "they told me to say I had cookies, and then the sergeant got mad and threw a box and told me to do pushups."

Overall, the shoot was a fun and positive experience, he says: "Everybody was happy, laughing and everything. Before the final taping, the whole stage was full of laughter. I was the funniest. It was great and funny, and I felt alive."

According to director Ross Baldisserotto, Kelly brought a sense of professionalism and lightness to the set that was quite advanced for his years: "Casting Omar was a very smart decision on my part. His maturity level exceeded his age, and he came with great enthusiasm and dedication. Not only did Omar come prepared to act, but he brought humor, which made the shoot fun between takes. For being so young, I was surprised to see how much of a natural talent Omar had. He made everyone's day easier by giving his full potential all day."

Kelly currently trains at an acting studio for film and television, where he is learning how to become more comfortable in front of the camera. "I learned how to not be shy or anything. I was a teensy bit shy when I was on camera," he says. "I thought I was going to mess up sometimes. Usually they just let us have a camera and they give us parts." He also receives instruction on how to manage his career in the entertainment industry. They "usually talk about how to become an actor and get an agent and everything else like that."

When he performed in church and school productions, it became clear that Kelly was naturally inclined toward comedy, says his mother, Linda: "He loves to make people laugh. Everybody was laughing on the set. It was really nice."

Kelly views this project as a further steppingstone toward a multifaceted career, eventually in film and television and perhaps even voiceovers for cartoons. "I just want to be an actor for my life," he says. "I would like to be a regular in a famous sitcom and some funny movies."


Has Back Stage helped you get cast in the past year?  We'd love to tell your story. Be in the weekly column by emailing casting@backstage.com for New York or bswcasting@backstage.com for Los Angeles with "I Got the Part" in the subject line.

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