Featured photo credit: Diane Ragland
Emmy-nominated actress, screenwriter and producer Kelly Jenrette had a pretty good idea of her destiny early on. Even at a young age, she was constantly discovering new avenues to channel her creative spirit and ways to engage in storytelling and entertaining an audience. In fifth grade, she was cast as “Charlie” in her school’s production of Willy Wonka and the chocolate factory, which sealed his fate. She knew she wanted to express herself creatively through acting.
“My first acting role on the show was in the TV series Acquired rights with John Stamos. It was the first time I received real money to play. We had completed the pilot for Acquired rights, but the series had not yet been picked up. I worked in marketing and worked in the field for over ten years. I was so excited but I wasn’t ready to quit my job because the idea of being a starving actor was never my thing. Invoices still arrive monthly. To laugh. “My current husband, who was my boyfriend at the time, encouraged me to go out and embrace my true passion. I thought about it, prayed and a few months later hung up my towel marketing. I’ve never had a job outside of theater and the entertainment industry since, that was in 2015.”
Currently, Jenrette portrays the “dynamic, genial, and passionate” “Amara Patterson” on The CW drama series. All-American: Homecoming. The series is a spin-off of All Americans, The CW’s hit sports drama television series. All Americans: Homecoming, in its second season, follows the journeys of Beverly Hills tennis hopeful Simone Hicks (Geffri Maya) and Chicago elite baseball player Damon Sims (Peyton Alex Smith) as they navigate the prestigious HBCU Bringston University. “Amara has been through so many trials and tribulations but through grace and courage she was able to conquer them all. She is in this new season as President of Bringston University, with all these new responsibilities, and trying to navigate what it looks like.
I see myself a lot in Amara. She imparts gems of wisdom and is rooted and grounded in her beliefs. She’s willing to help in any way she can, which is a good thing, but sometimes she can be so passionate about moving forward that she doesn’t always stop to count the cost. or to determine if the time is right. But his heart is still in the right place. Whether it’s her niece, Simone, or someone else, she protects others and wants to watch over them. I am the same. If I can share ideas or something I learned or help someone, I’m ready.
More from Kelly
Jenrette stars in independent feature film Honor student. The film will celebrate its world premiere in February at the Pan-African Film Festival. “This project is about a school shooting. It was not easy to film. It was hard. But it’s an amazing movie, a story that needs to be told, and a conversation that we need to keep having.
Thanks to Black Rebirth Collective, Jenrette was commissioned to write a play. Betty and Coretta is a play that imagines a real-life encounter between Betty Shabazz and Coretta Scott King, the widows of Malcolm X and Reverend Martin Luther King Jr., respectively. The story takes the audience on Betty and Coretta’s relationship journey that went from “rivalry to tolerance to genuine affection.” Plans are underway for a world premiere in 2023.
You’re from Big Boned is a short film written and produced by Jenrette that sheds light on the untold story of obesity in America seen through the eyes of a young woman named Shelly. “It’s important for everyone to understand that obesity is a disease. It must be treated as such and those who suffer from the disease need help.
Jenrette was asked for a little nugget, a little teaser she could share about what’s to come All Americans: Homecoming.
“Well, I’ll say this. Recently I shot a scene that is going to have a lot of people’s jaws on the ground! When I read the script, the first thing I thought was oh my this is messy!
Watch All Americans: Homecoming on The CW Mondays at 9 p.m. ET/PT.