Jazz Singer & Actress

July 20, 2018
Jean Louisa Kelly

I grew up in Massachusetts in a beautiful, small town. My mother was a piano teacher and my sister, brother and I all learned to read music. When I was in second grade I was given a solo in our school’s Christmas play and someone mentioned to my mother that I should audition for our local production of “The Sound of Music.” That’s all she wrote… the trajectory toward show-business began. Soon I was doing community theatre and then played “Annie” in summer stock — twice! What a blast. By the time I was fourteen years old, I was honing my skills by going to voice and dance classes six days a week.

At this time, I performed locally in a competition called Talent America singing a Barbra Streisand medley from the musical “Funny Girl.” I know, perfect for a little Irish girl from Mass, but the finals of the competition brought me to New York City, where I came in second and secured an agent. I don’t know if I would have the career I’ve had without that competition, because it sure is tough to get an agent.


My mother started driving me to auditions in Manhattan, where I quickly got a huge break, finding myself living my sophomore year of high school in New York City and performing eight shows a week in the original Broadway cast of Stephen Sondheim’s “Into the Woods.” I had a small role in the musical, and understudied two bigger parts, so I was a very busy 15 year old, with a lot of responsibility. But I was living a Broadway Baby’s dream! Then, during my junior year, I was blessed with my first film opportunity – starring opposite John Candy in the John Hughes film “Uncle Buck.” I am so grateful for the amazing experience of working with those two late masters of comedy.

Though my high school years were exciting, I hankered for a traditional education and “normal” teenage experiences. So after high school, I went to college in New York City, getting a BA in English. I had fun in college… I went to a few auditions here and there, and performed in some school plays, but I focused more on being one of the crowd. When I graduated, I was concerned about finding acting work after my semi-hiatus. I gave myself three months to book a job before falling back on my English degree, but within weeks I was cast in “Mr. Holland’s Opus” with Richard Dreyfuss. Following that, I was graced with the opportunity to play Luisa in the film of the long-running Off-Broadway show of “The Fantasticks.”

During this time, I met a wonderful man and married him quick! At his loving encouragement, I started auditioning for television series and eventually was cast in the CBS primetime series, “Yes, Dear.” That show proved to be another huge blessing, beloved by audiences and beloved by me because of the talented writers and my hilarious fellow cast members. I had my son, and was pregnant with my daughter when the show ended six years later.

Since then, I have continued to work, balancing motherhood with doing independent films and guest spots on television. But now I am also following a long-time dream of mine and am writing music! My album “Color of Your Heart,” is a collection of original songs for children (of all ages) inspired by my two kids Sean and Josy. And recently, I acted in and wrote a song for the film “1000 to 1, The Corey Weissman Story,” which is based on inspiring true-life events.

So there’s a little snapshot of my career. Thanks for reading and stay tuned!


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