Student-actor working hard for her big break

By Bill Althaus

When Kimberly Girkin was 7, she appeared in the Christmas classic, "The Nutcracker," and she knew what she wanted to do with the rest of her life.

"I fell in love with performing," said Girkin, a senior at Blue Springs South High School who is one of the lead actors in the Feb. 18-20 production of the musical/comedy "The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee."

Kimberly Girkin, a Blue Springs South senior set to appear in the musical ‘The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’ next month at the high school, had a lead role in the Blue Springs South Theater Department's last musical, ‘She Kills Monsters.’

"Whether I was a little ballerina or a mouse, I didn't care what role I was asked to play. I just fell in love with performing, and that love has lasted, well, all my life."

In the upcoming production, she plays Logainne Schwartzandgrubenierre. And while that's quite a mouthful, she can pull it off with ease, despite wearing a mask, practicing social distancing and keeping her fingers crossed that the COVID pandemic does not keep the curtain from rising Feb. 18.

“There are definitely some challenges because of the COVID protocol," she said, "but it's all worth it because we get to perform in front of a live, but socially distanced, audience and we can't wait.”

Blue Springs South senior Kimberly Girkin is equally comfortable with a guitar as she is on stage or or working on the Brat TV series ‘Stage Fright.’

Born on the winter solstice in Blue Springs 18 years ago, she and her family have lived in the same home for "as long as I can remember."

But for several months the past two years, she and her mother have been in Los Angeles, where she earned a recurring role in Brat TV's "Stage Fright," along with hiring an agent and appearing in pilot television episodes that vied for a spot on network television.

"Some of my earliest performances were in the Coterie Theatre in Kansas City," she explained. "And as I got older, I just thought, ‘The sky's the limit.’ I had the support of my parents, and I did everything I could – from acting, singing, dancing. I worked on original screenplays that I wrote - I wanted to do it all."

But she soon learned that the Kansas City market was more commercially based than theatrically based, so she found an agent in Los Angeles and began making audition tapes.

"My agent said I needed to come to L.A., and how can you say no to L.A.?" she said, chuckling. "So, I'm 15, and I'm looking up apartments where my mom and I can go stay, and we moved to L.A. for a few months."

She was there for the "pilot season," from January to March, in 2019, when actors appear in television shows seeking a home on a network.

"I wasn't selected for any of the pilots," she said, "but I was taking eight acting classes a week, and soaking it all in. My manager told me that about one percent of the actors who come to L.A. actually are selected, and that just made me try that much harder."

Her persistence and grit, determination and talent paid off as she earned a recurring role on Brat TV's "Stage Fright," a dramedy with chills and laughs.

"The season had eight episodes, and I was in seven of them, and that was really exciting," she said. "That was back in 2019 – and then COVID came along, and my mom and I decided to come back to Blue Springs."

There may be a new season of "Stage Fright," but that has not been decided yet.

Now, she is devoting her time to the South musical production, in which she plays the endearing youngest student in the spelling bee. 

"I'm just fascinated by everything in life," she said. "I love singing, I love acting, I love directing, I love writing, I love the stage, I love working on a television series – and I hope one day that will all translate in a career as a filmmaker. I love acting, but I love writing, too – so who knows, maybe one day I will be a director and an actor."

She does know that Friday could be one of the most important days in her life as she will have a Zoom interview with staff from Harvard University, one of many universities she is interested in attending.

“Harvard? It doesn't really seem real – almost like ‘Legally Blonde,’ where you get into Harvard and you really make an impact on people's lives,” she said. “It's my first interview, and I'm hoping it goes well. I want to study media and philosophy – and maybe get a double major.”

“Then, if we're talking about dreams coming true, I would love to have my own production company where I could write screenplays for myself, and other actors, who share my passion.”