CULTURE BEAT

A Visit with Actress/Producer Keely Gelineau: A Believer in Dreams

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Gelineau receives award for International Female Lifestyle Model of the Year in New York City, July 24, 2015.

arlier this spring ITV Fest announced that they were moving their annual festival related to television series production to Duluth for their 14th season. This past month I attended a follow up meeting in which a name change was announced. The international festival going forward will be called Catalyst.

One short term project (it will no doubt be ongoing) is the assembling of a Catalyst Production Guide so that movie producers who choose to work in this region will have a directory of local skills related to building sets and other requirements for supporting a major production.

Manager of the production guide is Riki McManus, with a long history of being an advocate for Minnesota when it comes to Hollywood film making here.

Keely Gelineau is another member of the team and her story begins with a dream.

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PHOTO Courtesy Keely Gelineau

You started out here in the Northland, but followed your passions. Can you share some of how that unfolded for you?

Keely Gelineau: Yes, I was born and raised in Duluth. I have never moved away. I started a family young so I’m anchored here with my three children. This also made it nearly impossible to work in my industry.

Since I was eight I wanted to be an actress. No one knew what to do with me in Duluth. My parents, trying to be supportive, put me in acting classes at the local playhouse, but I was never really into theatre. I wanted to be involved with TV. When I was 11, I was told I may want to rethink my goals.

As I would get older I would volunteer to be in local TV commercials to keep that itch scratched, but I took others’ advice and focused on a career in business.

I continued to act and model as a hobby, but I never knew how to make the jump between a hobby and a career. Nor did I realize this was a viable option.

By fate I also met my agent, Caryn Rosenberg. She developed me into a professional model and actress and took me out to New York to network. Within six months of having an agent I was presented with 7 international awards in modeling and acting. After that my career began to take off.

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Keely Gelineau

That must have been exciting. How did you end up staying rooted in Duluth?

KG: I was traveling constantly, loving the life but at the time I had a partner with cancer and three young children so the travel was too much. I also missed operating a business.

I am in love with business, I have owned multiple companies so I decided to take my business network and combine it with my newly acquired knowledge of the entertainment industry and become a producer. This way I could work primarily in Minnesota, travel less, and be home with my kids more. AND bring my kids on set with me if I were the boss!

So what’s the show about that you’re producing?

It’s a TV show called Starfish. I take celebrities and their biggest fans on wild fishing adventures all around the world.

In the meantime my bread and butter is working with businesses creating commercials, internal videos and creative content for their social media. Besides having a business background I’m educated in medias and production as well.

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Screen shot from upcoming television film Wing Girl.

How did you get involved with Catalyst?

KG: I actually met Philip Gilpin randomly when we were sitting at the bar at JJ Astor. We were sitting next to each other and just struck up a conversation. He asked, “What do you do?”

I said, “I’m an actress and producer.”

“In Duluth???”

Because of my vast business network and experience in the industry Catalyst enlisted me as part of the team to create the production guide.

To me, this is a true blessing to have Catalyst move to Duluth. I love my industry more than anything and I love helping others advance in their careers as well. To have the ability to bridge the gap between local and mainstream is a dream come true.

I had a different take on the modeling and entertainment industries when I first became involved on a professional level; I saw a lot of competitiveness and wanted to change that. I decided to help people learn the industry and break in any way they can. By helping others rise, I rose.

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EN: I’ve seen that amongst writers as well.

KG: I began a production company utilizing as many freelance crew as possible. Instead of competing, I wanted to work with as many as possible, pay them well and develop quality work with great people. I am also in the process of developing a database of Minnesota talent to launch a talent agency early next year. My company (Polished Perception) also provides safety and EMT services to film sets.

You said you own other businesses as well?

KG: Aside from the entertainment world, I partially own a steel cutting company (Magnuson Cutting Specialists) working in the Duluth and Iron Range areas. I also do business consulting in a variety of industries. I work based out of Duluth but operate nationwide. My next steps are attending law school to become an entertainment attorney.

Being able to live and work in Duluth is amazing. I’m a huge outdoors girl and have never found a more perfect place to live.

Seeing how busy you already are, what was your motivation for getting involved with Catalyst?

KG: I’m doing this because I believe in our region, the people, the land, the talent. I’m doing this for the blue collar, hard working people who deserve quality, well paid work. I’m doing this for the little girls in small towns such as Ely to show them that they can live out their passions right from where they are planted.

I didn’t have that as a young child. I was told the entertainment industry wasn’t a real thing. With Catalyst being here, they have changed my life as well as my children’s. Being able to work here in my home state is a dream come true. Being able to stimulate the economy in a major way is something I am very proud of and it wouldn’t be possible without Catalyst. When I tell Catalyst my story and how thankful I am, they respond “it wouldn’t be possible without community support.”

How can people sign up to get their skills and businesses listed in the Catalyst Production Guide?

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Regional individuals and businesses can find the sign up form online at https://www.catalystcontent.org/production-guide

Written by

An avid reader who writes about arts, culture, literature & other life obsessions. @ennyman3 Look for my books on Amazon https://tinyurl.com/y3l9sfpj

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