Among Moorpark's many talented young people is 15-year-old Kelli Berglund, who recently learned that she had been selected for a lead role in a new Disney pilot.
If the show is picked up for production, it will be broadcast on the Disney XD channel, which specializes in action adventure television for boys.
No stranger to show business, Kelli has trained for many years as a dancer, singer and actress and is currently under the professional management of Michelle Zeitlin, owner of More Zap Productions. The Disney show for which she was selected was not Kelli’s first audition, but it is her first major TV role.
“I’ve been doing this for six years,” said Kelli, “but I was especially excited because I’ve tested before and come really close.”
She was notified about a month ago that she had been chosen for the part and went through a week of rehearsals and a week of film production. Now everyone is anxiously waiting Disney’s final decision.
Kelli has studied all different types of dance, from ballet, jazz and tap to contemporary and hip hop. She has also participated in acrobatics and gymnastics.
A freshman at Moorpark High School, she previously attended Santa Rosa Technology Magnet School in Camarillo and was chosen by CineMagic, the Pleasant Valley Education Foundation’s district theater showcase, as one of their featured dancers.
While dancing with CineMagic, one of her school friends inspired her to try acting. She was 9 when she caught the eye of Zeitlin, who at the time worked for another agency. Eventually Zeitlin opened her own company and brought Kelli along as one of her clients.
Zeitlin feels a strong connection to Kelli, both professionally and emotionally.
“I have experience myself as a young actress, and I’m also a parent,” she said. “We love dance and I love the way Kelli is as a person.”
The rigors of a national auditioning process are a roller coaster of emotions, but having gone through this a number of times, Kelli knows that persistence is a virtue.
“You have to learn to accept criticism,” she said, “and you’re going to have to learn to take no for an answer.”
She also understands the importance of keeping a positive attitude.
“It’s having faith and trust that it will come someday. As long as you stay grounded and do your work and put in the effort, it will pay off.”
There’s also the issue of keeping up with her school work. As an honors students at Moorpark High School, Kelli knows that education is her first priority.
“My parents always say that school comes first,” she explained.
Zeitlin believes that Kelli being multifaceted—with singing, acting, dancing—will make her more marketable in the entertainment industry.
“The more she can do, the more it will become a showcase for her talent,” she said.
Other Disney actresses such as Selena Gomez have served as a role model for Kelli, typifying values like hard work and a good sense of perspective. Kelli worked with Selena on the set of a commercial and described her as “such a strong person who knows how to handle things well.”
While Kelli has a bright future with many career possibilities, for now she is focused on acting. Still, she would welcome roles that allow her to do more.
“I really just want to pursue my acting career,” she said, “but if I could include dancing with acting, that would be beneficial.”