Photo by Maddie Smiley
Andy Ledford and Karen Wagner sat down in Dan Zollars’ Chambers class in 1995. Both theater kids, they were bound to meet eventually. After spending time together in high school Chambers and theater, they got married and have been together ever since.
Their daughter Kylie Ledford, now a senior at East, took singing and performing as an innate talent and ran with it. She started singing lessons when she first learned to talk, began dance lessons at seven and performed in her first show, “Music Man,” when she was eight at Theater in the Park.
This fall, Ledford is the student-director of the Musical Revue, putting on her own Frequent Friday and is the lead in the fall play, Our Town. She is also in Chambers and Choraliers at East. Outside of school, Ledford participates in a show choir, a capella choir and another choir.
“[Theater has] pretty much been the only thing I’ve done all my life,” Ledford said. “I quit sports to take dance classes; I have done literally nothing else. That’s my entire life, so I stuck with it.”
Ledford’s early experiences in theater and her parents’ support led her to discover a passion for acting, which she has been pursuing in high school. She has been in all of the musicals, one play, four Frequent Fridays and crew for several shows throughout her four years. Sticking with theater since she was born, Ledford doesn’t plan on stopping now, even if she doesn’t get a part or two.
“[Kylie] doesn’t allow setbacks to get to her,” drama teacher Brian Cappello said. “If she doesn’t get what she necessarily auditioned for, she still throws herself in 100 percent.”
Through her involvement in East theater, Ledford has formed special relationships with other theater students who have become her best friends.
“I’ve made some of my best friends through theater,” Ledford said. “A lot of the friends that I never would’ve even known, I’ve made friends with through theater and shows and it’s awesome.”
Theater teachers Tom Defeo and Cappello have bonded with Ledford as well, and have shown her how to put her talent to use.
“We have a lot of kids like Kylie over the years where [she can take her involvement] however far she wants to go,” Cappello said. “It’s totally in her court – she’s got the talent for it; she’s definitely got the drive and the attitude. It’s just what she decides to do with it.”
Though Cappello and Defeo’s jobs are to teach drama and work with theater, Cappello believes Ledford was born with the talent she puts into her hard work in the East theater department.
“You can only teach a kid like Kylie so much because she has a lot of innate ability,” Cappello said. “We can kind of mold it, and give her different opportunities, but if she decides she will want to do something professionally, I have no doubt she’ll be successful.”
Ledford’s theater experience at East will be over after this year, but she hopes to continue acting after high school. Her top choice for college is Columbia in Chicago, where she hopes to study film acting and commercial industrial music. There, she can continue to act and do the same thing she did at East, just in a different industry.
“It’s an unstable career, but if I work hard enough, hopefully it will happen,” Ledford said.
Check out Ellie Mitchell’s Interactive about Kylie here