Kalyn West recently starred as Juliet in Weber State University’s production of the Shakespearean tragedy, but her theatrical history began years ago, when she auditioned with her best friend for the school musical, The Music Man, back in the seventh grade. West’s friend raised her hand to volunteer her for a solo, and that moment was when West found her passion for the theater.
“I was this dorky little seventh-grader,” West said. “I had never done anything like that before, but I loved it and got so much joy out of my little solo.”
After her solo, she wasn’t able to dive straight into acting. She was part of a dance company that didn’t let their dancers do extracurricular activities. When her junior year of high school came, West decided she was going to do the school musical anyway.
“I had grown up being really shy, which can be difficult,” she said. “Acting made me feel like I didn’t have anything to be afraid of. For the first time, I felt like I had a glimpse of who I was and it liberated me.”
Romeo and Juliet was West’s first opportunity to be in a play that wasn’t a musical.
“I wanted so badly to have the chance to sink my teeth into this, because I’ve never done it before,” West said. “I’ve really wanted to transition into straight acting since I don’t have as much experience in it and I was just craving it.”
After West received the part, she didn’t watch any versions of the play, because she didn’t want to be influenced about how to play Juliet.
“Everyone has this idea of what Juliet is supposed to be, and I just wanted to create my Juliet from the ground up,” West said. “Juliet was purely me, and it’s like Juliet and I are fused together now.”
Mickey Larson, a theater major who attended Romeo and Juliet, said she thought West fit the role of Juliet perfectly.
“I thought she was so lovely,” Larson said. “She was so graceful and youthful and beautiful to watch on stage. My favorite part was when she would dance.”
Jim Christian, director of musical theater at WSU, has worked with West in multiple productions, and he said West excels in acting, because of her passion, intelligence and energy.
“My favorite thing about Kalyn is that she’s fearless,” Christian said. “She will try absolutely anything and loves the challenge to be asked to work and work hard.”
West is a double major in theater and anthropology, because it’s “not healthy to become a strict tunnel-vision theater person,” she said.
“I feel like as an artist and actress, I’ve grown more from the experiences I’ve had that are completely unrelated to acting classes,” she said. “Without the human experience you could never be a good actor, because you need to draw from your personal experiences.”
West credits her success to her mother, sisters and boyfriend.
“There’s always going to be someone better than you or someone who can play a character better than you, and that can be overwhelming,” West said. “I’m a perfectionist and hate the thought of failure, so having their support in every show I do means everything to me.”
After West graduates, she plans to move to the East Coast and pursue a career on Broadway.