Kelsey Asbille | WHAT'S THAT? PROSPERITY IS ON THE OTHER LINE? PUT THEM THROUGH.
Yellowstone star and burgeoning Louis Vuitton fashion muse, Kelsey Asbille’s trajectory isn’t much different from the one taken by the average American navigating their way through the myriad of scholastic years we grow fond of in hindsight—following your parents’ rulebook, finals, presentations, the stress, and the teen drama. No, not the usual histrionics associated with your blunder years, but a fabricated, scripted teen drama which aired on the CW network, One Tree Hill. She joined the show after her audition impressed the show’s casting director.
“I remember the call,” reminisces Asbille, speaking from New York City, the metropolis in which she now resides, a far cry from her beginnings in Columbus, South Carolina. “I was shaking all the way through. It’s not like today where there is the internet with social media, so it wasn’t quite as accessible…it didn’t seem within reach.” Asbille had landed her first professional acting gig; she was 13 years old.
Her character, Gigi, appeared in 18 episodes. Filming took place in North Carolina so Asbille could live a relatively normal highschool life, alternating between shoots and attending algebra courses. Once her time on the show ended, she then caught the eye from Disney, who welcomed her into their dynasty with open arms. First, they slipped her in with a guest spot on The Suite Life of Zack and Cody, before gifting her with a starring role in Pair of Kings, where she acted in front of a live studio filled with the harshest critics imaginable: kids. “You can bend their imagination and the world becomes a bit more real,” she says, before admitting that, occasionally, the kids wouldn’t respond to a certain line, thus creating a surreal moment where the writer would rush onstage and immediately rewrite the line. “There’s a directness that I can appreciate.”
From there, Asbille flirted with the film industry. She made a quick appearance in 2012’s The Amazing Spiderman, before meeting Taylor Sheridan, an Academy Award-nominated screenplay writer known for his work on Sicario and Hell or High Water. “Taylor has opened so many doors for me and I’ll always be grateful to him for that. I think he’s such a force in this industry and I really think he’s one of the great American writers, and now filmmakers. He’s had such a profound impact on my life and my work.”
The impact Asbille references shifted her career. For Sheridan’s debut feature, Wind River, he cast her as Natalie Hanson, an adolescent whose grisly murder shook an Indian reservation. The film premiered at Cannes Film Festival, garnered strong critical praise, and proved Asbille possessed the gusto required for a career as a dramatic actor. “It’s nice to see that he allows you to play and take on your ideals of the character, but at the same time be super collaborative. You have infinite trust in him when you see the final product.” Sheridan must’ve returned the trust, because when it came time for considering the role of Monica Dutton on Yellowstone, Sheridan’s television directorial debut, Asbille received another career-forward phone call.
“I feel like I’ve been able to grow in my work, and in my life,” Asbille says. “His projects carry an important social message, so you realize the responsibility that comes along with the job and how that makes it all the more challenging and rewarding.”
Asbille’s performance on the show caught notice from Nicolas Ghesquière, the creative director of Louis Vuitton. He styled her for the brand’s Pre-Fall 2019 Lookbook, where she graced the pages alongside Hollywood mainstays Michelle Williams, Thandie Newton, and Jennifer Connelly. The collaboration marked her entry as a leading actor. Continuing her partnership with one of fashion’s most recognizable names, she strutted down the runway at this year’s Paris Fashion Week, summoning the Spring season with playful aqua tones and mixing childlike patterns with brash leather sleeves. The look signaled a departure from the days of Disney.
Yet, much like her time in highschool, the acting and fashion take second billing to her education, which is why she’s enrolled at Columbia University, striving towards a degree in Human Rights with a specialization in Indigenous Studies. “I’ve become interested in Human Rights and especially Indigenous Studies because of who I am,” Asbille says. “It’s important to never stop learning”
Like any other college student, past or present, she could probably stop and chat about the late nights staring down an essay, mere hours before a due date, or spend countless waking hours in the library, cramming for midterms. She probably doesn’t have time, though; her post-semester schedule is already filling up. Yellowstone Season Two arrives in June, which means, once she’s done with classes, she’s whisked away for a life of premieres and festivals, walking down red carpets with co-stars Kevin Costner, Wes Bentley, and Luke Grimes. There might even be a few more Louis Vuitton appearances in her future.
Obtaining a college degree while juggling roles in network television dramas and modelling for fashion houses might sound like a back-up plan for someone whose future is bursting with possibilities, but it makes sense for Kelsey’s character, the living, breathing one she’s portrayed since day one. Though Asbille now mingles with fashionistas when she’s not on set, this doesn’t deter her from keeping the promises she made her parents before her initial audition: stick to your studies while maintaining good grades. If the industry were issuing grades, Asbille would probably make honor roll.