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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


Get to know “Tigers Be Still” star Kelly Hajek


Sherry (Kelly Hajek), right, tries to get Joseph (Alec Coles), left, to say what he sees in the ink blot in Arizona Repertory Theatre’s comedy production of “Tigers Be Still.”

The lead in the Arizona Repertory Theatre’s newest play “Tigers Be Still” is Kelly Hajek, a junior in the School of Theatre, Film and Television at the University of Arizona. But Hajek’s career as an actor may have started out by accident.

“For lack of a better word, it was definitely a fluke,” she said.

Hajek spent the majority of her time in elementary and high school focusing on sports. For a time, theater wasn’t in her realm of interest — until she decided to give it a chance during her sophomore year of high school.

“My acting teacher was putting on ‘Legally Blonde: The Musical’… I’ll just do it,” Hajek said. “If I don’t get in, I don’t get in.”

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She auditioned for the role and landed the show’s role as Brooke Wyndham. Hajek enjoyed the role, and acting finally became a significant focus early in her senior year.

After high school, Hajek went to Scottsdale Community College where she decided to fully commit to a career in acting.

“I was doing an acting theater major, and I got to do shows they had going on throughout the school year,” she said.

While doing these shows, Hajek decided to move on from community college, and that’s when she made the decision to come to the UA.

“I knew a few people in the [acting] program, and I heard nothing but good things,” she said.

Hajek’s family had all gone to Arizona State University . She even considers herself an ASU fan. But the decision to come to UA was an easy one, even if she has to take the occasional trash talk from her uncles.

“The program is so amazing here, I couldn’t pass up that opportunity,” Hajek said.

At the moment, Hajek is fully set on realizing her desire to become a professional actor.

“This is my all or nothing. I can’t imagine myself doing something different, and I truly believe that if you can picture yourself doing something else you should just go ahead and do that,” she said. “Unless you’re 100 percent committed and focused on being in this industry, it’s not gonna happen.”

Hajek loves the Tucson community and acting program because of the support she says it provides her.

“I just feel like it’s such a closely knit community that you’re constantly able to do things and you are always supported by the people around you,” she said.

Hajek goes through a pre-show ritual much in the same way an athlete might before a big game. She said her preparation before a show is different from the preparation she did as an athlete.

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“I always walk the set before the show,” she said. “I think it’s really important to look and observe the environment before you’re actually in it and get comfortable with it.”

Hajek will then get into costume and practice her vocals. It’s also a time for meditation. She tries to make a connection between herself and her surroundings.

“You have to maintain a certain energy between the audience, yourself, and then the other actors,” she said.

Brent Gibbs, director of “Tigers Be Still” and a professor in the School of Theatre, Film and Television, sees Hajek as a very talented and disciplined actor. Gibbs said she’s someone who is very good in her role, because she’s done the preparation work ahead of time. According to Gibbs, this allows her to be open to inspiration.

“She has a very clean line to her emotional state, which some actors have to work at. For her it comes fairly naturally,” he said.

There is a fearlessness to her, Gibbs wrote. She’s not afraid to engage in her work in the same way some actors might have difficulty doing.

“She brings in an emotional availability to the work that allows her to create characters you care about, and in doing that it makes the audience identify with her characters more, and I think those are the hallmarks of actors who are truly successful,” Gibbs said.

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