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Living the dream


October 2013

Homestead High School grad Kathy Sue Holtorf is a triple force in Hollywood: writing, directing and acting.

She was 4 years old, cast as "Jolly the Elf" in the play "A Rock Ní Roll Christmas" at Deerwood Day Care Center in Brown Deer, when Kathy Sue Holtorf got her first taste of the challenging world of show business.

"I was supposed to sing ĎHere Comes Santa Claus,í" Holtorf recalls. "But the microphone wasnít working. So my teacher took the microphone and told me to just sing as loud as I could."

Twenty-one years later, Holtorf is making her way in Hollywood as an actress, director and producer. She has seven films in various stages of development and is realizing her childhood dreams. "Entertaining, acting and image capturing are the only things I could ever see myself doing."

After graduating from Homestead High School, Holtorf briefly attended Catawba College in Salisbury, N.C., where she majored in drama and philosophy but she dropped out during her freshman year. "I wanted to explore and work on films."

She moved to Wilmington, N.C., where she worked as both the overnight reporter at a local TV station and with a company that produced independent films. "I covered breaking news, murders and house fires from 8 p.m. to 5 a.m. Then Iíd go on the set to work as part of the crew on films from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.," Holtorf says. "There was a four-month stretch there where I slept about 45 minutes each day."

Holtorf left TV news after accepting a job as Lucy Haleís stand-in for the movie "A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song," which was shot in Wilmington. A hurricane forced her to evacuate to Charlotte where she stayed with a friend who worked on "The Hunger Games."

"I met Gary Ross and Woody Harrelson at a bar in Charlotte and they offered me a camera position for the movie so I worked on íThe Hunger Gamesí for the next couple of weeks."

Holtorf moved to Hollywood in December 2011 where she teamed up with roommate and business partner Carol Anne Watts. She acted in and was associate producer for "The Periphery," a film now in post-production (its trailer debuted at the Cannes Film Festival) and is filming "Like Wolves" in which she co-stars with Watts. She also wrote the script and is directing the movie about "two best friends willing to do anything for each other."

Holtorf teaches filmmaking seminars at local high schools and colleges, and is active with The Gift of Adoption, an organization that raises funds to help families pay for initial adoption costs, which are often substantial. Her ultimate goal is to establish a Beauty (Better Education and Adoption Unanimously Through You) Foundation nonprofit studio in Milwaukee, which would produce films and target a portion of the proceeds to improve adoption services and education. "Thereís a lot I want to change about the world, starting with education," Holtorf says, and is considering a career in politics but that would be "much further down the line."

For the immediate future, Holtorf is busy on both sides of the camera, recently receiving an email from her agent about the possibility of auditioning for a role in the next installment of "The Hunger Games."

"There are days I canít believe I can look out my window and see the Hollywood sign," she says. "I tell people I donít have dreams because my life is always what I wanted it to be."

This story ran in the October 2013 issue of: