CARY — As a kid growing up in Cary, Katie Garfield dreamed of a career in music and the big screen.
She took acting classes and signed on with an agent. After she graduated from Panther Creek High School, Garfield had plans to attend UNC-Wilmington.
But she held off on college and went to Los Angeles, where she hoped to land acting gigs and start a music career.
Plenty of people dont make it in Hollywood, but 20-year-old Garfield has found some success. She will appear in two movies this year.
Here, Garfield talks about her journey.
Q: Did you participate in theater arts at school?
A: I was interested in arts in middle school. I did musical theater.
Q: What were your plans after school?
A: I wanted to spend a couple months in Los Angeles and ended up signing for three years with The Jonas Group (management company).
Q: How have you adjusted from going from high school student to entertainer?
A: It has been a complete shock. Its one of those things where you can only dream that its going to happen.
I didnt expect going to L.A. for two months and signing with a major management company.
Q: Youve won a couple songwriting competitions in North Carolina. How long have you been writing songs?
A: Ive been writing music since I was 14.
It literally just happened one day. I was having a rough day and wrote down a song and felt so much better.
Q: How did you get into acting?
A: I did acting classes when I was younger and signed with an agent.
Q: Youre in two movies coming out this year, Welcome to Yesterday and Where the Devil Hides. What was it like to audition for the roles?
A: One of my films, Where the Devil Hides ... was my first lead role. Its an Amish murder mystery.
I sent in an audition tape, and I didnt hear anything for a couple weeks. ... They asked me to drive to Wilmington, and I was expecting that it was a callback.
I walked in and all of the directors were in the room and offered me the role as Abby.
For Welcome to Yesterday, I auditioned in Los Angeles and I got the part.
Im officially the luckiest girl ever. ... I think the upcoming year is going to be a good year for me.
Q: What was your favorite role in the television shows and movies youve been in?
A: Of course I liked all of them. But the most challenging role was Abby in Where the Devil Hides.
Abby is the ringleader of the group; shes Amish ... and lives in a town called New Bethlehem.
Shes still a little bit of a rebel on the inside, but she has authority issues. She likes to sneak off the compound and go hang out with city boys.
It was hard for me to find the balance between me and this culture I know nothing about. I had to do a lot of research.
Q: Its tough to break into the entertainment business. Why do you think you found success?
A: Hard work, sacrifice, knowing the right people and surrounding yourself with good people and luck.
This is not strictly hard work and paying your dues; you do have to be struck by lightning.
I work with the best groups, I have a great lawyer, a great business manager, and my family is very supportive.
I think when the people around you see the same things for you as you see, thats very important.
It was tough at first, because I didnt know anybody.
But you have to do what you have to do, and I didnt want to do anything else.
Q: How often do you come back to Cary?
A: This year, everything that Ive booked acting-wise has been on the East Coast, so I come home for a couple days. ... I try to come home every couple of months.
Q: Why is it important for you to come back to Cary?
A: I think its important to remind myself that this is where I come from.
L.A. is a dream land. ... Ive been so successful, but its important to come back to the 14-year-old songwriter sitting on my porch.
North Carolina is my past, and it keeps me sane.