It is well-known that Johnny Depp, Tom Yewell and Florence Henderson are from Owensboro. But there is another generation of aspiring actors and actresses from the ‘Boro who are (or were) recently making their names known in Hollywood. Owensboro Living spoke with several of them to get their updates.
What do you do when your theater teacher tells you, “You are a rogue actor and you’ll never have a career?” If you’re Joel Ewing, you immediately pack your stuff and move to Hollywood, which turned out to be a good move because a short while later that “rogue” actor landed his first audition for Catch Me If You Can. “It was a pretty surreal experience,” Joel recalled. “I had never even been in a play before and there I was, acting alongside Leo DiCaprio and being directed by Steven Spielberg.”
From there he landed several TV roles, including E.R. (x-ray tech), The Practice (security guard), JAG, and The Twilight Zone, among others, before injuring his knee and moving back to Kentucky for rehab.
Joel was born in Owensboro, but later moved to Muhlenberg County and says he remembers cruising down Frederica and going to Malco on the weekends.
While in California, Ewing was housemates with Owensboro-born actress, Haley Strode, while they both trained at the Beverly Hills Playhouse. “Haley is a great talent. She reminds me of a young Meg Ryan.” (Editor’s note: Haley could not be reached for comment, but according to her February 23rd Twitter feed, she “Wrapped ABC’s #astronautwivesclub, honored to have portrayed Jane Conrad, wife of astronaut Pete Conrad.” Astronaut Wives Club is set to release summer 2015. Haley is also known for her roles in Gangster Squad, Only in L.A., and Jess + Moss. )
These days, Ewing works in Louisville and is getting back into acting with a Louisville Production Company.
DCHS graduate (’04) Corey Flaspoehler still lives in Hollywood and works for Buzzfeed, where he has worked on or acted in 60 videos for Buzzfeed. It’s enough to keep him busy; he shoots several videos each week.
Before that, he was cast in Girl Positive, Blonde Ambition (with Jessica Simpson and Luke Wilson) a few Lifetime movies, and most notably the 2011 remake of Footloose. “It was fun stuff. There was a bus race scene and a fight scene,” Corey said, recalling his role as Russell Holmes. “I was a redneck bad guy.” Another fun scene was running through a minefield during The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, but his scene was cut nearly completely out.
“Acting can be tough,” Flaspoehler admitted. “You can do really well and still not get the part. A lot is look and personality. Or the mood in a room during the reading or so many other factors. But then again, so much of life is all about timing.”
Timing indeed. Corey remembers well his very first experience acting: Fiddler on the Roof at DCHS. Owensboro looks a lot different on his return trips home. “54 is ridiculous! It’s an amazing town. So much has changed since I left but it still feels the same. I enjoy the quicker pace of L.A., but I miss mowing grass! There’s no grass here! Nothing’s green. We have palm trees but no grass. It’s good to have space. That’s what I miss most about Owensboro.”
OCHS graduate Elizabeth Triplett also lives in L.A, where she and her husband Justin Abarca have racked up millions of views on their viral video series Weird Things Couples Do. The series started when Justin was assigned to write a video about strange things couples do as part of a two-week residency with Buzzfeed Motion Pictures. Since Justin and Elizabeth have been a couple for so long (together for 12 years total, married for four) the content comes natural to them.
“For us, it really is a case of art coming from life. I’d say about 70% of the Weird series has actually happened in our relationship, or someone we know very closely,” Triplett explained.
Obviously, they hit upon something a lot of people can relate to. “It just went crazy,” Elizabeth said. In fact, Weird Things Couples Fight About was the 8th most shared post on Facebook in 2014.
“The most gratifying thing about it for me is hearing that people take comfort in identifying with the videos because it helps people realize they’re not alone. Couples don’t always agree. That’s real life. These videos are fun and relatable and they help people connect because you realize ‘Hey, they’re just like us’ or ‘We’re just like them,’” Elizabeth explained.
Like so many other hopefuls, Triplett originally headed to Hollywood to do film and TV. Over the past several years she’s had her hand in acting, writing, and producing, appearing in episodes of Henry Danger (Nickelodeon), 90210, and earning writing and producing credits for the series Battleground, HULU’s first scripted series. She currently has several scripts bouncing around Hollywood.
Here in Owensboro, she can trace her roots back to Theater Workshop of Owensboro as a little girl and the Emerald Players at Owensboro Catholic High School. “TWO was instrumental in creating my love for theater,” Triplett said. “I didn’t realize until I left how incredibly lucky we are to have such a vibrant theater community in Owensboro. And I’m so proud to say I came from it.”
Haley Strode’s Kevin Bacon Number: 3
Haley Strode and Sarah Hagan appeared in Jess + Moss.
Sarah Hagan and John Lithgow appeared in Orange County.
John Lithgow and Kevin Bacon appeared in Footloose.
Joel Ewing’s Kevin Bacon Number: 3
Joel Ewing and Jesse Plemons appeared in Like Mike.
Jesse Plemons and John Lithgow appeared in The Homesman.
John Lithgow and Kevin Bacon appeared in Footloose.
Corey Flaspoehler’s Kevin Bacon Number: 2
Corey Flaspoehler and Kim Dickens appeared in Footloose.
Kim Dickens and Kevin Bacon appeared in Hollow Man.