Actress Kelley Poling talks values and ‘Peter Five Eight’

(News4usonline) – Speaking with actress Kelley Poling is like sitting down in some quaint little breakfast nook and having a cup of coffee with your best friend. The “Peter Five Eight” star is easy to chat with and gives off no airs of being a celebrity as she talks about her latest starring role in the Kevin Spacey-fronted thriller.

Although she makes a living from portraying other people, Poling is a fitness and athletic model turned thespian with a grounded in family values personality that makes her a breath of fresh air in the land of Hollywood. Much of that comes from her Midwest roots. Poling hails from Cleveland, Ohio, home to the famous Dawg Pound.

Poling is also a reflection of her home life where picking up a firearm and properly using them became secondhand. Actually, when you review and consider her background, Poling is a badass of sorts.

Coming from a military family, Poling developed into a lady who knows how to pop off a few rounds of ammo with excellence and one who is a marksman with the bow and arrow, thanks to her archery experience.

That’s not to mention that Poling also knows how to run swords around the average person as a classical fencer. Tough lady. Yet when Poling speaks it is as gentle as the morning breeze.   

“My dad was a military man, so our weekends were…we had a cabin in Pennsylvania and he would take us and it was hunting, fishing, shooting skills, all kinds of skills, having to do with outdoors, staying alive,” said Poling. “But it gave me a strong appreciation for nature and adventure growing up and hard work and what it takes to balance those two.”

Poling’s appreciation of weaponry grew exponentially when her dad and his buddies would get together for some target practice.

“My dad loved his friends that…they would all get together and do these re-enactments, they would their powder gun thing where they would shoot the targets,” Poling said. “So I had an appreciation for the mechanism of weapons. But my favorite was always the sword because No. 1, they were pretty and I was a girl and they didn’t smell like gunpowder, and they weren’t loud and noisy.”  

The sword or the attraction to the weapon took on a new meaning for Poling when she would watch swashbuckling film star Errol Flynn (The Adventures of Robin Hood).

“I watched the older movies,” remarked Poling. “I loved Errol Flynn. Now it’s Star Wars, kids with their light sabers. Back then, for me, it was the sword. So I always wanted to learn how to use it. So it influenced me. I got into fencing and that’s how it kind of started, but I also knew how to use all the guns, how to take care of myself, you know, on an adventure in the wilderness and outdoors. We were always doing something.”

Doing something growing up usually meant fulfilling household chores and the like for Poling.

“I grew up in a midwestern family, strong values, good religion,” Poling said. “I had to do chores every day. My grandmother didn’t let us rest for a second. I mean, the minute we woke up, it was breakfast, then cleaning and then preparing lunch, and more cleaning, then harvesting some vegetables.”

Poling said that early discipline of a rigorous work ethic is something she applies all the time in her line of work today.

“The first thing that I would do in the morning when I would wake up as a kid is we had to make our beds,” Poling. “You could be mindless and tired and out of it at 6 a.m and don’t want to go to school…it didn’t matter. You got up, you made your bed. You can do that mindlessly. It’s sort of having that routine of this is what you do, then you do this, then you this. It makes it a little black and white, but it also helped with time management and responsibility, and even if it wasn’t super important to have a made bed, it was more about how it trained you to do something.”

That childhood training is something Poling banks on in everything that she does.

“I feel like it gave me a discipline and a responsibility to do everything in my life,” Poling said. “I feel like that’s the No. 1 reason; faith and family. Of course, how I got this far in my career. I could have never done it without my childhood being the way it was. I’m very grateful for it.”

Actress Kelley Poling, who stars in the thriller, “Peter Five Eight,” is a master in firearms and weaponry. Courtesy photo

Poling’s first gig on the screen is an uncredited appearance in “Weekend at Bernie’s in 1989.” It would not be until 2019, when she appeared in the short “Still Your Son,” that Poling re-emerged as a viable actor. She is also listed as appearing in another short in 2016. Either way, that’s quite a career gap. Before she dived full-time into acting, Poling made her money working as a bathing suit and athletic model, crediting Nike, Yamaha, and Harley Davidson, among her clients.

“I was never like the high fashion runway model,” said Poling. “I was always the one that was if it was a motorcycle, I’m on the motorcycles. If it was Waverunners, I was on the Yamaha..I was always like doing something which was a lot of fun for me. That was the biggest draw. I think it wasn’t actually getting my picture taken. I think that just actually led into the acting part.”

Poling may have just gotten back into the acting swing a couple of years ago, she has been high in demand as of late. In just 2022 alone, Poling is scheduled to appear in as many as eight projects, including “Peter Five Eight.” She is also involved in other acting gigs as well, according to her IMDB page. Making the transition to go from doing photo shoots to acting has been a natural progression for her, Poling said.  

Before she became an actress, Kelley Poling made a living as a fitness and athletic model. Courtesy photo/Kelley Poling

“It’s completely natural,” said Poling. “I feel like everything that I’ve learned in my life has come into play. Like I couldn’t be doing the things that I’m doing now at a younger age. It’s like the real world experience. You have to experience  being an adult doing different careers, meeting different people to know how to truly be authentic in your characters instead of reading about them.”

In regards to her character in “Peter Five Eight,” her latest film delivery, Poling plays the role of Jen who is looking to buy a house in a small community. Without giving anything away about the film, Poling did say it was great to work with Spacey. 

“I am so proud to be working with the two-time Oscar-winning actor,” Poling said. “I mean, it’s a dream for most actors to be able to work with somebody with so much depth and talent.”

Spacey is one of the most heralded actors of this generation. He has won a Tony Award (Lost in Yonkers). He has also been the recipient of four Screen Actors Guild Awards and two Academy Awards (Usual Suspects, American Beauty). Besides his incredulous acting chops, what impressed Poling the most about Spacey was his sense of humor.

“He was charismatic. He was a complete gentleman,” said Poling. He had us laughing in between takes. I mean, everyone on set was laughing. The bad thing was you had to be a really good actor because he would take you out of character laughing so much and then you’d have to come right back into character when they were ready to film again.”