‘Heels’ – Why Kelli Berglund identifies with her character

Small-town girl makes good in Starz drama

Kelli Berglund

Going from playing a struggling Los Angeles actress amid supernatural goings-on in the fantasy comedy “Now Apocalypse” to her current role as a rural Georgia wrestler’s girlfriend in the drama “Heels” was a complete about-face for Kelli Berglund, one that has brought her great satisfaction.

“Crystal’s fight is honestly something that I was so excited to portray on screen,” the 25-year-old actress explains. “Because you meet Crystal in these first few episodes and you just feel for her instantly and you wonder, ‘When is she going to get her big break? Why is everyone treating her this way?’ And you just want to see her succeed. I mean, I have been there. I’ve been a girl that comes from a small town that has a big dream and sees herself beyond the small town. So obviously I love that Crystal and I are in the same boat there. But the transformation that we watch with Crystal over the eight episodes is so unbelievably exciting.”

But in preparing to play Crystal Tyler, the girlfriend and valet for wrestler Ace Spade (Alexander Ludwig) in the Sunday Starz drama, the Southern California native undertook extensive training, hitting the gym every day and learning the basics of faux-wrestling. She even got to try a move or two like the hurricanrana and has the bumps and bruises to prove it.

“People like to think that wrestling is fake, …” Berglund says, “but it’s full stunt work. Those bumps are real, it hurts. They’re throwing those flips or kicking each other. Like it’s full-on.”

Kelli Michelle Berglund

Birth date: Feb. 9, 1996

Birthplace: Moorpark, Calif.

Family: Is the eldest child of Mark and Michelle Berglund; has a younger sister, Kirra

TV credits: “Hip Hop Harry,” “Kickin’ It,” “Mighty Med,” “Pickle and Peanut,” “Lab Rats: Bionic Island,” “Lab Rats: Elite Force,” “The Night Shift,” “Love Daily,” “Now Apocalypse,” “Fosse/Verdon,” “Animal Kingdom,” “The Goldbergs”

Movie credits include: “How to Build a Better Boy (TV, 2014), “Dolly Parton’s Christmas of Many Colors: Circle of Love” (TV, 2016), “Raising the Bar” (2016), “1 Night” (2016), “Going for Gold” (2018), “Ghost in the Graveyard” (2019), “Hubie Halloween” (2020), “Cherry” (2021), “Mark, Mary & Some Other People” (2021)

Other talents: Is a singer and dancer

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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