Ava Kelly is the Paducah Bank Teen of the Week


McCracken County High School senior Ava Kelly loves movies, and she wants to help other people share their stories through the power of cinema.

“I sat down my sophomore year of high school and, every Christmas break, I pick an actor and I just watch all of their movies. It’s something my mom and I did when I was little and I just continued it, and I watched Forrest Gump for the first time,” she recalled.

“I knew watching that movie — it’s so weird, I don’t really know why, but I watched that movie, and I was just so overwhelmed with feelings and passion for the industry that I was like, ‘OK, this is what I have to do.’ ”

Kelly, 18, wants to become a film producer one day. She’s applied to several colleges, and has been accepted into the University of Southern California in Los Angeles. She’s interested in going there this fall to study cinematic arts.

She explained that she feels her skill set is more directed toward communications with people and with research, adding that producers may have to do lots of research, in order to get a film started. She wants to make her passions her “purpose,” Kelly said.

“I’ve said this for years, and then, my purpose is to enable other people to tell their stories, so I’m a storyteller at heart, but I want to make sure that other people are able to share their story,” she said.

As one might expect, Kelly is looking forward to the upcoming Academy Awards ceremony on March 27. This year, Kelly’s movie favorites include Kenneth Branagh’s drama “Belfast” and Lin-Manuel Miranda’s “tick, tick...BOOM!” starring Andrew Garfield.

“I prep so hard for the Oscars. It is crazy,” she said.

“Maiden Alley Cinema is my favorite place to go, and I have the same little group of friends and we go all the time and we go watch all these movies, and ... my goal every year before the Oscars is to watch every single film that is nominated and it takes a whole lot of time, but I’m able to do it.”

Kelly, daughter of J.P. and Kelley Kelly of West Paducah, is the Paducah Bank Teen of the Week.

Every Tuesday, The Sun publishes articles on area high school seniors who were chosen from a group of nominees for Teen of the Week recognition. Around the end of the school year, a selection committee will name one of these students as Teen of the Year, which carries a $5,000 scholarship. Another student will receive the Inspiration Award and a $1,000 scholarship.

At McCracken County, Kelly has earned a weighted cumulative GPA above 4.3. She also participated in the Kentucky Governor’s Scholar program at Bellarmine University, where focused on film studies.

Through school, Kelly serves as an officer in different clubs and activities, such as student government, pep club, Beta Club, Future Business Leaders of America, Future Farmers of America and National Honor Society. She’s involved with the theater department, and will perform a lead role in the spring “Freaky Friday” musical production.

Kelly said senior year has probably been her favorite one yet, and one of her goals this year is to become a valedictorian, which she’s on track for.

“That’s one of my biggest goals, and then obviously with the musical, I just want that to go as good as it can, so that takes up a lot of time too,” she said.

By: Kelly Farrell