Happy to Be Here
Kylie Delre acts up a storm after moving from L.A. to Atlanta
STORY: Michael Jacobs
A handyman mounting a flat-screen finds the woman who hired him wearing a scowl because the TV is on “literally the only wall in the house that a TV would not go on.” “Just quit bitching at me,” the man says to her. Moments later, he’s unemployed.
That’s the first scene after the credits roll on the first episode of Cobra Kai, a YouTube Originals series that begins 34 years after the classic film The Karate Kid. The episode, offered free to entice subscribers, has been streamed more than 50 million times, showcasing Old Fourth Ward resident Kylie Delre at her bitchy best.
“Everybody needs to find their niche,” says Delre. “I guess that’s my thing, and that’s OK. I love it.”
That Delre, who breaks into spontaneous laughter throughout our interview at Ponce City Market, has embraced an on-screen dark side is just one twist in her acting career. Another is that the Long Island native packed up her Hyundai Elantra in spring 2017 and left Los Angeles for Atlanta, where she knew only two people.
She gained an agent within a month. She learned the differences between OTP and ITP, and moved from Acworth to an apartment near the BeltLine. She secured supplemental income as a personal trainer at Pinnacle Fitness in Buckhead. She embedded by freely sharing her own self-taping video setup, paid for with commercials for AutoZone and Re/Max. (Actors in Atlanta usually submit auditions on film, created at their own expense.)
The once shy girl turned talkative actress began as a communications major at Flagler College in Florida. “You had to get up in front of the whole class and give speeches, which I think everyone should do,” she says.
A year doing PR for a New York legal publishing firm convinced Delre that a 9-to-5 office job wasn’t for her. Back in Florida, she was asked to do some plays and soon was hooked. She studied acting in New York, then moved to Los Angeles in 1995, but struggled without screen credits. “Everybody tells me I’m funny and attractive. So how do I not have a show yet?” Delre says she thought.
She opened a management agency and represented 10 actors. She ran an acting workshop. She wrote scripts. She worked in distribution at Miramax in the late 1990s and says she gained a reputation as a goody-two-shoes when she rejected the idea of sleeping with certain Hollywood executives.
Through it all, Delre kept acting in plays, in commercials for the likes of FedEx and Coors Light, and on TV series such as Law & Order and The Glades. Although she loves a voiceover agent’s line about her—“Your passion is greater than your patience”—Delre has outlasted many contemporaries to reach a time of insatiable demand for content from cable networks and streaming services. “If you can’t find anything at this point, you shouldn’t be acting,” she says. Her biggest problem might be that she looks much younger than her 50 years.
Two roles display different versions of her outer shrew. Cobra Kai, which Delre shot in Marietta, offers the dramatic side. She’s hopeful of returning for season two in an expanded role. An L.A.-based web series titled Here’s the Thing lets her do comedy as an acid-tongued wife. The second season began on YouTube in September.
“I’m happy to go wherever the work is, but I really like Atlanta,” says Delre. “Too many things happened to line up to get me here and keep lining up. I feel like I’m meant to be here for a while.”