Mar 6, 2023

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Arielle Kebbel is precocious and thoughtful, giggly, and charming. She gives off girl-next-door vibes and could certainly pass for a twenty-something, but is also perfectly cast in an array of more serious, sophisticated or sexy roles. She is always poised, and is consistently well prepared, but manages to give off an easy- going and care-free air. Arielle’s seemingly never-ending tank of energy is palpable, and she’s always smiling. She’s strikingly beautiful, like Charlize Theron, and yet also seems friendly and approachable, like Jennifer Anniston. And she’s a star on film and TV.


“I was born in Orlando – in a birthing center. My parents were, and are, pretty progressive. I think I was taking lemon-flavored fish oil when I was like 10. I grew up in Winter Park, and my mom, who’s very spiritual, used to take me to drum circles when I was young,” Arielle shares about her upbringing. But then she immediately turns to her lifelong passion: horses! “…I pretty much came out of the womb with a connection to horses in my soul,” Arielle says openly. “My parents said ‘no’ to riding until I was five. At that point, I went from a lead line to cantering around the ring – in the first lesson! I felt like I was doing exactly what I was meant to do! And the trainer turned to my dad and said ‘you better get a night job’!”

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Arielle’s parents surprised her with a pony named Flique. “He was my trainer’s daughter’s horse, a mix between a Quarter and a Morgan, and he wasn’t a great mover, and was definitely not an expensive show horse,” she recalls with a smile. “…But we’d go in as a team, and we got some big wins against some really fancy ponies. I learned a lot of life lessons at a young age. I’ve always been non-stop, driven, and veracious, but riding taught me discipline, and to put my head down and do the work. If I wasn’t in school, I was at the barn.”

“Don’t get me wrong, I had a fairly normal early childhood. I went to my first concert – the Janet Jackson Velvet Rope Tour – when I was 13. I did track, volleyball, cheerleading, and was on a competitive dance team,” Arielle recalls. “But by the time I was in 7th or 8th Grade, I was ready to start performing! I’d been performing in a way when I was competing in the show ring, and felt there were a lot of similarities to the way you have to stop thinking and drop into a deep trust when you’re counting down to a jump – and when the director calls ACTION!” 

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When Arielle was 14, she happened into her first gig. “My friend’s mom was a casting director and they needed extras for a Creed music video, for the song ‘Can You Take Me Higher’. I loved everything about being on set that day, and spent most of the day admiring the lead girls in the video. I called them ‘sparkle girls’ because we watched the hair and makeup team doll them up and I thought they were so untouchable with the amount of attention they were getting. I was in awe of how the Director worked. At the end of the day I went up to her to thank her and share how inspiring it was to watch her work, and she said, ‘We were actually just talking about you…can you come back tomorrow’. To my great surprise, when I returned the next day, I’d been bumped up. Suddenly someone was getting me breakfast and doing my hair and makeup, and I remember thinking ‘OMG, I’m a sparkle girl now’! ”


From there, she’d caught the bug. It was the late 90’s when the ex-Mickey Mouse Club kids were hitting big, and Brittney was huge. And Florida, where Arielle grew up, was booming with acting and modeling. Arielle recounts, “I called my friend’s mom’s talent agency from the set of the Creed music video and told them I was on the set and had been bumped-up…and that I needed representation! That’s how I got my first agent! And I’ve been working ever since!”


As soon as I got my drivers license at 16, I would drive two and a half hours each way to Tampa, four nights a week, while juggling my high school homework, to take an adult acting class which was really impactful for me. I had to lie to the Instructor about being 18 to get into that class…but I know she knew I wasn’t.” 


Acting became her passion, and Arielle made it her mission to succeed. By sophomore year of high school she had switched from her public school to a performing arts school that would allow her to graduate early and prioritize her acting and modeling schedules…and make money. “My older sister and younger brother – who now both live in Florida – both did the college route, but it wasn’t for me. It was somehow always clear that I was going to do my own thing. It was a combination of my drive, and my parents knowing they weren’t going to stop me. But I was very disciplined. My parents taught me to invest and reinvest in myself, so I spent the majority of what I earned on updating headshots and on coaching classes, and I think I even chipped in for the performing arts school,” Arielle explains. 

The investment quickly began to pay off… At 17 Arielle was flown to LA to test for parts in Freaky Friday and Mean Girls – which she didn’t get. But she did get her first team of managers and agents in L.A. out of the venture. Soon thereafter, she got a call to audition for one of the recurring characters on Gilmore Girls, which was already wrapping a successful second season. “My Agents sent me a VHS of Gilmore Girls and told me to watch it. They said there was a role to play Dean’s new love interest and that the requirements were being 5’8” or taller and being a fast talker – I am both! I watched ten minutes of the tape and was like… OK, I’ve got this!” Arielle recalls. “The audition was out in Los Angeles, and I’d already decided to move out there – essentially, to ‘go big or go home’. I managed to graduate from high school early, with a 4.0 gpa, and make the move to L.A. just in time for the Gilmore Girls audition. My mom and I drove out to L.A. in January of 2003. On the day we arrived we swung by my Agent’s office – I was wearing a vintage troll shirt, overalls, and matching pink sandals. My Agent asked ‘Did you bring any other shoes’, and I said, ‘Oh my God yes, I have flip flops in every color!’ …I’ll always remember that! I had the audition and then a callback a week later…and I blew it! I was about to run out of the room – when Kenny Ortega gave me a second shot. He told me to breathe, and to trust myself … and all of a sudden I opened my mouth, and it was just instinct. It sort of just flowed out of my body. When I walked out of the room, I was on this natural high. I wanted the job, but I knew if I didn’t get it, that was ok too. That I was going to be ok in LA – that ‘I could do this’.  …Before I got home, I’d gotten the job, and I was on set the next day. I was acting right away – which was so lucky, but I had a ‘recurring’ role and wasn’t a ‘regular’. I was terrified of the idea of not having steady income, so I also worked as a Nanny and a Cocktail Waitress. I worked hard and made sure I was always busy. Too busy at times, but that’s what I did. I wanted complete financial stability. …And I really had this end goal of being able to not only support myself, but also to be able to have horses!


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Navigating a big new city alone at the start of a new career would be daunting for most teenagers, but failure never seemed to cross Arielle’s mind. “I’m sure my parents were worried, but I didn’t really fully comprehend that at the time. They trusted me, and I was always pretty responsible. I was never afraid that I wasn’t going to make it. My backup plan was to take care of and train animals on set. I always knew that I’d find my way,” she says with a lot of self-confidence, but not a hint of conceit.


“I said ‘yes’ to auditioning for everything. I was so clueless, and I must have been 1 of 300,000 blonde 18 year olds all vying for the same parts. And then right after I got Gilmore Girls, I got a part in Grounded For Life, and then American Pie, and then Soul Plane, where I filmed my first scene with Snoop Dogg.”


“…One day I’m sitting in the Coffee Bean on Sunset Boulevard and talking on the phone with my mom, and these girls tap me and exclaim ‘Oh my God! Are you Arielle Kebbel?!? You play Lindsay in Gilmore Girls!!’ I was pretty excited to be recognized for the first time, but they quickly followed with ‘We hate you!’ …And I knew I was doing a good job as hate was just what the part called for! …And I loved my first taste of fame! I went to lots of red carpet events and parties. Not because I necessarily wanted to be there, but because I wanted to be meeting the right people and constantly promoting myself. I also didn’t understand at that time the power of saying ‘no’. I came from a background where it was sort of taught that it’s better to go out and self promote than wait for things to come.”

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Within just a few short years of moving out to L.A., Arielle scored guest-star and recurring roles on shows like CSI, Law & Order: SVU, and Entourage. And she was also getting cast in studio movies, often playing a popular, clique-leading, mean girl, with big breaks in John Tucker Must Die and Aquamarine. “When I first moved to L.A., you were either a film actress or a TV actress. John Tucker and Aquamarine were big roles for me, followed by films like The Uninvited and Grudge 2. I felt like I’d established myself as a film actress. …Then came the writer’s strike, and everything was turned on its head. All of a sudden, you weren’t one or the other – everyone started taking what they could get.” And Arielle landed parts in an array of TV shows and movies including The Vampire Diaries, Life Unexpected, 90210, Midnight Texas, Lincoln Rhyme: Hunt for the Bone Collector, Ballers – which took her to Miami for extended periods of filming – and Fifty Shades of Grey. “And then streaming really changed the game all over again, because it went from 22 episode seasons, to series that were 10 to 13 episodes a season… It’s less physically and mentally demanding, and it allowed me to have different roles and take different jobs, and then walk away from each of those characters. Streaming has caused networks and services to have to share actors, and as a result, you’re much more of a free agent. It used to be that if you were the face of a show, that network didn’t also want you acting in a show on another network – or anywhere else really. Now you’re able to jump from show to show and movie to movie.”

“I’ve worked hard as an actor. I’ve been inspired by certain performances, like Nicole Kidman in I Love Lucy, and it’s my dream to move into roles like that one, or to discover and play the next Erin Brockovich. My method of acting is sort of a combination of two or three formal methods, and I’m big on research. …And knowing when to throw it all away, relax – and play on set. When I was a doctor in a small independent film, I spent a month shadowing a real doctor, to watch and learn and be able to have this authentic backstory. It makes me more comfortable when I’m on set. I have the confidence of knowing what that role is really supposed to look like. Although I’ve always had a good memory – and used to slay my family in the game ‘Memory’ – to memorize large  chunks of dialogue I’ll write it over and over again, until I can visualize it on the page. And I do a lot of journaling in the first person of the character I’m playing, so that in-between setups I can stay in character. For me the hardest part of acting isn’t when I’m filming – it’s staying focused in-between takes. There’s ideas from the director, the other actors talking about what feels right and where we can adjust, the script supervisor obsessing over continuity, the director of photography asking to adjust marks, and hair, makeup and costumes making minor adjustments – and as all of this is happening, I have to stay in character because we are about to roll into our next take. I think that’s what they should teach in acting school. Sure I have the right to ask for privacy if I don’t want these distractions around me, but I also recognize I’m one piece of the storytelling, and I think it’s important to give every department their time when possible. To stay in character, I go into my ‘competition headspace’ from horse show days – and do my best focusing.”

Now, Kebbel dabbles in a bit of everything. She plays Lucy as a recurring role on 9-1-1 and just wrapped filming an indie film called Site, a psychological thriller. Arielle is also emerging as a Producer. About the future of her career, Arielle comments, “I like this reboot nostalgia moment we’re experiencing, and I’m working on two very special remakes right now – I can’t share any more details…but stay tuned!”

Arielle’s favorite show these days is Succession. “I’d love to have a role in it,” she exclaims, “…and I also love reruns of The Good Wife, and Ted Lasso, and Only Murders in the Building is cute. I’ve always loved comedy, and I admire actors like Jessica Chastain, who are able to do comedy and drama – and just keep getting better.” Arielle comments, “I’ve started to think about the next phase for me. Selecting the right roles is really the thing. When I started out, I misunderstood the role of agents and managers in Hollywood, and leaned on them too much to protect me. They didn’t always. In some roles, and particularly some photoshoots, I felt I was being objectified, and as a result, for a while I stayed away from roles that felt too sexy. It took some time to find a happy medium.” 

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“The real shift in my career as I move forward, is that I’ve also started producing,” Arielle declares. “I recently sold my first film to a major studio, and I’m excited to be both producing and acting in it. And I have several projects I’m developing, including a special horse piece, as well as writing and directing my first short film. As an actor, sometimes I’ve felt pretty voiceless on set. Producing, and eventually directing, will give me a chance to have more control of the projects I work on, the roles I choose, and my overall ability to influence the outcome according to my own sensibilities. And I also think it will give me the chance to incorporate more healthy practices into the industry for people that want that.” 

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GETTING PERSONAL, Arielle reveals, “I’ve always felt strongly connected to my intuition, and I’m really into health and wellness and spirituality. I’m in a class right now where I’m learning about acupuncture meridians, so I can basically give myself acupressure when I’m on set. I do a lot of yoga. I’ve always been interested in people who’ve had signs from the other side, and I’m really inspired by an amazing psychic medium named Laura Lynn Jackson. Of course I collect crystals – and they’re in every pocket! It’s important to bring healing and humanity to the entertainment business and into daily routines. More recently I’ve had a few friends ask me to do some energy work with them, which has been very rewarding. I even fantasize about maybe opening a sort of apothecary where you could make your own bath salts and candles, and offering acupuncture and other holistic healing…in a barn surrounded by horses, of course!”

And without sharing too many details, Arielle added, “I’m single right now, but at some point I want a family. I feel being a film producer and more behind-the-camera will help to give me more control over my schedule than I have today. And I think that kind of agency will also allow me to focus on my other passions – mainly horses!” Arielle recenters, “A big part of my mission to become successful has always centered on my drive to have and be around horses – and that has never changed. As soon as I began to save up some money in L.A., I moved further out of the grind, looking for more greenery and mountains, and the opportunity to ride. I’d started riding again in my early twenties, and owned a horse called Breezy, and was even doing the show circuit on the West Coast when I had the time. But as much as I love riding horses, my passion for helping was really ignited when the fires happened in L.A. five or six years ago. I was watching animals being moved and just felt compelled to help. I’d been tracking SkyDog Sanctuary, and got in touch with the Founder, Clare Staples, and I started volunteering.”

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Based on a 9,000 acre ranch in Bend, Oregon, and with a secondary facility in Malibu, California, SkyDog’s mission is to:rescue wild horses and burros who have ended up in kill pens, are headed to slaughter, or have somehow been abused, starved or neglected, and; educate people about the sad plight of America’s dwindling number of wild horses and the implications of the Bureau of Land Management’s adoption incentive program. Clare and the SkyDog organization work to raise the massive amounts of money necessary to do SkyDog’s charity and to assist in efforts to help horses across the country. Arielle has found a calling as an advocate for SkyDog and the horses it saves. She says, “For years I sponsored a particular ‘mature’, beautiful, white, wonderful, old gentleman of a horse, named Swazey, who recently passed away. Now I’m sponsoring a donkey with a broken ear, named Flopsy. Being a Board member of Skydog, and helping be a voice for wild horses, brings me a sense of direction and inspiration. It keeps me going, seeing these majestic horses being rescued. I actually look at pictures of them before I go to sleep.”


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Most recently, Arielle adopted a wild Mustang, named Snow White, rescued by SkyDog Sanctuary and a lady named Ann Cunninghamin in Upstate New York. Arielle is keeping Snow at Rounded Crest Farm where she’s receiving holistic care from trainer Erika Rose a.k.a ‘The Galloping Guru’. Arielle explains, “Believe it or not, I dreamt about Snow White before I ever met her. I heard about this group of eleven Mustangs that needed help while I was on set in North Carolina. I dropped everything and rushed to Upstate New York to get Snow. When she got off the trailer, Snow was nervous and wary of people. She was rounded-up when she was just two years old, and spent the last two years in horrible conditions. She had no reason to trust humans. She would let Erika put a halter on her, but she was not gentled and was not used to being touched. I spent time sitting in her stall, observing her, and having her get used to my energy. After a few days, Snow started to let me untangle her mane and pet and groom her. And over the last few months, we’ve developed a real bond! She’s small, so I’m tempted to jump on bareback, but we’re not quite at the point where I’m ready to start riding her yet. I want to let her just be a horse and run around and enjoy her life for now.” 

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“Personally,” Arielle reveals, “aside from riding and my work with SkyDog, I really love music that makes me move, including salsa, country, rock, and pop. And I love to dance. And when I’m singing to myself, I think if I had a stronger singing voice I might have tried to be a singer instead of an actor. I love connection and time with people I love – and that’s been more evident since Covid.”

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“At this point, it’s probably the single accomplishment I’m most proud of. People go to L.A. to find freedom and fulfill their dreams, but the outdoors there is mostly brown mountains and vast wide-open spaces. Here, it’s about the trees and the animals and the forest and the rivers and the…and to get to hear stuff like this…you hear?” Arielle stops to listen to a chirping bird. “I was filming in Manhattan in 2019, and on the weekends I would take the train to places up the Hudson and spend the days with girlfriends going apple picking, antiquing and, of course, whiskey tasting! The train always felt like I was in a movie, and a big part of the enchantment for me were the changing seasons – which I’d never really experienced growing up in Florida or living in L.A. I got it in my head that I wanted a farm. And then we wrapped, and I went back to L.A. …and lockdown hit! I woke up one morning literally gasping for breath. It was 7:00 a.m. and I had somehow heard the message ‘start looking for land’. It was kind of like, I felt everything had come together at that moment. I was hearing myself in these interviews saying ‘one day a farm in New York’, and all of a sudden it seemed like my only possibility. This is when I realized how sexy laying in bed and looking at Zillow really is!!! I started looking further North than this, but realized I needed to be closer to the City. I saw this house, with a pool, overlooking this beautiful river, with the ad ‘This Could Be You This Summer’, and I was struck that ‘this really could be me’! … I can’t believe I live here! I can sit at my desk and look out and see people trail riding – it’s fantastical! Inside the house, my style is more neutral tones, and I like leather-brown, oranges and greens. I want a calming, soothing atmosphere. I have a rescue cat named Buddie, and a rescue dog named Pepper. And I’m learning to be a plant mom. …I go outside every day – and just smile! I can hear the river, and I have a vegetable garden and a butterfly garden! I’m outside as much as possible. What I love about Bedford is that nature is part of your life all the time!” 

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Getting a little choked-up with emotion, Arielle continued, “This is the first home that I bought, and that’s very meaningful for me. I’m putting down roots. Having a special place like Bedford to call home is really important to me. I’m starting from scratch on friends here in the area, and I underestimated how exciting that is. It’s been a long time since I’ve been in a position and a place where I feel so open to meeting new people. My neighbors are amazing. I have this one very special neighbor who I call my ‘fairy godmother’. And, I met Martha Stewart last Spring and we had fun sharing some mutual stories about Snoop, and our love of horses. I even had the privilege of riding Martha’s Friesian horse on the trails around her property.” Motioning to her own cheeks, Arielle remarks, “I was smiling from here to here!!” 

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