Listening to … Jamie Lynn Spears, ‘The Journey’

 Jamie Lynn Spears arrives at the 49th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, in Las Vegas. The former teen star of “Zoey 101” has been working behind the scenes in Nashville learning the craft of songwriting. She’s already got a music video and put out an EP called “The Journey” on iTunes with five new songs. (Photo by Al Powers/Powers Imagery/Invision/AP, file)

Jamie Lynn Spears arrives at the 49th annual Academy of Country Music Awards at the MGM Grand Garden Arena, in Las Vegas. © AP/Invision photo by Al Powers/Powers Imagery.

This year’s Red, White & Boom has a big name among teen TV fans in Lucy Hale, better known — for now — as Aria on ABC Family’s Pretty Little Liars than for her debut country album, Road Between, which came out earlier this month. More on Lucy, and our interview with her, soon.

But it’s a safe bet a lot of teens who obsess over PLL now watched another Red, White & Boom artist when she ruled Nickelodeon a few years ago. Jamie Lynn Spears was initially known best as Britney’s little sister but earned positive reviews for her work on the variety show All That and the series Zoey 101, which ran from 2005 to 2008.

That all came to a halt when Spears became pregnant at age 16 by her boyfriend Casey Aldridge. Since then, her life has been minor league tabloid fodder. But now, she is newly married to a media businessman and embarking on a country music career.

Spears-The JourneyHer debut EP, The Journeyfeatures five songs, the best of which come across as at least somewhat autobiographical. Shotgun Wedding walks right into Spears’ past with a song that feels confessional but not apologetic. “It aint ’cause momma didn’t raise me right, It aint ’cause daddy didn’t try try try, Two bored kids on a friday night, Got to kissing in the dark in a parking lot … ” she sings in a spirit that echoes Miranda Lambert as much as anything her sister ever did.

The EP unfortunately cools down a bit from the opener to cover some fairly routine country tunes like the grooving Run. But Spears brings a gentle sincerity to How Could I Want More, the EP’s debut single, a peaceful declaration of contentment.

It’s easy to contextualize Big Bad World, The Journey’s finale, with Spears’ life, but hard to see her quite as naive as the character the song portrays. But we already knew Spears is a good actress, and her performance of this song is as natural and effective as any of the tracks on the EP.

It is hard to say at this point if Spears has a country career ahead of her that will make people forget her past or her famous sister. But clearly strong voices run in the Spears family, and that name and some good material will give her a better shot than most Nashville singers get.

With Red, White & Boom in a couple weeks, we’re giving a listen to music by some of the supporting acts in the 18-band lineup to give you a sense what you’ll hear while you tan July 5 and 6.

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Former Herald-Leader arts writer returns as artist

'Montrose Beach,' digital photograph, by Kevin Nance.

‘Montrose Beach,’ digital photograph, by Kevin Nance.

Kevin Nance’s last story for the Herald-Leader was about Central Kentucky photographer James Archambeault, famous for his evocative pictures of the commonwealth’s landscapes.

“I don’t think I understood it at the time,” says Nance, who now lives in Chicago, “but even though we think of him as a photographer of subjects — in this case, the beautiful landscapes of Kentucky — when you look at his photographs, he is a stalker of the light, which is pretty much how he described it.”

Since that story in 1998, Nance has become a fellow traveler, often departing his Chicago apartment before dawn with his camera bag on his shoulder in search of marvelous light.

Kevin Nance. Photo by Brian Briggs.

Kevin Nance. Photo by Brian Briggs.

Nance, 54, is best known to Lexingtonians as the Herald-Leader’s arts writer for 10 years starting in 1988. On Friday evening, he returns as an artist in his own right, with an exhibit of his photography at the Hunt-Morgan House that is part of Gallery Hop.

Photography has been part of his journalistic toolkit since his days as a military journalist serving in the Army at Fort Belvoir in northern Virginia, Nance says. He even took a graduate-level course in photojournalism at the University of South Carolina with Jack Hillwig, who went on to teach at Eastern Kentucky University.

“He taught me the history of photojournalism, a lot of the basic philosophies and theory of photography,” Nance says.

But then Nance went to work for several newspapers — including the Herald-Leader, The Tennessean in Nashville and the Chicago Sun-Times — that had their own photography staffs; there was rarely a need for him to shoot photographs for his work. At the time, he says, he probably would not have been able to approach the level of the work done by the staff photojournalists at the papers where he worked.

“Malcolm Gladwell, the author and New Yorker writer, has this theory that you have to have 10,000 hours of practice in an activity or discipline to go beyond a level of mere proficiency,” Nance says. “I didn’t have that.”

'He turns his back,' digital photograph, by Kevin Nance.

‘He turns his back,’ digital photograph, by Kevin Nance.

But Nance shifted focus in 2012, after being laid off from a job as director of public affairs for a Chicago architecture firm. His primary source of income is still journalism; he is a freelance writer whose work has appeared in The Wall Street Journal, USA Today and other publications. But setting his own schedule has also given Nance time to work at his photography, much of which he says is taken within 10 blocks of his apartment near Lake Michigan.

It is different from the photojournalism he used to pursue. Nance says his work now is focused on capturing feelings, mood and light.

"Sunset," digital photograph, by Kevin Nance.

“Sunset,” digital photograph, by Kevin Nance.

The Internet, particularly Facebook, gave Nance a place to show his work, which caught the eye of Sheila Omer Ferrell, executive director of the Blue Grass Trust for Historic Preservation. Nance used to write about Ferrell and her husband, Lexington theater director Joe Ferrell, when they ran the now-defunct Phoenix Group Theatre.

The Trust presents art exhibits at the Hunt-Morgan House as part of Gallery Hop, and Ferrell asked Nance if he would be interested in showing his pieces.

“I’m so looking forward to seeing my old friends from Lexington again,” Nance says. “I honestly don’t care if they buy a picture. I just want them to come see the work and see me and have a reunion. If they like a photograph enough to buy it, that’s the cherry on top.”

Nance, who also has a show on display in Chicago and is working on some other exhibits, says he hopes photography becomes a significant stream of revenue. Regardless, he says, he is happy the unpleasant experience of losing a job has opened up an invigorating creative outlet.

“While it’s probably true that nothing I do as a photographer has not been done before by somebody else, it hasn’t been done by me,” Nance says. “It’s a new way of seeing the world, and I enjoy it in a way that is very specific. It brings me a lot of satisfaction and joy.”

'Mediterraneo' digital photograph, by Kevin Nance.

‘Mediterraneo’ digital photograph, by Kevin Nance.

Kevin Nance was my immediate predecessor as arts writer for the Lexington Herald-Leader.

This story will appear in the Weekender section of the June 20, 2014 Herald-Leader.
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Lexington fencing documentary premieres Thursday

Amgad Khazbak and fencer Lee Kiefer in a scene from 'The People in the Room.' Images courtesy of Sean Anderson.

Amgad Khazbak (black, in foreground) and Olympic fencer Lee Kiefer (white shirt, red shorts) in a scene from ‘The People in the Room.’ Image courtesy of Sean Anderson.

Lexington filmmaker Sean Anderson has worked on films and productions for PBS, Starz, ABC News, CBS Sports and other national and international outlets. For his latest project, the filmmaker fixed his attention on a small Lexington fencing club and its well-traveled director.

The People in the Room: One year with a small fencing club focuses on the Bluegrass Fencers’ Club of Lexington and its director, Amgad Khazbak, who once coached the foil team in his native Egypt and the U.S. women’s foil team in the 2012 London Olympics. The film covers the gamut of experiences for the group, from beginners to an Olympian. While it is about fencing, Anderson says the themes are universally applicable to a variety of endeavors. The film premieres at 7:15 p.m. Thursday, June 19, at the Farish Theater at the Central Library.

Anderson holds a bachelor’s degree in English from the University of Kentucky and a Master’s in documentary film production from Stanford University.He has made several other documentaries that have been shown around the area and on Kentucky Educational Television, including … damn bad oyster: The Times of William Goebel, governor (2008) and Rock That Uke (2003), which was far ahead of the ukulele craze (may be a slight exaggeration) of the last few years.

Following the premiere, Anderson is seeking distribution for the film and to enter it into festival competition. He does anticipate further Kentucky showings of the film.

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Listening to … Parmalee, ‘Feels Like Carolina’

Josh McSwain, and from left, Scott Thomas, Barry Knox and Matt Thomas of the musical group Parmalee arrives at the CMT Music Awards at Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday, June 4, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo by Wade Payne/Invision/AP)

(L-R) Josh McSwain, Scott Thomas, Barry Knox and Matt Thomas of  Parmalee arrives at the CMT Music Awards at Bridgestone Arena on Wednesday, June 4, 2014, in Nashville, Tenn. © Invision/AP photo by Wade Payne.

I know very little about Parmele, N.C., but it must be one heckuva a party town.

That’s at least the impression you get from Must’ve Been a Good Time, the signature song from the town’s namesake band, Parmalee (according to CMT, the spelling is altered to help outsiders pronounce it correctly). Singer Matt Thomas describes the aftermath of a throw-down at his home including people passed out on couches and in the yard, animals in strange places, re-purposed furniture and general automotive chaos. He can’t remember any of it happening, but concluded, “We must’ve had a good time.”

Parmalee-Feels Like CarolinaCertainly country and rock ‘n’ roll have had their shares of party-hearty anthems, but clever writing a strong groove steer this tune past clichéville, and Good Time really deserved a better ride on the Billboard  country charts than it got in 2012 (it peaked at No. 38 on country airplay, but did better in satellite radio surveys).

And Parmalee’s late 2013 release Feels Like Carolina contains a number of promising tunes that should make for a good set when the band shows up for Red, White & Boom on the Fourth of July weekend.

Probably the best-known tune is Carolina, the band’s first No. 1 from earlier this year, a touring musician’s homesick-heartsick anthem that’s easy on the ears. There are fun ideas like the “headlights are spotlights” rocker Dance and the  first-kiss song Close Your Eyes for This. Move does a good job affecting a rap cadence without sounding like a country band that really wants be a hip-hop act.

Some tunes aren’t as successful like Back in the Day, a standard issue nostalgia song we’ve heard from every guy who can’t get over high school (now that you’ve got that out of your system, move on). But then there are well-crafted tunes like My Mongomery, with a reverb-drenched guitar paving the road for the highway meditation.

The album ends on a strong note with Another Day Gone, a pretty sober regret song in a similar vein to Carolina.

The winners on the album make it seem Parmalee’s long, sometimes scary — these are the guys whose drummer, Scott Thomas, was shot in an attempted robbery in 2010 — trip out of North Carolina might take them somewhere.

With Red, White & Boom in a couple weeks, we’re giving a listen to albums by some of the supporting acts in the 18-band lineup to give you a sense what you’ll hear while you tan July 5 and 6.

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Summer Classic: ‘Dr. Strangelove’

Peter Sellers as the title character in Stanley Kubrick's 1964 classic 'Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.'

Peter Sellers as the title character in Stanley Kubrick’s 1964 classic ‘Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb.’

We may not be staring down mutually assured destruction the way we believed we were back in the Cold War days of the mid-20th century. But the recent tensions between the United States and Russia can make you oddly nostalgic for those chilly years when we were sure we were just a push of “the button” away from annihilation.

If you are subject to that creepy reminiscence, the Kentucky Theatre has a very well-timed Summer Classic Wednesday: the 1964 Stanley Kubrick satire Dr. Strangelove, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the BombIt shows at 1:30 and 7:15 p.m. Wednesday.

The movie was loosely based on the Peter George novel Red Alert and takes place during a crisis in which crazy Gen. Jack D. Ripper (Sterling Hayden) — that name, alone, tells you where this film is going — has ordered a nuclear strike on the Soviet Union, which would unleash the rain of nuclear weapons that would leave both nations and much of the world  in ruins. There are also characters named Maj. T. J. “King” Kong and Col. Bat Guano. Fun.

The real fun is the dark comedy of all the varied interests scrambling to deal with the situation, including comic genius Peter Sellers playing three roles including the title character, a former Nazi and nuclear weapons expert with an out of control hand who is one of President Merkin Muffley’s (also played by Sellers, and another funny name if you want to look it up) top advisers. As the danger deepens, Strangelove is the one that suggests gathering several hundred thousand people with a 10-to-one ratio of women to men to live in mineshafts and repopulate the country after nuclear devastation.

Sellers, who was known for performances playing multiple characters, also played British officer Lionel Mandrake who tries to face down Ripper and his derranged theories about Russians poisoning Americans’ “precious bodily fluids.” Sellers was also supposed to portay Maj. Kong, the Texas bombardier focused on fulfilling his nuclear mission, but had to bow out because of an injury giving Slim Pickens a chance to turn in one of his most memorable performances.

And the film is certainly remembered by people who experienced in the context of the fear it mocked, coming in at No. 3 on the American Film Institute’s list of funniest American movies and being called, “arguably the best political satire of the century,” by the late Roger Ebert.

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LexArts schedules public meeting on CEO search

LexArts will host a public discussion at 6 p.m. June 23 at ArtsPlace to discuss the search for a new president and CEO of the united arts fund.

Current president and CEO Jim Clark announced late last year that he would be stepping down from the post effective June 30. A search committee has been formed and the firm Management Consultants for the Arts has been retained to conduct the search, and the firm determined that a public forum should be held.

Lexington poet Bianca Spriggs will moderate the forum, which is opened to all interested parties. Spriggs is a member of the committee, along with chair J. David Smith, Jr., Virginia Underwood, John Long, Georgia Henkel, Stephanie Hong, Lori Houlihan, Allison Kaiser of the Lexington Philharmonic Orchestra and Larry Snipes of Lexington Children’s Theatre.

A question the committee is aiming to answer is what role the new LexArts chief will play. The panel at the forum will be Smith, also Chair of LexArts’ Grants Committee; Kaiser and John Long, Chairman of the LexArts board.

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Norton Center for the Arts 2014-15 season

Violinist Lara St. John will return for her third appearance at the Norton Center for the Arts next season. Photo by Martin Kennedy.

Violinist Lara St. John will return for her third appearance at the Norton Center for the Arts next season. © Photo by Martin Kennedy.

Centre College’s Norton Center for the Arts is downsizing a bit, by design, for its 2014-15 season.

“We wanted to condense it a bit and focus on the intimacy of the space,” says Steven A. Hoffman, who is ­programming his third full season as the Danville arts center’s executive director.

The lineup boasts 16 shows, down from 23 ­announced last year.

“There’s not a lot of ­redundancy in what we are ­presenting this season,” said Mandy Prather, the venue’s director of marketing and development. “There aren’t four orchestras or six plays. We tried to focus on the best we could find.”

That said, it is a season with names including Chris Thile and ZZ Top and an innovative ­presentation of an American television classic.

Hoffman said more shows might be announced.

Season tickets are on sale through NortonCenter.com or by calling 1-877-448-7469.
Here’s the season.

Sept. 4: “The President’s Own” U.S. Marine Band, one of the nation’s leading military ensembles: As is the policy of military ensembles, this is a free performance to start the season, but getting tickets is highly recommended.
Sept. 23: Recycled ­Percussion, innovative and ­interactive percussion group: Everybody gets an instrument at the door, Hoffman says of this group, which is serious about the audience participation aspect of its shows.
Sept. 27: Smash Mouth, 1990s chart toppers with hits including All Star: For homecoming weekend, Hoffman says he tries to book acts that will have a cross-generational appeal. Smash mouth, he points out, was big with the parents of many current students, and then made it into their consciousness through things like the Shrek movies.

Chris Thile in performance with The Punch Brothers. © Invision/AP photo by Photo by John Davisson.

Chris Thile in performance with The Punch Brothers. © Invision/AP photo by Photo by John Davisson.

Oct. 1: Chris Thile and Edgar Meyer, bluegrass/Americana music: Hoffman describes Thile, who has visited the Norton Center before with The Punch Brothers, as “the Yo-Yo Ma of the Mandolin.” Thile and bassist Meyer have both teamed up with Ma and fiddler Stuart Duncan on Goat Rodeo, the most enchanting musical collaboration of the 21st century.
Oct. 11: Lara St. John and Marie-Pierre Langlamet, ­internationally acclaimed ­violinist and harpist: This is St. John’s third appearance at the Norton Center, and the evening with harp superstar Langlament promises music from Bach to polka.

Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top performs at the Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on December 28, 2013 in Hollywood, Florida. © Invision/AP photo by Jeff Daly.

Dusty Hill and Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top performs at the Hard Rock Live at Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino on December 28, 2013 in Hollywood, Florida. © Invision/AP photo by Jeff Daly.

Oct. 24: ZZ Top, iconic Texas rock and blues trio: Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill were sporting megabeards before they were so hipster, and like Smash Mouth, the Texas trio, including ironically-named drummer Frank Beard, have that cross-generational appeal.
Nov. 7: Russian State Symphony Orchestra, with pianist ­Vladimir Feltsman: Hoffman says having piano icon Feltsman perform at the Norton Center, “is special for the entire region,” and the concert will be an all-Russian affair of Prokofiev, Tchaikovsky and Rachmaninoff.
Dec. 6: Wynonna and The Big Noise: “A Simpler Christmas”: This year’s Christmas show has a distinctly Bluegrass State flavor.
Jan. 27: Paul Taylor Dance Company: Hoffman says this will be the fourth time at the various venues he has directed he has presented Paul Taylor, and he emphasizes this will be the company’s lead troupe.
Feb. 5: Cyrille Aimée, jazz vocalist: Hoffman touts the smaller Weisiger Theatre as the perfect venue to experience Aimée’s French Gypsy swing stylings.
Feb. 19: Japanese Winter Plum Festival, Japanese music, theater, art, food and culture in an evening-long event: This is not so much a show as an evening-long cultural experience that is in part drawn from Centre College’s enduring international studies programs.
Feb. 21: I Love Lucy Live on Stage, show set up like two ­tapings of the iconic sitcom: This show will run for a week in Louisville but Hoffman brings it to Danville for a night. Sort of building on live-radio play shows, this makes the audience an audience for a live taping of I Love Lucy, seeing the behind the scenes goings on as well as the show.
Feb. 27: Cameron Carpenter, organist: “We have a wonderful organ that rarely gets used,” Hoffman says. “So this is a great chance to show it off.” Of the flashy, and sometimes controversial Carpenter, Hoffman says, “His whole reason to live is to make sure organ remains accessible to new generations.”
March 6: Aquila Theatre production of Wuthering Heights: The Emily Brontë classic comes to life on the Norton Center stage in Aquila Theatre’s return.
March 27: Memphis: The Musical, touring production of the Broadway show about the racial integration of radio: One of the the undisputed hits of the Lexington Opera House’s just-completed Broadway Live season, the Tony winner for best musical is the Broadway feature of the Norton Center season.
April 11: Bill Engvall, comedy: Hoffman describes Engvall as “one of the clean, blue-collar comedians,” and he also has the status of giving Jennifer Lawrence her first big gig when she played his daughter on the TBS sitcom The Bill Engvall Show.

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Look for familiar Lexington faces on the Tonys

Neil Patrick Harris in the Broadway production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Behind him are Lexingtonians Justin Craig (top, right) and Matt Duncan (bottom, right). © AP/Boneau/Bryan-Brown photo by  Joan Marcus.

Neil Patrick Harris in the Broadway production of Hedwig and the Angry Inch. Behind him are Lexingtonians Justin Craig (top, right) and Matt Duncan (bottom, right). © AP/Boneau/Bryan-Brown photo by Joan Marcus.

Being in the most talked about show on Broadway usually means you are going to get a pretty prominent position on Broadway’s biggest night on television. And that will be the case for two Lexingtonians Sunday night when the 68th Annual Tony Awards are handed out.

Hedwig and the Angry Inch has been all the rage this year, in large part due to the presence of Neil Patrick Harris in the title role. But, just like when he takes the stage every night at the Belasco Theatre, Harris will be supported by a pair of Lexingtonians in Hedwig’s band: guitarist and music director Justin Craig and bassist Matt Duncan.

Duncan confirmed Friday evening that we will indeed see them in the Tony’s telecast.

Hedwig, of course, already had a strong Lexington connection before those guys joined the show in co-creator, composer and lyricist Stephen Trask. And it was Trask’s enduring connections to the Lexington music community that helped make Craig and Duncan part of the show when it made its move to Broadway.

Harris, considered a shoo-in for best actor in a musical, has been hosting the Tonys for several years. This year, he turns those duties over to fellow song-and-dance man, Tony winner and Wolverine, Hugh Jackman.

There is one other tangential Kentucky connection among the nominees: playwright Robert Schenkkan is up for Best Play for All the Waythe show about President Lyndon B. Johnson that stars Breaking Bad’s Bryan Cranston. Schenkkan, a North Carolina native, is also the Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Kentucky Cycle.

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Former SCAPA student on ‘Under the Dome’

Lexington native Grace Victoria Cox will have a major recurring role on the CBS summer series Under the Domewhen its second season premieres on June 30.

Lexington Native and former SCAPA student Grace Victoria Cox. © Photo from Progressive Artists Agency.

Lexington Native and former SCAPA student Grace Victoria Cox. © Photo from Progressive Artists Agency.

According The Hollywood Reporter, Cox will, “recur as the lithe, mysterious, beautiful and almost regal Melanie, who catches the eye of Joe (Colin Ford). Poised and ethereal, Melanie is from the right side of the tracks and is a clear contrast to Norrie (Mackenzie Lintz).”

The series is Cox’s first major screen credit and puts her in pretty good company being in a show based on a novel by Stephen King, who wrote the Season 2 premiere episode, and includes Steven Spielberg among its executive producers.

The story centers on a town that mysteriously finds itself trapped in a mysterious transparent Dome, cut off from the outside world except for limited radio communication. The residents struggle with diminishing resources and rising tensions.

According to Cox’s mother, Vicky Hall, Cox attended the School for Creative and Performing Arts from fourth grade through her sophomore year. She then spent her junior year at Interlochen Arts Academy in Michigan and moved to Los Angeles in her senior year, last year, to start working on breaking into film. It appears that has gone well for her.

Cox will be joined by another Kentuckian on Under the Dome, also playing a recurring character: Pikeville native and country music star Dwight Yoakam. According to Entertainment Weekly, Yoakam will play, “Lyle Chumley, who runs the Chester’s Mill’s barbershop. … Lyle also has a mysterious connection to the Dome, and very well may know the answer to its origins.”

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Lexington filmmaker brings her big-city experience home

Stephanie Wyatt as Jane and Matt Devine as Les in a photograph that becomes an important part of the story in "Jane's Everlasting Heart Condition." Photos courtesy of Modern Day Jane Films.

Stephanie Wyatt as Jane and Matt Devine as Les in a photograph that becomes an important part of the story in “Jane’s Everlasting Heart Condition.” Photos courtesy of Modern Day Jane Films.

Stephanie Wyatt booked her first movie within days of moving to Los Angeles. But then, on the set, someone said something to her that would resonate through her entire stay in Hollywood.

“This lady turned to me and said, ‘You’re just like, real, aren’t you?’” Wyatt recalled.

“I was so caught off guard by that,” she said. “I was like, ‘What? Are we not being real here? Are we being fake? I missed the memo. No one gave me the memo that we’re supposed to be fake now.’”

But as she learned through attempts at landing other roles and jobs working for agencies and other outlets, being herself was not a valued trait in L.A.

“I wasn’t skinny enough to be the leading lady to them,” Wyatt says. “I wasn’t fat enough to be the fat friend. I was in this gray area that no one knew what to do with. I had agent after agent tell me, ‘We don’t know what to do with you.’

“I had an agent straight-up tell me: ‘Lose 20 pounds or gain 20 pounds. You let me know.’”

Lexington-based filmmaker, writer and actress Stephanie Wyatt.

Lexington-based filmmaker, writer and actress Stephanie Wyatt.

In 2012, Wyatt decided to come home to Central Kentucky. But the desire to make and act in movies never left.

On Thursday night, she will host the world premiere of her film Jane’s Everlasting Heart Condition at the University of Kentucky Student Center’s Worsham Theater. The film was shot partly in Chicago, a city she says she liked much more than L.A., and partly in Kentucky.

Wyatt typecasts herself as “the funny, pretty one,” but the movie comes from some deeply personal, wrenching experiences.

Her character, Jane, has to choose between two men: an intense but unrequited love or a safe but not as passionate boyfriend.

“I’m all for taking risks, but even I have my limits,” Wyatt says of the personal experience that inspired the story. “I made a decision based on fear. I went back to my security blanket because of fear.”

Later, when she returned to try to declare her true feelings, Wyatt says she chickened out, and that inspired events portrayed in Jane’s, in which a woman on her deathbed reflects on the one who got away.

It wasn’t quite supposed to be structured that way.

Stephanie Wyatt as Jane and Matt Devine as Les in "Jane's Everlasting Heart Condition," which premiers Thursday, June 5, 2014, at the Worsham Theatre in the University of Kentucky Student Center.

Stephanie Wyatt as Jane and Matt Devine as Les in “Jane’s Everlasting Heart Condition,” which premiers Thursday, June 5, 2014, at the Worsham Theatre in the University of Kentucky Student Center.

When she started shooting in Chicago in 2010 the first film project of her own making, it was supposed to be self-contained. But then a significant portion of the footage was lost, Wyatt says, and too much was gone to make a coherent film. So, with no money to restart production and the cast and crew unavailable, she reluctantly shelved the project.

“The story was gone, and there really wasn’t enough to make a short,” Wyatt says. Her collaborators said they understood, but Wyatt couldn’t let it go.

“I was the creator and the executive producer, and I gave my word that we were going to have a project, and the fact that we didn’t made me insane,” Wyatt says.

But then, back in Kentucky, she started thinking about it and developed the idea of creating the flashback, with older, dying Jane reflecting on and filling in the holes left by the lost footage.

“It is different, but it is very parallel,” she says.

She plans for Jane’s Everlasting Heart Condition, made under the moniker Modern Day Jane Films, a Jane Austen allusion, to be the start of a larger foray into filmmaking, drawing on her experiences in Los Angeles and Chicago, where she was involved in independent film.

Wyatt, a Winchester native, went to Chicago after studying theater at the University of Kentucky and never got the roles she hoped for.

“I truly believe things happen for a reason, and I think that situation gave me the push to go to Chicago and try to get something started,” says Wyatt, who has a number of Chicago films to her credit. “If I had been a star player there, I might have gotten comfortable and never left. Who knows?”

Since returning to Lexington, she has worked in her family’s real estate business and acted locally, most recently in Studio Players’ production of Perfect Wedding, in which she was a strange woman who ended up in a groom’s bed the morning of his wedding.

“I have met a great community of actors here,” Wyatt says of co-stars including Alex Maddox, who played the groom, “and they were the first ones to step up and get tickets when I announced my film premiere.”

Whether she will stay in Lexington, or make another move to boost her film work — possibly to Atlanta or New Orleans — is an open question. But she is sure of one thing: “I am going to cast real people in my movies because that’s who goes to see these, real people.”

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