From age 5 to 10, Kaitlyn Dever would beg her mother relentlessly—but not for the latest toy or a trip to Disneyland.
She wanted to be an actor.
Eventually, the girl’s persistence landed her in the Dallas Young Actors Studio, which, serendipitously, caught the attention of an agent who liked what she saw. She signed Kaitlyn immediately.
And, before she knew it, Kaitlyn was off to Los Angeles, hundreds of miles from her home in Texas.
“It’s going to be really hard,” her parents told her. “You won’t book the first thing you go out on.”
Ms. Dever, now 17, smiled at the memory on Sunday afternoon. “And I booked the first thing I went out on,” she deadpanned, without missing a beat.
The actor sat outside The Maidstone c/o The Living Room in East Hampton, the official headquarters of the Hamptons International Film Festival, where she was honored as one of Variety’s 10 Actors To Watch. With more than a dozen acting credits under her teenage belt, Ms. Dever has shared the screen with the likes of Cameron Diaz, Jennifer Garner and, most recently, Keira Knightley in “Laggies”—which made its East Coast premiere during the festival—as well as 17-year-old Tye Sheridan, a fellow Variety honoree.
The pair met on the set of upcoming indie drama “Grass Stains”—a daunting story of a teenager trying to cope with his guilty conscious after participating in a prank that kills his girlfriend’s older brother—even though, for the majority of their lives, they lived just two hours apart in Texas.
But, unlike Kaitlyn, Tye was never on the acting track. His breakout success was complete happenstance.
“This recruiting crew came by my school and got my mailing address. A month later, I got an envelope in the mail that said, ‘Come to an audition,’” Tye recalled on Sunday morning at The Maidstone. “I didn’t have anything else to do that day, so I said, ‘Why not?’”
It was more than a year before Tye received the good news. He was chosen from a pool of 10,000 boys to star alongside Brad Pitt and Sean Penn in “The Tree of Life.”
That was only the beginning.
“Working with actors like Nicolas Cage and John Travolta and Matthew McConaughey—the list just goes on and on—you can learn so many things,” Tye said. “You just start taking notes and watch them.”
Kaitlyn says she will reach her pinnacle once she works with actor Joaquin Phoenix—“I say that in every interview, and people are probably getting annoyed, but Joaquin is my life,” she laughed. In the meantime, she seems perfectly content.
“I got ‘Laggies’ from the first audition. After I rapped Snoop Dogg as my character,” she said matter-of-factly, before a timid smile crept across her face. “I like to rap a little bit. People might make fun of me for doing it, though, but I don’t really care. I always loved to make people laugh and loved performing. That’s what started it all.”