Atlanta’s Beth Keener in top 20 of ‘Live With Kelly’ hosting contest

beth-keener

This post is from the AJC Radio & TV Talk blog

Atlanta’s Beth Keener is the lone local representative vying in the top 20 to host with Kelly Ripa on her ABC show October 19.

An actress and TV host, Keener said she has been hoping for an opportunity like this for years. She hopes she can draw a New York agent and get more work once she is on Ripa’s show, which has not yet announced a new co host to replace Michael Strahan. (CNN’s Anderson Cooper reportedly was in the running but has chosen to focus on his primary duties at the news network.)

“This is my vision board dream job for real,” she said in an interview Thursday. “When I heard about this, I jumped all over it. I am a total fan girl to be on the show.”

Her top 20 video to promote herself is very tongue in cheek. (You can view it here.) She goes kiting, with exhausting results. She shows off her cooking skills. (Thanks Marie Callender!) She impresses Kelly with her work with kids and animals. It’s cute.

Keener is competing with 19 others with varying levels of clever videos themselves. “I’m a middle child,” she said. “The moment I start watching people’s videos, I get real nervous. I start comparing myself. I’m trying to avoid that since I’m closer to the finals.”

The top 20 will be pared down to a top 10, then a top 5. The top 5 will fly to New York and compete to be the one co host.

She’ll need your votes to get her into the next round. You can vote once a day here.

Keener grew up in Calhoun on a chicken farm. “That was,” she said, “a huge catalyst to change my life.” She said her mom was a “real advocate for dreaming.” She began acting in fifth grade, went to Woodland High School in Cartersville, a performing arts school. After high school, she spent a year in Pigeon Forge performing at the Black Bear Jamboree (now defunct.)

She spent years building herself first to be an actor. She moved to California in 2009, got into improv at the Groundlings. But she realized she liked hosting more. “That’s been my main goal since 2011,” she said. She became the social media reporter at Fox Sports South.

Her biggest acting gig to date was last season on “The Walking Dead,” playing Annie, one of the Alexandrians. She was ultimately mauled by zombies, allowing others to escape.

“That was just massive,” she said. “I am still getting fan mail a year later. These people just dig it and are obsessed with it. They love you once you’re on the show. It’s like being on ‘Law & Order’ in New York. If you live in Georgia and get on ‘The Walking Dead,’ you won the game.”

Doing a death scene, she said, “pretty epic and pretty nerve-racking. It was a very difficult scene for me. You can’t run too fast. You can’t run too slow. You have to trip. You fall. A lot of technicalities. You have to hit your mark. You have to be so aware of the camera as well as what your’e doing in the scene. It was really cool for me to just be there, to be part of a show where the cast is so open and friendly and welcoming.”

Keener said the first person to speak to her was Andrew Lincoln. “He came over and said, ‘Thank you so much for being here.’ Maybe that’s why the show is so good. There’s such a good vibe and sense of family and camaraderie. There’s no ego.”

She is currently working on a TV show where she takes viewers to iconic spots where classic movies were made. She has already shot scenes in Italy for the 1953 Audrey Hepburn/Gregory Peck film “Roman Holiday.”  She is flying up next week to Pittsburgh to focus sites from the film “Night of the Living Dead.”

ON TV
“Live With Kelly,” 9 a.m. weekdays, WSB-TV

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