Conyers native Kristyn Sammons moved to Los Angeles two years ago to build a career as an actress in film and television, but her biggest break so far occurred in Atlanta before she even headed West.
Through contacts at her acting school, Nick Conti's Professional Actor's Studio in Atlanta, Sammons auditioned for and landed the role of the love interest in "Lynch Mob," a horror film premiering at the Carmike Crossroads 16 in Conyers on Thursday. As a pregnant waitress zombie, Sammons catches the eye of lead character Johnny Romano, a mobster-type played by John Cornetta.
Her image has been showing up in previews for the film at the Carmike in Conyers, prompting friends to call Sammons and congratulate her.
"I shot it three years ago and I'm really excited that it's coming out," Sammons said. "They took their time to do it the right way."
Sammons, 27, said she recalls the stars of the movie - Tony Darrow and Paul Borghese - sitting down with the cast between scenes, chatting and telling jokes.
"'Lynch Mob' was an amazing experience. It was my first time working with big name actors," Sammons said.
Even as a young girl, Sammons had her sights set on a life revolving around performance.
"When I was little I always had the crazy personality. My brother and me would put on shows for my family," she said.
As a teenager, Sammons fully immersed herself in Salem High School's theater program, performing the role of Queen Guinevere in "Camelot" at age 14, and going on to snag lead roles in "Little Shop of Horrors," "The King and I," "Romeo and Juliet" and "Steel Magnolias," among other shows.
After graduating from Salem in 2000, Sammons attended Auburn University for two years, but got pulled away from academia by a national touring performance of "Dancing on Common Ground," a song and dance review. Sammons sang for the show, performing with Michael Londra of "Riverdance" fame. She also sang and acted in another national touring production, "Boomers!," designed to appeal to the Baby Boomer generation.
Finished with touring, Sammons moved back to Conyers, enrolled in acting classes and set her sights on L.A. After filming "Lynchmob," Sammons performed the role of Candler Habersham in the long-running Atlanta stage comedy, "Peachtree Battle."
"Being live on stage is so much fun because you never know what's going to happen," said Sammons, who performed in "Peachtree Battle" for six months.
Still, the excitement of being on the set of a film is unmatched, Sammons said.
"I really love film because they'll do as many takes as they need to get it audience ready," Sammons said. "When the director says 'action' it still gives me chills. It's like this is what I was meant to do my whole life."
Living in L.A., Sammons continues to take acting classes and works with an agent to audition for parts. She just completed a film montage called "Sounds of Silence" and has auditioned for several television shows, including a remake of "Melrose Place." She also just got a call back for a Chiquita banana commercial.
"I will take anything I can to boost my career," she said. "I'm trying to get my name out there and get more professional and more comfortable in front of the camera."
Sammons works as a bartender to pay the bills and maintains an internship for a talent company. She meets her share of celebrities, but also talks with those actors bitter about not having a major career. Sammons is determined to remain optimistic.
"I'm still at the point where I love it and I don't think it will go bad for me," said Sammons.