A young star is born

Kellan Tetlow joins his older siblings in front of the camera. The 6-year-old appeared in one of the final episodes of NBC’s acclaimed series This Is Us, which, as it turns out, is partially set in Pittsburgh.

Kellan Tetlow is only 6½ years old, but he has already landed parts in two major television shows. He played the part of Nicky in three episodes of This Is Us this spring, and also appears in the new FX limited series, Retreat, which stars Brit Marling, Raul Esparza, and Oscar nominee Clive Owen.

Kellan, whose family formerly lived on Cherokee Drive, now resides in Los Angeles with his mother, Karly, and three older siblings—Kolette, 16, Keaton, 14, and Korinne, 11—all of whom have performed in movies, television, or on Broadway.

The family entertainment dynasty began when 5-year-old Kolette performed in a Markham Elementary School talent show. “People came up to us afterwards and asked where our daughter took singing lessons,” said Karly. “We laughed and said that she didn’t take any lessons. But from then on, she announced that she wanted to be on Broadway. And by the time she was 7, she was.”

Kolette toured for a year as the female lead’s daughter in the first national tour of the Tony-award winning Broadway musical Once. She kept on working, booking other shows, TV and movie roles. “The other kids saw how much fun she was having and wanted to try it for themselves,” said Karly. “Before you knew it, everyone had some kind
of project.”

Kolette’s brothers and sisters soon had agents of their own, and the Tetlows left Mt. Lebanon for New York City. Kellan joined the family business as a toddler, appearing in print ads and commercials.

Kellan and Just Hartley, who plays his TV dad on This is Us. 

In 2020, they moved to Los Angeles, stopping for a visit with relatives in Mt. Lebanon on their cross-country drive. Although Kellan left the area at an early age, he keeps in touch with his grandparents and follows the Steelers with his dad. He also loves basketball and soccer.

These days because of the pandemic, in-person auditions have given way to self-tapes.

“We do the tape at home in front of a blue screen,” said Karly. “After you send it in, you talk to the casting director or producer over Zoom and then find out if you get the job.”

Kellan has to follow a strict COVID-19 protocol on set as well. Because he misses regular school when working, he is required to attend studio school for three hours each day he’s on set.

Kellan professes to be pretty comfortable with all the memorizing that’s needed for his work, and says he doesn’t get nervous. When asked about the best thing about the job on This Is Us, he happily proclaimed, “Free food! And there was so much candy, and I got to eat all of it.”

He reports that the cast of the show is “super nice,” and that his show dad’s name is Justin (Hartley, who plays Kevin Pearson on the show). “And he’s really handsome.”

He landed his second big role following a self-tape he submitted in November for Retreat on FX. After making it onto the short list for the part of Zoomer, he and his mom flew to New York City to meet the producer and do a “chemistry read” with the leads and creators of the show, Brit Marling and Zal Batmanglij. In February he learned he got the part.

Retreat is the story of a Gen Z amateur sleuth named Darby and 11 other guests who are invited by a reclusive billionaire to a retreat at a remote location. When one of the guests is found dead, Darby fights to prove it was murder and to find the killer. “It’s quite an exciting new show, and Kellan has a pretty significant part, in six out of seven episodes,” said Karly. The shoot involves 10 weeks of filming in New York and Iceland.

When asked whether his brother and sisters give him advice based on their experience, Karly recalled what his sister, Korinne, had told him about getting to the end of the casting process but not landing the role. “She said at that point it’s because you’re too short or your hair isn’t the right color; it’s not about the acting or talent,” Karly said. “I thought that was really good advice.”