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Creating Stories about Self-Acceptance with a Magical Bent

I make art about learning to be okay with yourself. I spent most of my life wanting to be anybody but who I was. I wanted to deny my scales, my dragon tail, my horns. Eventually, I learned not only to face those qualities—but to embrace them. I discovered that being myself was the best person I could be—but it’s taken me a whole lot of time and work to get to that understanding. I’m still growing into it—I expect I will be for most of my life. But if this speaks to you—this desire to love yourself more—then come along with me because we’ve got an awesome journey ahead. 

I would love to collaborate and share more with you—please reach out @kaestrouse or through my CONTACT page. My upcoming book, Bondi, is currently looking for a publisher—I hope to be able to share it with you soon.

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M   Y       W   O   R   K

Drawing on my own struggles with coming into wholeness, I strive to offer rays of hope—expounding on the virtues of being outside the norm.  To share that every individual has something meaningful to offer and that every life is precious.

— Kaelan talking with his editor

Selected Works

  • 2019 — Wrote “Bondi” (95,000 word fantasy novel)
  • 2018 — Wrote short story collection
  • 2017 — Wrote and workshopped “Ending Well” (2-act play)
  • 2016-Present — Employed with Pinnacle Performance to lead workshops on storytelling & connection with Fortune-500 companies worldwide.
  • 2016 — Founded “On the Road to Bliss” (wellness blog)
  • 2015 — Wrote and produced “Legend of Amba” (35 min film)
  • 2014 — Wrote and produced “Backwoods Bard” (14-part web series)
  • 2007 — Wrote and adapted “If Ever Thou Shalt Love” (2-act play)
  • 2005 — Wrote and produced “‘Heroes'” (feature-length film)

B   I   O   G   R   A   P   H   Y

I was born and raised an hour-and-a-half outside of Chicago—the sort of place where you’d still find cornfields and thick forests in abundance. These were landscapes where my imagination frolicked, dreaming up fairies behind every leaf and witches within each hollowed stump. 

I attended Elgin High School’s Talented and Gifted Academy and then Northwestern University’s School of Communication—where I earned a B.A. in theatre, a certificate in music theatre, and graduated magna cum laude. While there, I received a grant to study abroad at Oxford University and pursue research at The Globe Theatre, London.

After those four years in Evanston, I moved to downtown Chicago proper and focused on a career as an actor while enjoying the windy gusts and the Lake Michigan waves licking the shoreline. I attended The Second City’s year-long conservatory program while simultaneously working with Tony and Emmy Award-winning actors and directors like Carrie Coon, Sheryl Kaller, and Armand Asante. I performed at renowned theaters like Northlight, Timeline, Writers, Court, American Blues, Montana Shakespeare in the Parks, and was chosen as Actor of the Year by Sheridan Road Magazine. I also appeared onscreen through numerous film and series rolls, and in campaigns for Muscle Milk, Reebok, Kleenex, among others.

During this time, I went through a tremendous amount of personal transformation. I came to identify as queer—realizing my same-sex attraction through an arduous series of personal crises. I began to address my childhood and teenage traumas of ostracization and relentless bullying over being different. I studied mindfulness meditation through an Indian-style ashram. The years after college were a long, tumultuous journey inward to reconnect me with myself.

From this intense inner-transformation, I realigned my values and shifted my work from acting to writing/producing. In 2014, I created a 14-part web series—which I then immediately followed by a 35-minute fantasy film exploring the theme of self-acceptance.  This project led me to Hollywood, where I lived and worked for several months as both an actor and a writer. I ended up deciding that the entertainment industry in Los Angeles wouldn’t fit my needs—I needed to focus on art about belonging, finding wholeness, and sharing messages of tolerance.

Moving back to the Windy City, I married my then-fiancé (the most amazing man I have ever had the privilege of meeting) and refined my personal mission even further. I explored prose writing for the first time through a collection of short stories and began delivering workshops with Fortune-500 companies worldwide on storytelling, personal empowerment, and connection through Pinnacle Performance Co. After two further cross-country moves, I developed my first full-length novel, Bondi.  This young adult book ties together all the learning and self-discovery I’ve done over the past decade and integrates it with my passion for an epic, adventurous story.

Kyloki Web Series – Episode 101
Muscle Milk Commercial (with Clay Matthews – Green Bay Packers)
Legend of Amba Film Trailer
Baby Oh Baby Play Reviews

“Your authenticity and words were refreshing and reassuring. It’s challenging to be authentic in an artificial space; you made me comfortable enough to be a little more myself. 

– Feedback from a workshop participant
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