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Latin American celebrity chooses Atlanta to launch film career

Atlanta is a long way from Canada and even farther from Chile, but for Canadian-Chilean celebrity Vesta Lugg, the metro-area is the place to be.

Lugg, who was born in Ottawa, Canada and raised in Santiago, Chile, is widely known in Latin America for her starring role on "Bakan" or "BKN" (slang for cool) -- the longest running teen television show in Chile often compared to Beverly Hills 90210.

In Chile, Lugg is a fashionista on par with Kendall Jenner (the two appeared together in a department store commercial), an all around it girl and the voice of the young generation. When the 21-year-old  decided to bring her brand of Latin American style to audiences in the U.S., Atlanta seemed the perfect place to get started.

"I come from a very tight-knit community, society and culture in Latin America," said Lugg during an interview at her Brookhaven home. "When my family and I decided to make this move and break into the American of the factors was feeling at home and feeling welcome. Atlanta was the place that was most similar to what we were accustomed to."

Increasingly, Atlanta is becoming the place where celebrities on the rise can find a low-key entry into the film and television industries. Atlanta offers a reasonable cost of living, great weather and an environment that is still more supportive than competitive for up and coming actors.

The Motion Picture Association of America recently ranked the Georgia film industry third in the nation behind California and New York. With about 245 films and television shows being shot in Georgia during the past fiscal year, there is plenty of opportunity for young actors.

As with many young celebrities, Lugg grew up in front of cameras. "I knew since I was a very young girl, I had a knack for attention in a very positive way," said Lugg. After getting her start as a model at age six, Lugg turned to acting and at age 10 scored a role on a popular show about teens.

Her years on "BKN" would become a launching pad into a career as a multihyphenate celebrity-- actor, singer, model, fashion icon, etc.

As a young actress learning the craft, Lugg patterned herself after her American idols like Reese Witherspoon and Natalie Portman. "There are so many actresses who have made a name for themselves through their hard work and their amazing ability to adapt," Lugg said.

During the show's seven-year run, she also began to explore other areas of entertainment. When the characters, part of a fictitious band, embarked on a concert tour, Lugg found herself performing in front of audiences of 15,000 to 20,000. "I remember standing on the stage and feeling completely overwhelmed with excitement, gratitude and happiness," she said.

The show ended in 2012 which coincided with Lugg's high school graduation. She had grown up on the show and was evolving as an actress and a young woman.

She took some time to travel. She launched a You Tube Channel to stay in touch with her fans. And she began writing and recording music. In 2015, she released a five-song EP on iTunes and Spotify. Next month, she releases the new video for another single, "Turn off the Lights."

"The second stage of my music has been all about polishing that sound and that person," she said. Her sound and lyrics are more mature, a departure from earlier songs she wrote about first love and first heartbreak, she said.

Lugg routinely travels from Atlanta to Chile for appearances on Maldita Moda -- the Fashion Police of Chile. The show helped boost her status as a fashion icon, though she said her personal style is constantly evolving.

"Fashion is fun and it is another way to express my opinion and how I feel," said Lugg. "People back home call me the crazy blonde girl, because I don't really follow rules," she said.

Fans can get an up-close view of her rule-breaking fashion as well as her many other journeys on her You Tube channel which has more than 80,000 subscribers. Social media, said Lugg, has changed the game for young celebrities.

"It has given me space to create and play and be curious. All the different social media platforms are giving the younger generation a voice...a big microphone that we can turn off and on whenever we want to," she said.

Between traveling, writing and recording music and making appearances across the globe, Lugg is auditioning like crazy and adjusting to a different pace of life in Atlanta.

That means eating dinner at 6 p.m. instead of her usual 11 p.m. These days, she enjoys a treat at her current local favorite, Fat Matt's Rib Shack. For shopping, her department store of choice is Saks Fifth Avenue.

"I'm not afraid of moving around and of change. My parents have always been gypsies that way. My (twin) brother and I adapt pretty well to different places and different cultures," said Lugg. "Atlanta is a very chill and calm city. My family and I are very comfortable here."






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About the Author

Nedra Rhone has been a features reporter with the AJC for 10 years. She’s written about everything from fashion to food to news.