Editor's note: A previous headline on this story identified Kaela Settle as a Utahn. While she has family that lives in Utah and attended college in Utah, Settle was born in Hawaii.
Keala Settle, more widely known as the bearded lady, Lettie Lutz, in "The Greatest Showman," is closer to home than Utah fans of the hit film might realize.
The Spectrum recently reported on Settle's theater involvement at Southern Utah University and The Daily Universe shared her journey to the big screen from the perspective of her father, who works at Brigham Young University.
The Spectrum quoted R. Scott Phillips, former executive director of the Utah Shakespeare Festival, who knew Settle when she was the lead of SUU’s musical “Gypsy” in the 1990s.
“You never know who is going to be the next big thing, but I knew Keala would make an impact in the industry,” Phillips told The Spectrum. “Because of her personality and outlook on life and her determination she was going to make an impact."
Richard Bugg, a professor of theatre arts at SUU, said Settle excelled in the theatre department at Southern Utah University. Settle began attending SUU in 1996 but dropped out as a senior to tour with the musical “Hairspray,” according to the article. She later went back and graduated in 2016 with a bachelor’s in theatre arts.
Settle’s father, David, currently serves as BYU’s associate director of International Student Services. He shared insight into his daughter’s early involvement in musical productions and journey to Broadway with The Daily Universe.
David Settle also told The Daily Universe his daughter initially turned down the offer to audition for the role of Lettie Lutz. After some convincing, she agreed to do it.
She sang “This Is Me” from the movie’s soundtrack at the audition. “She delivered such a performance and sang with such emotion that by the time she finished, there wasn’t a dry eye in the room,” her father said.
David Settle said “he couldn’t be more happier or more proud of the success his daughter has achieved,” according to the article.
“This Is Me” won Best Original Song during the 75th Annual Golden Globe Awards on Jan. 7. Settle will perform the track live at the Oscars on March 4, where the song is once again nominated for Best Original Song.