Criminal Minds alum Kelly Frye climbs All the Way to the Top

Kelly Frye in All The Way to the Top. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Joelene Crnogorac.
Kelly Frye in All The Way to the Top. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Joelene Crnogorac. /

Kelly Frye is known as Kristy Simmons on Criminal Minds and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, but now she’s gone All the Way to the Top in a new web series.

Criminal Minds fans will recognize Kelly Frye as Kristy Simmons, the wife of Matt Simmons, on the spinoff Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders and then in the final three seasons of the original series.

Her latest project is also going to hook TV crime drama fans, because she’s parodying the genre in a hilarious take on the acting world. In All the Way to the Top, Kelly plays actress Josie Jones, who’s become famous for starring as a hotshot cop in the crime drama Homicide Blue. But is her fame all it’s cracked up to be?

Kelly joined Precinct TV to look back on her Criminal Minds experience and if recurring on a hit crime drama helped her to play the egotistical star of a fake crime drama. Learn more about her and her new project below, then watch All the Way to the Top now on YouTube.

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Precinct TV: What were your favorite memories from your time in the Criminal Minds franchise?

Kelly Frye: I have so many! It’s hard to limit it to just a few, but top of the list is getting to act alongside Daniel Henney with our load of cute kiddos. Sharing lunch with Joe Mantegna and hearing his many wonderful Hollywood stories through the years. Seeing my friend Becky Silverman at the table reads.

Being directed by Lily Mariye in the episode where my law firm is taken hostage [“Ex Parte”]. The table read for the episode Lily Mariye directed was really special to me—I looked down toward the end, where the producers sit, and there was a female showrunner, female AD, female director all next to each other.

Costume fittings with the beyond fabulous BJ Rogers and her pup. Giving birth on TV with Ed Bernero directing me to breathe harder. (laughs) And, of course, holding Harry Bring’s grandchild as our Simmons baby number five.

PTV: Very few actors get to permanently move a character from one part of a franchise to the other. What was it like to make the transition from Beyond Borders to Criminal Minds?

KF: I couldn’t believe I got to keep playing Kristy Simmons. I mourned her and the little TV family we had when Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders ended, so to get the call that the Simmons family was going to continue on the “mothership” was a wonderfully joyous phone call to receive. Daniel Henney is such a kind human and a fun acting partner; I was happy to know that we’d get the time to see our TV marriage continue to play out on screen.

PTV: Did you learn anything from that, or your guest roles on other crime dramas like NCIS and NCIS: Los Angeles, that you brought to playing Josie Jones in All the Way to the Top?

KF: Josie Jones is definitely amped up a bit. She is not as grounded of a character as anybody I played on my past crime dramas. I will say that there’s an intensity to her that I definitely channeled for my roles on NCIS and NCIS: LA.

Criminal Minds
Kelly Frye in All The Way to the Top. Photo Credit: Courtesy of Joelene Crnogorac. /

PTV: You’ve been involved with the project for several years, before it was even a web series. Can you talk about how you first got started with All the Way to the Top?

KF: Back in 2016, my acting coach for many years, Lesly Kahn, sent me an email to audition for this one-act [play], to play the character of Josie Jones in All the Way to the Top. And I was like, well, why not? I love being on stage and I caught myself laughing out loud as I read the script.

I love this character. She’s over the top ridiculous, which is not what I typically get to play. So then I find myself thrashing around on the creator’s [Joelene Cgnogorac] living room floor auditioning for Josie, not quite sure if Joelene’s into what I’m doing or not, because, again, this character is ridiculous and I went for it full force. I guess she liked it, because here we are!

PTV: Two years later, you became a producer alongside Joelene and Mika Gonda, the play evolved into a web series, and you were able to produce it after raising $15,000. That’s a real accomplishment. Do you have favorite moments from the set?

KF: The DP [director of photography] Ellie Ann Fenton, she’s an AFI alum and a fellow Texan, she shot my short in Texas and we got along so, so, so well. I brought her on to shoot All the Way to the Top, and I have the best, vivid memory of us shooting that audition portion, where my character then gets on the ground and starts flailing around, and she keeps looking straight into camera and winking at the director/producers.

I remember Ellie Ann trying so hard behind camera to not laugh, and shrug her shoulders laughing. It was the best. When I do comedy and I get to go balls to the wall crazy, that’s my favorite thing in the world—getting the crew to laugh behind camera.

I of course love when my character has her moment. She’s getting her makeup done with her makeup artist, played by my friend Trisha LaFache. Trisha is blowing the menthol blower in my eye, trying to get me to cry; you don’t know exactly what’s happening until the camera pans wide, and you see that she’s sitting there blowing until she’s basically out of breath trying to get me to cry. And I just lay into her. [It’s] something that I, Kelly Frye, would never do in my entire life. Ever.

But [I’m] playing a character that is so bossy, and she’s so focused on her goal that anything that gets in the way, she has to snap away from her. And she’s getting her makeup artist to make sure that she is performing her duties up to snuff.

PTV: Did any of your own experiences from your acting career influence the path you paved for Josie?

KF: I definitely stole from a few people that I know when I was creating Josie Jones. There were a few people that are so fierce, and there’s not an ounce of doubt in them as performers and actors. And I took from them because I felt like Josie would not have even a smidge of doubt. And when doubt does creep in, she barks at it to go away.

PTV: Considering how familiar you are with the crime drama genre, how much fun was it to parody crime dramas in this show, especially with the Josie Jones character being that crazy?

KF: So fun! I love a good parody, so to get to poke a little fun at myself [and] my world in All the Way to the Top was definitely a good time.

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All the Way to the Top is now streaming on YouTube; you can learn more about the series on its website.