A Closer Look At Yellowstone's Kelsey Asbille

Even though she's been working as an actor for a few decades, in the last few years, Kelsey Asbille has gone stratospheric. As Monica in the hit Taylor Sheridan show "Yellowstone," Asbille plays the Native American wife of Kayce Dutton. While you may know Asbille best as Monica, chances are, you've come across her work elsewhere, too.

Asbille started with a small part in "One Tree Hill" as Gigi, the co-commentator of the basketball games and, later, Mouth's girlfriend. She then landed a guest role on an episode of "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody," a role in the movie "Den Brother," and even a small cameo in "The Amazing Spider-Man."  Her next significant role came in 2015 when she landed the role of Tracy on "Teen Wolf." She has also appeared in "Fargo" as Swanee Capps since taking on a starring part in "Yellowstone." It's pretty clear that this actor's career will only keep improving from here.

Want to find out a little more about Asbille? We've got you covered.

Kelsey Asbille is part Chinese part Cherokee

As "Yellowstone" fans may have guessed, Kelsey Asbille, like her character, has Native American heritage. What you may not have realized is that she is also half-Chinese on her father's side. For Asbille, playing a native character in "Yellowstone" was a chance to connect with that part of her heritage. "As a person of mixed race, as you get older, it matters more to you who you are and where you come from," said Asbille to W Magazine. "So to be able to get in touch with that side of my heritage has been amazing. I'd like to do that with all aspects of my heritage in the future."

However, some people have taken issue with Asbille's casting. Saulteaux First Nations actor Adam Beach even accused her of "redwashing." However, Asbille explained to The Last Magazine, "In terms of identity, mixed race identity, and talking about identity that falls outside traditions, it's a confusing process, and at least I'm in good company." Apparently, she's even learning Mandarin and Cherokee online to further connect with her heritage on a deeper level. 

Kelsey Asbille first got into acting in school

While Kelsey Asbille's first professional role came in her teenage years, she had plenty of experience acting when she was younger. As she told Smashing Interviews, her first performing experience was as a dancer. "I started dancing when I was really young, then I moved on to school productions," she recalled. "I think what really sealed the deal was my first community theater play, 'Ragtime.'" As Asbille explained, the show gave her a real taste of life in the acting industry. "I was a little 7th grader at that point and I had so much fun," she said. "But it was a long show. I'd leave school to do the show and it would end around midnight. Then I would stay up until 2:00 doing my homework, but I didn't regret it at all. It was amazing."

In another interview with The Last Magazine, more than anything, the "contagious" passion of the amateur cast inspired her to pursue acting as a profession. 

Kelsey Absille got her first role in One Tree Hill in high school

After falling in love with acting as a child, Kelsey Asbille began to pursue her dream of acting professionally. When she got an audition for the teen show "One Tree Hill," she jumped at the opportunity, borrowing a friend's cheerleading outfit for the occasion. As she wrote for Town & Country, she managed to film the show while still attending her hometown high school. How did she manage it? Apparently, she convinced her mother to drive her from her home in South Carolina to the filming location in North Carolina every other week. "My mom has always been a yes person," she told Cosmopolitan. "She'd say, 'You know, you can open these doors for yourself.' So whatever opportunity came up, I'd be like, 'Yeah, I'll make it work.'"

Luckily, it turned out to be worth it. "Working with the cast, the crew, producers, and the creator, Mark Schwahn was such an unbelievable experience," the actor said in an interview with Writer Rebelle in 2011. "I loved being able to take chances and expand on her character when Gigi returned to the series."

Kelsey Asbille has been attending university throughout her career

Even though Kelsey Asbille already had a credit for "One Tree Hill" under her belt and a passion for acting, the actor didn't jump headfirst into an acting career upon graduating high school. Instead, she enrolled at Columbia University to study human rights. "I'm focusing on indigenous peoples' rights," she told WWD. "I'm incredibly driven and want to be able to help in any way." 

But she soon hit a snag. "While my university is in Manhattan, early in my freshman year, I landed a television show that would film in Los Angeles," she wrote for Town & Country. The university agreed for Asbille to extend her education and take breaks while she was filming.

As of 2022, Asbille is still working on her degree. As she told Marie Claire in 2018, "I'm the old kid in class in a room full of 18-year-olds."

Kelsey Asbille has an unexpected signature dish

One thing that Kelsey Asbille is not particularly proud of is her skill in the kitchen. In fact, in numerous interviews, she's proclaimed herself to be a terrible cook (via Esquire, Cosmopolitan, and The Last Magazine). However, there is one dish that Asbille is pretty confident about making perfectly every single time — she likes to call it Church Lady Rice. The casserole dish consists of mushrooms, canned soup, rice, and butter. The key to Absille's Church Lady Rice is the brand of soup. For her, it has to be Campbell's — Asbille likes to use their beef consomme and French onion soup. "I tried the Wolfgang Puck French onion soup," she told Esquire. "That s*** was nasty."

As the actor explained on "The Kelly Clarkson Show," the meal is her grandmother's recipe (via YouTube). "The best meal in town was always Sunday after church ... my grandma would do, like a buffet after church," she said, exclaiming, "It's so good!" 

Here's how Kelsey Asbille spends her free time

So, how does one of the biggest stars of "Yellowstone" spend her likely limited free time? While you may imagine she would attend plenty of glamorous parties and events, Kelsey Asbille likes to keep things more low-key.

One of her favorite activities is catching old movies at the cinema. "The last one I saw was 'Ball of Fire' with Barbara Stanwyck and Gary Cooper," she told Marie Claire. "You can learn so much in Stanwyck's performance, and sitting in a theater takes you away from the world's stresses. Plus, there's popcorn and Raisinets." Apparently, Asbille also likes to relax at home. "I love binge-watching TV," she confessed. "Recently, I've binge-watched 'Stranger Things' on Netflix." She also loves to indulge in takeout. "Chinese food is my go-to," she said. 

Sounds like Asbille's time off work is pretty dreamy if you ask us!

Yellowstone transformed Kelsey Asbille's career

Kelsey Asbille has had several significant roles throughout her career, but none have had as significant an impact as Monica on "Yellowstone." For her, getting the role felt transformative both in terms of her confidence and her career trajectory. "I feel really lucky, you know, because [show creator] Taylor [Sheridan] is just such a fierce advocate," she told MovieWeb. "Sometimes I feel like people believe in me more than I do, and I think that that vote of confidence has really changed my career, and it's changed my life... I think it's really been a real blessing in my life."

As Asbille told W Magazine, Sheridan's vote of confidence first came when he cast her in his film "Wind River," which she still believes to be her best performance. "It was all Taylor Sheridan," she gushed. "I owe him everything. Well, him and my mom." It sounds like working with Sheridan on "Yellowstone" really has been life-changing for Asbille.

Kelsey Asbille loved working with Kevin Costner

"Yellowstone" wasn't just an opportunity for Kelsey Asbille to star in a global phenomenon — it was also a chance for her to work with some incredible actors, including Kevin Costner. Costner played John Dutton, her character's father-in-law. Starring alongside the seasoned actor was a dream come true for Asbille. "Working with people like Kevin Costner and Kelly Reilly, who I look up to so much, is like taking a master class," she told W Magazine.

From the very beginning, Asbille was a little "starstruck." "It really was such a treat," she told Taste of Country. "To all be there, and be at the table with Kevin ... I think there's a part of this job that will always feel very surreal." But even though acting alongside Costner might have been intimidating for Asbille, she explained that he always made her feel comfortable and supported rather than nervous. "He's such a team player, so when you're working with him, you feel immediately very comfortable," she gushed.

Kelsey Asbille had to learn how to ride a horse for Yellowstone

In "Yellowstone," Kelsey Asbille plays the wife of a rancher from Montana — naturally, her character spends a fair amount of time on horseback. However, as it turns out, Asbille wasn't too familiar with riding before getting the part. In fact, as she explained on "The Kelly Clarkson Show," she had put horseback riding on her CV even though she didn't know how to ride (via YouTube).

"It's movie magic, thank god for our editor. And I have an amazing stunt double," she said. "We have the best horse wrangles and trainers around ... I'm terrible at riding a horse but it's a nice thing to go do on your day off." Even though Asbille isn't the best rider, she has had to learn how to perform on horseback. "It's really wild because you do, you have to hit your mark with the horse," she said. So, how did she learn how to ride so fast? Well, apparently, she asked her teacher to teach her how she teaches children — which meant she started by riding with her instructor sitting on the same horse! Well, clearly, whatever she's done has worked.

Kelsey Asbille has collaborated with Louis Vuitton and Oliver Peoples

Kelsey Asbille hasn't only found success in the acting world but has also broken into the fashion world. In 2019 and 2020, she collaborated with Louis Vuitton, and in 2020, she took part in Oliver Peoples' Spring campaign. "That part of the job was really unexpected but incredibly rewarding," she told L'Officiel Monte Carlo. "Louis Vuitton invited me to be a part of their campaigns after 'Wind River.' It's been very surreal and deeply meaningful to have people like that believe in you and your work, and then empower you with this beautiful armor so you can step out into the world and present the best version of yourself."

Her Louis Vuitton collaboration began when she appeared in the Pre-Fall Lookbook of 2019 alongside the likes of Michelle Williams, Thandie Newton, and Jennifer Connelly. She then appeared on the runway at Paris Fashion Week in 2020. For Oliver Peoples, the actor appeared in a short film alongside Hero Fiennes-Tiffin and a series of still photographs (via Instagram). 

Based on her success in the fashion industry so far, we think it probably won't be too long before we see Asbille's next fashion campaign.

Kelsey Asbille lives in Brooklyn

Even though Kelsey Asbille is a southerner at heart — she was born and raised in South Carolina — these days, she's a New Yorker. As the actor told Esquire, she now lives in an apartment in Brooklyn, partly to be close to Columbia University, where she's still studying. One thing she loves about living in Brooklyn is that it provides a welcome contrast from Montana, where she films "Yellowstone." "I didn't realize how nice of a balance it is to have Brooklyn and Montana be my home," she said. "I can't wait to go back. Every now and again, you got to get out of the city and go be in nature." 

While Asbille does love Montana, she's very happy to call New York home. "I'm grateful to have the balance of both, but I'm very loyal to NYC," she told L'Officiel Monte Carlo. "Even in these times when the city doesn't quite look or seem like itself, it's still the greatest city in the world. I'm proud of the way the community has stepped up to take care of each other."  

The COVID pandemic put her Fargo role on hold

In 2020, Kelsey Asbille took on the role of Swanee Capps, a Native American outlaw, in Season 4 of "Fargo." For Asbille, this was another dream role, largely thanks to the cast. "This cast was one for the books," she told L'Officiel Monte Carlo. "I was just trying to earn my keep! There really was a sweeping sense of gratitude and enthusiasm to be there telling this story."

But even though Asbille was thrilled to be in "Fargo," the experience wasn't entirely easy. When COVID-19 hit, the entire production had to be put on hold. "Creator Noah Hawley sat us down on-set and said, 'The people come first and are the most important, and the show comes second, so we'll postpone it,'" she told Cosmopolitan. "It was hard because it's such a close community, and we're all so committed to this job and so excited for everyone to see it. We're keeping in touch constantly right now, checking in on each other." 

Eventually, production got underway again at the end of 2020 by reducing the crew and implementing a number of COVID protocols. "This involves putting certainly the actors, and everyone who comes in contact with them, inside a rigorously-controlled bubble as we possibly can," said Chairman FX Networks and FX Productions John Landgraf to Deadline. "There's also extensive use of social distancing and medical consultation." Asbille finally finished her work on "Fargo" after several months of delay.

Kelsey Asbille has big hopes for Season 5 of Yellowstone

As of 2022, "Yellowstone" Season 5 is shrouded in mystery. Various fan theories predict Kelsey Asbille's character, Monica, will separate from her husband, and some fans think she may die (via Express). In the Season 4 finale, Kayce told Monica, "I saw the end of us." Asbille didn't initially know what to make of it. "At first, you fear the worst, and it just breaks your heart. That's why I think we really had to know," she told TV Insider. So, she asked the show's creator, Taylor Sheridan, what the line meant and what would happen in season five. "We went straight up to [creator] Taylor [Sheridan] and were like, 'You gotta tell us. We just gotta know our future,'" she recalled. "So we do have a pretty good idea, which I'm not allowed to say."

Talking with Showbiz CheatSheet, Asbille revealed a few more details about her character's future — including pregnancy. "Okay, this is the part that I've really got to be careful because I started reading the script, so I can't say anything other than I'm looking forward to having my little baby bump," Asbille said. As for her relationship with Kayce, season five will likely bring a change. "It's kind of like a breath of fresh air," she said. "We get a new take on their lives. So yeah, I think that that kind of possibility is always very exciting."