“Color Me You,” the indie film with China Spring’s Kaley Caperton Melcer as its lead, arrives in Waco this week with a five-day run that starts Sunday at the Waco Hippodrome. Color her happy.

Happy as in seeing the movie she shot back in 2016 make its way to theatrical release, with online availability soon to come. Happy as in taking a major step in the acting dimension of a career that already includes songwriting and performing.

The movie stars Caperton, 25, as Kat Abernathy, a young woman dutifully following the family tradition into law, but whose career goals change when an art class taken as a hobby taps into a hidden talent and a creative passion.

Finding her true self leads to conflict with her mom Vanessa (Katie Walker), a strained relationship between her parents (Matt Socia as her sympathetic father) and a budding romance with Eric (Morgan Roberts).

“It’s a story of living your dreams whatever the cost,” Caperton explained, adding, “It’s the perfect date night movie, the perfect Baylor girl movie.”

The movie evolved from an idea by fellow songwriter Billy Austin, who, like Caperton, writes for Nashville publishing house Platinum Pen Publishing. Austin collaborated with Caperton on the music video for “River Runs South,” screened in 2015 when Caperton performed at the Waco Hippodrome, and the two wrote the song “Color Me You” before the film was created.

Writers Gary Allen and Brandon Mason expanded Austin’s idea into a script, Dallas native Marco Bottiglieri signed on as director and Caperton got the call for the lead role. If music is a first love for Caperton, acting is a close No. 2 and her credits stretch from roles with the Waco Civic Theatre as a kid to film parts with Waco’s Red C Television in the movies “Cowboy and Lucky” and “Wounded.”

“Color Me You” was shot in Dallas and Southern California, with a few scenes from Waco. Caperton said it was rewarding to work with actors such as Katie Walker, Buck Taylor, Glenn Morshower, Donny Boaz, Matt Socia and Christina Burdette. Having the support of a production crew didn’t hurt, either. “My favorite thing? Not having to do my hair or makeup for two weeks, and having someone feeding us,” she said.

Caperton also had a hand in the movie’s soundtrack, co-writing the songs “Welcome To My Life,” “It’s Christmas Time And I Love You” and “A Lot Like Me” as well as background music. Caperton has written songs for specific occasions or organizations, such as her “Red, White and Beautiful” for the National Guard Youth Foundation, but writing something to fit specific running times and the moods of a scene proved a new challenge.

Still, the combination of acting and writing music came close to her ideal job, she said.

A long time in post-production led to more than a year passing between the film shooting and its release. It proved quite a year for Caperton: She married Cody Melcer, a personal trainer, and the two had a daughter, Fallyn, about six months ago, joining Caperton’s six-year-old son Ryder.

Her family grounds her, but also tips the scales to her preference of acting and songwriting to the time-consuming life of a performing musician.

“Color Me You,” she hopes, leads to more acting and the small indie film already has played to three sellout audiences in Dallas with other screenings in Los Angeles and this week in Waco.

Caperton plans to attend the evening Hippodrome performances except for Tuesday night, when Ryder plays baseball.

“It’s a project I’m really proud of,” she said.

Tribune-Herald entertainment editor