I did find being the lead of the show I had much less downtime than everyone else. I almost wish I’d had the chance to do more, take more goofy selfies and hang out with everyone. – Kendra Leigh Timmins.
Being a co-star and/or lead in a series is an actor’s dream. You need to put your fear aside and just go for it because there are thousands of other actors out there who aren’t afraid to go the distance to achieve their goals.
Kendra Leigh Timmins did just that. She was at a point in her career where she was ready to get to the next level.
What is expected from a lead actor? Do they miss out on anything that the rest of the cast gets to do during downtime? How is press handled?
Kendra Leigh Timmins gives us the breakdown of her experience playing lead character Kit Bridges in the Nickelodeon series Ride.
How short or long did it take from your last audition until you received the message you won the role? Who told you? Where were you when you got the call?
I think it took about a week from the last audition to the call. My manager phoned me and I was home alone, but did immediately hang up the phone, do a happy dance and call my sister.
Working outdoors and with horses sounds lovely, but it can be a ‘stinky’ situation. Do you have a trailer with a shower on set?
We were actually pretty spoiled on our set. We had trailers that were equipped with showers, but we didn’t really need them. The crew and horse wranglers were always looking after things behind the scenes. So aside from some funny bloopers, we had very little contact with any mess so I was often able to clean up at home. It’s more comfortable and just part of my calming down ritual after a day on set.
Have you experienced any stress related to acting? What do you do to de-stress?
I think most actors experience a minor amount of stress when it comes to the job, but I’ve found that overall you just have to remember that we do this because we love it. Although it’s easier said than done, I try to find the fun and the challenge and what excites me about the process. So if you are stressed about an audition, try to figure out what excites you rather than stresses you. Whether it’s meeting a new casting agent, trying something really new, or being excited about picking out what clothes make you feel most confident. Little things like that help me a lot, because the day I stop loving it and let the stress get to me, it’s time to give it up and I can’t imagine that happening.
How do you receive and how do you prefer your scripts? Are there ever any last minute script changes in Ride?
We received our scripts for Ride by email, and usually I like learning my lines from a hard copy because the process of highlighting actually helps me memorize. We had script changes to keep up with sometimes so I tried to get better using something electronic like my iPad. Not only is it more environmentally friendly, I also know my scripts are up to date and correct without having to physically change the pages. I found a great app called “Tiny PDF” that allows me to highlight and keep notes, which is incredibly helpful.
Social media today helps keep actors in the public eye and connected with fans. What bad experiences have you had with social media and how did you handle it?
I’m fairly new to the social media world, and I’ve been really lucky that a lot of my followers and fans are so incredibly supportive. I’ve had the odd negative comment here and there, so I’m trying to ignore them even though it can be really, really hard. At the end of the day, being able to connect so instantly with the fans who love the show is well worth dealing with a few haters.
What are your thoughts on the stigma that some actors don’t want to reveal their true ages because of age discrimination?
I think for me, the more I can be a blank slate as an actor, the better. I don’t think my age should determine what roles I can and can not play. I have had that struggle in the past because I’ve always looked even younger than I am. I’ve learned to deal with it by joking, saying what my age range is, or politely saying my agent would rather me not tell anyone. Because even though I’m still young, I’d like to make it known now that it’s something I’m not willing to share, and I just have to hope that people can understand that. I’d like to think it should be about how old you can play, not how old you are.
How come you decided to use “Leigh” in your stage name as opposed to just Kendra Timmins?
It was actually a decision that my manager and I made together. I wanted to make the transition from doing commercials and smaller guest roles, into auditioning for leads in film and television. I wanted to have a clean slate without changing things entirely. I also didn’t find out until I was old enough to watch “Psycho” that my mother loved Janet Leigh. So it seemed fitting that if I was partially named after an actor that it should be included in my name. (It’s also a handy trick that helps keep my personal life and acting life apart. If I get an email or phone message left for Kendra Leigh, I know it’s probably work related.)
Are there table reads for Ride? What goes on during the table reads?
We had table reads early on in the process, during the first week of prep for production. I’d been to a few in the past with other projects. Table reads are great. All the actors sit around a table, often with producers and writers and, in our case, a video camera. You get to hear the script out loud for the first time. I love them because you get an idea of how other actors are going to deliver their lines. You might find things you don’t understand and can clear them up. We were also soooo lucky to have creators and writers who wanted to collaborate with us. So we got time after the read to sit down and ask questions and have discussions about using different words here and there, especially when it came to the UK slang used in the show.
You’ve been in the business for a long time. How did you attend school?
I feel like I’m saying this a lot, but I was lucky because most of my acting work happened over the summertime or weekends. I rarely missed school and when I did, I was prepared. My parents made it very clear to me that school came first. So if I was going to be missing a few days here and there, I’d have to make sure I could keep up my grades, and if I couldn’t there would be no more auditions. It’s safe to say I had straight A’s throughout school. I was also part of a lot of performing arts programs in school so they were always incredibly understanding if I had to miss a few days because they knew that’s how the business works.
Do you watch the shows you’re in?
I NEVER used to watch the shows I’m in because I couldn’t be positive about the experience. I always saw the flaws and the mistakes and was so critical that it caused me stress knowing other people were seeing me mess up. But the longer I was acting, the more I had to watch my own work. Either because it’s a self-tape and you have to choose your own takes and edit them, or if it was to review episodes for press. I got more used to it. It’s helped me become less self-conscious as an actor and appreciate the things I am happy with. So now I can handle it, but it’s still not something I enjoy doing. I try to focus on watching everyone else perform, because that’s the stuff you miss on set, and I’m always so proud and in such awe of how talented my co-stars are.
What do you like to do on your downtime while on set?
I always come prepared with on-set activities. I love coloring books. I also had a book and my iPod, but my favorite on-set activity was playing movie trivia with the cast and crew. I love and appreciate being on set so much that I try to soak it all in. Spend as much time as I can with my “set family” because it always seems to be over before you know it, and you can learn so much from passionate people. There wasn’t anyone on our set who wasn’t excited to tell you about what they were doing, or how their weekend was. It was amazing. That being said, I did find being the lead of the show I had much less downtime than everyone else. I almost wish I’d had the chance to do more, take more goofy selfies and hang out with everyone. Especially seeing all the behind the scenes footage come out and realizing I’m in so little of it because it could often only be done when you weren’t filming. But that’s a small price to pay for the opportunity I was given, and of course I got in a few naps!
You recently had a Ride press trip to New York City. What exactly do you DO on a press tour? Tell us everything!
It was my first experience doing a Press Tour. We did a couple of press days in Canada for the launch on YTV, and the UK cast did some press over there as well when it launched on Nick UK. My press tour to New York was coordinated by the talent manager and the publicity team at Nick US. The production company’s very talented and experienced publicist Sue organizes everything, keeps me informed about scheduling and is with me throughout the day. She also helps me know when to be awake and ready. I was incredibly well looked after by Nickelodeon who took care of the trip and its details (including hair & make-up) so all I had to worry about was the work.
Our press tour involved two days and was organized by Nick US publicist Brandi. One was our interview day with a ton of interviews lined up with all kinds of media outlets, including kid reporters which had to be one of the highlights of the trip. In the morning we were in-house at the Viacom offices and interviewers came to us and in the afternoon we drove around NYC to do interviews in person. The second day involved filming promos and content for Nickelodeon, which are the things you might see on social media or YouTube where I’m recapping the show or talking about what’s coming up next. We had our evenings free to see some Broadway shows, and I was lucky enough to get to go backstage at “Wicked.” My inner-musical theater nerd was freaking out. As you can see, it takes a village!
Are series contracts for leads still for seven years? Do you put any riders in your contracts?
I think things work a little differently in Canada then they do in the States, so I’m not entirely sure I’m informed enough to answer. My contracts are something that my manager and I go through together to work out all the details and they are all different. And as far as riders go, it’s the same. It varies based on the project, the budget, how passionate I am about taking on a role… so many different things. I do however always ask to keep a piece of wardrobe. It isn’t a deal breaker by any means. For some reason that’s always been a perk for me ever since my first commercial and they let me keep my socks!
Do you have any personal causes that are close to your heart?
I have a quite a few causes that are important to me because they are important and affect my family, friends and fellow actors. I support SickKids (Toronto hospital that specializes in research, and caring for children with rare diseases), WWF, UNICEF, CANFAR (Canadian Aids Research), and cancer research of any kind. I like to stay informed and do my research when it comes to supporting causes so that I know help is going to the right places. Overall I think it’s so important to give back, so I’m always open to learning about more ways I can help, even if it’s as simple as giving my time.
At what point will you find out if Ride is renewed for another season?
Ride is in a unique position because the production is shared by companies in Canada, the UK and the US. It aired at different times in all three places in addition to a ton of other countries. So it understandably takes time and communication to figure all that stuff out. That’s when I remember how grateful I am to be an actor and not have to deal with that side of things. I’m personally hoping that it’s very soon. Fingers crossed!
Being from Canada, how do you think today’s American administration will affect actors in the future?
To be honest, I don’t think it’s something I know enough about, but I’d like to. Being from Canada, my experience has mainly been with Canadian productions that face their own unique challenges. It’s my personal belief that film is incredibly important. Not only for actors as individuals, but also our countries. It allows us to express ourselves and tell stories that are unique to our experiences and surroundings.
Your first break was in the popular Canadian television series Wingin’ It. How have you grown as an actor since then?
I hope, and think, that I’ve grown a lot. Wingin’ It was my first experience playing a recurring character and being on a television set. I was so inexperienced and had been doing a lot more theater productions, so I had to learn what was involved making that transition. I also had to learn the technical aspect of being on set and working with actors who were so intimidatingly talented. They knew how to be at ease and professional, comfortable with ad-libbing and comedy, and I felt so out of my element. Someone would tell me to let loose and have more fun and I would just smile more and try to hide my ball of nerves deep under the surface. If I could go back to that set knowing what I do now, I think I would have a lot more to contribute to the process instead of just hanging on. I’m still grateful for the patience and the opportunities given to me on that set, and I think they drove me to get out of my comfort zone, grow and become a better actor. I also hope that means I’ll feel the same way looking back on Ride someday, and always be learning.
What type of music do you listen to?
I’m not picky. If I can sing along to it, I’ll listen to it. I do have some favorites. I have a love for Musical Theater. Also a combination of country, pop, and acoustic singer/songwriter styles. My favorite artists are Taylor Swift, Ed Sheeran, Alessia Cara, Boyce Avenue, Lady Antebellum, Pink and Bruno Mars.
What advice do you have for young performers just starting out in show business?
The best advice I can give is work hard. Performing comes to everyone so differently, there is no guaranteed way to be successful. So love what you do and work hard at it. Try not to compare yourself to other people and stay positive. Know that it’s going to be hard sometimes, but if you love it and are willing to make it a priority, you’ll find what you need.
Anything else you’d like to say?
Thank you for this fantastic interview. For anyone who is reading this, who made it this far, I hope it was interesting! Thank you to anyone who watched the show, gave it a shot if it didn’t really look like their thing, and everyone who loves the show and continues to post about it and watch it even for the third or fourth time. We wouldn’t have a show if no one watched it, so thank you. It means the world to me, the cast and our entire production team!