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Kayden Muller-Janssen

11th July 2022

Interview: Sophie Todd

Photographer: Tim Schaeffer 

Hair: Matilde Campos 

Makeup: Anton Khachaturian      

Stylist: Honey Ayala 

Playing Hartley in the new Disney Channel & Disney+ TV show, 'The Villains of Valley View'. We got to chat to Kayden about her time on the show, music and all things acting.

As a youngster with talent and a dream, I’m sure many people have doubted the realistic potential of a career in the LA film industry. How have you found following your dreams into reality to date? And what’s been your driving inspiration to follow your passion for the arts?

Oh for sure, growing up many people and kids in my hometown did not believe that I could ever become an established actress and singer but if I’m being honest, I think it just fueled my determination even more to focus on my career and make it happen. I also just love acting and singing, it’s the one job I can see myself doing for the rest of my life.

For someone so young, your music has given you so many opportunities to do some pretty epic things. Where do you start when it comes to creating a music video? Are they kind of recreating real moments or more imaginary scenes?

Most of the songs I’ve written come from a place where I felt a certain way about a situation or person so I try to portray that in my music videos the best that I can. Each music video I make, I want the viewer to feel as if they are there with me, watching the story unfold and see the meaning behind the song. 

From what I can understand, you’ve used songwriting as a way of understanding how you’re feeling and coping with what’s going on in your life. What’s your favorite part of the creative process?

I think my favorite part would have to be finally hearing the final version of a song once it’s mixed and mastered. It’s just very fulfilling when you finally finish something you’re passionate about and worked so hard on for months. 

Acting in Disney for any young performer must be a dream come true. You’ve said before you grew up watching Hannah Montana, so what was it like when you first landed on set and met the cast and crew of The Villains of Valley View?

Not going to lie, it was a little intimidating at first. You know, most of the crew on this show have worked for Disney for years, going all the way back to Lab Rats and Wizards of Waverly Place. So being surrounded by such an established cast and crew was a bit unnerving but everyone was super nice and supportive on set. They made me feel right at home and it has been an amazing experience so far! I’ve learned so much from every single person and I’m very grateful to have this opportunity. 

It’s so great to see strong female characters front and center of the storyline and it’s clear from your interviews together so far that you have a really great relationship with your co-star Isabella Pappas. It’s still a very new show, but does it feel like a family behind the scenes yet?

Everyone in the cast is very close, we all feel like a family for sure! We are always joking around with each other and have so much fun on set. Funny story, when we first started shooting the test pilot Izzy and I both thought that we didn’t like each other. I think we were nervous to connect with each other since it was our first time working together. But once we came back to shoot the season and got more comfortable, we instantly became best friends!

Although the name of the show would suggest a bit of evil and mischief, your character Hartley seems to be the bright spot. What is it like to play the good surrounded by all of the bad?

It’s really fun to play such a nice character like Hartley, she’s quirky and kindhearted but has this crazy side that I think balances the villainous Maddens. Amy and Hartley show each other a perspective of how life is like on both the good and the evil side throughout the season. I think it really tests Hartley’s outlook and philosophy on life so it has been really interesting and amusing to portray.  

The Villains of Valley View will be your breakout acting credit. What’s the most exciting thing you’ve done with the show so far? Is backstage how you imagined? Most important, do you have a director’s chair with your name like every movie star should?

There were so many exciting moments throughout the show but I would have to say any scene where I got to do stunts or play with some awesome villain weapons was definitely my favorite.

Clearly music has been your passion so far, but now that the acting world has opened its doors, what would be your dream role for the future? Could we maybe see you on Broadway one day?

My dream role would either have to be a Marvel Superhero or Villain, or Princess Tiana, if they ever do a live action version of The Princess and the Frog! Anything that has to do with the arts, I’m so open to trying so who knows, maybe someday I’ll do a bit of broadway.

Your parents are both incredibly established names in the equestrian world, which I’ve seen has crept into a few of your music videos. You’re clearly an extremely talented and driven family. Do you think having the right people around you has helped you become the star you are? Does it put extra pressure on you to reach the highest level of success?

I think in order to be truly happy, successful and driven in life, you have to be surrounded by the right people with a good mindset. My parents, family and friends have for sure helped me stay focused on my career. My parents are two very motivated, independent people so I think they have really influenced me to push myself to the best of my capabilities to become successful in any career path that I choose.

If you could tell the young Kayden that started out by using music to cope with the tough times one tip for her future what would it be?

My advice to my younger self would be to be grateful for the life and the opportunities you were given and to not care what anyone ever has to say about you. You know who you are, you have a kind heart, a gracious soul, don’t ever let anyone ever tell you differently!! 

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