From Orange County to Stardom: Kayden Tokarski’s Award-Winning Acting Odyssey
Kayden Tokarski, an acclaimed 14-year-old actor from Orange County, California, has garnered 23 awards in the past four years for her exceptional acting prowess.
HI, WELCOME TO ABOUT INSIDER! THANKS FOR TAKING THE TIME TO CHAT WITH US! CAN YOU TELL US A LITTLE BIT ABOUT YOURSELF, WHO IS KAYDEN TOKARSKI IN YOUR OWN WORDS?
Great question! I am a happy, grateful and humble teenager who is living her dream. I consider myself someone who believes it’s important to give back and help those who are less fortunate than you are. I love my family – little brother, mom, dad, two dogs and a cat.
CAN YOU SHARE WITH US YOUR JOURNEY INTO ACTING AND WHAT INITIALLY SPARKED YOUR INTEREST IN PURSUING A CAREER IN THE ENTERTAINMENT INDUSTRY?
I’ve wanted to be an actor since I was 4 years old and watched Disney sitcoms like “Good Luck Charlie.” I would point at the TV and tell my parents that is what I wanted to do. They thought I was way too young, but I kept asking every year. It wasn’t until they saw me playing the lead in a 4th grade play that they knew I was serious.
“GASLIT” HAS BEEN A SIGNIFICANT PROJECT IN YOUR CAREER, PARTICULARLY YOUR PORTRAYAL OF MARTHA MITCHELL. WHAT CHALLENGES DID YOU FACE IN BRINGING SUCH A COMPLEX CHARACTER TO LIFE?
First of all, playing a young Julia Roberts was an absolute dream come true! “Gaslit” is a Starz limited series also starring Sean Penn, Betty Gilpin, Shea Whigham, Dan Stevens, Darby Camp and other incredible actors that is a modern take on the Watergate scandal. It was a quick turnaround from auditioning and booking the role that I didn’t have much time to prepare before being on set. However, I was already a big fan of Julia Roberts and her films and also researched the scandal and era. What really helped, though, was the on-the-spot coaching for doing a Southern dialect from Jesse Bush, who played my dad.
YOUR FILMOGRAPHY BOASTS A DIVERSE RANGE OF PROJECTS. HOW DO YOU APPROACH EACH ROLE DIFFERENTLY, AND DO YOU HAVE A PARTICULAR GENRE OR TYPE OF CHARACTER THAT YOU ENJOY PORTRAYING THE MOST?
With every character, I have an extensive breakdown process that helps me understand each character’s mindset, backstory, objectives, emotions and goals. I do journaling for each character about her life and think that helps with my performances. I love all genres but really enjoy edgy characters and those with a lot of struggles.
COMMUNITY SERVICE APPEARS TO BE A VITAL PART OF YOUR LIFE OUTSIDE OF ACTING. COULD YOU TELL US MORE ABOUT YOUR INVOLVEMENT WITH ORGANIZATIONS LIKE THE JOYFUL CHILD FOUNDATION AND HOW IT IMPACTS YOUR PERSONAL AND PROFESSIONAL LIFE?
I was fortunate to be part of The Joyful Child Foundation’s “Be Brave” pilot video designed to help kids safe from predators. This amazing organization was started by Erin Runnion in memory of her daughter Samantha Runnion. It felt really good to be part of a production that teaches kids how to stay safe as well as self-defense moves. I was also honored to be a keynote speaker for the Walk Against Drugs event in Orange County, California. My speech was meant to empower youth and teens like me to stay drug, tobacco, vape and alcohol free. It was cool because my 7th grade English teacher used my speech as a lesson in class.
“ROSWELL DELIRIUM” IS A DEPARTURE FROM YOUR PREVIOUS WORK, WITH ITS SCI-FI ELEMENTS AND INTRIGUING STORYLINE. WHAT DREW YOU TO THIS PROJECT, AND WHAT CAN AUDIENCES EXPECT FROM YOUR CHARACTER, BECKY?
This is a great film set in the 1980s starring iconic actors like Anthony Michael Hall, Dee Wallace, Reginald VelJohnson and Sam Jones. I loved the whole premise of it (which the public will see soon) and my mean-girl character Becky. She is so different than I am and that is what really drew me to her harsh character.
BALANCING A CAREER IN ACTING WITH OTHER TALENTS LIKE SINGING AND COMPETITIVE DIVING MUST BE DEMANDING. HOW DO YOU MANAGE YOUR TIME AND ENERGY EFFECTIVELY TO EXCEL IN ALL AREAS?
I definitely do not excel in all areas. That would be a dream come true! It’s really hard to balance acting with diving and singing. They all require a ton of practice, commitment and perseverance. I just take things day by day.
WINNING NUMEROUS AWARDS AND NOMINATIONS IN SUCH A SHORT SPAN OF TIME IS IMPRESSIVE. HOW DO YOU HANDLE BOTH SUCCESS AND THE PRESSURE THAT COMES WITH IT, AND WHAT MOTIVATES YOU TO CONTINUE PUSHING BOUNDARIES IN YOUR CAREER?
I still pinch myself when I think about these awards and how much they mean to me. To think complete strangers watched and appreciated my work is so humbling. It gives me the drive to keep moving forward and to take risks with my work. There are no rewards without risks.
WHAT’S SOMETHING WE SHOULD KNOW ABOUT YOU THAT MIGHT SURPRISE US?
That I am terrified by but still love doing a back “roly poly” (backward role) off the 5-meter diving board, which is 16 feet high.
ANY UPCOMING PROJECTS/ROLES YOU CAN TALK ABOUT?
Yes, I am flying to Oklahoma in a few days to start work on an amazing feature film called “Calculated Obsession” and I could not be more grateful for this opportunity and can’t wait to share more.
WHAT IS ONE MESSAGE THAT YOU WOULD LIKE TO GIVE TO YOUR FANS?
If I have any fans, I am super grateful for that and just hope that one day people will be inspired by my work but more so for the person I am, which is always grateful.