Actress, singer and songwriter Kylie Cantrall currently stars in season 4 of Disney’s hit series ‘High School Musical: The Musical: The Series‘. She became an online sensation with her YouTube series ‘Hello Kylie‘, where she interviewed musicians. This August, Kylie released her newest single ‘Texts Go Green’, which spawned from her viral ’10-Minute Songs’ series on TikTok. Next up, she will be releasing her debut album in early 2024 and will star in Disney’s ‘Descendants: Rise of Red’, alongside Rita Ora and Brandy.
Kylie, people got to know you from your YouTube series ‘Hello Kylie’. How was the idea for this series born?
A bunch of my school friends were posting videos of themselves singing and dancing, so I begged my dad and luckily for me he said “If we do this, I expect you to help me create a series with a script, skits, singing, dancing and weekly topics to talk about.” And that’s how it started. Looking back, this was my first step into entertainment and what an amazing learning experience it was for an 8-year old to post a weekly series.
How did your career as an actress and singer actually begin?
I started as a dancer. My mom found a dance studio that accepted 2-year old children, so the day after my second birthday I was in a tutu, on a ballet bar and twirling across the floor.
On the singing side, I remember going to the studio with my dad, who’s a music producer, and watching him record artists like Ariana Grande and Zendaya. I mean, that makes a huge impression on a 5-year old. I would never leave a session without jumping in the vocal booth and singing whatever song I had stuck in my head. I was that little kid sitting on the couch, next to the mixing board, saying “Papa, is it my turn to record yet”?
What do you look for in acting projects?
I remember my dream was to be on Disney, so I didn’t care if I was playing Olivia Rodrigo’s little cousin on ‘Bizardvark’ or a 12-year old doctor on ‘Ravens Home’. I was just thrilled to be on set and couldn’t wait to hear the director yell “action”. Now, I’m trying to find characters that I think are interesting and feel like something I haven’t played yet. I guess part of my growing process is doing something unexpected and feeling like I’m not 100 % in my comfort zone.
In acting, what helps you find and craft your characters?
I’m really into the research of each character. For my most recent, I went back and watched a bunch of iconic teenage mean girls, like Regina George from ‘Mean Girls’ and Maddy Perez from ‘Euphoria’.I think I took flavorings from each of those girls and mixed them with my own little twist. Plus, it’s important to live with a character, so I lock myself in a room and say the lines over and over until they feel like they are thoughts in my own head.
Have you enjoyed acting projects that also blend musical elements? What is the most exciting about blending the two?
I booked my first job at 11, so it was seven years of just acting before I had the chance to combine singing and dancing. Was I excited? Oh my god, I couldn’t wait to break out in a spontaneous student full choreography cafeteria dance number.
As we mentioned, you are also a singer. This August you released your latest single ‘Texts Go Green’, which spawned from your viral ’10-Minute Songs’ series on TikTok. Tell us more about this challenge and how the song was created.
A year ago, I started a TikTok series called ’10-Minute Songs’. The one twist was that I would ask my fans for 3 random words and then I’d have 10 minutes to work those words into a song. Looking back, I don’t think I ever really finished a full song, but I got a verse and hook written to the words Block, Green and Bed Frame, that became the core idea for my single ‘Texts Go Green’. It’s cool that my fans got to come along with me in the whole process. I posted TikToks of myself playing the song for my record label, writing the second verse, meeting with various producers, hearing the final mix and even shooting my single cover. I wanted everyone to see it’s such a team effort and even though I’m the artist getting the credit for the song, so many people have helped me get to this moment.
Early next year, you’ll release your debut album. What can we expect from this album?
I want people to feel happy, so you would play my music when you come home from a tiring day at work or school, or you want to feel like a baddie while you’re putting makeup on or jumping in the car with all of your besties. I think we are on the tail end of sad girl music and I know I feel my best when I’m listening to music that makes me feel confident and empowered, so that’s why I want to tell my QT’s it’s time to dry those tears, get up and make your way to the dancefloor. I know, I’m over-simplifying this, but I’ve always felt like the right music can bring out the best version of you.
What does fulfill you the most as an artist?
I don’t think anything compares to performing live. There is this magical moment that happens when you have a crowd of people, all singing the same words and moving to the same rhythm, sharing this tribal musical experience. When it’s at its best, it feels like our souls are holding hands and for a brief moment in time we’re all connected.
How do you love spending your free time and making sure you take time for yourself?
I’m just a regular teenager, so I cherish my time with my friends. Whether we’re going out or just bumming on the couch watching rom-coms and eating takeout, I’m such a quality time person and I always feel like I can be the most carefree when I’m hanging out with my best friends.
Kylie, what are your dreams and plans for the future?
Every day I’m just trying to work on myself, so that means my goal is to be a better version of myself by the time I go to sleep tonight. I have to work on my singing, dancing, acting, fan connection, friend and family connection and so on. But if I make an effort to build on all of those categories, I feel that the career stuff will just happen when it’s supposed to. I try to focus on each moment.
Talent: Kylie Cantrall
Photographer: Raul Romo
Stylist: Kaitlyn Vitug
Hair: Glenn Ellis @ The Only Agency
Makeup: Robert Bryan @ Exclusive Artists using Laura Mercier
Retouching assistant: Al-Sayed Mohamed
Styling assistant: Darlin Muy
Editor: Timi Letonja
This interview was done for Numéro Netherlands by Jana Letonja.