1.) We’re happy to be speaking today with acclaimed actress and singer Kayden Muller-Janssen; greetings and salutations, Kayden! Before we dive into the proverbial Q&A deep-end, how has the summer of 2022 been treating you?
My summer has been great so far! I am back in my hometown Wellington, Florida, just enjoying the beach and my free time with friends, family, and my pets.
2.) Congratulations on the new hit Disney series The Villains of Valley View! For those not in the know, can you explain what this exciting new show is all about and how your character of Hartley figures into the proceedings?
The Villains of Valley View is about Amy and her super villain family who are on the run from the league of villains. They end up in a small town, Valleyview, Texas and as they are settling in, they meet their new neighbors, Hartley (who I play) and Celia (Hartley’s Grandma)! Hurly eventually figures out the family’s villain secret and tries to help them pretend to be a normal family, while still staying true to their villainess selves. Amy’s family and Hartley all have very different personalities but suit each other in the best way. Throughout the season, they go on these crazy, villainess, adventures that have both good and bad consequences and learn what it’s like to be a “normal family”.
I sometimes like to describe Hartley as the peacemaker. She’s like a giant ball of sunshine that is endlessly giving and always loves to help others. She’s very charismatic and kind, but isn’t naïve, so definitely rethink before trying to take advantage of her kindness. When she meets the Amy and the Madden‘s, she looks past their villainous ways and instantly makes it her duty to help them, trying ( in her best human capability) to make sure they stay safe in hiding. Throughout the season, Amy and Hartley begin to form a close friendship and really accept one another for who they are.
3.) Did you know as soon as you saw the first script for The Villains of Valley View that this was a production you wanted to be a part of?
Oh, for sure! Ever since I was a kid, I always dreamed of being a part of the Disney family. When I first began my acting career, I had auditioned for Disney but when I was close to turning 19, I received the script for VOVV, and it just felt like it was the right fit for me. The script felt like the iconic Disney shows I loved to watch growing up, I was so beyond grateful when they chose me for Hartley and get to be a part of such a great and fun project!
4.) How are you liking your character of Hartley in The Villains of Valley View? How are you different?
I think Hartley and I are very similar; she reminds me a lot of my younger self. I was very bubbly and always cared for others, just like Hartley, but I would have to say our one difference is that I’ve met people in my life, good and bad, who’ve taught me to really look out for those “red flags”. While in Hartley’s case, I think she has a more difficult time seeing that but will eventually learn what to look at for.
5.) The Villains of Valley View plies its wares in the fertile grounds of the comic book genre. Going into the show, were you a fan of comic books?
Oh yes! When I was a kid, I remember I went to the bookstore with my mom because she wanted me to read more books. Out of all the books I could’ve picked, I picked a comic book, and I didn’t regret it! I didn’t appreciate the power behind words until I got older but at the time, I thought it was so cool that it was still a book but had the art and the emotion that I could still connect with. Ever since then, I’ve left comic books and I have a wall in my room filled with rare comic books. So now being a part of a show that is inspired by the comic book genre, it’s just amazing and dream to be a part of!
6.) You’ve worked with some mighty talented directors throughout this first season of The Villains of Valley View including the likes of Jody Margolin Hahn and Victor Gonzalez. What has your collaboration been like with these gifted directors?
This is my first big show I’ve booked so being able to work with such established individuals in the entertainment industry, there no words to describe how grateful I am towards not only the directors but the whole cast and crew. They were all so kind, supportive, patiently guided me and taught me so much throughout the season that I will never forget and will for sure be using for the rest of my career.
7.) Speaking of talented, you also work alongside some incredibly gifted thespians in The Villains of Valley View like Isabella Pappas and Reed Horstman. What’s it like to show up on set every day and exorcise your own acting chops next to this brilliant ensemble?
Well, you know not everybody is lucky enough to say that they get to work with their best friends every day but luckily, I can! At first, I will admit that I was a bit intimidated by them because you know, they are pretty established in the entertainment industry and I was “green”, but I quickly learned how sweet everybody was, we all grew close, they took me under their wing and taught me so much! We always have each other‘s backs, even on the rough days, and I’m so grateful that I get to call them my new family!
8.) Can fans of The Villains of Valley View look forward to another season?
Yes, they can!!! We recently just announced that The Villains of Valley View will be coming back for a season two! We are all very, very excited about getting to work together again and have the chance to continue the story of the epic Madden family!
9.) What do you hope viewers walk away with after watching the first season of The Villains of Valley View?
I hope the viewers will take away from the show that nobody is perfect! Whether a hero or a villain, everyone is different in their own way and has their faults, but what truly matters is what you do about it and how you learn from your actions.
10.) Your first credited onscreen performance came in the 2018 short film Spies: Room of Secrets. Any special memories of that freshman production?
We produced this film at a summer acting camp that I did in Los Angeles. It was fun because we got to make up our own concepts and script, then a week later got to film it! It was the first time that I’ve really got to act in front of a camera, and we had such a blast shooting it!
11.) What fascinates you most about acting?
I’ve always admired how as humans we have the capability to take on this whole different persona by just reading a script or a book that you feel a deep connection with and in my opinion, I think it’s one of the most beautiful forms of art. You get the opportunity to show an audience a point of view that you normally wouldn’t get to see and feel how it’s like to be in their shoes and live in their life, it’s just beautiful and I don’t think there would’ve been another career path that I would’ve loved doing this much!
12.) We noted in our introduction that you’re also a talented singer and songwriter. You have a brand-spankin’ new EP set for release this October. What can you tell us about this EP?
I don’t want to spoil too much, but the songs that are in the EP have been in the making for the past few years and come personal place in my life. I’m beyond excited for everyone to hear it and I really hope that these songs will help anyone in any way that they need it, whether it’s a fun song to jam to or a song you feel like you can relate to.
13.) Were you surprised by the tremendously positive fan and critic response to your last single CRAVE?
Honestly, every song I release I’m always surprised by how much people love them! It’s been my dream since I was a kid to make music and have others feel like they can connect with my sound, so the fact that it’s happening and people really enjoy my songs, it makes me wanna cry happy tears and never stop on this musical journey that I’m on!
14.) Final – SILLY! – Question: When and where were you happiest?
Oh, that is a hard one! I would have to say I was most content in life when I was still riding my pony around my hometown and meet so