by Ronda Payne/Special to the Langley Advance
Not many nine-year-olds can say with absolute certainty what they want to be when they grow up, but Kayla Iversen can.
Kayla, who lives part-time with her dad Keld Iversen in Walnut Grove, started acting when she was just seven.
She caught the bug early and plans to continue.
“I love to have new experiences and meet a whole bunch of people I’ve always loved to meet,” she said of why she enjoys acting.
One of those people was Anna Kendrick, whom she met on the Vancouver set of Noelle, where Kendrick plays Nicole Claus.
While Kayla has worked mostly as a background actor in movies so far, she has dreams of doing more.
“So far, I’m kind of in the background. I don’t want to be in the background forever. I want to be like Anna Kendrick or on commercials because it’s a job that kids could get.”
She’s set to work three weeks this summer on a Disney film being shot in Portland, and having just signed an agent, she’s set to audition for numerous commercials in the coming weeks.
“Since I have it [acting skills and experience] I’d like to keep building it,” Kayla told the Langley Advance.
Her dad, Keld, also works in the film industry, behind the scenes, and it was while visiting him at work that Kayla was bitten by the proverbial acting bug.
“She came with me one day to go pick up my paycheque,” he explained. “At that time it was just when I got into the industry. One of the casting directors… noticed her and she came up to me and asked me about Kayla.”
He was working on Once Upon a Time and the casting team was looking for people to serve as extras.
“I was going to act in Once Upon a Time,” Kayla said. “But then it didn’t really turn out. It has a lot of disappointment because, you know, sometimes you don’t get the part or there’s lots of work hours, but I really like it. Like, I love it. And sometimes, you don’t even get to work on the movies, but you still get paid for every hour.”
Kayla is saving up her earnings for the future, for education in acting or maybe a house –when she’s older.
“You can only open doors for them… and support them if they are interested,” Iversen said of helping his daughter pursue her dream.
“I step back and let her take the reins. She’s really passionate about it and I was surprised because she can be a little shy with people,” he elaborated.
Because Iversen works in the industry, he knows the days are long, especially for a background actor. But, he sees it as a necessary stepping stone to get exposure and experience in front of the camera.
“Commercials. You’ve got to have a thick skin and it’s really tough,” he noted. “But she’s got the talent and she’s got a unique look, so she’s got an edge.”
Both Kayla and her dad attribute her unique appearance to Iversen’s Danish heritage.
Kayla has done background work in the post-apocalyptic TV show The 100 and a zombie movie, but her favourite was the one with Kendrick about Christmas.
“I really liked that one. It was so hot and they made us wear jackets. They let us skate around,” she said.
“We were in a line to visit Santa, like in a mall, and the lady behind me butted in front of me.”
It’s exciting for Kayla, but she is aware of the challenges ahead of her to succeed in “such a competitive career,” said Dad.
Fortunately, with his support, she’s already on her way.
Bound for Chile
The father-daughter team are getting a little more bonding time of late, taking excursions on his Harley every weekend.
Consider them practice runs, for an “adventure of a lifetime,” said Dad. “Let’s say we’re breaking in the new bike in anticipation of a longer ride.”
Details are still being ironed out, but A&E and the History channel have apparently agreed to sponsor the duo’s trip along Highway 101, from Mile 0 in Lund, B.C. to the southern end of Chile.
The trip, which they hope to take in the next year or so, will take about three and a half months. It’s not about clocking huge miles on any given days, but rather taking in the picturesque scenery and enjoying some time together, Dad said.
The entire journey will be captured on Kayla’s GoPro and narrated by her, in what will be her directorial debut.
“It will be the trip through her eyes,” Dad said, explaining how excited both are to be planning this journey.