Finding your tribe can be daunting but incredibly rewarding. Nickelodeon’s mockumentary-style comedy “Drama Club“ features an eccentric group of theatre kids maneuvering the troubles of their middle school’s newly formed drama club. Through its unique range of characters and ability to poke fun at the woes of the middle, the series thrives on its humor, fun spirit and unabashed theatre kid passion.
Telci Huynh, Lili Brennan, Nathan Janak, Chase Vacnin, Artyon Celestine and Kensington Tallman spoke about the series, their characters and how they grew into acting.
What is your favorite aspect of the show?
Telci: “I like that Drama Club is a place where you can be yourself, and it welcomes all different backgrounds. You can really be unique and bring your own talents into whatever scene that you’re taking place in.”
Lili: “Everyone on set is incredible. Everyone is so kind and so hardworking and nice, we always hype each other up for a scene. It’s a lot of fun when you’re working with amazing people and that’s probably what I liked the most.”
Nathan: “It’s always, always busy. Every single day filming there’s a new thing, we’re never just sitting around bored waiting to go do something, we’re always in hair and makeup, we’re always in school, we’re always changing, we always have a fitting. It’s always go-go-go and it feels so good.”
Chase: “I like that it’s very funny. It’s a very hysterical show with great comedic timing, and the fact that it’s shot in the mockumentary style is something I’m very interested in because it’s like ‘The Office’ for kids in a way. And I guess my final thought would be the fact that it’s very welcoming and filled with diversity. Everyone’s accepted and everyone’s loved in their own way. There’s no resentment towards anyone that’s deeper than the surface.”
Artyon: “It has to be doing our group scenes because they’re always so fun since I get to do it with the whole cast. I’m always just having so much fun, and definitely the musicals we get to do are fun too.”
Kensington: “Oh, that’s such a tough question. The thing I love most about the show is definitely the different types of characters because there’s nerdy ones, there’s smart ones, there’s funny ones, there’s bold ones. Every character is so special in their own unique way, and this show definitely expresses this idea that anybody can join the drama club whether you’re a jock, whether you’re a theatre kid. It really is just welcoming anybody you want.”
How similar are you and your character?
Telci: “I also work hard and I’m very determined and I put my mind to whatever task that I’m up to. Mack and I definitely share all of those traits together. I like that Mack is the mom of the group and she’s very supportive by listening to her fellow classmates. She’s definitely a perfectionist, but she gets the job done.”
Lili: “Darcy is pretty much me but with way more energy, which is so much fun to play. Honestly, I admire Darcy in my life, I want to be a bit more bold like Darcy. So in that way, I’m a little bit quieter but I love playing her.”
Nathan: “I would say that Oliver and I are kind of different because we go about how we would want to do things very differently. He would go to the extremes, but one thing we do share in common is our passion for theatre and acting.”
Chase (Bench Logan): “We’re both similar in the sense that we’ve both been playing football for a long time. I like that he’s accepting and he’s not a bully, like your typical jock character. He’s a loving one and maybe he’s not the brightest guy, he’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, but he’s definitely a very lovable character and he’s definitely someone that will resonate with you.”
Artyon (Skip): “I think I’m really similar to my character with our personalities; I think I have the same energy as my character. The way I dress, the way I move, our love for our friends and the passion for what we do. Those are some things I have that are similar.”
Kensington (Bianca): “We’re actually pretty different. She’s very self-centered and she really only cares about herself for the most part, which is not exactly who I am, but she’s kind in her own way. She’s really outgoing and she’s really courageous and she’s really confident, which is kind of who I am, and I’ve learned a lot from her.”
What is something you wanted to demonstrate in your character?
Telci: “I wanted for kids to look up to her and to really relate to her. Mack also has struggles; Mack has anxiety and she gets stressed easily. I want kids to learn that it’s okay to make mistakes and that it’s okay to be who you are and not feel judged.”
Lili: “Be yourself. Just be who you want to be in the world. Darcy wants to be there for Mack and wants to help Mack and her goals, and I just love that about her.”
Nathan: “Because it’s based in a middle school, I really wanted to show that Oliver thought he was above middle school really and he shouldn’t even be in school. He thinks that he’s this fully prepared and mature actor, so I wanted to come off as very classy and mature.”
Chase: “All my athletic abilities, and I think I did. I think I was able to demonstrate that from lifting other cast members in scenes to playing football in other scenes.”
Artyon: “I wanted to demonstrate that no matter who you are and what you do, just be you because even though Skip is the nerdy one and he’s different, everyone loves him and he’s just himself. Whether you love the drama club or you love sports, just do what you love best and do what makes you happy.”
Kensington: “How she’s written, it almost seems like she’s the mean girl, but she’s really not. She’s really kind and as the series progresses she turns out to be really smart, and I really wanted to show that she’s got the biggest heart and that she’s not mean in the slightest way at all.”
What’s it like working with the rest of the cast?
Telci: “We’re all best friends. The minute I met them, I was really nervous, but we all clicked and we all got along, no matter the age difference. They’re really really incredible and they truly are my good friends.”
Lili: “It’s incredible how amazing everyone on the set is. We would FaceTime before the show because we couldn’t see each other in person. We would hang out after hours and during lunch and we’d take pictures and it was so much fun.”
Nathan: “We always find a way to do something in between takes, or even at lunch or even after the studio or after filming. Sometimes we play iMessage games like crazy eights, and we group FaceTime a lot and play 20 questions. It’s just great working with them, they’re all so so sweet.”
Chase: “It’s a blast. It’s just really fun, especially our lunches together because we all sit together, it’s like one big family. Everyone’s very mature, dedicated, extremely talented.”
Kensington: “Really, we are the best of friends. When we immediately met we were like, ‘okay yeah, we’re best friends, this chemistry is amazing.’ We Facetime each other basically every day, and we love having lunch together. We have a whole group chat set up, and you can really tell in our chemistry throughout the show. We just have the best bonds and nobody can ever take that away from us.”
What made you want to be an actor?
Telci: “What’s crazy though, is that when I was four years old and I was watching Yo Gabba Gabba, which is a Nickelodeon show, I asked my mom, ‘Are those real people?’ and she goes, ‘Yes, they’re actors.” And at four years old, I said ‘I want to do that.’ Ever since I’ve been doing it, and it’s crazy that now I booked a Nickelodeon show.”
Lili: “I did a lot of theater as a kid and a lot of acting as well. I was kinda just trying a lot of different things. I really like acting because it’s a way to almost be someone else but still have yourself show within the character. And it’s just really cool watching all the different working pieces to make a production. It’s really interesting to see all that happen.”
Nathan: “I was five years old and I did a summer program play for my elementary school called ‘Chicken Little,’ and I played Chicken Little. And after that, I just knew I wanted to do acting forever.”
Chase: “Growing up, I was always getting in trouble in school. And one day, my mom and I, we sat down and someone asked me to model for Babies R Us. And after I did that, later on in life I was still getting in trouble at school, people always called me a character. I ended up getting a role that I ended up doing with my mom. It was a kid fighting over jelly beans. Ever since then, I really just try to hone in on the craft and make it a career for myself. So yeah, it was some pivotal moments when I was younger.”
Artyon: “So I first started off with dancing, and that was the main thing I was doing, but when I was nine, I got my first acting audition and I had no training or anything, but I went in there and did my best. And I was like ‘this is so fun, and if I’m able to start working on it and taking classes, it would be just an amazing opportunity.’ “
Kensington: “So my brother actually started acting, and I wanted to become an actress because I went to one of his auditions and I actually booked it. I thought it was something really unique and something really cool. And I actually had stage fright when I was little, so to overcome that fear for me was really special and really exciting for me.”
Who are your role models?
Telci: “Of course, my parents. I love them to death. They have always taught me to work hard, give 100% if you want to get 100%. For actors and actresses in the industry, it would be Sandra Bullock, Jennifer Lawrence, Will Smith and I really love Adam Sandler as well.”
Lili: “I really admire our writers, Monica and Maddie, who are really awesome people. Their writing is incredible and they’re so kind. My mom is also someone I really admire because she’s really hard working and I love her.”
Nathan: “I definitely have to say Audrey Hepburn, I absolutely love her. She is an amazing actress, amazing human and humanitarian, and she’s really inspiring to me. I even have a photo of her in my room, just to keep her as a little inspiration reminder.”
Chase: “I’m a huge Jonah Hill fan, and I’m gonna have to say, Chris Pratt. Those are the two career arcs that I really like and I love the characters that they play.”
Artyon: “It’s definitely Kevin Hart. I’ve always looked up to him, he’s just so funny. He’s able to play a big wide range of characters and with every character he does he just nails it.”
Kensington: “One of my role models is Catherine O’Hara, I love her. She’s so funny, and she makes me laugh in every movie I see her in. I love Jim Carrey; he’s really funny, his physical comedy is just brilliant. I’ve seen so many different comedy actors and actresses and I just love watching comedy, it’s so cool to me. I also love Julie Andrews, she’s so good at singing in every classic movie she’s in and I love her so much.”
Do you have any advice for kids who want to get into the film industry?
Telci: “Being in the industry is definitely an experience. Like I was saying before, you have to give 100% if you want to get 100% back, and you have to be committed, you have to work hard, you have to have passion for it and you can’t give up. You’ll receive more rejection than you do booking, but that’s how you learn, that’s how you become a stronger actor and learn new things from new people each time you take part in this industry.”
Lili: “It is a lot of work, but if you enjoy it and you love it, go for it and just put in your heart. Try your best, always be confident in yourself but still be able to take criticism, that’s a big part of it. If you love it, just work hard at it and have fun doing it.”
Nathan: “I would say definitely know what you’re getting into. Do your research and stay committed and make sure that this is what you want to do and be willing to put in the work.”
Chase: “Don’t give up, because it’s very easy to. Rejection is something that I became so accustomed to that I don’t feel that pain because I’ve been doing it for quite a long time. In the beginning, being told, ‘You’re not good enough’ or ‘you’re not the right person’ or ‘the right character’ can be a little bit disheartening and can definitely distress people. But I definitely think persistence is the key in an industry like this, finding connections and who you know and constantly putting yourself out there. These are things that I feel really allow you to expand.”
Artyon: “Work on your acting. Put your best foot forward. Always be yourself because that’s what people like to see. And then once you start acting, make sure you look over your scripts. Really learn them, keep them in your head. Just be yourself and you are going to nail those auditions.”
Kensington: “If you’re going to start getting into the film industry, keep auditioning. That’s the best advice I give. And when you audition, make bold choices. Do something that no one else is going to do: maybe you shout a line or maybe you add some sort of prop in the scene. Do something that not everybody’s going to do that’s going to make you stand out and make the casting director say, ‘hey, we like this kid, let’s call this kid back.’ “
Would you work on the second season of the show?
Telci: “I can’t say if we are or not but I am hoping so. So you guys, stay tuned if you want to see!”
Lili: “One hundred percent, I’m here. We actually just wrapped the show yesterday and I’m like, ‘Season two please!’”
Nathan: “Oh absolutely! I would definitely love to work on a second season. I think there’s so many new topics and plotlines to explore.”
Chase: “I would be honored to.”
Artyon: “I would, hands down, work on a second season of the show and get back out there with my cast because I love it so much. I think that would just be an amazing experience. After the first season, I felt like I had a lot of practice, and for a second season I think I’d be ready.”
Kensington: “I would absolutely love to work on a second season! I have learned so much from this. It’s my happy place, and I love showing up to set every day and being with the people I love most. If we got a second season, I would be so happy.”