We interviewed actress Kelsey Chow, who stars as Mikayla on the Disney show “Pair of Kings,” while she was in Manhattan recently.
Are you like your character on “Pair of Kings”?
Yeah, I think so. Because Mikayla is very close to her dad, and she really wants to do her dad proud. And I’m really close to my family. And she’s really loyal to her people at Kinkow. I don’t think I am as tough as her; she’s got martial art skills. She’s really tough. I’d like to be, but maybe not.
What would you be doing if you weren’t on “Pair of Kings”?
I still would want to be an actress. I absolutely love it. I’m going to school now. I would continue to do that but maybe do a little theater while in New York, too.
Are you really a student at Columbia University?
I am a student at Columbia. I’m studying global health there, and some of my closest friends are there, and we have a good time.
Do your parents watch you perform on the set?
My mom gets actually really nervous about watching me on the set. She never comes in. She’s always in the trailer. I’ve gotten her to come out a couple of times, especially for “Pair of Kings.” My dad was so embarrassing because he sat in the front row of the audience. Because you go out during the curtain calls just like theater, and so I go out, and they announced my name; hanging over the railing, just screaming and everything, and I’m like, “Oh gosh, Dad, please stop.”
What is your biggest fear?
I guess I’m just afraid of being bored. I like to be doing a lot of things at one time. My dad’s kind of that way, too. He likes doing a million things at once, and I like to do the same thing. So it keeps me busy.
How long does it take you to get ready for a show?
I’m the only girl in the show, so it takes a long time compared to the boys. Doc Larramie Doc Shaw, who plays Boomer gets ready in, like, five seconds, literally. So fast. They have to curl my hair, and do all the makeup stuff. So I probably take, like, 45 minutes.
Did your parents want you to be an actress?
They were really supportive of what I really wanted to do. My mom always said that if you could make a living out of doing something that you really love, then you are truly blessed. And she really knew that I loved this, and she’s been extremely supportive. And my dad has, as well. He said, “As long as you make good grades, you can do this.” So, I made good grades in order to keep doing it, and I wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for them.
In “Pair of Kings,” there was a sword fight. Did they use real swords?
We occasionally did use real swords. There are two kinds — we have plastic swords and then the real swords. They were dulled down. We had an awesome stunt coordinator who used to be with the very first “Power Rangers.” That was really cool, and he’s amazing. He’s actually in one of the episodes. If you look at the pirate episodes, he’s one of the pirates. That’s Danny Wayne, our stunt coordinator. He really works with you. He knows your strengths and what makes it look cooler on TV. But I’m taking karate in college this year, so maybe I could use those moves for a “Pair of Kings.”
Was it fun when you were on “The Suite Life of Zack and Cody”?
It was awesome. It was the very first sitcom that I’ve ever done, and as you know, the twins are amazing. They’re just goofballs. And also, Jaden Smith was the guest star for that episode, which is really cool.
Do you watch yourself on TV?
I do, and it’s hard because I’m very critical of myself. I’m constantly , “Well, Kelsey, you could have done that so much better.” But I think it’s fun to kind of see the final product of everything. And it’s really nice because my family and friends get together, and we’ll have, like, a viewing, even though I’m, like, usually under the blankets covering my eyes in some way.
Is anyone else in your family an actor?
Not in my immediate family. I think my great aunt was an opera singer in China, which is really cool, and my grandmother used to be a dancer in China, as well. My brother actually tried it, too. He’s more like a sports guy, plays soccer, just learned to play the guitar, but he tried theater for a little while. And I think my sister is kind of interested in it.
Were you an actress when you were little?
I used to always say I was Belle from “Beauty and the Beast.” She was my favorite character of all time. I would refuse to be even called Kelsey. I did dance, which is, I guess, acting in a different kind of form. And I did school plays, too.
What is one of your favorite shows you were in?
Well, I think “Pair of Kings,” obviously. Especially because the cast and crew worked really hard to make this show for you guys, and hopefully you really like it. We put a lot of hard work into it, but we also had a lot of fun. So, it’s very meaningful. I guess “One Tree Hill” was also one of my favorite shows because it was my very first television show. That always means a lot to me.
Do you ever get stage fright?
Yes, of course. Sometimes, I even get nervous, like, talking for these interviews. But no, “Pair of Kings” shoots in front of a live audience. So it’s kind of — it’s like a mix of television and theater. So, my very first episode, Mitchel Musso got us all together into a huddle, and we’re all right, you know? It’s our first episode, kick butt, and it’s going to be awesome. I was a little nervous, but it went really well.
In your show, “Pair of Kings,” your character is Mikayla. Does anyone in real life ever confuse you with her?
Yeah, that seems to happen sometimes with other characters that I’ve played, too. They kind of assume I am the character. Sometimes, you just have to set it straight a little bit, but yeah, it does happen.
Do you have any pets?
No. I don’t have any pets because my mom and sister are allergic to dogs, cats and horses. So, we could only have hermit crabs.
Do you see your family often?
That’s the kind of difficult part of it because I’m really close to my family. But I had practice when I went off to college, and so I didn’t get to see them as much. And then when I went to L.A.; it’s a little hard, but the great thing is they’ve been able to come to L.A. and see me, and they got to see “Pair of Kings.” So it was really awesome.
Where do you live now, and is it different from South Carolina?
Yes, it’s definitely different. I live in L.A. now, but now that I’m going to school in New York, I guess my temporary residence is in New York. Both cities are very, very different from South Carolina. But from being away, I appreciate my hometown probably more than I ever have, and I love going home.
When you’re not acting, what do you like to do?
I love to be around my family and friends. So whatever we are doing is awesome. I love to travel, especially with my friends. If we’re in a car riding around, that’s good; if we’re at the beach, that’s good. Same with my family.
What is the best part of being an actress?
It’s probably being able to play so many different characters at so many different times. You can pop yourself in the medieval time period, or you could be a robot in the future. The possibilities are endless, so it’s a good kind of challenge. It’s a lot of fun.
Who or what inspired you to become an actress?
That’s hard. I think it was in my first community theater play. It was the passion and the hard work and just everyone together from my community that really put the show together. It was such an amazing experience. I just knew, “I love this, I want to do it.”