Grayson Thorne Kilpatrick appeared as Sheldon in 2018’s Chicken Girls: The Movie, which saw him win Best Supporting Young Actor at the Young Entertainer Awards this year. Other work for Grayson has included his own short production, John Foley: Motivationally Speaking, where he was writer, director and editor along with starring as the lead character which also led him to win an award for Best Performance in a Short Film. Taking time to answer our questions, Grayson talks about playing Sheldon in Chicken Girls: The Movie, winning awards for his work and how he started his acting career.
How was it filming as Sheldon for Chicken Girls: The Movie?
It was great! The cast of Chicken Girls were so nice and very welcoming. I am so grateful to Brat Productions and Chicken Girls for allowing me to work on this movie.
The Chicken Girls are like a family and they didn’t hesitate to make me a part of that family. Sheldon, as you know, was a big tattle tale and a huge kiss up to the Principle Anthony (Melanie Paxson). I think Sheldon would have liked to be a part of the cool kids at Attaway High School but he did not know how to interact with kids his own age.
I have an immense amount of respect for Melanie Paxson who taught me a lot while working with her. She is absolutely an incredible actress! The Chicken Girls are all blessed with great musical abilities, something I just do not possess, so I have high respect for all the actresses/actors in the cast. I have come away with friends from this cast who are very supportive. I see several of the cast at different events and we greet each other like we have not missed any time apart, and for that, this was a wonderful experience. I hope Sheldon will make an appearance in Chicken Girls in the future.
What was it like on set and how long were you filming for your role?
It was great when we had downtime. The cast would play cards or board games and I usually walked around with one of my Rubik’s Cubes. I was on set a few months off and on and the Chicken Girls asked me to be in the music video “Dancing on the Ceiling”. That was a lot of fun because we filmed this at a skating rink. Then a few months later, Brat called and asked if I would like to do “Brat Chat” episode eight, and I was like “Well, Yeah!”.
Had you watched the series before being cast?
No, I had never seen or heard of Chicken Girls before I was cast on the series. I was more likely to watch YouTube for a gaming video, or watch someone solve a Rubik’s Cube in seconds or Ripley’s Believe It or Not!, but when I was cast I went back to watch the series and thought it was great. My manager had pitched me for the role of Sheldon and sent my demo reel for casting to see and Chicken Girls cast me from my demo reel. I was over the moon!
What’s it like attending red carpet premieres?
There is so much energy when you attend a red carpet. I consider attending a red carpet an honour because, as an aspiring actor, you look forward to the time you can go watch your work on the screen and make notes on things you see in the film and how you can improve for the next booking.
I think of it as evolving. You know, when people get out of college and try to get a job, sometimes they say “Well, you don’t have enough experience. We want someone with more experience”. So, in this industry, they may say “Well, you’re not known yet”. Well how do you get known? You have to film to get the experience to book that really big role to get known. Give me a chance, you know? A red carpet to me is the end game. LOL Not like the Avengers movie but where you work so hard you can enjoy the time to see yourself and your friends on screen and watch what took so long to create. It’s an honour for me to be invited to a red carpet or someone else’s red carpet 😉.
How is it being nominated for and winning awards for your work?
In one word, I would have to say “validation”. It doesn’t matter if you win. But, it would be awesome to win, of course. Just to be nominated means a committee sees something good in your work. But to know you have worked on something someone thinks is so good for you to receive a nomination, it is a validation of your work and to me it’s an honour. I think when I won Best Actor for Short Film at the Young Artist Awards and knowing it was something I wrote, directed and filmed, it meant so much more.
I am currently up for Best Performance in a Streaming Series or Film (Chicken Girls: The Movie) at the Young Artist Awards this year. I am so honoured to have been nominated, I am completely in awe. I have been asked to be a presenter this year as well, I am so honoured and thankful to the Young Artist Awards. Win or lose, I want to be there to support all my friends and the other nominees.
Can you tell us about playing Trent Frantz in The Substitute Spy?
I loved playing Trent! He was a kid that had an imaginary friend called Fanon. Trent, along with his friends at a local middle school, knows something fishy is going on. This movie is about a group of kids who love playing video games and accidently uncover a plot by someone in their school that wants to control the world. The students that were once troubled kids or bullies are being overly nice now. It was up to Trent and his friends to try to find out what is really going on in the school.
I had a great time working with some legendary actors Alpha Trivette (Banshee, Made in America, Drop Dead Diva), Claudia Jordan (That’s so Raven, Jack & Jill, Middle Men) and Jasmine Guy (A Different World, Harlem Nights and Grey’s Anatomy). I just loved working with Alpha Trivette. He really taught me a lot on set since we had several great scenes together. He played the role of Janitor Adams.
It was great working with my friends in the industry like Emma Dison Brantley, Grady Port, Mariana Tolbert, Jessica Nicole Brown, Demetrius Pope Jr. and Samuel D. Evans. I thought Trent having an imaginary friend would be hilarious! You can see me in a scene talking to him and having a full on argument. LOL. It was great!
I have worked with the director, Greg Galloway, on another film called Bad Girl with Ajiona Alexus, Gregory Alan Williams, Rhoda Giffis, Izzie Coffey (Izzie and I have remained friends since Bad Girls), Zoe Myers, Betsy Slight, Mariana Tolbert, Emma Dison Brantley, Aja Wooldridge, Alpha Trivette and Darrin Dewitt Henson. This movie is where I met the amazing producer, Autumn Bailey Ford. I am very thankful for all the work I was able to get in the Southeast and all the friends I met and are still friends with today.
What was it like being involved in an episode of American Horror Story and working with the rest of the cast?
I loved being on the Fox Studios and American Horror Story is one of my favourites. I remember when I still lived in the Southeast, I had a lot of auditions in New Orleans. The place I had most of my auditions was a place called Second Line Stage Film Studio and where Mom would park the car, you could see all the places saved for American Horror Story. I told her one day that I really wanted to be on that show. I couldn’t believe my luck when I went in for the audition and I booked the role. I was beyond excited!
When I arrived on set, I had hair and makeup get me ready. I could not believe how amazing they were! They made me look like a real werewolf. My grandmother that lives in Madison, AL got on FaceTime with me not knowing I was on set so when I answered the FaceTime she said “Oh, my word”. I laughed and she said “Where is my Grayson?”. Both me and my dad laughed.
Later on, my mom called me. She was the one that took me to most of my auditions when we lived in the south but since we moved here and the long hours she works, my dad takes me now. So, to be honest, I can’t really say what Mom said when she answered the FaceTime call. I don’t think I can use that language in the article 😉. It really startled her. After the initial shock of seeing me like this, she was like “Grayson, you’re freaking me out dude. OMG you look so great! I am so proud of you”. My family and my friends are so supportive of me. I could not ask for a better life than being on set.
What was the experience like working on Daddy’s Home?
The movie Daddy’s Home was filmed outside of New Orleans, Louisiana in the fall of 2014. I could not believe how elaborate the set was. This was the first of my big budget films that I worked on. I worked with Will Ferrell, Mark Wahlberg, Owen Vaccaro, Linda Cardellini and Scarlett Estevez. Mark Wahlberg’s children came to set with him and a very large entourage.
At first, I was not sure about going up to speak to him. I was very nervous. But, the next day, I was in my trailer and hair and makeup told me they were ready to see me. My mom walked me over and Mark was in a folding chair sitting outside of his trailer. I just waved at him and said good morning. On my way back to the trailer, Mark called me over and introduced himself to me and I introduced myself to him. It was amazing! He was so very nice and down to earth. He made Daddy’s Home a great experience for me.
My role name was supposed to be “Big kid at half pipe” but Mark and I would fist bump so much on set that production changed it to “Fist Bump kid”. Everyone was so nice. I actually had a scene with Mark Wahlberg but it got cut and ended up on the editing floor.
But, I loved the opportunity of being on the Daddy’s Home set. My only regret was not being able to get a picture with Mark after my character wrapped. I think I was overly tired and disappointed because I remember getting to our vehicle and crying. My mom said “Grayson, your career is just starting and this will not be your only chance to work with Mark. I have a feeling your career is going to take our family on an adventure and you never know. Maybe by the time you work with Mark again, you can get a picture with him”. When I thought about what she said, it made me happy because the chance to work with him again would be great.
When Daddy’s Home came out in December 2015, me, Mom and Dad went to watch the movie. It was great! I made a lot of friends on the set of Daddy’s Home. Especially with Owen Vaccaro. I am so proud of all his success. I repost all the articles he is in because that is what friends do to support and encourage. I received a note from the director, Sean Anders a few months after filming, along with a Daddy’s Home hoodie. I was also happy to see that the scene with Mark Wahlberg and myself made it in the pictures uploaded on IMDb for the movie and production had tagged me on the picture. I am so very honoured at all my opportunities and I thank Paramount Pictures and Daddy’s Home for allowing me to be a part of this film.
What prompted your acting career?
When I was very young, around the age of two and a half or three, I would watch commercials and reenact them for Mom and Dad. So, I think I was already headed in that direction. But when I was three, I had a traumatic event that changed my life. I don’t talk about this incident much but my parents and I lived through a home invasion. My mom shielded me as best as she could. She told me we were playing a game and not to be scared. Both my parents were tied up and I hid behind the French doors that were next to the front door. The men that broke in knew I was there. They were not concerned with me. Come to find out, the men that broke into our home actually had the wrong house. But it didn’t help the trauma of seeing men have guns held on my parents.
After the ordeal, my parents put me in a Child Play Therapy. It was a place when a young child had been in something traumatic, they could act out their feelings to help them cope with whatever was bothering them. I think for many months, when I heard a doorbell, I would run and hide.
But, one Alabama-born actor showed me kindness and consideration that gave me direction into being an actor. My dad had read in the local papers that Grayson Russell (Diary of a Wimpy Kid) was in town filming his new movie Space Warriors at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center. Grayson Russell was going to be at a local movie theater viewing one of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid movies with fans and would be signing autographs before the movie. So, my dad got our family and one of my friends, Mason, a ticket to go watch the movie with Grayson. Grayson Russell was great! He took the time to answer my questions and took pictures with me. At the screening, Grayson mentioned they were looking for extras to be in the movie he was filming.
I asked my mom if she could take me to see if I could be an extra. She did and I got to be an extra and fell in love with the environment. I loved watching the crew move their equipment around to do the same scene but to get the shot from different angles.
So, the next week, my mom enrolled me in a local acting school called Hollywood Huntsville. I took classes under Mr. Bill and Ayoka Billions and later took acting classes from Gray’s Studio out of LA. We would travel to Nashville to participate in an intense class once a month for two days and this is where I met Mr. David Gray of Gray Studio.
I also had a great mentor, Mr. Danny Vinson. I still send him messages and ask him questions. We were actually in the movie Heaven Bound together and I was lucky to get to film with Torry Martin (Mom said, “you’re Torry’s mini-me”), Jamie Costa, Victoria Jackson (my second movie with the SNL legend), Michael Joiner and Nancy Stafford. When production found out it was my birthday, they had craft services cook me a cake and sang Happy Birthday to me. How cool is that? Thank you, Adam Drake, director of this great movie, for giving me an opportunity to work with you.
What TV shows and films do you enjoy watching?
I like Black Mirror, The Umbrella Academy, Lucifer, anything Marvel or DC (The Flash, Black Lightning, Super Girl, The Arrow, Marvel Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., I loved the Peggy Carter TV series but the network cancelled it). My all-time favourite is an old TV series Mister Ed (The Talking Horse), The Three Stooges, Wonder Woman (Lynda Carter), The Six Million Dollar Man, The Bionic Woman, the original Batman with Adam West (I have the whole series), Gilligan’s Island and The Abbott and Castello Show.
What productions have you filmed recently and do you have any you are currently working on?
I am currently working on the second short video of John Foley: Motivationally Speaking. It is a dedication to the late Chris Farley that played Matt Foley “Living in a Van Down by the River”. I play his son, John Foley. It is great having so many people believe in me. A director suggested I start a “GoFundMe” account to produce part two of John Foley and he was the first that donated. It made me feel so confident in myself! I hope one day I can return the favour to another actor with dreams. It’s on my YouTube channel called Watch my Shorts, Man!.
There is also a TV show called NC16. It is about friends trying to make it through high school together. We had an amazing writer (Michael Rojo) and director (Michael Spound).
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