In the 2022 Disney comedy series Villains of Valley View, Kayden Muller-Janssen plays Hartley, which marks her major screen debut and first regular character. Villains of Valley View can be seen in the UK on Disney+, and it has recently been announced for a second series, which will begin filming later this year. As a music artist, Kayden released her latest single Crave in July with producer Dustin Atlas, and she has previously released No Maybe in June, Kiss Kiss Baby (which reached number one on Radio Disney), and she is currently working on her upcoming EP release. Talking with us, Kayden tells us about being in Disney’s Villains of Valley View, playing Hartley for her major screen debut and releasing her own music.
Can you tell us about your character Hartley in Villains of Valley View and what is she like to play?
Hartley is an interesting and very fun character to play! She is very charismatic, kind, loves to help others and her community. She is definitely a people person and doesn’t like to lie, which becomes a big challenge for her once she meets the Madden family. Hartley strongly believes that if given the chance, anyone can become a better person and I think she helps the Maddens realise that throughout the season.
What originally drew you to the character and how was it reading the script for the first time?
When I first read the script, Hartley immediately reminded me of my younger self. I always describe her as a giant ball of sunshine, she has a very bubbly, silly and caring personality, I was definitely drawn towards her.
What is the Disney show like to be part of and how is it working with the rest of the cast?
It is crazy to be able to say I’m on a Disney show. I grew up watching all the iconic Disney movies and shows, wishing I could be on one of them some day. To now be on a show like Villains of Valley View is just a dream come true! We all feel like a family on set, every single person I worked with on set, from the cast to crew, were so kind and supportive. We always had so much fun on set and I leaned many things that I will remember for the rest of my career. I am endlessly grateful for the opportunity I’ve been blessed with!
Is there anything you enjoy most about working on Villains of Valley View?
To be honest, I like everything about working on this show! I don’t think there is just one thing I could pick, I’m just happy to be working with such amazing people.
Hartley marks your major screen debut, what’s it like having her as your first series regular role and originating a character in a new Disney show?
It’s something I think I’m currently processing. I’m still in shock from the fact that my dream came true! Seeing all these kids comment and DM me how they look up to me and Hartley is their favourite character is absolutely insane! It makes me so happy, this is something I’ve wanted since I was a little girl.
How has it been seeing the viewers’ response to the series and why would you recommend watching it?
As I said before, it is something I’m still processing and definitely not used to but I’m beyond happy to see how many people love the show! I think the characters are quite relatable. They aren’t perfect, they make mistakes and learn from them, just like anyone else in real life. I feel like not a lot of networks really show the perspective of a villain. Villains of Valley View really breaks the stigma of what people normally define as being a “villain”, with a little TLC, anyone can become a better person and I think that is what people will love about this show.
You recently attended the Disney Zombies 3 premiere, how was the experience?
It was amazing!! I got to meet a lot of the cast, they were all super nice. It was for sure the best Zombies movie so far! Super proud to see so many people from different backgrounds and identities to come together to make such a great movie with a beautiful message. I hope they get a fourth movie!
As a singer, you’ve released your newest single Crave, can you tell us about it?
Crave is about a relationship that I never really got closure from. I still have feelings for the guy but I’m too scared to tell him so this song is pretty much a message to him. When I met with my producer Dustin Atlas, I was telling him about how I was feeling and it was the perfect situation to turn into a song. We wanted to create something fun and catchy, but still has a message in it. I’ve known Dustin for years, we work really well together and he really helped me expand on the writing. We had such a great time creating Crave and I’m really happy that so many people are enjoying the song!
How was it releasing your previous single No Maybe in June?
No Maybe is one of the first songs I’ve ever made in the studio. I’ve had it in my archive for a very long and I was beyond excited for everyone to finally hear it! I’ve loved this song for a very long time. It was written about my first love and it was also my first song, so No Maybe will always have a special place in my heart.
We understand you’ll be releasing an EP later this year, how is it coming along and what can listeners expect from the release?
I don’t want to spoil anything, but we are set on the EP name and just did a photoshoot for the cover art. Some songs in the EP have been in the making for the past few years and there may be a cover of a song I’ve been singing since I was kid. I am very excited for everyone to hear what’s coming!
How would you describe your music and who do you think it will appeal to?
My roots from my childhood growing up was soul and pop so there is aways that soul pop presence in all my music. My lyrics are from the heart and I feel my music and lyrics are very relatable to mostly woman in just about every age group.
How does it feel seeing the success to your music, which includes your release of Kiss Kiss Baby reaching number one on Radio Disney?
It feels like a dream! I grew up listening to Radio Disney, always wishing to have my own song on there some day. The fact that it actually happened and my wish came true still blows my mind to this day! I am beyond grateful for all the blessings I’ve been given.
Where do you get the inspiration from for your music and what do you enjoy most about having a music career?
I think music is something that runs in my family, I remember my Oma (grandma) would sing in the kitchen as she cooked. I grew up listening to a lot of soul and R&B, so many artists like Etta James, Nina Simone, Whitney Houston and Amy Winehouse, so I think they really inspire me to start singing and write from the soul.
What I enjoy the most about having a music career is that other people feel that they can relate to my music and it comforts them in some way they need, whether they need a fun time with a upbeat song or a heartbreaking ballad.
Where does your love of acting and music come from and how did you get into each?
Since I could remember, I always loved singing, acting and putting on a show. I always had a very big personality growing up so when my family and I realised that the arts would be a good outlet for me and something I could really enjoy doing, we gave it a shot. I joined a school of the arts in middle school, where I auditioned for The Wizard of Oz and booked the lead role of Dorothy! Soon after, I was given the opportunity to go to a showcase camp in LA that introduced me to my agent. I began auditioning for projects and was shown to the music industry, that is where it all began.
Do you have any favourite TV shows and films to watch and who are some of your favourite music artists to listen to?
My all-time favourite movie is Catch That Kid, I watched that on repeat growing up. I am currently watching American Horror Story and absolutely loving it!
My favourite musicians are Jessie Reyez, Sabrina Claudio and Amy Winehouse.
How do you like to spend your time away from your career and do you have any upcoming plans you can tell us about?
I love to do anything that will keep my mind and body busy, whether that be roller skating, riding horses, dancing, baton twirling. I really like to go camping and disconnect from social media and electronics for a while. It’s so freeing to just wake up in the woods, cook your own meals on a fire and reconnect with nature with no distractions like your phone. I actually have a camping trip to Ginnie Springs that I am really excited for!
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