With the screen adaptation of 13: The Musical releasing internationally on Netflix in August, Khiyla Aynne plays Charlotte, working alongside the original Broadway team Neil Meron, Robert Horn and Jason Robert Brown, and she reunited with the cast for the film’s premiere earlier this year, and also recorded for the musical’s soundtrack. Upcoming for Khiyla will see her have a guest star role in Apple TV+ series Circuit Breakers, with the futuristic anthology series releasing November 11th, and she is set to play identical twin girls in an unannounced Christmas film. Amongst Khiyla’s other screen projects, she played Jenny in the 2021 fantasy horror feature film Nightbooks, worked alongside Jordan Fisher and Sabrina Carpenter in Work It, played Sherry in 48 Christmas Wishes and had her first series regular role as Trish in Ponysitters Club. Khiyla chatted to us about her upcoming guest star role in Apple TV+ series Circuit Breakers, filming as Charlotte in the screen adaptation of 13: The Musical and her regular role of Trish in Ponysitters Club on Netflix.
You will be appearing in the upcoming Apple TV+ series Circuit Breakers, is there anything you can tell us about filming for your episode and how it was being part of an Apple TV+ project?
Filming a guest star role for my episode in the upcoming Apple TV+ series Circuit Breakers was such a fun experience. Being able to bring my character to life on screen in a way that many teens can relate to is so important. The atmosphere on this project was such a positive environment to be in and the cast, crew and production team were so welcoming and supportive. Working under the direction of the incredibly talented Annie Bradley was so special, I will carry her words of wisdom with me throughout my career.
What are you looking forward to most for seeing your episode and why would you recommend watching the series when it is released later this month?
What I’m looking forward to most about seeing my episode is how all of the special effects have come together. I can’t say too much without giving anything away so you’ll have to be sure to watch this futuristic anthology series when it’s released. I would recommend watching this series because Circuit Breakers tackles kid-relatable issues that I think everyone can find a character or an issue that they can relate to in some way.
In the new Netflix screen adaptation of 13: The Musical, you play the role of Charlotte, how would you describe your character and was there anything that drew you to the role?
In the new Netflix adaptation of 13: The Musical, I play the role of Charlotte, who is a trendy, popular skater girl and a member of the Walkerton Wolves cheerleading team. What drew me to this role is that Charlotte is very inclusive and supportive of her friends, she gets along with everyone. Being able to combine my love of acting, singing and dance together on screen was a dream come true.
What was Charlotte like to play and how was it meeting the rest of the cast and crew for the first time?
Charlotte was such a fun character to play, she is so energetic and upbeat! She had very original wardrobe pieces, a funky sneaker collection and her hairstyles were so playful and trendy. Meeting the cast and crew for the first time was an experience within itself. There were so many people involved in this production and so many teenagers that there was never a dull moment on set. Under the direction of director Tamra Davis, our incredibly talented cast was truly able to shine. Working alongside Tamra developing our characters to be able to bring them to life on screen was such an incredible opportunity. She took our thoughts and ideas of how we each saw our character and let us make choices and suggestions for how we wanted to play them on screen.
How did you find the experience attending the premiere earlier this year and how does it feel now that 13: The Musical is released internationally through Netflix?
Attending the premiere for 13: The Musical was definitely a highlight. I love New York City so being able to come together with the cast and crew and watch it on the big screen in a packed theatre was surreal. Now that 13: The Musical is released internationally through Netflix, it feels so good to know that so many people have found someone that they can relate to in one of our characters.
Do you have any stand-out highlights from being involved with 13: The Musical that you can tell us about and what was it like working on the musical’s soundtrack?
A stand-out highlight from being a part of 13: The Musical was working with some of the original team Neil Meron, Robert Horn and Jason Robert Brown from Broadway’s 13: The Musical. It was an honour to work side by side with such talented individuals and I’m so thankful that I was cast as Charlotte in the Netflix adaptation.
Working on the soundtrack was incredible, our vocal team was so supportive and knowledgeable. From learning the lyrics and perfecting the notes to recording in the studio, it was such an unforgettable experience from start to finish.
How was your time filming for the 2021 feature film Nightbooks and can you tell us about your character Jenny?
We filmed the 2021 feature film Nightbooks during the height of the pandemic. This definitely made filming more challenging as we were secluded from the cast and crew until it was actually time to film. My character Jenny (pale and ghostly, she is dead) is a girl that appears in one of Alex’s scary stories. In death, Jenny meets her best friend at a playground and tells him that it is okay for him to move on because she will alway be in his heart.
What was it like on the set of Nightbooks and what did you enjoy most about working on a fantasy horror film?
Working on the set of Nightbooks was like walking into a different world, the sets were so detailed and creative. Our director David Yarovesky is incredibly talented and being able to work with him and bring his vision of Jenny to life on screen is something that I will never forget. What I enjoyed the most about working on a fantasy horror film was physically transforming into Jenny. The hair and makeup team worked together with the special effects crew to make dead Jenny look as realistic as possible. It was my first time being airbrushed, the details of the veins and bruises were hand drawn and looked so realistic, the whole process from start to finish took a few hours.
In 2020, you played a Little Stomper in Work It, what was the film like to be part of?
Working alongside Jordan Fisher and Sabrina Carpenter in the Netflix film Work It was such a fun experience. I played a Little Stomper who danced at the studio that Jordan Fisher’s character taught at.
Your first series regular role was Trish in the Netflix series Ponysitters Club, do you remember how you felt finding out you’d booked the role and what was Trish like to play?
When I found out that I booked the role of Trish in the Netflix series Ponysitters Club I was so happy I cried. I have always been a huge animal lover and being able to work with so many different animals every day was a dream come true. Playing Trish was always an adventure! Trish is the youngest member of the Ponysitters Club and definitely the most enthusiastic and energetic!
How was it working with the rest of the cast and what was it like seeing the viewers’ response to the series?
Working with the cast and crew of Ponysitters Club for so long was incredible. We spent so much time together that we developed such a strong bond that we were like family. The viewers’ response to this series was so humbling. Ponysitters Club is such a wholesome children’s series that portrays loyalty, friendship, empathy, compassion and kindness. The Ponysitters work together to rescue and rehabilitate animals at Rescue Ranch while supporting each other as they overcome challenges in their own lives.
What are some of your favourite memories from filming Ponysitters Club over the years?
I have so many favourite memories from filming Ponysitters Club over the years. One of my favourite castmates was my set dog Sundance (Siberian Husky) who played Speedy. I was able to work with her trainer to teach her so many tricks that were used throughout the series. Another great memory is during our lunch breaks the cast and crew would eat as fast as we could so we could spend the rest of our lunch playing a massive soccer game together. Then there was the day that I read in the script that my character Trish was entering her first ever horseback riding competition, I was so happy and excited that little me cried. I met so many amazing people throughout filming this series and one of my closest friends to this day was Trish’s on-screen stunt double.
What do you remember most from playing Sherry in 48 Christmas Wishes?
Playing Sherry the Time Elf in 48 Christmas Wishes was actually my first television/film experience. I have always loved Christmas so being a part of a holiday movie filming during the middle of summer was so magical. Fun fact… When I finished filming the role of Sherry, production asked me if I could read for a role for a new upcoming series. I couldn’t believe it when they told me what it was for and I told them I had always been horse obsessed. I went to my backpack and pulled out a huge horse encyclopaedia that I always carried with me. They gave me some time to read over the scenes in my dressing room and then they had someone from the production film my audition. I tried not to get my hopes up because they told me they were originally looking for someone a few years older to play this role. When it’s meant to be it’s meant to be, a few weeks later I found out that I had booked the role of Trish on Ponysitters Club.
How did you get into acting and is it something you always wanted to do?
To be honest, I had never thought of acting when I was younger and my experience that led me into this career was different than most. When I was eight years old, I entered an online contest to dance with Justin Bieber during his song Children for his Purpose World Tour. I had to learn the choreography, submit the video of me dancing and explain why I wanted to be chosen to dance with him. Shortly after my ninth birthday, I found out that I had been chosen to dance on stage with Justin Bieber at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto. Leading up to the concert and immediately following, I was interviewed by many news stations and approached by multiple agencies. I ultimately signed with da Costa Talent Management in Toronto and the rest is history. They are incredibly supportive and I’m so thankful that they have been on this journey with me from day one. Since then, we have added to the team and I am now also represented by Alchemy Entertainment in Los Angeles.
Do you have any favourite films and TV shows to watch and how do you like to spend your time away from your career?
Some of my favourite films and TV shows to watch are Grey’s Anatomy, Titanic, My Girl, Friends, Stranger Things, Forrest Gump and I love true crime documentaries. I like to spend my free time horseback riding, playing volleyball and soccer, reading, travelling and spending time with my family and friends.
What are you hoping the upcoming year brings for you and do you have any upcoming projects that you can tell us about?
I hope that the upcoming year brings me many new experiences and opportunities. Two of my upcoming projects that I can tell you about are Circuit Breakers coming to Apple TV+ on November 11th 2022 and, just in time for Christmas, I will be playing both roles of identical twin girls in a yet to be announced holiday film.
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