In September, Apple TV+ released Life By Ella, in which Artyon Celestine plays the series regular character Kai alongside a cast including Lily Brooks O’Briant as Ella. Last year, Artyon’s projects included playing Skip in Drama Club for Nickelodeon, being a panellist on Nickelodeon’s Unfiltered and joining Series 2 of Attaway General as Elijah, and he previously filmed for A Christmas Story Live!. As a dancer, Artyon was a professional dancer on Dancing With the Stars: Juniors in 2018, and with his celebrity partner Ariana Greenblatt, he reached the Finals finishing as runner-up, having worked with coach Brandon Armstrong, and the previous year, he was a contestant on America’s Got Talent as part of Artyon & Paige. During his time as a performer and actor so far, Artyon has worked on Lip Sync Battles Shorties, performed with Mariah Carey at her Christmas specials, danced with Chris Brown in his Party music video and was a guest star on Claws and S.W.A.T., with the latter being released this year. Artyon chats to us about playing Kai in the Apple TV+ series Life By Ella, being a professional dancer on Dancing With the Stars: Juniors and working with Nickelodeon on Drama Club and Unfiltered.
You play series regular Kai in the Apple TV+ series Life By Ella, what is he like to play and can you tell us about the show and your character?
Life By Ella shows Ella’s journey and recovery through cancer. The ups and downs herself and loved ones have to go through because yes, cancer affects Ella the most, but also has a big impact on everyone around her. After Ella beats cancer, she decides to have no fears and live life to the fullest taking her best friend Kai along for the ride. She decides to seize the day in every way possible. Kai is a goofy kid who’s honest, generous, and just really fun to be around. He always has your back and I think that’s what’s great about him. He has the biggest heart in the world and will do anything for those he loves.
How did you find your time on set of Life By Ella and filming with the rest of the cast?
My time on set for Life By Ella is something I will never forget. I had so much fun filming with the cast and being able to make so many memories. Even though we were working, it always just felt like we were hanging out!
What has it been like seeing the fan response to the series so far and why would you recommend watching it on Apple TV+?
Seeing the impact that the show has had and the things I have heard is such a relief, we put so much love and effort into the series so I’m glad the audience can see that. I would suggest watching Life By Ella because it’s something that is different being that it’s showing the journey a middle schooler goes on recovering from cancer. It shows you that you have so much more to be grateful for in life.
Do you have any stand-out highlights from filming Series 1 of Life By Ella and playing Kai that you can tell us about?
I really enjoyed when I did the zip lining scene with Lily (Brooks O’Briant), who plays Ella, because we actually got to do half a zip line and that is something I had never done before so it was very fun.
How is it working on the animated series Blaze and the Monster Machines?
Working on Blaze and the Monster Machines was so cool because singing is something that I don’t usually do for work or something I’m not known for so that literally being my job was awesome. I actually got to film from home and I was really happy with how it turned out.
Last year, you played Skip in Drama Club for Nickelodeon, what was the series like to be part of and what did you enjoy most about playing Skip?
To be a part of Drama Club meant so much to me because I put so much effort into booking the job after seven auditions. Through COVID, it was something I looked forward to doing when quarantine was done. Skip is very similar to me so I feel that we were perfect for each other.
How would you describe Skip and do you remember how you felt finding out you’d booked the role?
Skip is this big ball of energy who is the life of the party. He will always make you laugh and smile just by being himself. He’s so confident in who he is and doesn’t care about what others think, which is what makes him so special. When I booked this job I was on cloud 9. All of that time I put into the character finally paid off.
You’ve been a panellist on Nickelodeon’s Unfiltered, how was this?
Being on Unfiltered was so fun because it felt like I was actually just playing a game. We were able to ask questions to find out who the celebrity was and I got to work with very talented people.
What was it like joining the cast of Attaway General in Series 2 and filming as Elijah?
Being on Attaway General was my first time actually acting on set and was an amazing learning experience. Being on set I felt so free, and it’s just a relaxed environment.
Can you tell us about filming for A Christmas Story Live! and how was it working on this project?
A Christmas Story Live! is one of my favourite projects I’ve done. It was my first time singing and everything was live! We filmed in actual snow, which was awesome! I’ve met lifetime friends from the project so I am very grateful.
You were a professional dancer on Dancing With the Stars: Juniors, what was it like performing with your celebrity partner Ariana Greenblatt and working with coach Brandon Armstrong?
I was so happy when I found out I was dancing with Ariana because I had dreamt about meeting her. She was so much fun to work with and we made great memories with our mentor Brandon, who taught me so many things.
How did you find the experience being a professional dancer on the show and did you have a favourite routine to perform?
Being a professional dancer on Dancing With the Stars was actually interesting because I had never done ballroom before so in that case I wasn’t a professional at all, but I’m glad I was able to learn and grow. My favourite dance performance had to be Rolex when we did it with Brandon.
What was it like becoming finalists and finishing as a runner-up and what are some of your favourite memories from being part of Dancing With the Stars: Juniors?
I was so proud when we made it that far in the competition because there were very good competitors and we put our best foot forward every time we touched the dance floor.
What do you remember most from your time as a contestant on Series 12 of America’s Got Talent in 2017 as part of Artyon & Paige and how was it reaching the Quarterfinals?
I don’t remember much from America’s Got Talent but it opened up so many different doors for the things I’ve done now and it was a great learning experience that I will carry with me during my life.
You have also performed on Lip Sync Battles Shorties, can you tell us about your performances and what were they like to do?
Being on Lip Sync Battle Shorties was a dream for my nine-year-old self. There was candy everywhere and everyone on set was so kind.
Can you say about some of your other stand-out highlights from your career so far, which has included appearing on The Ellen Show and dancing for Sia’s The Greatest music video?
Other things I have done include performing with Mariah Carey at her Christmas specials, dancing with Chris Brown in his Party music video and guest starring on Claws, as well as S.W.A.T.
Where does your love of acting, dancing and performing come from and how did you start?
My love for acting came through dance, which I have now been doing for 11 years. I think I have always been a performer and enjoyed making people smile so I just had to find a way to express that.
What are some of your favourite films and TV shows to watch?
Some of my favourite things to watch are the series Wednesday on Netflix, the movie Home, the movie Annie (2014 version), The Hate U Give, and On My Block.
What are you hoping the upcoming year brings for your career?
In the upcoming year, I am hoping to have my first movie role, I have done many shows now and want to experience what it is like to be on a film. If it was a horror film that would be the GOAL!!
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