Kendra Leigh Timmins, a horse lover, stars in Ride, a new Nickelodeon TV show about a girl named Kit, who is scared to ride horses but ends up competing in equestrian events. The show premiers with back-to-back episodes on Monday, January 30, at 8:00 and 8:30 p.m. ET. Timmins spoke with us about her favorite sports, getting into character on set, and some silly moments that happened along the way!
How did you get into acting?
I first got into acting by being in my school play. I was five years old, and we were doing The Wizard of Oz. I played a chipmunk, a flower, and a munchkin.
How did you get this role?
I auditioned for this role. It was something that came along, and I just read it and thought, “This is super awesome. This is a great character, and it films in Northern Ireland, and it involves horses. I have to be a part of this.” And then I had, I think, four or five auditions, where they kept narrowing it down and changing things up. Four or five weeks later, I got the call saying that I got to play Kit.
Do you relate to your character?
Definitely! I think Kit and I are a lot alike. She's a little quirky, and she has a lot of energy. She always means well, but sometimes she gets herself into trouble. And I've also been told that I am as stubborn as Kit is.
What was your reaction when you got the role?
When I got the phone call from my agent, I did a very, very embarrassing happy dance in my apartment by myself, and I was so excited, and I was crying, and the first thing I did was hang up the phone and call my sister. I had to tell her, and then we had a party over the phone.
Are you a sports fan?
I like to play sports more than I like to watch them, but I'm from Canada, so I have to cheer on my [Toronto] Raptors.
What sports do you play?
I love soccer. I played soccer all the time growing up. I try to get out and play with friends any time that I can. I feel like dance should count as a sport because there is a lot involved in that, so those are probably the two that I still do the most of. I like to keep active because I think it's more fun to get exercise that way.
Do you have experience with horses in the past?
I actually went to a horseback riding summer camp when I was younger because I thought horses were so cool, and I just loved them so much. So I had ridden a little bit, and I was really comfortable around horses. But we learned Western style, and it's more English-style riding in the UK, [where the show is set], so I had switch it up a little bit. But we were very well trained and very well looked after.
Other than that, you were able to get into character pretty well?
That was the only real learning curve. My character in the show, Kit, has been afraid of horses her whole life, so it was kind of nice because I also didn't have to be very good. I didn't even have to pretend that I knew what I was doing until a little bit later on, so it was really nice.
Do you have any funny stories about the horses from filming?
Our horses had really big personalities. A lot of the horses we worked with had worked on other movies. The main horse in War Horse was the horse on our set, and lots of our horses had been in Game of Thrones and all kinds of movies. So when they got on set, they were divas. They knew that they were the stars and that they were in charge. One of the horses used to notice when someone had a walkie-talkie in their pocket, and he would lean over and pull it out of their pocket and just drop it on the ground. It was just to get some attention for himself, and that was always pretty funny.
Did you jump while riding a horse in the filming process?
Actually, I don't think any [of the actors] jumped only because when you’re filming, sometimes it’s a little bit difficult because you have to concerned about safety and making sure the actors are O.K. We had incredible stunt doubles who did the jumping. We needed them because when you’re jumping, technically it’s great and everything looks awesome, but we had things written in the script like, “So-and-so gets distracted and knocks a pole,” which means that all of a sudden the stunt double not only had to be able to jump, but also knock a pole specifically when they needed to, which gets a little complicated. Luckily, we had a very good team. I don't know how they did it, but it was pretty phenomenal.
What would you say was the most athletic thing that you had to do on a horse?
I had to mount a horse bareback, which I had never done before. I’d always used a saddle, and I remember that day because they walked both my stunt double and me through it. They had her run it to show me how it would look, and even she was having a bit of a struggle because it’s just a larger horse. And you have to do a little bit of a jump. I went, “You know what? I want to try it. I want to go for it.” I ended up being able to do it, and we got a bunch of takes. That was one of my very proud moments of horsemanship.
Do you have any advice for young actors?
My best advice is to do it as much as you can. Sign up for anything that involves performing or working with other people. If there is a play going on at your school, or maybe sign up to be in the choir, or find a play that’s in your neighborhood instead, and then work really, really hard at it.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Photograph courtesy of Nickelodeon