Known for her roles as Vicki Donovan on The Vampire Diaries, Caitlin Ramirez on The Bold and the Beautiful and currently in the role of Nora Truman on Roswell, New Mexico. Kayla Ewell is busy juggling acting, motherhood and a popular podcast with her bestie, actress Candice King. The talented actress took some time to talk with us about everything, including her fondness for all things Canadian.
Good morning and thanks for chatting with me today. You have a Canadian connection, your husband is Canadian born and raised. How did you meet?
Tanner moved to L.A. over ten years ago and he and I have been together for almost a decade. His mom’s American and his dad’s Canadian so he was living here with a green card and we met doing a music video for the Australian band Sick Puppies that was a top 40 hit called Maybe, which isn’t a very good omen for our marriage (laughing). We really became friends first, texting back and forth and I had left my sunglasses on set and so did he, so he went to the makeup artist and grabbed mine too. He said “I knew if I grabbed your sunglasses I’d get to see you again” and that led to our first lunch date and the rest is history.
I heard you were quarantined recently, how did that go?
It’s been a huge transition for us, we have a new daughter who is sixteen months old and going through both will drive you crazy! It’s also been amazing because we can spend all of this time with her. We’re really making sure we’re cultivating her to be a good human being. Los Angeles doesn’t always have the culture to bring someone up to be a specific type of person but my husband and myself having small town backgrounds have certain values we want to uphold with raising her. Having said that, Tanner’s working on The Bold and the Beautiful every day, he and I are both working on Roswell, flying back and forth to Santa Fe so there’s a lot to juggle hence Grandma and Grandpa being here today. My parents are in Long Beach which is pretty close so they help too. I just realize it really takes a village and we have to utilize our village, especially right now.
It must have been fun at Christmas with her being a toddler now.
It was so much fun, it was just Tanner, myself and our daughter Poppy because we were quarantined but typically we have big family Christmases. That was difficult, but Santa gave her a kitchen and she was obsessed with it and could not stop cooking. Seeing Christmas through a child’s eyes is so cliché and cheesy but it really is true, it changes you. It makes you want to be a better person, it makes the holidays better
Tanner and you recently got the opportunity to work together on The Bold and the Beautiful.
That show was one of my very first jobs when I started out acting. It was a contract role for three years starting when I was seventeen so that show really shaped who I am as an individual. It feels so lovely to come full circle and have my husband on the show in a contract role and to have them ask me to come back to the show to play his intimacy double is pretty interesting. It’s obviously unprecedented because we’ve never been through this in our lifetimes and it does give me an excuse to hang out on set and see all the old friends I had from so long ago. It is different because you have to stay six feet away and everyone has masks on so it’s not necessarily the same camaraderie, but it is really special and fun and really interesting how it all worked out.
On that topic, how is it filming shows like Roswell during the pandemic?
Since it’s filmed in Santa Fe New Mexico, you have to fly in a few days prior and get tested before you fly, tested after you arrive and quarantine in the hotel which isn’t ideal. Everything’s closed; it’s a lonely isolating experience. Once you’re on set, hair and makeup are in hazmat suits and so much of our industry is about spending time with people and the energy you feed off the other person and a lot of that has become a lot more difficult. When you’re off camera and reading with someone they have a mask covering half their face, so to read their expression becomes insanely difficult. It has become a completely different industry in my experience and it’s pretty isolating, you have to really love the art to continue to do it in this time.
A couple of your co-stars in Roswell were also in The Vampire Diaries, so you seem to have a community you’re part of from one show to another.
Absolutely, including behind the camera. Julie Plec is one of the creators of Roswell and she also executive produced Vampire Diaries. Carina MacKenzie works on it and also worked on the Originals which was a spin-off of Vampire Diaries and one of the stars of Roswell, Michael Trevino also was in The Vampire Diaries. Michael Trevino is one of my husband and mine’s best friends so it’s really fun to have a close friend like that, especially in these experiences where it is so isolating to have someone you can trust who you can say that you and I have both been tested, maybe we can take our masks off and feel normal for a minute. Our industry is so massive but then times like that it feels small and you end up feeling like family, I’m always so grateful for those times because there are many moments when you feel like a fish out of water.
Vampire Diaries has a cult following.
I think so, vampires became such a huge obsession for a long time, Twilight was huge then, Vampire Diaries followed and True Blood. Tanner and I were talking about that the other day and how one of those shows becomes like a Melrose Place or the original 90210 where it sort of supersedes time. That show is now on Netflix and it’s bigger than ever. I think now because of COVID and quarantine we need that stimulation, we need to escape to another world and why not some fantastical world like that.
I confess I hadn’t watched Vampire Diaries until I prepared for this interview but I really enjoyed it even though I’m not the target demographic.
Oh, I’m so glad to hear that! Everyone loves a Romeo and Juliet forbidden love story and that’s exactly what that is only told in a high school setting and let’s be honest, all of us want to redo high school so it was fun to be able to redo high school through the television. I lived with Nina Dobrev through the first season and it was fun. I think you really know someone when you live with them. Candice King and I now have our podcast together, she was in my wedding. I feel like I have really cultivated relationships from that show that will last a lifetime. We were all in our young twenties and I think you’re still learning who you are as an individual and so we were learning to grow together and I’ll always be so appreciative of that experience.
Tell us about the podcast.
We were sitting on Candice’s bathroom floor, feeling a little lost in life and genuinely wondering, what do we do next? We thought, we feel this way, I’m sure many other people feel this way too, so let’s just start recording it and if it fails, so what, we tried it and if it turns into something, great! I think there’s something really beneficial about feeling it’s ok to fail. Feeling like hey, if this doesn’t work out it’ll disappear and it’ll be fine. So we just kind of did that and now it did become something so it’s nice.
Your podcast is geared towards women in their thirties but you’ve had some interesting guests who would appeal to a wider audience.
I agree, we had Jennifer McClellan on recently who is a Virginia senator who is running for re-election and that was a fascinating conversation, someone who I never thought I’d interview in my lifetime and that is what this podcast has done. It’s interesting how free you feel when you admit you don’t have everything together and that’s exactly what we do on the podcast. We don’t know everything and we’re going to try and become better so let’s interview people who we think have their shit together and see if we can learn something from them. There’s a lovely local company that we just interviewed called The Valley of Change and they believe in equality and Black Lives Matter and they’re trying to make sure our world is a better place. We also have Paul Wesley on from The Vampire Diaries and he’s one of the Sexiest Men Alive in People Magazine this year so some episodes are really fun and some are a little more serious. All in all, it’s fun to do it with one of my best friends and learn and grow, especially during this pandemic and it’s something we can do from home. I had my baby during the podcast so to be a new mom and also to have a job was really great and Candice just had a new baby in quarantine so she feels the same way. We’re just having fun doing it, it’s really great. There are so many podcasts out there now, the market is really saturated so I’m glad we started when we did.
You’ve had some cool roles in your career and they are often somewhat villainous.
It’s really fun to play the villain but people are starting to think it’s who I am in person, and then they meet me and say whoa, you’re the opposite of the characters you play. As an actor though, I have to say it’s really fun to play someone you’re not. I remember for Vampire Diaries, my character Vicki Donovan did a lot of drugs and my mom sat me down and said “Honey, I need to talk to you. Do we need to find you help, what’s happening?” and I said “Mom, this is the biggest compliment, you actually think I know what I’m doing on screen.”
That was a juicy character for the limited number of episodes you were in, your character actually initiated the ending of the series.
I know, I blew up the whole town! Vicki Donovon the character dies in the book so I knew it was coming but didn’t know it was coming so soon. So when it happened it was really hard for me to transition to not being on the show anymore, to go through seeing it everywhere, all my best friends still on the show, having to move back home and then getting back to the grind of acting and figuring out what my next job was going to be, that was hard. Also at the time my mom was battling cancer so there was a lot going on at the time and that one year of my life was the one that shaped me the most as an individual, even more so than this past year in quarantine. You learn a lot about yourself when you go through hard times but I felt like Vicki Donovan was so vindicated in the end because so much shit happened to her on that show and in the end she got to burn the whole town down.
I watched an episode of Me and my Grandma and I laughed my ass off at your character.
Thanks, I feel that comedy is so much fun and more my natural energy level. I love doing it so much more than drama, instead of crying your eyes out, you’re making people laugh. It’s a bit heightened, it’s a different type of acting but that show was so much fun to do and it was good for me because I hadn’t done a lot comedy, it was a good learning experience. Rhea Pearlman is so professional and it’s nice to meet someone and they live up to your expectations.
You have a new movie that’s just been released, Agent Revelation.
Agent Revelation is really fun because again, I had never done a lot of stunt work and combat fighting and this gave me that experience. Sci-Fi is such a fun genre to do, talk about escaping into a whole new world. Derek Ting is the writer and director and star, it’s such a passion project of his and it was a collaborative experience. My role of Billy was originally written for a male and I went in for a different role. When I left the room, I got a call and they said hey, this is really interesting, you’re not going to get that role but they really want to work with you so they’ve decided to change the male role into a female role. I thought that was such a high compliment and so cool, especially right now there’s so many people standing up for what they believe in with equal rights so what a great way to honour that. Hence the character Billy was born and I made her this junk food eating, techie, weird funky girl and it was so much fun to play.
How was it working with Michael Dorn?
Another pro, all of his dialogue was expositional, meaning it explains the story and as an actor that’s quite possibly the hardest dialogue to deliver. He is such a pro, it just falls out of his mouth, he makes you as an audience understand what’s going on and that is really hard to do. I just respect him so much, he’s just classic. And also when promoting the movie right now he’s taking it on and making it his own. I just really respect actors like that who if they commit to a project they’re going to do everything they can to make it successful.
Tanner did an episode of Letterkenny and his character name, Zack Russell Terrier was pure Canadian humour. Do you find Letterkenny funny?
Oh, yeah, before Tanner was on the show! I think that show is genius and for whatever reason for a while it wasn’t getting all that much traction and then they put it on HULU and now it’s everywhere. My brother was watching the show not knowing that Tanner was on it and Face Timed us and said, what the heck, you’re on my favourite show! Hats off to those gentlemen and their writing, they know what they’re doing and it’s brilliant.
Being in a relationship with a Canadian for ten years now, have you come to appreciate Canada more? Do you watch hockey now?
Are you kidding me? I wouldn’t be allowed to live in this household if I didn’t watch hockey. My brother played college soccer and I found a lot of similarities when I first started watching hockey. Jerry Bruckheimer has a weekly pickup hockey game with some really good actors like Cuba Gooding Jr. and all these fantastic people and it’s a tight knit group of guys and you can go watch them, so I really fell in love with hockey watching my husband play. Now I’m a huge Kings fan, we love The Kings and obviously The Oilers as well because he’s from Edmonton. The only time we’re not together on hockey is during The Olympics. I’m going to go Team USA and he’s going to go Team Canada.
Check-out Kayla Ewell and Candice King’s podcast Directionally Challenged on all your favourite players or here: candicekayla.com