Kyla Kenedy, a 13-year-old actress from South Carolina, is one of the cast members on the new ABC comedy “Speechless.” The series looks at the efforts of a very determined mother (Minnie Driver) to find the right school for her son who has special needs.
The focus on the older child means the siblings, like Kyla’s Dylan, don’t get as much attention.
It was very simple for Kyla to slip into the role as the young actor has an older sister who has special needs because of a brain bleed when she was born. Kyla has watched as her sister grew up to live an independent life.
She’s playing the TV role a little different than her own life.
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“ I definitely think that any kid wants a lot of attention from their parent, but I definitely think that we kind of understand in the show also. I mean, I know Dylan personally really looks up to her mother and definitely tries to imitate her in many, many ways,” Kyla says. “When you are kind of raised that way and you kind of know how it is, you do want more attention.
“But I also think that we kind of understand in a way, but it is kind of hard sometimes, I guess, for us. But I definitely think Dylan tries to imitate Maya to kind of be like her and to get really close with her.”
Kyla knew at a young age that she wanted to act. Her mother told her that if she could land a role in a film that she could go after an acting career. She not only landed one role but has already rolled up 20 acting credits including a starring role in the new series.
It’s the time she spent working on “The Walking Dead” that has earned her the most attention. She played Mika Samuels one of two sisters who end up under the protection of the central players in the AMC series about the fight to survive in a world full of zombies.
“It wasn’t scary on the set. I would set next to a walker at lunch,” Kyla tells me at the Television Critics Press Tour.
Working on the show wasn’t scary but Kyla was involved in one of the most emotional and controversial episodes in the history of the series. In “The Grove,” Kyla’s character is killed by her sister, Lizzie (Brighton Sharbino). Lizzie commits the crime as a way of turning her sister into a zombie where she can talk with her forever.
When it’s discovered Lizzie has another murderous plan, she is killed in a very haunting sequence.
“That wasn’t me on the ground when they filmed the scene. I talked to the producer about it but I wasn’t there,” Kyla says. She wasn’t there but she remains part of one of the most memorable scenes in “The Walking Dead” history.