Actress Chelsea Kane is probably best known for her appearances on the Disney Channel in programs such as Starstruck, Minutemen and Jonas, and for Dancing with the Stars. Now she is appearing as Riley Perrin, the former fatty-turned-hottie, on the new ABC Family’s comedy series Baby Daddy. Chelsea recently participated in a press Q&A call to talk about her work on Baby Daddy.
What was it about Riley that interested you?
C. Kane: I loved the character of Riley the minute I read the script. I think the thing that first interested me overall was the entire Baby Daddy concept. I thought it was just absolutely adorable, and the script is really funny, and it’s very rare that you get a script where you’re actually laughing out loud just at the lines on the paper, and I definitely had that with Baby Daddy, so immediately I was hooked.
I always love those characters, these women characters in comedy, women who are able to make fun of themselves. I grew up admiring Goldie Hawn and Jennifer Aniston and Debra Messing, and Riley is definitely in that category of women. She was overweight in high school and kind of butch in high school, and they make fun of her for that, but she’s also a really strong confident, powerful young woman. She’s going to law school. I just love those kinds of characters, just those girl next store, fun, funny, together women, so I was thrilled when they offered me the role of Riley because she was right up my alley.
What’s been your favorite moment filming so far?
C. Kane: Oh, gosh, it’s hard to pick. I think probably some of my favorite moments—we’re such a tight knit cast. We really got lucky that everyone hit it off completely and I think that’s so rare and so special. So when you get us all together in a group, it’s hilarity in twos, and we actually just shot an episode where we’re all in different Christmas costumes, and just the laughs behind the scenes and watching me walk around in a giant gingerbread costume was pretty funny, so we have a good time.
Is your character Riley going to have a lot of interaction with the actual baby on Baby Daddy?
C. Kane: I do have a lot of interaction with the baby, which is amazing. Working with a baby is so much fun. First of all, having a little one around just brings such a light to the set and such a different energy. It’s really fun to watch all these big crew guys and these cute, hot young actors kind of go out of their way to make this little girl smile. They doing like goo-goo, ga-ga faces and it definitely makes our set a really happy place.
Riley, my character, interacts with her a lot. I’m first kind of roped into the whole situation because the boys want a maternal instinct. They need a girl’s point of view and perspective on how to take care of this baby when she first shows up on their doorstep, and so I come over to try to help out and, of course, fall in love with Emma. She’s adorable, and so it’s nice. It takes a village. Everyone on the show has a lot of interaction with the baby, because we are a little family. We’re all raising this little girl together, even though we’re not directly related to her in some ways.
But behind the scenes, it was really interesting for me, too, because I had never held a baby before we started shooting the show, so that was terrifying and it’s been a real learning curve for me getting comfortable with the twins. But now I just love them and now I never want to let them go, we have such a good time when the babies are around.
Going back to the chemistry you mentioned earlier, from what I’ve seen so far, it looks like the cast has amazing chemistry. Did any of you know each other before Baby Daddy, or did you guys first meet on the set?
C. Kane: Yes, the very first time we all met was on the set at shooting the pilot back in November, and that was really cool, especially since there are so many young actors on the show, I feel young Hollywood is a very small town. It’s a small world. Everyone seems to know each other or knows something about each other or someone’s dated someone and there was none of that with this cast. We were all kind of walking into this completely blind having no idea what anyone else is about.
The fact that we’ve hit it off the way that we have is just amazing. I can’t tell you how much I love these people, and I hope they feel the same way about me, but it’s not those relationships of like I really enjoy going to work. It’s definitely that, but it’s also after work, we love to go out. These people I’ll call in the middle of the night if something is wrong and I need help. They’re so amazing and everyone has such great families and friends and we’ve really become a tight knit group, so I have no doubt that we’ll be going through a lot of things in life together on screen and off.
While on the set, how much are you guys allowed to improvise?
C. Kane: We try to stick to the script as much as possible, but we have been given the gift that is Melissa Peterman. She plays Bonnie Wheeler, her mom, and for me as a young female wanting to go into the sitcom world, like I’m so blessed to have someone like that to look up to. I idolize her and she can think on her feet, and she’s so funny and she improvises a lot and comes up with a lot.
She should also have a writing credit on the show, because she’s constantly coming up with new material for our scenes. So that’s really fun because we usually get in front of the live audience, we’ll do one take that’s exactly what the writers have written, one or two takes, of course. Then usually by the third or fourth take, we were allowed to start to play, and that’s when it gets really fun because sometimes something magical happens, but no one expects it, and it gets a really big laugh and it’s fun when you get to see those moments end up on the show.
I am a younger parent, so I’m super excited to see the show, because I feel like I can just relate to just being young and a mom. What age range do you think the show is really going to relate to? Can the whole family sit down and watch it together? Are there parts where people are just going to—my kid is going to laugh, I’m going to laugh, my husband is going to laugh? What do you think?
C. Kane: Oh, first of all, I love that question. It’s so cool, but, yes, I think you’ll really enjoy it as a young parent, too, but it definitely is a show for the entire family. In our live audience, I can sit there and look out and we have little kids. We have people on the show that bring their little ones or people on our crew that have little kids there up to my grandparents have come to the show; and you see older people in our audience and they’re loving it, because it’s just dealing with life at every age.
Of course, our core group are these 20-somethings growing up in the city trying to raise this little girl, but I think parents will enjoy it, because they get to laugh at all the mistakes that kids make when they think how easy parenting is.
Some of my favorite moments are in the first couple episodes when the boys are buying food for the first time, and they’re buying solid food or they’re taking them out for the entire day and they bring one bottle and one diaper, thinking that that will be enough. It’s really cute to watch them learn, and I think adults will like that and I think people my age, college age and older and high school will enjoy it, because we’re their peers and it also doesn’t suck to look at the three lead guys, they’re adorable; and little kids will like it. It’s colorful. There are a lot of funny moments. It’s all about love and family and friendship, and I think that’s what’s so nice about sitcom, it’s an escape. You get to enjoy that half hour of your evening.
You said that you didn’t have any baby experience, did you have to take any Baby 101 classes? Did you have to learn how to handle the baby certain ways or anything like that?
C. Kane: No, we didn’t. It was just, we just tried to make the set very comfortable for the babies, because everyone else was really comfort—I kind of didn’t tell anyone that I had no baby experience, because I wanted the job. So it all started, we would bring the babies on set every day for maybe an hour while we were rehearsing just to make them comfortable with our stage, all the people that were going to be there. We would kind of let each character, each cast member hold them for a little while and walk around with them and spend some time with them just so they would be familiar with us.
That’s when everyone realized that I had no idea what I was doing because I was really scared to hold the baby for the first time. So our producer, our executive producer and creator, Dan Berendsen, was the one that really pulled me aside and said, “You look terrified. We got to get you used to it.”
So I just tried to spend a lot of time with the babies. I’ll hang out in their dressing room. They have the biggest dressing room of any of us, it’s pretty funny. They have two cribs and a little play area, so I tried to just learn the same way anyone else would, what works and what doesn’t. It’s definitely been a crash course in parenting for sure.
You have had a wonderful career with Disney Channel, and a lot of stars coming out of Disney Channel have a difficult time in transitioning to other projects. Have you found it difficult to transition then into other projects, and if not, what is your secret to success with that?
C. Kane: I feel like I’ve been very blessed and this transition has been very easy for me and exactly the way I wanted it to go. I loved being on Disney Channel. It was the best time of my life. It was such a wonderful place to grow up. I loved Jonas and the Jonas brothers and everyone that I was able to work with over there. I just feel really lucky that I’ve been able to kind of stay in the Mouse House.
I went from Disney right into Dancing with the Stars on ABC and then from there, I started working with ABC Family almost immediately. I love that, because I love my fans over at Disney Channel, and I think we’ve been through a lot together, and I’m so happy that we’re all able to continue on the same path together.
They were able to watch me on Dancing and now they’re able to watch me in another family friendly, fun show that’s where I get to play a little older. I’m excited that I’m not playing high school anymore. You’ll see scenes when we’re in a bar and I’m holding a glass of champagne and that’s really funny for me to being doing it on camera for the first time; but I’m so happy that my transition has been as smooth as it has gone, because I know it’s a really scary territory to step into once you’re out of Disney Channel. Yes, I hope my fans are able to come on another adventure with me, because they’re the best fans in the world.
What advice would you give to maybe some of your Disney Channel family members that are maybe having a difficult time with it right now?
C. Kane: Well, I think the hardest part is just knowing who you are. It’s still a career path. The kids on Disney Channel are still actors, they’re playing these roles. I think a lot of times those lines are blurred between the roles they play and who they are in real life. I think as long as they know who they are, then they take projects that make them happy, that’s really all that matters. You know, it’s their lives at the end of the day.
For me the projects that make me happy are these projects, dancing and projects that my parents can tune into and my grandmother can tune into and will be proud of. I just continue to audition for those and fight for those roles, and I’ve been really lucky that I’ve been working.
As the character grows and spends more time with the baby, do you think that we’ll see a kinder, gentler Riley as the season progresses?
C. Kane: Yes, I think there are definitely a lot of sweet moments with Riley with all the characters, and I think that’s what makes those moments even more touching is because she is kind of such a tough cookie all the rest of the time. She’s constantly beating up on the boys and or taking their schoolwork seriously or taking something, something very seriously, she’s definitely a Type A personality.
You know when she finally does have those kind of breakthrough moments with Ben or with Danny about how she’s feeling or how she still feels like people see her as fat pants … or … the fat girl from high school, and she feels like she can’t get past that, or with Ben who she has crazy feelings for will never feel the same way about her. I think that makes those moments so much more delicious, because they don’t happen often.
You’ve done everything. I mean you’ve done TV and a big screen movie and you’ve been on Broadway and you dance. Do you have any real preference right now or is just everything equal across the board?
C. Kane: I love that I’ve been able to kind of have a little taste of everything and they’re all amazing for different reasons, but sitcom, I’m so happy here. I’m so happy in the sitcom world, because I grew up doing musical theatre and that was my first love, but I wanted to be on camera.
So to be able to film a show in front of a live audience is unbelievable to have that instant feedback and that energy and hear the laughs and there’s still a show night. Tonight is show night, so I’ll go to set in about an hour, and we’ll rehearse with the cameras; and then we bring in the audience and get hair and makeup and it feels just like you’re putting on a show, so it’s really amazing to have my worlds collide in a sitcom. I love it.
How did the Baby Daddy dance off video come about?
C. Kane: You know, that’s a good question. We just kind of decided to fly by the seat of our pants on that one. We were filming an episode that takes place in a nightclub, and that’s our nightclub set, and all of a sudden—we’re a very dancey cast, especially when we have the live audience in there, we play music in between takes. We have a stand-up comedian in the audience to really keep the energy up.
So whenever the music is playing, the cast is constantly dancing on set anyway, just kind of joking around. I think everyone kind of caught that and decided that we needed to just film a little segment where we’re all dancing. So they literally just put on some music and we danced around in the nightclub for about 15 minutes after wrap one day, and we were all laughing pretty hard when we saw that it actually ended up somewhere.
I have to ask who has the best moves?
C. Kane: Oh, definitely, Tahj. Tahj is an incredible dancer. He can breakdance, but I think Melissa gives him a run for his money, but in a very different way. If you’ve seen the video, I’m sure you know what I’m talking about.
Have you ever been to Disney World or Disneyland?
C. Kane: Oh, are you kidding? I practically live at Disneyland. I always have. My mom makes jokes that it’s only fitting that I ended up on the Disney Channel, so I can make back some of the money that we spent at Disneyland growing up.
We were season pass holders, or yearly pass holders from the time I was six years old. I grew up in Arizona, which was a six hour car ride, so summer vacations or spring breaks were always spent driving out to California and going to Disneyland. It was pretty amazing once I started working for the channel to be able to take my family and get the guide or go out to Disney World and go to the parks, so it’s just been an added bonus for sure. I love, love Disneyland.
Your character portrays sort of like a mother to the babies, and I just wondered if you had to draw on any TV moms, past or present, and who were they?
C. Kane: I actually haven’t really drawn from any TV moms, because I don’t think Riley is completely comfortable in being a mother figure as much as she just loves Emma, and she wants what’s best for her and loves to be around her, so she’s almost like the cool aunt. I think Ben takes on the full parenting aspect and then, of course, Bonnie, their mom, who is Emma’s grandmother, brings in that real maternal instinct of knowing all the right things to do and the right things to say and how to really to take care of this little one.
But I feel like Riley probably doesn’t know how to get her to sleep, but Riley will buy her an amazing tutu and some great shoes and play with her all day. She’s more of the fun caregiver, so I haven’t really drawn from anyone. I think I’m just taking from my own experience of what do I do, how do I fix the situation and make this baby happy, so I think a lot of what you see on camera from the actors is us really trying to figure it out in real life.
What type of mother do you think you would be?
C. Kane: You know, it’s pretty funny, because of course being around these babies, I’m like, “Oh, these babies are so cute.” My family members are like, “You are not having a kid. You’re too young,” but I think I have the best mom. She was amazing. I’m an only child and my mom was very involved. She was a room mom. She always cooked dinner and had desserts and she was just the best.
I think I’ll definitely follow in her footsteps as being very involved and one would only hope, right? So I hope that when I do have kids, I can just really focus in on them, and hopefully will have fulfilled other parts of my life, so that I feel happy moving on into motherhood.