Interview With Actress Chandler Kinney, “Lethal Weapon”

By Ruth on November 7, 2017 in Interview, movie, television
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Because of my friend Rick Ravanello (who guest-starred on the show once last season, but apparently met an untimely death), I first was made aware of the show Lethal Weapon. Initially, I was enticed to view this show on his recommendation, but from the moment I witnessed the opening scene of the pilot episode, I was hooked. And the actress who portrays Riana Murtaugh is one of the enchanting reasons for me to continue to support this entertaining, captivating, action-packed show. At the age of seventeen, Chandler Kinney is a seasoned professional with incredible talent that has not gone unnoticed. After chatting with her recently, I realized a couple of things. She is an undeniably gifted and willing to invest the time and energy necessary to continue growing in her professional life. However, she is also a positive spirit who intrinsically believes in the significance of giving back to the community.

RH: It is so lovely to get to talk with you today, Chandler. My family and I have been fans of Lethal Weapon from the beginning. We have watched every episode and have absolutely loved it. 

CK: Awesome!

It has been so great to see your character get some more screen time this season. 

Yeah, I’ve been so excited to see that happen. Thank you guys for watching!

We never watched the old movie the show was based on, but people said I needed to watch this show, and so I jumped in and watched it. And I’m so glad I did.

I cannot thank you enough for your support–the support of all the fans for this show.

with Keesha Sharp
Lethal Weapon

What got you interested in acting, Chandler?

I started as a dancer. From the age of three, I always knew I wanted to be an entertainer. I started dancing competitively, and I did that for about twelve years in total. Around the age of nine, I started doing some theater and took some acting lessons. Then I got the opportunity to audition for a commercial for the clothing line Gap. It was all new for me, but I had taken acting lessons so I knew what to do. I booked the commercial, and it’s funny… I tell people this all time, and they don’t always believe me, but it’s true. To this day, that was the biggest commercial I had ever done, and I enjoyed it so much. It was ridiculous. You can still find it online. It’s a holiday commercial for Gap.

So I had that on-set experience, and it was amazing to see what the crew does. And being in front of the camera, I found out was different from dancing on stage, but I enjoyed it. I liked changing up the way I did things take after take. And so I knew this was something I wanted to try out.

Then I started taking acting lessons a little bit more seriously. I got a commercial agent as a result of this experience. Eventually, that transitioned into a theatrical agent, and it snowballed from there.

That is just fantastic! Since you started off at three, you must be a natural-born entertainer. 

Yes, definitely. And when I was younger, dance was what I wanted to do. I wanted to become a professional dancer and become a dancer in a company, but I don’t know. My vision has changed over the years. Ultimately, there was a point when I was about fourteen when I had to commit to one–dancing or acting. I had been doing both at the same time. I was dancing thirty hours a week and on top of that, going out on auditions. Between learning all the dance steps and filming, it just became way too much. So I decided to commit to acting full time.

What do you consider your first big role in TV/movie?

It’s hard to say, but I think maybe American Horror Story. But the funny thing about that role is that I didn’t have any lines, but I think it was the first big show that I was on. But I also did six episodes of a show called The Haunted Hathaways on Nickelodeon. That one gave me a lot of experience as an actor in front of the camera. Nickelodeon and Disney work very fast, and so it gave me a whole different perspective of the acting world. I did a few other roles on other shows. I guest-starred on 90120. From each job, I’ve learned something different, and everything I’ve learned has helped me to become the actor that I am today and has helped me throughout my journey.

from Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street

I am not familiar with Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street.

That was an Amazon Original series. That show was an amazing experience because that was the longest I had ever gotten to play a character. I joined the show in the first season, third episode I think. It was originally just supposed to be a guest star role, but luckily I guess I did a good job and they liked my character and liked what I did with her. So they had me back over the course of the next three seasons. It was an amazing experience, and I think that really taught me the most. I had so much time and exposure working in front of the camera and working with all of these different directors. It was a really good platform to learn.

It is a kid/family show. It’s geared more towards kids. It’s centered around a group of friends that live on a street called Normal Street. It mixes fictional characters and storylines and magic. Throughout the series, they learn more about the street where they live and the mysteries behind it.

with Dante Brown
Lethal Weapon

How did you get involved with Lethal Weapon?

I finished filming Gortimer Gibbons in December of 2015. I was a little worried when I finished because I really didn’t want to go back on the audition trail because it’s such a long, hard thing to go through as an actor. But I booked Lethal Weapon in March of 2016, just three months after I wrapped Gortimer Gibbons.

It’s crazy. I don’t think people realize how fast your life can change. I went in and auditioned. Then I got the callback. The second time I went in, it was just me and Dante {Brown}, the boy who plays my brother on the show. I kind of booked it off of one audition. Then we had a producer session with Matt Miller, the showrunner, who also directed the pilot. They had us do a couple of the scenes together, and then they were like, “Okay, go home and watch the movie.”  We were like, “Does this mean we booked it?” It was really confusing. We never officially heard whether we had booked it or not till they sent over the script and contract. Going into it, I really had no idea what I was getting involved with. I had never seen the movie; it came out before my time.

Lethal Weapon

I think the chemistry that all the actors have on the show is absolutely phenomenal. Your family unit seems like a real family. You all interact like a real family. I have a teenage daughter, and I can relate to some of the teenage things that come up in the family. Did you guys all click right from the beginning? 

First of all, thank you, that means a lot. Thinking back, I remember the first day on set, and we pretty much did click. I think it was a perfect fit. Everyone was able to find their role in the family very well. The first scene we filmed all together was the dinner scene from the pilot where Riggs comes to the house for the first time and had that awkward family dinner. It really did feel like we were having a long family dinner. I remember it was kind of late at night and we were just hanging out. We were sitting around the table and talking and bonding and getting to know each other. Since then, it has grown even more. I’m glad you can see the chemistry on screen because I know it’s  there. We’re definitely close. And ultimately, I think it’s nice when everyone loves their job and loves the characters that they play. Then it just blends together really nicely.

You seem to have lots of fun on set together. I can’t imagine it not being a fun set to work on.

It’s so much fun! Obviously, Damon {Wayans} is hilarious! He’s a comedic genius. Even when we’re not filming, it’s so much to hang out and just talk on set. I have learned so much. Both Damon and Keesha {Sharp} have kind of become extensions of my real family. They’ve given me a lot of advice–career advice in the entertainment industry, but also outside of that. They’ve helped me envision what I want with my life. It’s always so much fun with them. And also all the actors outside the Murtaugh family are very cool. I’m close with Johnathan {Fernandez} who plays Scorsese. I don’t see Jordana {Brewster}  too much ’cause she typically films early in the morning. Everyone is just so great. We’re really blessed to have such a nice, happy cast. Everyone loves their job! It’s hard not to.

with Damon Wayans
Lethal Weapon

Can you tell us what your favorite–or at least one of your favorite–shows has been so far in either season?

I would have to say one of the most recent ones, “Flight Risk,” is my favorite so far in season two. I got to do a lot of fun stuff with my character on that episode, and I was very excited to film it. As an actor, you have a vision going into an episode, and you kind of know what you want it to look like. The cool thing about this episode is that my vision of what I wanted it to be when we filmed it was realized. I liked the way it turned out. For my character, Riana and Murtaugh, there was a really nice father-daughter bonding. In fact, the whole episode was really based around the bonding of the father and daughter. I hope we played it well. We definitely had a lot of fun filming it. It was great for my character as well because we get to see her grow up a little bit. I think in the first season we see her kind of struggling and going through her teenage years. She does things sometimes and doesn’t really think about the consequences. But I think going forward in the second season, I feel like this episode was kind of a turning point for Riana. She’s growing up and she’s standing for what she believes in.

with Keesha Sharp and Damon Wayans
Lethal Weapon

I love that Riana has a more significant role this season.

Yes, and in that one, her role was even more relevant to the crime. I really like that.

One other thing I noticed about you is that you do a lot of charity work. Could you tell us a little bit about your work?

Sure. My mom and I have actually created our own organization and it’s called Chandler’s Friends. We do events throughout the year and have partnered in the past with different charities and organizations. It’s something that is very near and dear to my heart.

We started with the idea of a blanket. We started working with a family friend who takes in a lot of foster children. Lots of times, when foster children are taken from their homes, they don’t get to take any of their personal items, and I can imagine that would be very traumatizing for a young child. So we started with the idea of a blanket which is almost like a hug. You know, you send a blanket, you send a hug. And it’s something for the child to have as their own. So we made blankets and sent them to our friend who takes in foster kids. It’s kind of grown from there.

Last year, we did a huge toy-wrapping event with Hasboro. We donated three hundred toys to a charity called School on Wheels that donates and services homeless families in the Los Angeles area who don’t have the means to have the traditional holiday stuff. We’re actually going to be doing another event this year–a toy drive–coming in December. We do what we can. It’s one of those things I love, and as I grow and do more within the entertainment industry, I’ll have even more resources to grow my organization even more.

I think that is really admirable. I love it when anyone gets involved in charity work and giving back, but I think it’s especially great when people in entertainment do it. And here you are as a teenager, and you’re doing it.  When I read about your charity work, I thought, “This girl has it together. She’s giving back to the community.” 

Thank you so much. Philanthropy is something in our family that I’ve been taught from a very young age. It’s kind of second nature for me to give back.

Chandler, I cannot tell you how fantastic it was chatting with you! I am so excited to keep watching you in Lethal Weapon and read all about your charity involvement.

Thank you, Ruth. Keep watching. You’re going to see Riana a lot more this season. And I just loved getting to talk to you today.

In my line of work, I meet a plethora of young people, and on most occasions, their light radiates from within, and I readily connect with their joie de vivre and dedication to their craft. I am perpetually encouraged by the excellent stories coming out of an industry fraught with malevolence, animosity, and lasciviousness. I am consistently heartened and inspired by these special young people who embody all that is good and wholesome in this world of ours. There is truly nothing I would rather do than acknowledge that which is virtuous in this oppressive world of ours.

Chandler, however, is absolutely in a class of her own, and I state that for a wide variety of reasons. First of all, most of the youngsters I know in the business work for Hallmark and live in Vancouver, BC. While I am aware of the universal existence of evil, I know that Hollywood is a massive metropolis with a tradition that stretches far beyond Vancouver’s. The fact that LA is densely populated and is still probably the top place for the pilgrimages of aspiring actors means that those who live and work there are bombarded with a concentrated amount of negativity and debauchery. Which brings me to my point.

The very idea that Chandler is a fairly successful working teenage actor in the LA area is a miracle in of itself. Moreover, the fact that she is not involved in the detrimental trappings that extensively ensnare youngsters is a testament to Chandler and her family. No doubt, Chandler was raised with conventional values that will ensure that she has a strong foundation rooted in love, tolerance, and humanitarianism. She is the perfect example of a young person (who is a “minority” and a “woman”) who has made the decision to do the right thing and follow the narrow path that leads to happiness and the fulfillment of her dreams. In addition to this, she has not permitted success to transform her into someone else who has forsaken the way she was raised. She has found a way to be truly content with her life, and the more resources she has, the more of a favorable, enduring impact she will make in the community and ultimately, the world.

So, if you are not watching Lethal Weapon on FOX on Tuesday nights, I strongly urge you to do so! This is a show that genuinely resonates with my family and me on many levels. The writing is smart, humorous, and touching at times. Within the course of an episode, I find myself laughing uproariously, jumping at unexpected stunts, and once in a while, giving into my sentimental side. As Riana, Chandler is the perfect epitome of the teenage girl who is growing into a beautiful and strong woman, and I anticipate witnessing her continued growth in grace, knowledge, and skill. I would also invite my readers to check out all her links below and follow where applicable. And this Christmas, why not follow Chandler’s lead? Find a place in the community or even around the world where you can give of your abundance and actually make a positive and lasting impact in this global society of ours. If Chandler can do it as a teenager, how much more should that challenge us adults to do it too?

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth

43-year-old single mother of an active 14-year-old girl
Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA
Entertainment Writer
Available For Interviews and Reviews
Substitute Teacher

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