Kyla-Drew isn’t a stranger to series TV. She starred in Nickelodeon’s Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn, Netflix’s No Good Nick, and Brat TV’s Crown Lake. But none of those shows featured a star of the magnitude of Jamie Foxx, so when the 17-year-old from Atlanta auditioned for the Netflix comedy Dad Stop Embarrassing Me!, needless to say, she was a little bit intimidated.
“When I first stepped into that chemistry read, I was star struck and that does not happen a lot,” she told Monsters & Critics in this exclusive interview.
“I never get star struck, but I guess I have seen Jamie Foxx on the big screen since I was a little girl. And so, just seeing him in real life in an audition where I’d be reading with him, I was star struck, but also content with the opportunity to just get to a chemistry [read], let alone book the series.”
In Dad Stop Embarrassing Me! Foxx plays Brian Dixon, the owner of a successful beauty company and a single dad, who just became a full-time father to his teenage daughter Sasha (Kyla-Drew), and determines to be the best father he can be, even if he doesn’t always get it right.
The series is based on the real-life relationship between Foxx and his daughter Corrine, who also serves as one of the executive producers on the show, so Corrine and Kyla-Drew put their heads together before the start of filming so Corrine could give Kyla-Drew a few tips on playing her.
“Corrine was very open to being collaborative with me in terms of creative freedom,” Kyla-Drew said. “When it came to Sasha, she wanted me to make the character my own. And so, she gave me her number and it was just like, ‘Reach out to me if you need anything. If you have questions about the storyline, if you think this is a real story, if you have a question about costuming, anything.’ She was very embracing in that sense. She’s literally the best.”
M&C also chatted more with Kyla-Drew about the audition process, teachable moments on the comedy, and her plans for the future, which are not that different from Corrine Foxx’s.
Monsters & Critics: Do you remember what you thought when you read the script for the first time?
Kyla-Drew: The first time I read the script, I thought it was funny on top of funny on top of funny. I literally couldn’t stop laughing. My mom and I were reading the script in our rooms and I heard her down the hall just cracking up. The level of comedy in it is just outrageous.
M&C: What was the audition process like for you?
Kyla-Drew: The audition process was about three weeks long. I initially went in and I forgot to print out all my pages, which is a very rookie mistake, but God blessed me, because we only did the first scene. I was like, “Yes!” I had it memorized.
Then I went to class and by the time I got out of class, I was pinned for the role, which means that there was some level of interest. Then the following week, I did a chemistry with Jamie and then I went in again the next week for another chemistry read. And then they told me that I got the role, and I was going to be on Dad Stop Embarrassing Me, which was untitled at the time.
M&C: How is Sasha like you and how is she not like you?
Kyla-Drew: I would say Sasha and I are both very determined, and we can be a little bit stubborn to a certain extent. However, I think she might be a little more attitudinal than I am because I can’t really get away with that with my mama because she’ll check me real quick. But Sasha definitely gets away with a lot.
M&C: What about fashion wise? Do you have a lot of input into her style? Is your style similar to hers?
Kyla-Drew: I would say Sasha is very spunky and fun in her wardrobe, and it’s also still young and not too old, because sometimes 16-year-olds out here look 25. And so, I think it was nice that Sasha and I had that in common in the sense of wanting to stay age-appropriate. I think you can tell in the wardrobe.
M&C: The show focuses a lot on fashion. There’s the scene with Jamie poured into the white jeans, there’s the scene where you’re in line to get the kicks, to name a few. Why do you think that is such a story point?
Kyla-Drew: Because dads, not even just dads, but older people always want to be like Gen Z. They want to be cool to the kids. And they think that the skinny jeans, the tight pants and stuff is cool, but not so much.
M&C: The show definitely is played for laughs, but do you think that teachable moments are snuck in as well? And if so, are those important to you?
Kyla-Drew: Our story is a comedy, but I think that any given turn, we do take the opportunity to turn it into a life lesson. And that’s a big part of why I want to act is to tell stories, but also use my platform to educate and to have meaning because that’s what art is. Art is meaning.
M&C: What was it like filming with COVID protocols?
Kyla-Drew: The COVID protocols were definitely a heavy change, but I think it brought us closer as a set because you have to look past all the masks and face shields, even the level of communication, pretty much, you could only see people’s eyes. Right?
But eyes are so expressive that I think it was really telling in terms of communication, you’re really paying more attention, which is what we should have been doing before. So, I think there was a pro to that in terms of the communication was just leveled up because of all the COVID protocols.
You are only 17, so school is still a part of your life. What are your plans?
Kyla-Drew: Well, I actually graduated high school when I was 15. And I already graduated from college. I went to community college for a year, and I got my associate’s degree in natural science, and now I’m like Corrine. I go to USC and I’m majoring in business.
M&C: Do you have any interest in the back end? Like producing, directing any of that?
Kyla-Drew: I would love to do that. That’s a big part of why I’m studying business because I want to understand the business side of the industry before I branch into it and start producing. I would love to start my own production company one day. That’s the goal. I just want to have the education and the knowledge behind me before I pursue that goal.
M&C: What did you learn about yourself during quarantine? Did something surprise you or did it reaffirm something that you already knew?
Kyla-Drew: Oh, that is a great question. I learned that I can be a people pleaser sometimes. I don’t want to do what other people tell me, but I can be a people pleaser sometimes.
And I think in quarantine, I learned: Why are you pleasing others? You please yourself! That’s probably the best lesson that I learned was just self. Take care of myself before thinking of others. It’s not even that because that sounds conceited, but it’s like making sure I’m straight before I feel the need to please everyone else. That’s what I learned.
Dad Stop Embarrassing is currently streaming on Netflix.