Kayden Tokarski, hailing from Orange County, California, has quickly established herself as a formidable talent in the acting community, amassing an impressive collection of 23 awards in recognition of her acting prowess. She shines brightly in her portrayal of a young Julia Roberts in the Starz TV series “Gaslit,” among other notable roles in “My Melancholy Baby” on Amazon Prime, the highly anticipated “Love’s Fast Lane,” and films like “Mama Bear,” alongside Anthony Michael Hall in “Roswell Delirium,” and “Curse of Vandor” with Dee Wallace.
Since embarking on her acting journey in 2020, Kayden has swiftly risen through the ranks, bagging 23 Best Actress Awards and securing four additional nominations. Her performances in “Apocalypse Love Story,” “My Melancholy Baby,” “I Miss Her, Too,” “Message from the Mermaids,” and “The In-Between Place” have garnered widespread acclaim, particularly highlighting her role in “Gaslit” and the indie project “Bombay Beach,” which earned her top honors at the Young Entertainer Awards in 2023.
Kayden’s talents extend beyond the screen; she is also a gifted singer and a junior-Olympic level competitive diver. Her dedication to giving back to the community is evident in her contributions, including keynote speeches at significant events like the 33rd annual Walk Against Drugs, supporting the Red Cross in Los Angeles, and participating in the Joyful Child Foundation’s “Be Brave” initiative. Kayden Tokarski’s journey in the entertainment world is marked by her remarkable achievements and her unwavering commitment to making a difference both on and off the screen.
Kayden, how did you first get interested in acting, and what inspired you to pursue it professionally?
I have been wanting to act since I was 4 years old and watched Disney sitcoms like “Good Luck Charlie” and “Shake It Up.” Zendaya was (and still is) a huge inspiration to me. I kept asking my parents if I could “be on TV” and it wasn’t until I played the lead in a school play in 4th grade that my parents knew I was series and passionate about the craft. I have always loved watching actors bring stories to life on stage and through television and film. It’s so magical and inspiring to me. Acting is something I feel incredibly fortunate to do.
How did you prepare for your role as a young Julia Roberts (Martha Mitchell) in “Gaslit”?
Portraying a young Julia Roberts was a dream come true! I worked with the amazing actor Jesse Bush who plays my dad in this original series, which is a modern take on the Watergate scandal. He gave me tips on the spot on how to do a Southern accent. It was amazing to work with him and Director Matt Ross who is also so talented.
Can you share your experience working on “My Melancholy Baby” and what this project meant to you?
“My Melancholy Baby” on Amazon Prime was written by Keith Sharon who also wrote “Showtime” with Robert DeNiro and Eddie Murphy and “Finding Steve McQueen” with Forest Whitaker. It’s based on a true story that brings important topics like autism and addiction to light and the impacts on a family. I play a child with several developmental issues. I researched a lot and spent time with the family the film is based on, and it really helped me to connect with my character. I feel blessed to have had the opportunity.
What was it like working alongside Anthony Michael Hall in “Roswell Delirium”?
Anthony Michael Hall is also a producer of “Roswell Delirium,” and he was on set in that capacity while I filmed. He is so inspiring, talented and has a great vision. He was also extremely supportive to the child actors on set and is so down to earth.
How do you approach different characters, especially in diverse genres like those in “Mama Bear” and Curse of Vandor”?
“Mama Bear” is a thriller movie and my character experiences a lot of horrible things (which I can’t give away) but I always spend a lot of time breaking down my characters, their motivations, back stories, and how I can relate and bring the character to life. “Curse of Vandor” is a wonderful movie that stars Dee Wallace and is like a cross between the “Chronicles of Narnia” and “Stranger Things.” My character experiences some challenging things as well but is very confident and I love her perspective. I also bring a bit of myself to every character.
What does winning 23 Best Actress Awards mean to you, both personally and professionally?
I am so grateful to have won every single award. I have been honored with regional, national and international awards from film festivals and from the Young Entertainer Awards. I am so humbled by each award and feel a huge sense of gratitude that someone would take the time to watch and appreciate my work.
Can you tell us about your process for selecting and preparing for roles in films like “Apocalypse Love Story” and “I Miss Her, Too”?
“Apocalypse Love Story” was my first lead role in a feature film that filmed during the pandemic. It’s a bit ironic because the movie is about a young girl who thinks she is the only survivor left after an apocalyptic event. I really tried to channel what that would be like and I feel like the uncertainty at the time of the pandemic and its impacts really factored in. “I Miss Her, Too” is about grief and the relationship between a brother and sister after their mom passes away. I thought about how I would feel if (God forbid) my mom passed away. It really helped my performance to use that substitution.
What was your reaction to winning at the Young Entertainer Awards for “Bombay Beach”?
Oh my gosh, I did not see that coming! It was an incredible honor to receive the award, go on stage and be able to thank the organization for the award as well as my incredible agents and manager for believing in me.
Besides acting, you’re a talented singer and diver. How do these skills complement your acting?
Being a diver requires constant learning, training, perseverance and positivity. It’s so challenging and very similar to acting. You have to be committed to your sport and craft and keep going no matter what. There are certainly many highs and lows in both diving and acting, but if you believe in yourself and never give up, you can reach your goals. I have been training as a singer for 1.5 years and it’s crazy to see growth through consistent commitment.
How important is community service to you and can you share about your involvement with the Joyful Child Foundation?
I think community service is something everyone should do because it’s important to give back and help others. The Joyful Child Foundation is an incredible organization founded by Erin Runnion in memory of her daughter Samantha Runnion. The organization works to prevent crimes against children through education, empowerment and programs. The work they do is so amazing. I was fortunate to play a role in the organization’s pilot “Be Brave” program that focused on teaching kids warning signs, self-defense moves and other ways to stay safe. It really had a big impact on me. I am so grateful to Erin for the incredible work she does and for being such an inspiration to me.
In “Roswell Delirium,” you play a Becky. How did you prepare for this role set in post-nuclear America?
Along with Anthony Michael Hall, this sci-fi stars iconic actors including Dee Wallace, Sam Jones and Reginald VelJohnson. It is set in the 1980s and Becky is a mean girl. I watched some films from that era to help prepare and really tried to channel who Becky is and why she acts the way she does. Every character always has so many different layers, and it’s fun to explore and expand those layers.
How do you balance the demands of your acting career with other interests and activities?
It is a balancing act because I am so passionate about acting and consistently honing my craft. However, I love spending time with family and friends when I can and that keeps me grounded.
Can you share a memorable experience from filming “Love’s Fast Lane”?
I absolutely loved filming this romcom that has an amazing director, cast and crew. My fellow castmates are so talented and hilarious. We had so many laughs and really connected. I feel so grateful to have had this amazing experience.
Stay in touch with Kayden by following her @kaydentokarski on Instagram, X, YouTube and at @kkaydentokarski on TikTok.