Sydney Mikayla – Going to Work
Words + Interview By Tyrone Davis
Actress Sydney Mikayla talks “General Hospital”, Nickelodeon, “The Gabby Douglas Story”, voice-over acting, “Transformers: Earthspark” and more.
Tell us about your role in “General Hospital”,
I portrayed the role of Trina Robinson as a spunky go-getter who would always stand up for her friends, be loyal to her family, and even go head-to-head with wanted criminals (her showdown with Cyrus Renault was epic). Trina also wears her heart on her sleeve as she falls in love with Spencer Cassidine but must be careful of his evil girlfriend Esme Prince. One of my last scenes was a showdown with Esme as I confronted her about hurting Trina’s friends.
When I was growing up, there was always a running joke on television or in film about women needing to “watch/catch up on their stories” and the joke worked so well because a lot of us had parents, grandparents, aunts, etc. who were die-hard fans of these shows in real life. Why do you think “General Hospital” has been able to last for generations?
I believe that’s because General Hospital has always been able to address modern-day issues on screen. For example, in 2020 General Hospital premiered a voting episode about the suffragette movement and the importance of voting around the November elections. I’ve never seen a soap opera so boldly take a stance on a political issue and for General Hospital to premiere the episode around that time was groundbreaking.
How did your character evolve during the show?
Trina first started the show as Joslyn Jack’s best friend. She had no real backstory and was supposed to be the show’s “bad girl”. However, as the show progressed Trina found more of herself, and the audience realized she was someone to love. She found her voice, a backbone, a connection with the other characters, and even a love interest along the way.
Explain the format of a show like this and how it differs from other types of shows, like a sitcom.
A soap opera can be very dramatic and the same storylines can run over the course of a few months. The biggest difference is that a soap can shoot an entire episode in one day whereas you normally take an entire week to shoot a sitcom episode.
In what ways has social media affected daytime television?
I would say the fans on social media play a huge role. The fans are so invested in their favorite or not-so-favorite characters and will definitely speak out about it. It is amazing how they interact with us. The #sprina trend was popular on Twitter with fans shipping Trina and Spencer together. I think they are still waiting for them to finally become a couple.
You were recently nominated for your second Daytime Emmy Award for “Outstanding Younger Performer in a Drama Series”. How did that feel?
I was shocked to say the least. I didn’t know how good my chances were because I am not currently on the show, and I wasn’t sure if the judges would deem my performance strong enough. This experience has taught me to believe more in my capabilities and talent, and to be confident in my passion.
What was your biggest takeaway when starring as Gabby Douglas in Lifetime’s, “The Gabby Douglas Story”?
Working with Ms. Regina King was an honor and I hope to do that again in my lifetime. Her advice to always be a team player as an actress, and to continue to be there for your scene partner is advice that I will continue to use for the rest of my career.
You’ve gotten to work with some talented people. Is there anyone in particular that stands out to you in reference to the experience and what you’ve learned from them?
I enjoyed working with Kevin Hart on a show called, Little in Common. This isn’t an experience I ever really talk about because the show didn’t get picked up but it was a pilot I did with him when I was 8. I loved how he could always crack a joke and make anyone smile but when it was time to focus, it was time to buckle down and be serious about the craft.
What do you think is the biggest misconception about the entertainment industry?
The biggest misconception is that it’s not a job. Whenever I told people I was “going to work” and explained that I was an actress, people would always say, “I’m surprised you consider that work”. I love acting and I do believe that you should enjoy whatever career you choose but like most professions, it requires some sort of sacrifice – time, money, research and/or training.
What has been your most challenging role to date and why?
I would say Trina was my most challenging role because I always had to explore new facets of her. It was always something different to figure out and I had to fit the puzzle pieces together. I had to understand how the new intricacies of her character melded into what the audience already knew about her.
What is your dream role?
There are so many things that I would love to do, but I think it would be really awesome to do anything in the Jordan Peele universe. I’m a big fan and I really appreciate his style of cinematography. I’m beginning to study film in college so I’m developing an interest in writing and producing as well.
Nickelodeon has a long history and I think a lot of us under 40 grew up watching it. What is it like working with the network and what do you think about its legacy?
I’ve grown up watching a great deal of shows in the Nickelodeon family. I think many people in my generation probably have. So, to be a part of a network with such a long, successful history is very rewarding. I really love when I get to record at the Nickelodeon building. It makes me feel nostalgic and I definitely think Transformers: Earthspark will give everybody a really nostalgic vibe.
You have a lead role as Robby Malto in the series, correct?
Yes, Robby and his entire family have just moved to a remote town in Pennsylvania to start a new life. A lot starts to happen there as his family becomes involved with the first group of Transformers born on earth. Robby is a smart, charismatic, 13-year-old who starts out pretty grouchy but the excitement of meeting the transformers changes him.
What are your “Top 5” Nickelodeon shows of all time?
Kenan and Kel, Fairly Oddparents, Spongebob Squarepants, Rags (I know this is a movie, but it’s so great), and iCarly.
We’ve interviewed a few voice actors over the years and I’m always fascinated by them. Tell us about “Kipo and the Age of Wonders Beasts” and your role as Wolf.
I love talking about this role because I had no idea that the show would be as impactful as it was. When we were recording, I just knew my mom wanted me to enjoy myself and save up for college. Months later, not only is it on Netflix, but people love the show. Wolf is a 10-year-old girl who practically raised herself, she also helps Kipo try to find her father and in doing so finds herself along the way.
Aside from the obvious, what are the main differences between voice-over acting and physical acting? How do you approach the two?
There is no difference. I believe that’s why I’ve had as much success as I’ve had in the field. Everything has to be real, raw, emotional and coming from a place that’s true. Every character has an objective and a backstory so even though people cannot see me, one style does not require less effort than another.
Was this a role you actively sought after or do you take them as they become available?
Well, I have a really great team so they are always on the lookout for exciting new projects. To be honest, this one was really exciting because when I first auditioned for it I had no idea what it was. They were very secretive about it and the whole project had a code name. I don’t think I was told what the actual project was until I had booked it!
You’re involved in quite a bit. How do you manage everything and how does it affect your mental health?
It can get difficult, but meditation, prayer, and calling my mom (A LOT) have been great for me.
Describe a normal day for you.
Get up (my natural body clock wakes me up at 6am most days). Workout. Business. Voice Over Session. Homework. Write Pilot. Class.
Is there any genre in film that you haven’t gotten into yet that you’d like to? If so, which one and why?
Afro surrealism. People think they don’t know what it is, but if you’ve seen Get Out, US, Atlanta, Sorry to Bother You, or Insecure then you’ve seen or heard of afro surrealism. I love this genre;. It’s creepy, off putting, and comedic in some cases. I love pieces that make you think and I love seeing black people onscreen.
A lot of major changes have occurred over the last few years with the COVID-19 pandemic, civil unrest, etc. How have you maintained it throughout?
Sometimes, you’ve got to stay off social media. It can be a real trap and especially during the shooting of George Floyd I felt physically sick watching that trauma replayed a million times.
Student loan debt has been a huge topic over the last few years and has affected a lot of people, regardless of economic status. As a college student yourself, what are your thoughts?
I believe that everyone should have an opportunity to get the education they desire. I hope that something can be done to make sure access to the education system is equitable and attainable for everyone. Eliminating some of that debt would certainly be helpful to all learners, especially black and brown students. Everyone should have a chance to succeed.
Name 5 things on your bucket list to wrap up 2022.
Ace my first set of classes Sophomore year, get a bae, book a project with Shawn Levy, book a project with Jordan Peele and have a very interesting conversation with Lakeith Stanfield.
A. Now that I’m getting into afro surrealism, I notice Lakeith literally plays the same character (Sorry to Bother You, Get Out, Atlanta). The thing is, even though I think the characters are nearly the same, it’s the most integral character. The one that notices that the surreal world the show takes place in is skewed. I just want to know how you get cast as the most awesome person in every project you do? Seems like such a fun career.
Lastly, if anyone wants to keep up with your journey, how do they go about it?
Follow me @officialsydneymikayla on Instagram or @sydneymikayla on Twitter!
Photos: A.N.S Photography
Makeup: Alie Fleck
Stylists: Alexandria K.B Elam & Nicholas Robinson