From American Horror Story to West Side Story, rising actor Kyle Allen is storming his way through the industry with professionalism and charm, his unique performing arts background – spanning ballet, acrobatics, and martial arts – helping him stand out from the masses. Now, starring in the timeless and iconic love story, West Side Story, as a trouble-seeking Jet, Allen continues to showcase why he deserves a place on the screen.
We talk to The Map of Tiny Perfect Things star about his not-so-linear journey into acting and his unforgettable experience working with the godfather of modern cinema, Steven Spielberg, in this ageless Hollywood classic.
Tunic top by DANSHAN and virgin wool trousers by SANDRO
Tunic top by DANSHAN and virgin wool trousers by SANDRO
Hello Kyle! Talk us through how you got into acting, was it always something you wanted to do?
It turns out I was the only one in my family/friend group that was surprised I started acting. I wanted to be in the circus since I was seven or something. I moved to LA after graduating from high school with very little idea of what I was doing. I would take dance classes and flip over people on Venice beach for money and pretty much laugh at everyone who suggested I try acting. I literally remember googling ‘how to be an actor.’ Watched an interview with Larry Moss who in my opinion is THE acting teacher and historian of our time. I was so inspired by him and his passion for the craft that I started dedicating every possible second to learning it. I think I called my mom immediately and said, “I think I’m going to be an actor.” And she was like, “Duh.”
Talk us through your journey from acrobat to professional ballet dancer and avid martial artist. How has dance informed you as an actor?
I’ve always been a mover, always climbed all over everything, and mimicked animals and people with distinct physical behaviours as a kid. Then I got the chance to go to the Kirov Academy of Ballet where I had some amazing teachers who introduced me to mime, emotionally informed movement, as well as ballet and theatre history. I had always loved martial arts in cinema, I would watch the sword fight in The Princess Bride over and over again. I think that’s what began my fascination with martial arts. When I had booked my first paying acting gig I pretty much spent all of my money on martial arts lessons. … actually, I still do that. I struggle to find what part of my acting is not informed by dance. It’s all connected for me, martial arts and dance and acting all feed each other.
You’re starring in Steven Spielberg’s adaptation of the Hollywood classic West Side Story, how did you feel when you got the role?
I don’t think I knew what joy meant until I got that call. I was babysitting my friend’s dog – there’s a video somewhere and his dog is clearly judging my laughing/ crying panic attack – and I spent about 7 minutes in the fetal position just saying, ‘Woah’ over and over again.
What was it like working with the legendary Steven Spielberg?
As a young person in the industry, all we have are stories of the greats who came before us. We feel like we are hanging out on the stages they built for us. Steven is one of those people. It was so beautiful and relieving to see how genuine he is with everyone. I remember him coming into one of the final auditions when we were all dancing, he just waved, smiled, got on the floor, and started recording on his personal camera. He wasted no time and was just excited to make his movie. Proud to be playing on his stage.
(LEFT) Trousers by SANDRO and suede jacket MARTIN ASBJØRN (RIGHT) “tie-dye check” printed overshirt by ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA XXX, thick linen double pleat trousers by ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA XXX and calf leather loafer by ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA XXX
Trousers by SANDRO and suede jacket MARTIN ASBJØRN “tie-dye check” printed overshirt by ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA XXX, thick linen double pleat trousers by ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA XXX and calf leather loafer by ERMENEGILDO ZEGNA XXX
What do you hope viewers take away from West Side Story?
Above all…that our time is short. It’s not just that hate is wrong, It’s that it’s impractical. We aren’t alive long enough for hate to make sense. There’s barely enough time to love to your full capacity. Get over it. Love now.
What’s been the biggest ‘pinch-me’ moment in your career so far?
I used to drive past this billboard on highland heading to my acting class. I remember looking at it and I would think to myself, ‘Someday I’ll be up there.’ A few years later, I’m driving up highland and I almost crashed because there I was on the billboard for The Map of Tiny Perfect Things. Now the dent in my car just reminds me of that moment. It’s not that I care about the billboard – they take it down in two weeks – to me, it was a full-circle moment. It let a part of me really understand that anything is possible.
What are some of the biggest challenges you’ve experienced in the industry so far? How would you like it to change?
I know that actions are being taken to diversify writers’ rooms and the casting process as a whole. I’d love to see more people of colour involved on the production and executive side. I think to make that happen we need more outreach and industry training programs for less privileged groups. It’s one thing to open the door, it’s another to go out and invite people inside.
It’s been amazing seeing you in all of your recent projects! What should we expect from you in the future?
I think there’s a lot of unexplored territory in the action genre so I have a few things going that expand into that more. I’m very excited.