Ayla Kell is best known for her starring role as Payson Keeler on ABC’s Make It or Break It. The talented actress now stars as a runaway teenager searching for her birthmother in Lifetime’s new movie, Missing at 17, airing Saturday, November 2nd at 4 p.m. ET/PT on Lifetime.
Celebrity Teen Scoop recently caught up with Ayla Kell about her long history with ballet, which she considers her “first love,” her role in Missing At 17, and her love of sports. She also chatted about being a “HUGE supporter” of the Burned Children Foundation & Camp Phoenix.
CTS: At a very young age you studied and danced with the American Ballet Theater. You also spent 15 years with the Royal Academy of Dance. What an accomplishment! What was it like being a ballerina so young? Has ballet always been your first love? Do you still dance?
Ayla: “Ballet was definitely my first love…there is something magical about the music and the costumes. I have always loved telling stories, and with ballet you tell the story with your body. Now I just get to talk! I always dance, but I had a major knee injury that keeps me from dancing as much as I want to. However, it’s still a part of me.”
CTS: Your first big starring role was on ABC Family’s “Make It or Break It.” What was that like? Do you still keep in touch with your co-stars from the show?
Ayla: “Of course we do! MIOBI was such a great experience for me; I was able to tie my dancing into my love of acting. Every day on set was so exciting. We had true Olympians there, so someone was always flipping around or hanging upside down. We all are still so grateful of our amazing MIOBI fans and all of the love they have shown us!”
CTS: Tell us about being a “certified cake decorator.” Is this your secret talent?
Ayla: “Cake decorating is one of my secret talents. I always loved baking, but adding color to the pastries really makes them pop. For me, I love making someone a birthday cake rather than going out and buying them one that anyone else could get. Giving your time is always so much more personal.”
CTS: What other things are you into? What do you and your friends do for fun?
Ayla: “I’m really into cinematography; love working behind the camera as much as I like being in front of it. Beach volleyball is another one of my loves, as it’s such a great way to stay in shape while getting a therapeutic day at the beach. I’m sure it doesn’t surprise anyone, but I also love to go out dancing with my friends. We love having good music and starting a dance party everywhere we go- not just with a DJ at a club!”
CTS: It seems you’re a bit of a sports fan. What teams are you cheering for?
Ayla: “I love my sports. I root for the Indianapolis Colts, because it’s a family thing. I grew up watching the Lakers with my dad, so I will always love them! My boyfriend is a soccer player and got me into watching it recently so for the World Cup…I will be split between USA and Argentina. As for soccer club teams, I’ve been watching Barcelona. Part of my favorite thing about sports is the camaraderie and the food at the games…it’s always about the food.” [laughs]
CTS: You’re a big supporter of the “Burned Children Foundation & Camp Phoenix.” How did you get involved with this charity? What things do you do to support them?
Ayla: “I’m a HUGE supporter of the Burned Children Recovery Foundation, and this year I got to be a counselor at Camp Phoenix. As soon as the words ‘burned’ and ‘children’ came up, I instantly wanted to be involved. There are 280,000 children burned in the United States alone every year. How many have you seen in your entire life? The kids really are beyond amazing, and I love all of them. Camp Phoenix creates a place for them to feel safe and part of a community. The way that society responds to their scars makes them want to hide, without ever learning who they are. These kids really exemplify the classic saying: ‘It doesn’t matter what’s on the outside, it’s about what is inside.’”
CTS: Missing at 17 is your new movie which premieres on October 19th on Lifetime. Tell us about your character. What was it like working on this movie? You were one of the youngest actors in this movie, what was that like?
Ayla: “Candace is a confused runaway looking for answers about who she is, because she thinks that she is defined by who her biological mother is. As she searches for answers, she finds that the family she thought betrayed her actually made her who she is today. I had such a great time working on the movie, because it’s so fun to play an out-of-control teenager. I’m used to being the ‘youngin” on set, because it gives me more people to look up to and learn from.”
CTS: Is acting something you want to continue pursuing? Are there other things you’d like try in the future?
Ayla: “I love telling stories, and I will always do that. Whether it be as an actress or long term, possibly as a director.”
CTS: Can you tell us about any new projects you have coming up?
Ayla: “Right now, I’m in Baton Rouge, Louisiana shooting a SyFy movie about breaking a voodoo curse in the swamps of the far south. Hopefully, all my amazing fans will follow me through different stuff as I expand my horizons, and challenge myself to see what other characters I can take on.”