Close-Up: An Interview With Nanny Dearest Star Kayleigh Ruller

Rising star Kayleigh Ruller joins us on Close-Up Culture to talk about her exciting role in the new film, Nanny Dearest.

The film tells the story of a couple who receives fertile eggs from a donor. However, many years later, their lives take a shocking turn following the entry of a mysterious woman.

Hi Kayleigh, welcome to Close-Up Culture. You star in the new Lifetime film, Nanny Dearest. What excited you about this story and this project?

Well first off, this is my first movie! So that in and of itself made me ecstatic for weeks leading up to and throughout the shooting process. My favorite role to play is one where the character has a complex and strong motivation, and this rollercoaster of a plot was a perfect example of a seriously intense motivation!! Haha. 

One of my acting coaches had done her first film with this crew, and raved about the supportive and collaborative work environment they created.  The energy on set–vibrant, contagious and full of life–kept my excitement high each day. Having the privilege to work alongside incredible creatives was such a wonderful learning opportunity. While filming, I created a notes page called “Learning on Set ” and wrote down the many things I learned on set. I’ve kept up with that page in each project I’ve done since!

Can you tell us about your character and your experience diving into this character?

I remember the first round of auditions, the scenes I auditioned with were vulnerable and revealed a hurt and brokenness in my character Taylor. I actually felt very connected to Taylor, who felt grounded and raw at the time. It’s a beautiful and exciting process to see a character evolve!

After reading the full script and diving deeper, the key to understanding Taylor was finding a lot of empathy for her. Yes, she’s wild and crazy at points 😉 — but when you play a character like her, you have to find the slightest bit of empathy to understand her motivations and desires. I really love this intricate process of emotional awareness and understanding what moves people. 

What did you most enjoy about being part of a Lifetime film?

The incredible cast and crew! Of course! These people KNOW what they’re doing; they’re seasoned professionals, and it was a true joy to learn from them. 

What will be your biggest takeaway from working on Nanny Dearest?

I love this question. My biggest takeaway is that no scene will ever be perfect. The juicy emotion comes from messiness and frustration. It comes maybe on the fourth, eighth, or seventeenth take. Acting can’t ever be perfect, and this movie really showed that to me. Also, learning to trust your scene partner will transform the scene!

Can you tell us about your background and what led you to acting?

Yes! I’ve been acting since I was 8 years old. I grew up outside of New York City, going to Broadway shows which I believe led me to loving the stage and screen from a young age. After doing theater in both New Jersey and North Carolina in shows like Legally Blonde, Wizard of Oz, and Beauty and the Beast, I transitioned to film and TV work in LA. I’ve trained with Upright Citizens Brigade, Anthony Meindl’s Actor Workshop, Nina Rausch and more. I took a brief break from acting while I went to UCLA and graduated with an interdisciplinary social science degree. Since graduating, I’ve filmed two short films, this Lifetime movie, and an upcoming pilot in New York. I’ve worked in hospitality, service, nonprofits, journalism, and podcast production, and I truly hope that my winding and varied paths inform this craft of acting, and make me a more interesting storyteller! 

I hear you recently filmed a lead role in a pilot. Can you reveal anything about that?

Well, it’s in its editing stages right now. But, let me say I had so much fun playing this strong-willed, intelligent, snarky college woman. It’s a comedy, a social commentary, a queer-friendly drama, a smart and quick-witted show. I love genre-bending projects like that! 

What type of roles and projects would you love to take on in the coming years?

I’d love to be in projects that are rooted in social commentary, that are immensely creative and create new standards in film and television. It’s quite simple, but I like to make people laugh and move people deeply, so I’d savor any roles that contribute to that audience impact.  I always say my dream role is Skylar from Good Will Hunting. I love a strong, spunky, intelligent woman! 

What are your plans and ambitions for the future?

I hope to continue to perform in impactful, story-driven films and shows. My hope is to collect as much diverse acting experience–from the stage to the screen–so I can be a sponge to the learning environment. I’d love to work on projects abroad to combine my passion for art and travel. I have a great love of writing, so continuing to document my experiences through creative writing is a big goal of mine.  

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