Editor’s Note: Kicks presents 20Q, a feature that introduces readers to people involved in the area’s arts and entertainment community. Compiled by kicks Editor Greg Little, each piece will include a short bio, photo and answers to questions that provide insight into not only that person’s artistic interests but also his or her unique personality.
Kendyl Van Kirk
Kendyl Van Kirk knows how to mix it up.
To say the Janesville Parker High School junior has an interesting background is an understatement. Recognizable to the theater crowd as an actress in productions at both Parker and the Rock River Rep, Van Kirk also boasts a strong reputation as a quality cagefighter with polished MMA skills.
While she still goes to the gym to keep her fight game tight, she’s also a member of Seventh Heaven (the vocal ensemble at Parker), is a PHS varsity cheerleader and keeps her eyes peeled for acting opportunities in local musical productions.
When she’s not at school or the gym, Van Kirk is working at Mocha Moment in Janesville or hanging with her mother and sister, who she calls her best friends. After school, she plans to attend college and study to become a geriatric nurse.
1. You’re into MMA. Does “break a leg” carry a different meaning with you? I do always laugh to myself when people say “break a leg” because I was involved in MMA before theater, and saying that to a cage fighter would definitely not come across as a term of “good luck.”
2. Without thinking about it too much, what has been your favorite role to play since you got started in theater? Mrs. Lovett in “Sweeney Todd” was by far my favorite role because I got to express all different kinds of emotion in one character. I was able to be crazy, in love, mad, sad and happy—all basically at one time. It was a challenge but definitely a ton of fun.
3. Share something people would be surprised to find out about you. In my two MMA fights, I broke one girl’s arm and the other I won by knockout in 13 seconds. That’s not something you hear an 11-year-old do every day.
4. If I had to eat the same meal every day, that meal would be: Sushi—because it’s really good, there’s so many different kinds and it’s healthy.
5. Do you spend too much time on social media, or not enough? I spend way too much time on social media. I am a girl who is always looking down at her phone. (I know, it’s a problem. I’m working on it).
6. You have two hours of free time. What do you do? I like to either hang out with my friends or go to the gym. They’re both very therapeutic.
7. What would you risk your life for? My family or my friends. Every single one of them is worth it.
8. If someone were to give you $10,000, what would you spend it on? It would most likely go toward buying one of those trampoline parks. That’s not enough money, but if I could live in one, I would.
9. If you were to become famous, which actress would you want to play the lead role in your life story? I would want Sandra Bullock to play the lead because she has always been one of my favorite actresses.
10. What’s your sign? Do you believe in astrology? I am a Libra. I don’t necessarily believe in it, but it’s always scary accurate, so I read it anyway.
11. Do you have any fears or phobias? I am very afraid of feet. Ew! I hate them! Ha ha.
12. What prompted you to first get involved in theater? My sister, Micaela, was involved in theater, so she inspired me. I wanted to be just like her.
13. If someone else paid for the experience, would you jump out of an airplane? A MILLION TIMES YES!! It’s on my bucket list!
14. Share a common misconception about today’s high school students? People tend to think all high school students are just lazy, but I don’t believe that’s entirely true. I personally have lazy days, but most days I’m energetic and ready for the day. Their opinions are usually formed on how we are in school, and we get tired from the long day.
15. Are you hoping to make a career out of theater, or is this something you simply enjoy doing as a hobby? I enjoy theater as a hobby. Not too many people make it in the business, so I’m honestly afraid of it.
16. If you could play any part in any film or theater production, what would it be and why? if I could play any role, it would be Natalie in “Next to Normal.” The show is so beautiful, and the songs she sings are so meaningful.
17. Are you a better actress or MMA fighter? I would say I am a better fighter. I love both equally, but fighting comes a little easier to me.
18. It might not be very popular, but I really enjoy: Getting socks for Christmas. Most kids complain, but socks are my favorite gift.
19. Name the one item you own that you couldn’t live without. I could not live without scrunchies. Every day I have a scrunchy on my wrist. I feel weird without them.
20. If you were to enter the Federal Witness Relocation Program, who would you become, where would you live and what would you do with your life? I would become a famous singer, move to L.A., and change my name to Tess. That just sounds like a cool life to me.