'The Goldbergs': Kenny Ridwan isn't just your average school-going actor, he's a Columbia-going-LA-based rising star
In an exclusive interview with Meaww, the 19-year-old actor shares his future plans and why his role as Dave Kim in 'The Goldbergs' is precious to him
Kenny Ridwan has cheered you up with his comedic roles in 'The Goldbergs', 'The Thundermans,' and 'The McCarthys', but the 19-year-old Columbia student has many more plans up his sleeves. Growing up in a family of doctors and lawyers, Ridwan ventured into acting when he was only 11 years old and he definitely sees himself in the industry years from now. However, that does not stop the young actor from going to law school for entertainment law once he completes his current history major and a minor in creative writing.
Kidwan is spotted on 'The Goldbergs,' which is currently in its sixth season, as the turtleneck wearing, Princess-Bride loving, high schooler Dave Kim. 'The Goldbergs' is based on creator Adam Goldberg’s childhood growing up in the ’80s and centers on Adam’s family.
In an exclusive interview with Meaww, Ridwan told us how he bagged the role on the fan-favorite sitcom and why he is putting school first and acting on the "backburner."
How did acting happen to you? Considering that you come from a family of doctors and lawyers and software engineers, were your parents supportive of your career choices?
They were really supportive! My step-dad and mom almost immediately moved to LA after I showed an interest in acting which was incredible. They had a vested interest in my success, so there was a little bit of pressure to do something meaningful with my life. As long as I was working, there was not much pressure to go into the family trades. I honestly couldn’t have asked for better parents in terms of support.
Tell us about your journey from theater to television. Any interesting anecdotes that you could share from your early days.
I always did theater in school and started acting professionally when I was 11, so I really only did theater in elementary school. I don’t remember that transition being hard, but the transition from acting for fun to acting professionally was very difficult. I was in acting class for almost 2 and a half years before I booked my first real job. When I went to my first theatrical audition, I didn’t really know that I had to memorize my lines so I just went to the audition and read off the page. In retrospect, it was pretty ridiculous!
How did you land the role of David Kim? Please walk us through the audition process for 'The Goldbergs.' Also, what made you say yes to the part of David?
I sent in a self-tape, which is an audition you record yourself. I wasn’t that hopeful because usually, you don’t book a job through one. So, when I got the call a day or two later that I booked the job I was pretty ecstatic. It was only a one or two-day guest star job at the time and that’s always a great opportunity. I also enjoyed how the role was satirizing a Goonies character whose portrayal I didn’t necessarily agree with. Both of these reasons made it really easy for me to say yes to the character.
Have you ever added your own improv to David's storyline? How would you say has the character evolved since the very first season?
Honestly, I haven’t really added improv. I have done improv in the past, but we’re on a pretty tight schedule on set, so I’m mainly trying to make the writing come to life. I would say Dave started off as a type of foil for Adam’s character. He, sort of, made fun of him for his overt nerdiness, even though he was pretty nerdy himself. Over the years though, Dave has become a best friend to Adam. I’ve found that Dave usually helps set up the main conflict for Adam’s storyline and is often peppered into the rest of either the A and B storyline.
Interestingly, you have quite a few sitcom credits under your belt - what sets 'The Thundermans' apart as a comedy from 'The Goldbergs'?
Well, they’re completely different shows although they are both sitcoms and about families. 'The Thundermans' was a true multi-camera kid show that was a bit broader than 'The Goldbergs' in essence. In terms of community though, I’ve found that the cast and crew of both shows are incredibly supportive and very much like a large family!
While 'The Thundermans' takes a comical look at a family of superheroes, have you ever seriously considered suiting up as one? If you ever get an opportunity, which superhero would you like to play?
I mean if the opportunity is there, I would love to play a superhero! I honestly have always thought I would be a great Beastboy or maybe a Green Lantern.
I read somewhere how you juggle between college and acting. Now there are many actors who have taken a temporary break to pursue their education, did that thought ever cross your mind?
Not really. I’m currently in a position where I can handle both. I currently fly back on Thursdays to shoot the show on Fridays. It’s a lot of flying, but it really hasn’t affected my academic or my professional work. Of course, if I book something really big like a series or a movie role, I would take a semester off, but I’m really trying to put school first for now and acting on the backburner. I am, however, writing and attempting to produce a few things, so we’ll see. I do have to give credit to the production team for 'The Goldbergs.' Adam F. Goldberg and the rest of the production crew have really helped schedule my scenes and my time very efficiently to make both my dreams possible.
How are you using your time in Columbia, other than studying creative writing and traveling to LA every now and then? Are there any other passions of Kenny Ridwan that we don't know about?
Last year, I was one of the Rush Chairs of my fraternity and I was treasurer of the largest freshman dorm on campus. This semester I’m currently Ritual Chair and I’m campaigning for the role of Vice President of my dorm. When I’m not in the library or sleeping, I usually cook meals for my floor and hang out with my friends, and try to keep up with fashion trends.
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In 1918, the "Chinese Exclusion Act" (verbatim) was a thing, women couldn't vote and Cordell, Kansas was hit by a tornado on May 20 for the third year in a row. Well, it's 2018 boys, I'm here, women can vote and Cordell is no longer a city due to oddly consistent tornados. HAPPY NEW YEAR! 🎆🎈🎊
What's the plan of action once you finish college? Is showbiz where you ultimately see yourself in? Also, what kind of roles do you see yourself doing after The Goldbergs?
I’m studying history with a minor in creative writing and I plan on taking the LSAT and going to law school for entertainment law. I do eventually see myself in showbiz and believe that I could go to law school part-time and also act. I really don’t know what kind of roles I’ll take, because no one can really predict what the next audition is for or what the next role you’ll get, is. I would love to be a part of another show or maybe try my hand at movies.
If not working in front of the camera, would you ever give a shot to directing or writing? Have you been behind the lenses already?
I was in advanced filmmaking for about 4 years and roughly 8 semesters in high school. I made a ton of films, albeit some bad ones. By the time I graduated, I liked to think I was pretty good at it. It would be really nice to make a jump to behind the camera work at least to try it. I’m also writing some scripts right now and I’m looking forward to (attempting to) produce them in the near future.