As a young actress, Kyla Pratt has already had more of a career than other actors have in a lifetime. Appearing on a host of TV shows and movies like Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman and Love & Basketball, Pratt can currently be seen on the popular UPN show One On One.
However, it is her taking the baton in the Doctor Dolittle franchise that has everybody talking. After costarring as Dr. John Dolittle's (Eddie Murphy) daughter in the first two films, Pratt takes the lead role in Doctor Dolittle 3. In this installment, we see Maya Dolittle (Pratt) struggling with both the pains of growing up and her "talent" to communicate with animals. Having been sent to the Durango Dude Ranch for the summer, she comes to rely on this "animal ability" in order to save the Durango from being "taken over."
Could you please tell the readers a little bit about the character of Maya Dolittle from Doctor Dolittle 3?
Kyla Pratt: Well, hello, my name is Kyla Pratt and I'm playing Maya Dolittle in Doctor Dolittle 3, which is out April 25th. Maya Dolittle is basically a regular teenager, but she has this special gift. In previous movies she actually wanted the gift, but now that she's becoming popular, getting into boys and things like that, she doesn't really want this gift anymore. And it just so happens that it comes at a time when she doesn't need it and she doesn't want it. So basically, the movie is about her dealing with the gift and accepting that she has it, instead of trying to be somebody else she needs to just be herself.
It's a great family story. It's very entertaining. It was very fun to shoot so I hope everybody likes it.
What was it like carrying on the Doctor Dolittle franchise considering what Eddie Murphy had done with it? Was it daunting or was it easier because you'd been in the other films?
Kyla Pratt: I think it was easier for me because I was in the other films. I knew the whole story. I knew everything that was going on and so I never really thought of it as like, "Oh, I have a whole bunch on my shoulders." I was just like, "I know this character. I am this character. I'm just gonna have fun." I do this for the viewers to enjoy. So, hopefully I'll make them happy.
As an actress how do you prepare to talk to animals in a movie that aren't even there? Is that the hardest part for you in a movie like this?
Kyla Pratt: It actually wasn't that difficult. I have a large imagination (laughs). As an actress you have to and just sitting there imagining a stuffed animal talking to me, and pretending it's a dog; it was fun for me because I got to be a little kid again. I'm still a kid, but I'm becoming a young woman, and being able to imagine things like that remind me of being my little sister's age; she's eight. It was having fun with it and just enjoying myself. So it wasn't hard at all.
So you do have something that you're acting with? It's not just a blank space?
Kyla Pratt: It depends on the type of shot and where my eyeline has to be. Sometimes they put a stuffed animal. Sometimes it's a tennis ball on a pole. Sometimes it's nothing there. Sometimes it's even a person there reading the lines. They usually try to help you out as much as they can. It was pretty easy. It was fun.
What was it like working with John Amos who is literally a screen and TV legend?
Kyla Pratt: It was amazing. It was ridiculous. We were watching the DVDs of Good Times everyday in our trailers. It was so fun working with somebody who you've watched for so long and it's so nice to meet somebody, who you admire and them be just a great person; a nice human being and such a pleasure to work with. It was ridiculously amazing.
Did he try and impart some career advice when you would have some downtime on the set?
Kyla Pratt: No, not really, we talked about the movie, things going on. He was telling us about certain things, and he would give us advice on the set. Like we would have time to play then he would say, "Alright, lets buckle down. Lets get to work." He was like a father-type. My friend who came with me to do the movie... and it was weird because we were scared of him at first, because he reminds us of our grandfathers. You can't do anything wrong in front of Grandpa. You can't do anything crazy. You just have to be good and he was like so, completely, the opposite. By the time we got to know him and everything, we weren't afraid anymore. It was cool. It was a great experience.
Considering all that you do and all that you've done, how are you able to juggle your studies at the Hamilton Academy of Music with your career?
Kyla Pratt: It was hard at first. I got into this business when I was around seven or eight years old. It was hard because a lot of the teachers didn't understand why I was being absent. Different teachers didn't want to cooperate and... not necessarily saying at Hamilton but at a lot of my schools. It was hard at first but in order to be an actress at a young age, you have to have a C average; in order to get a work permit. And this is what I wanted to do, so no matter what I was gonna try to get my grades together and be good in school just so I can work.
As someone who has done as many things as you have, what do you think the key for your career has been as you moved from being a child actress, to a teen actress to now an adult actress?
Kyla Pratt: I think everything I've done has had something to with how far I'm moving up. I did Love & Basketball when I was 12 years old. I played the younger version of the main character. And a lot of people saw me in that, a lot of people saw me in some Nike commercials that I did. For the WBNA, a lot of men recognized me from that. It's funny because the people who created One on One actually saw me in the Nike commercials, and saw me in Love & Basketball and we're just like, "Okay, we want her. Lets get her in here." I think everything I do helps me move along in my career.
All the work kind of builds upon each other?
Kyla Pratt: Yeah, everything I do just helps me and it's fun for me. I think the fact that it is fun keeps me here. Keeps me wanting to do this over and over again. And I'm just so blessed to have people in my life who have watched the work, and then have projects coming up and their like, "Ohhh...." And I'm like, "Yay!" It keeps me working and that's all I want to do.
How do you choose the roles that you're going to play? Do you have a strict criteria or do you want to play everything?
Kyla Pratt: Not really a strict criteria. I never turn, really, anything down. I always like new scripts and I still audition for things. I prefer to do things that are more positive. I like to do things that my little sister can watch and learn from.
What do you have coming up next?
Kyla Pratt: Well, as you know Doctor Dolittle 3 which is going to be on DVD April 25th. The end of the season of One On One. Which is very juicy! Everybody has to check that out. I'm even looking forward to seeing it on TV. And then still, the Disney Channel's The Proud Family. Just working on that.
Doctor Dolittle 3 comes to DVD on April 25th through Fox Home Entertainment.