photo: Benjo Arwas
If actress Chandler Kinney looks familiar, it’s because you’ve probably seen her playing 16-year-old Riana Murtaugh on hit television show “Lethal Weapon,” inspired by the movie series of the same name. Kinney started out as a dancer at Debbie Allen dance studio where she would clock 30-hour days learning a variety of dance styles and techniques. While there, she had the opportunity to audition for a Gap commercial that would launch her career. Soon after she signed with an agent she quickly fell in love with TV and film as an “even more direct way to create art.” Since then, she’s appeared in various shows that led to her current role as Riana, the teenaged daughter of Roger Murtaugh, a veteran police detective played by actor Damon Wayans.
We recently caught up with the actress to talk about her favorite beauty products, the role that’s challenged her the most and what beauty means to her.
MDC: Why is Riana your favorite character to play so far?
Chandler Kinney: She’s my favorite because she’s given me the biggest challenge as an actor and an individual. I can’t even express how much I’ve learned in these past two years from my on set experiences, working with such greatness like Damon Wayans and my [TV] mom, Keesha Sharp, Clayne Crawford. We have a star-studded cast, and it’s been such an honor working alongside all of them. My character pushes me to step outside of my comfort zone and go places that I don’t always want to go. But through those experiences I’ve grown so much.
MDC: Is Riana really different from Chandler?
CK: I think I have my life a little more together. We’re similar in the sense that we’re both right in the thick of being a teenager so we do experience a lot of the same emotions. I’m able to connect with her on that level — how to operate within your family and find your voice as you grow. I think she’s a little more disobedient and rebellious. It’s been so great for me because as myself, I can use my anger or emotion toward certain things and really implement that in the character.
MDC: When did you first start wearing makeup?
CK: I had to start wearing makeup at a younger age because of dance, and when I started auditioning. But in my normal life, I didn’t really start regularly wearing makeup until 16. At that time I started stepping into the public eye. I would be in situations where people would ask for pictures or people would come over and talk to me. I think people that can go makeup-less are amazing and more power to them, but for me as teenager, you have breakouts and skin problems and I wanted to cover that up a little bit.
MDC: What was your first makeup product and would you still use it today?
CK: One of my first makeup products was a Stila foundation, and I don’t think I would use it today because my skin has changed. It was great for my skin when I was younger. Right now I’m using Josie Maran, which I really love. I just started using a Bare Minerals powder with a kabuki brush, and it only has five ingredients. It’s really great for sensitive skin and breakouts, which I tend to have. It has buildable coverage and doesn’t have a ton of extra ingredients.
MDC: What products are you loving right now?
CK: I love Anastasia Beverly Hills eyeshadow palettes and Too Faced eyeshadow palettes because they smell so amazing. The chocolate ones are amazing; I’m obsessed with chocolate.
MDC: What’s a trend you’re loving right now and a trend you don’t understand?
CK: I never got on board with the squiggly eyebrow trend. I think it’s a little out there. I really love pigmented glitter. You can get such a strong, solid color with bright glitter.
MDC: Asides from your wallet and your phone, what do you keep in your wallet at all times?
CK: Chapstick for sure. I definitely like to keep my lips hydrated at all times. If I forget Chapstick I have to go out and buy some.
MDC: What does beauty mean to you?
CK: In a word, individuality. I think it’s important that young girls understand that beauty isn’t so much an external thing. The media can often portray that to be true, especially with the growth of social media. There’s an unrealistic, unattainable standard for beauty and I think that definitely affects the way young girls see themselves and their bodies. For me it’s really about what’s in your heart.