Actress Emily Kinney Got Her Big Break As A Singer While In A Prison Surrounded By Zombies In 'The Walking Dead'
While we wait for her return next season, Business Insider recently spoke with the actress who plays Beth, Emily Kinney, about her passion for singing and how her music and acting careers collided on screen.
"When I first auditioned for Beth, I didn’t realize she was going to be a singer," says Kinney. "I knew that they knew I could sing because some people had come to my shows between seasons."
The actress tells Business Insider it was then-showrunner Glen Mazzara who mentioned the idea of Beth singing on the series.
"I think it was season 2 where they were like 'Oh Beth likes music.' and 'Beth likes to sing,'" says Kinney. "[Mazzara] called me to talk to me about it. He had said, ‘We really need a moment of quiet and calm so I was thinking … we want to connect back to who they were when they were at the farmhouse. Maybe you and Maggie would sing. That could become part of who Beth is. She’s very creative.'"
The Nebraskan native attended New York University where she pursued both an acting and music career working in theater off Broadway. In the summer 2008, she made her Broadway debut in "Spring Awakening."
As Beth, she covers several songs in seasons three and four. The first song Kinney sang on the series was "The Parting Glass," an old Scottish and Irish folk song, alongside sister Maggie (Lauren Cohen) at the start of season three.
Kinney says she suggested the inclusion of one of the more recent songs, "Be Good," by Waxahatchee.
"I loved that song so much that I kind of did another arrangement of it for my own album 'Expired Love,'" says Kinney. "I started playing it a lot at shows, too. I love that song."
She released her second EP, "Expired Love," in March in which she wrote seven original songs. Her cover of "Be Good" is one of the most popular tracks on iTunes.
Kinney says fans are sometimes taken aback by the adult themes in her music. What most fans don't realize is that the actress, who plays a teen on "The Walking Dead," is actually 29 years old.
"In my music I write about my life and sometimes I get a lot of response on Twitter and Instagram where they seem very taken by my lyrics. ‘How could you have experience about this?’ or ‘Is this appropriate for someone who’s a teenager?’ … because I talk a lot about relationships and sex, drinking, and things that I’ve experienced as an adult."
Fans are often surprised to see Kinney in real life.
"Even going to the airport — It depends on how I dress and stuff but if you’re in more casual clothes — people are always like, ‘Oh, who are you with?’" She jokes, "I'm not a little kid."
She's certainly not.
Before appearances on Showtime's "The Big C" and then "The Walking Dead," she focused on her music career.
Now, it's about learning to find the right balance between her singing and acting careers which she says "are nice breaks from each other."
"I love being on set and being in the world of 'The Walking Dead' but then it’s kind of nice to go home and sort of write my own lyrics and process what I’m going through," Kinney says. "Songwriting for me is something where I get to process my own feelings and my own thoughts where maybe acting is a little bit more of inhabiting a script that is already written."
Kinney is currently on tour with a recent gig in New York City. Next, she has two shows coming up in October in Los Angeles, California and Ewing, New Jersey.
She says her work on "The Walking Dead" has definitely helped expand her fan base, and helped bring both groups of fans together even.
"I’ve made a lot of connections with new fans that way," says Kinney. "It’s fun because there’s 'Walking Dead' fans and then music fans, too, and then I feel like there’s some 'Walking Dead' fans that became music fans, so that’s real exciting for me because maybe it’s an audience I wouldn’t have reached just doing music."
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