EXCLUSIVE: Actor, Dancer Kyle Kleiboeker Chats USA's SUMMER CAMP
Singer, actor, dancer and model Kyle Kleiboeker currently stars on SUMMER CAMP, a new USA reality series which sends die-hard campers back to the most cherished place of their youth for the thrill of a lifetime. The series airs Mondays 11:05pm ET/10:05pmCT on the USA Network.
The Kansas-born entertainer, who hails from a family of NFL Pro athletes, has traveled the country in the National Tours of THE WEDDING SINGER, HAIRSPRAY and RENT and has appeared as a featured singer for Royal Caribbean crusie lines, among other impressive credentials.
Kleiboeker spoke exclusively to BWW about his experiences to date on the show, his plans for the future and why he's proud to represent the kids who "never thought they could."
Congratulations on your success on 'Summer Camp' Kyle! How did you become involved with the show?
Thank you. Well I've done musical theater as part of my background, and traveled on tours, but I've always been interested in entertainment hosting, kind of like a Ryan Seacrest or Carson Daly type of thing. So last September I decided to move out to L.A. and I told myself, just go to every casting call you can, and just really soak in the atmosphere of L.A. So I came across a casting notice for a reality competition series and it said, "if you have an outgoing personality and if you are super competitive, and you would like a chance to win a quarter of a million dollars, come to this casting call." So that kind of caught my attention and that's how it all started.
It appeared that at the beginning of the series, your competitors really underestimated your abilities. I'm wondering how that made you feel and whether it empowered you even more.
Well, I grew up in a family of NFL football players. My grandpa actually played in the first Super Bowl ever. So I kind of have that in my blood, which I don't really get to access very much. But I think a lot of people underestimate performers and dancers and they don't necessarily think that performing is a sport, but it totally is. You have to be in super shape to be able to do that and I think, for instance in the first episode when they picked me to canoe, I think they underestimated my power and my competitive nature. I think they were like, 'Oh he lives in New York so he probably won't even know how to canoe.' But you know, I've been lifting girls and working out at various boot camps for years, so I think I definately surprised them! So yes, I think I was underestimated at the beginning but that made it more fun for me because I got to prove everyone wrong.
And what about mentally, did your stage experience give you an advantage?
Yeah, I think being in this industry of entertainment and show business year round, you meet so many outgoing and ecclectic people. On tour you're working with them, living with them, they're really your only source of friends. So you learn very quickly who you get along with, what makes them tick, who makes you mad, what kind of people you mesh well with. And I think for me on the show, we were competing and we were living together and you had to adapt. Being on tour really gave me a heads up to that experience.
If you should emerge victorious on the show, do you have any plans as far as how you will spend the prize money?
Something that I'm really passionate about is anti-bullying. I grew up in Kansas City and while all the other guys wanted to play soccer and play sports at recess, I was making up dances, and I was at dance class at a very young age. So I was teased a lot growing up. So anti-bullying is something I'm really trying to get going. And I got the wheels turning because I've been overwhelmed by how many kids are reaching out to me on social media, Twitter, Facebook, young kids in theater programs hoping to make it, kids being bullied, or gay kids dealing with identity crises. So something I'd really like to do is speak at schools and give back to these kids who are really supporting me, maybe even through the 'It Gets Better' campaign.
That's so admirable, rather than thinking about spending the money on yourself, you'd rather find a way to help others.
Yeah, you know I would sit each Friday morning after the show aired and be overwhelmed with how many kids reached out to me. I would just sit, drink coffee and respond to each and every kid. So that's something I've always been passionate about, working with kids, especially now.
Along those lines, what have you learned about yourself from this experience?
You know, I learned that I'm a lot more competitive than I ever thought. Living in New York and auditioning, there's definitely a competitive nature about me, but I just really surprised myself at how well I was doing at these challenges and how well I adapted. Right at the beginning I kind of let some of those thoughts from when I was younger creep back in, thinking 'Oh gosh, maybe these guys are going to make fun of me' or 'maybe I'm not going to be good at these challenges.' At that point it's really flight or fight so you have to just go with your gut. So I'm definitely finding out that I'm a lot more competitive than I ever imagined.