Teen actor Jayden McGinlay has been putting himself in the shoes of different characters since he was 6 years old. From his first lead role as Oliver Twist in the musical Oliver!—for which he became the youngest Gold Palm Theatre Award nominee—to his recent horror roles, Jayden is an actor that seems to be constantly trying something new. We caught up with Jayden to talk about his acting beginnings and his latest role as Teddy in The Curious Case of Dolphin Bay which recently aired on Disney Channel.
The Curious Case of Dolphin Bay follows a group of friends working as interns at a research center for the summer. The center is trying to uncover the cause of strange changes in the local reef, and the teens start to suspect that a local legend might be behind what’s going on. Is the bay haunted or is it something else? It’s up to Teddy (Jayden McGinlay), Quinn (Izabela Rose) and their friends to solve the mystery.
Showstopper Magazine Online: How did you get started with acting?
Jayden McGinlay: I enrolled in a local theater school at 6 years old as I’d shown interest in acting and performing from when I was really young. I got a couple of lead roles in community theater productions, and then I was cast in my first professional stage production when I was 8 years old. After that I did some short films; then I got an agent when I was 9 and started to get professional screen acting work.
SMO: You started in musical theater at a young age and are no stranger to the stage. What drew you to on-screen roles?
Jayden: The transition from stage to screen seemed really natural to me because there isn’t a big difference between them, as far as acting is concerned. When I was really little, I used to love reenacting scenes from movies and putting on all different accents, so it was always just a part of me, I think! When I was 7 years old, during rehearsals for my first lead role in a community theater production, I told my mum I wanted to do screen acting and that I wanted to work in all different genres and explore all kinds of roles. I joined Star Now and got some roles in some short films, absolutely loved screen acting, then I got an agent.
SMO: One of your most recent roles was in Children of the Corn. What was it like to follow that up with a more light-hearted role?
Jayden: It was definitely a nice change of tone, as the two feature films I did prior to Dolphin Bay were both horrors. I loved how light-hearted and funny the script was, and the character of Teddy I knew would be so much fun to play. I knew it would be a great opportunity to show a side of myself that I hadn’t been able to show on screen before. I was so excited to be able to play him and I had the best time during that shoot! It was an excellent experience.
SMO: Can you tell us about Teddy and what it was like to play him?
Jayden: Teddy is super adventurous and very determined. In the film, Teddy convinces Quinn to join him on an adventure to search for buried treasure, and you can definitely see his drive throughout the film, but he’s also really funny. I had an awesome time playing the character, it was really fun to explore this character and I could definitely inject a lot of my personality into him. I could immediately resonate with him in that we both know exactly what we want and no matter how hard or crazy the journey is, we both have the willpower to keep going which I think is great.
SMO: Do you have a favourite moment (or moments!) from filming?
Jayden: I have so many favorite moments from filming! My favorite scenes to shoot were the underwater scenes! I got to learn to snorkel at SeaWorld beforehand for the rehearsal which was so much fun. During the shoot, I came literally face to face with sharks! That was such an awesome experience. Behind the scenes favourite moments were just hanging out with Bella, Allegra, and Ella—we had so much fun, and all became such good friends.
SMO: While it isn’t a horror movie, The Curious Case of Dolphin Bay is kind of a spooky story. How do you feel about this take on a teen summer adventure?
Jayden: That’s right, there are definitely a few spooky moments in the film. I really love this take on the classic “summer adventure” and the journey the characters take us on. There is the fast-paced, adventure side. There’s the spooky side, but there’s also the calmer and more heartfelt moments in the film. It’s definitely an awesome journey and I think it will appeal to people of all ages.
SMO: The Curious Case of Dolphin Bay is already airing on Disney Channel, but it won’t make its way to your home in Australia until September. Are you excited about that release?
Jayden: Yes! I’m so excited that Australian audiences will be watching it soon. I love that US audiences are getting to see what we made over here in Queensland. I’m really excited that America is enjoying it and we’re getting so much positive feedback, so I’m looking forward to seeing how audiences over here respond to it.
SMO: The characters in the film are interning at a marine research center. How does this connect with your own passion for wildlife? Can you tell us about the charities you support?
Jayden: Yes, I love that the film shines a light on the threats to biodiversity and raises awareness on that and how important it is to look after the oceans and protect marine life. That connects with my own passion for protecting wildlife. I support World Animal Protection, an organization raising awareness on animal cruelty, which has been a charity close to my heart since I was 8 when I found out about the bear bile industry.
SMO: Do you have any other projects we should watch out for?
Jayden: Definitely stay tuned for the release date of Children of the Corn, coming soon! That was filmed at the beginning of the pandemic in 2020 and I play Cecil who is one of the lead roles. It’s been long-awaited, and I’m really looking forward to seeing that and for people to see what we made.