Interview by Carol Wright | Photographer: Curtis Baker |Stylist: Starr Ferguson | MUA: Nancy Riley James |Hair: Alkhyseam Watson

We got to chat with actress Milan Ray about what made her want to be involved in The Wonder Years, her character Keisa Clemmons, and her advice for aspiring actors.

Acting has been an interest of yours from a young age. Do you remember what initially sparked that interest?

I don’t remember anything that specifically sparked my interest in acting. I just loved watching TV and movies and remember saying that I wanted to be on TV when I was around three years old. My mom says I was obsessed with the Twilight franchise films, even before I was three, so that may have been the trigger! It wasn’t until I was around six that I started begging my mom to put me into acting class. Once she figured I wasn’t letting up, she agreed, and the rest is history. 

You can currently be seen in The Wonder Years. Why did you want to be a part of this project?

I honestly loved my character, Keisa Clemmons, the minute I read the script. I was able to read the pilot ahead of time, and I thought it was so good and so well written! I wasn’t familiar with the original Wonder Years, but my mom was and she explained how special of a show it was back then when she was growing up. Once I watched some of the old episodes, I understood her excitement. So, the thought of being part of a new reimagining of the show from a different perspective was very exciting! 

Are there similarities between you and your character Keisa?

We definitely share some similarities! Keisa is very strong-willed, confident, and is not afraid to stand up for herself. She and I are both good, loyal friends. I definitely think Keisa and I both have strong personalities. On a fun note, I think Keisa and I definitely have great fashion sense, and we both prefer sneakers over dressy shoes! 

The Wonder Years takes place in the 60s. Did you do research on the time period to prepare for the role?

I think the writers, the costume department, and hair & makeup have done an excellent job executing the authenticity of the time period. They really make it easy for me to get into character. I will say that I do try to pay attention to the small things (expressions, mannerisms, etc.) that may not be appropriate for the period while I’m working. I still slip up sometimes though! FYI, fist bumps were NOT a thing in the late sixties!! 

Do you feel that you have grown as an actress through working on the show?

Absolutely! I think when you’re surrounded by an incredible cast and crew, growth comes naturally. I’m always observing and learning from my co-stars as well as from the crew members. I have an interest in directing, so I’ve had the amazing opportunity to shadow Fred Savage on set along with our DP David Jones and camera operator Mary Margaret. The entire Wonder Years family is awesome! 

What advice do you have for aspiring actors?

I think my go-to advice is to always believe and depend on yourself. This is a really tough business and it’s easy to get discouraged by others. But if you’re your own biggest cheerleader, you’ll be fine.