Kendall Schmidt makes girls cry for a living. Not that he enjoys doing that. In fact, when the singer who plays Kendall Knight on Nickelodeon’s “Big Time Rush” sees the sobbing he starts with his young female fans, he has just one thing he wants to say to them all: “Please don’t do that! I’d rather you be happy in this situation.’ Although, as he eventually realizes, that is them being happy.
Two seasons into “BTR,” about four Midwestern guys who move to Los Angeles to become major singing sensations, the show remains one of Nick’s most popular series and its premiere episode in January 2010 is still the highest-rated live action debut in the network’s history. The sing-com has already been renewed for a third season, another significant indication of the series’ popularity. For Schmidt, though, the key sign is in that sobbing.
“Every time it happens, I just go, ‘Oh my gosh! We’re getting bigger,” says the 20-year-old native of Wichita, Kansas. “Like the other day, after we performed in a theme park in Kansas City, we left in a van and there were 8,000 people following us out. It was weird!”
As flattering as all the attention is, Schmidt admits he’s still trying to understand what it is about him and his three co-stars and bandmates – Logan Henderson, James Maslow and Carlos Pena Jr. – that causes such a stir. “Fans will come up and say, ‘I love your character from the show,’ but I haven’t figured out exactly why they do. You can sense from watching the show and seeing us perform as a group that we’re just working hard doing what we love, and people connect with that.”
And make no mistake, it’s not just teen and tween girls who rush to meet Big Time Rush. During a trip to Las Vegas, Schmidt even had 30-year-old guys coming up to say, “Keep up the good work,” and pose for a picture with him. He’s also scoring big with another key demo: parents.
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“They thank us for making a show that their kids can watch and, when the kids fall asleep they can watch too,” Schmidt says with a laugh. “We put in a lot of effort to make the show for parents. I hear them compare it to “The Monkees” all the time. When I was first telling my parents about the show, even they told me it sound like that series.”
And just like that other comedy about a fictitious rock band that turned into a real one, the secret to “BTR’s” success lies in the connections the cast not only makes with fans but also with each other. “The only reason the chemistry works on stage is because we have it in real life,” says Schmidt. “Our personalities and sense of humor is basically the same. We’re exactly like brothers. We fight all the time but we get over it.”
The guys’ friendship isn’t the only part of this art that’s imitating real life. Off-camera Kendall can definitely relate to “BTR” Kendall because they have more in common than just looking alike. When Schmidt was still a young actor in Los Angeles, he lived in temporary residence apartments called the Oakwood, which are just like the Palm Woods Hotel on the show. He’s also hoping that the episodes next season will replicate other things in his life.
“Since we’ve been out touring, I think a tour bus episode of the show would be funny,” he explains. “I’d also love to see ‘Big Time Camping Trip’ because a) I’d love to go on a camping trip and b) it’s just a funny idea.”
Schmidt admits he’s eager to get to work on Season Three because whenever he’s got time off from filming and tour, “I’m like, ‘What do I do now?’” When he does have time to relax at home, though, these are three of the shows that he makes sure not to miss. One of which might sound very familiar:
The Discovery Channel – “I’ll watch it religiously. If there’s anything about any animal walking by, I’m like, ‘What is that? Why, it’s a Uromastyx (a type of lizard)!”
Family Guy – “It’s a funny show. I’ve watched it since the beginning and it’s still just as funny. Stewie is my favorite character, which I guess is fine as long as I don’t act like him.”
Big Time Rush – “I spend so much time making them, I love to see how they turn out. I like to go on a trip, then come back and see if (the show) is funny. Usually it surprises me with how funny it is.”