Disney XD's Kickin' It launched its fourth season in February, meaning that we get to see more of Dylan Riley Snyder, who plays honor student Milton Krupnick in the martial arts-themed comedy. BFTV recently checked in with Dylan to talk about Kickin' It reaching a fourth season, and the effort he puts in off-screen to make the world a better place.
Most Disney Channel original series end after three seasons, so what was it like for Dylan and the Kickin' It crew to break that mold? Surprising, for one. "We as the cast had said our end of three season goodbyes!" he revealed. "It was very difficult to film that last episode. Emotions were all over the place. I'd spent my tween years with these guys, and now with a fourth season we bond again as young men.
"When I was told we had gotten a fourth season, I just couldn't wrap my head around it. I was ecstatic...but all I could think about was, 'OMG, how's this going to work with what we shot for the finale?!'" he continued. "Our first day back after a long hiatus was as if we'd not said goodbye. We have all of our team back, from office to production. Our Kickin' It family!"
Another season means more opportunity for Milton and his Bobby Wasabi friends to develop. "Along with our growth, the writers have given our characters growth of their own," Dylan explained. "Milton, Jack, and Jerry don't just hang out. The writers have let our characters grow with us, [such as them] driving and working.
"It's been fun to see what the writers have in store for us weekly, sort of a 'what would Milton do?'" he continued. "Wednesday morning table reads are exciting! We hear the words for the first time and think, 'What can I do as an actor to help keep it real - and make it funny?'"
One of the great things about Dylan's character Milton is that he can be related to by so many young adults. "I feel Milton began his TV notoriety as 'nerd' but with a twist of awkward cool, which in the real world is just about anyone you know," Dylan told us. "I hear from parents that their child relates to Milton. Seems there are more of us average, awkward, self conscious kids in the world, and in a nutshell, that's Milton. I try to make sure that Milton is unique, and to be unique is cool.
"[It] makes me feel good when I see a kid smile and say, 'I'm not a nerd, I'm unique!' A lot of my fan mail is from kids who say they don't fit in...unique. I always try to write back and say, 'Nothing's wrong with unique; look at Bill Gates and Elvis...each one unique in their own way.'"
Giving back is something that's a large part of Dylan's life off-camera. "When I go back home, I usually visit the schools and hospitals and talk with the kids about the importance of the arts and helping out with local charities," he said. "I also work with a couple of crisis centers in Mississippi and Alabama, where we raise money, food, and toys for families and kids in need."
Last week, he participated in the Kids' Carnival for a Cure in Long Island to benefit the Diabetes Research Institute. "My grandfather has diabetes and when I was asked to attend this event, I didn't hesitate to accept," he explained. "Having it hit close to home with me is a big reason why I'm so willing and ready to be involved. Growing up, I've helped my grandfather with his blood sugar moderation and I understand how much effort goes into maintaining a normal balance for those who have diabetes. I want to do everything in my power to help find a cure for diabetes, whether it be helping raising awareness or helping raise money.
"I believe that kids should find something in their lives they care about and help out," he added. "This helps the charities out a lot and teaches good morals and ethics. If I can be the one to get them interested in helping out, then I will."
That's a lot of accomplishment, both professional and personal, for a young man who didn't necessarily set out to be an actor. "I got into acting because I wanted to hang out with my sister, who's eleven years older. The only place she would go after school was to theatre or choir rehearsal, so I kind of found myself surrounded by this world of gifted talented people," Dylan explained. "I actually set up goals in accordance with my siste'rs achievements. She did so many shows and a movie, I decided that I was going to do that.
"It was only after my realization of being on Broadway that opened my eyes to more ways I could give back. At home I sang at nursing homes [and] performed with the D.A.R.E. programs. I am associated with a group of philanthropic Broadway kids, and we'd knit scarves for the Actors Home in New Jersey, where we'd do concerts and visit with the residents. Now, being on TV opens up a bigger opportunity to reach more kids and show how they can give back to their communities.
"As for acting, I've been fortunate to have the opportunity. School, however; has always been my top priority," he continued. "I'd love to stay in the business but I'm also realistic. I like to set goals and enjoy the work to achieve them. I'm looking forward to see what happens next."
Whatever that 'next' may be, you can bet he won't be taking it for granted. "I've learned not to let a day go by without appreciating everything and everyone in my life," Dylan told us. "That way I always try to do something productive each day."
Kickin' It airs Monday nights on Disney XD (check your local listings for specific channel and airtime). For more on Dylan, you can visit his website (dylanrileysnyder.com) and follow him on Twitter (@DylanRileySnyder1).