Kaia Gerber on Joining 'American Horror Story' and Auditioning With Her Mom (Exclusive)
By Stacy Lambe
Kaia Gerber, the model and daughter of Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber, is the latest newcomer to join the American Horror Story franchise. The 20-year-old budding actress didn’t just join one installment, however, she made back-to-back appearances in the spinoff, American Horror Stories, as the murderous ghost Ruby and in the tenth season of the original series, Double Feature, as the studious luddite Kendall. Following her official debut in that latter half of the season, Gerber spoke to ET about auditioning for the show and what her parents think of her performance on “Death Valley.”
[Warning: Some spoilers for episode seven, “Take Me to Your Leader,” of American Horror Story: Double Feature.]
Having watched the series since she was 10 years old, Gerber is a big fan of Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk’s Emmy-winning horror anthology. She’s even one of those fans who can recall various details of each season and hugely admires longtime regulars, like Sarah Paulson. “Half of my life I've spent religiously watching American Horror Story. I've seen every season, and I know how all the different storylines connect,” she said.
“And so, when I joined the world, there was part of me that was really nervous because so many people that I look up to are solidified in this world. And someone who was really wonderful was Sarah Paulson, who I felt from the time that it was announced that I was going to be in it really supported me,” Gerber continued. “And that was such a wonderful person to have because, to me, she's like the queen of Ryan Murphy’s world and just such an incredible actress.”
While it’s great to have the encouragement of someone like Paulson, it’s not like Gerber necessarily needed it. Not only did she earn her roles on the franchise by auditioning for them -- no, she was not plucked out of thin air by Murphy like people think -- but she’s also proven she has the acting chops. (“She’s got talent in spades and the familial eyebrows to prove it,” Vulture recently wrote.)
In fact, she only just met Murphy recently at an event in Los Angeles. “I didn’t have a connection to him, other than being a big fan of everything that he does,” Gerber said, revealing that she first auditioned for the spinoff, which was called something else at the time.
“I just saw his name [attached]. I had no idea what the show was. And I was so nervous and like, ‘This will never happen, but I just can’t pass up this opportunity up.’ So, I taped with my mom,” she recalled, revealing that she and Crawford recreated a scene between Ruby and Scarlett (who was eventually played by Sierra McCormick). “So it was, as you can imagine, a little bit uncomfortable to do with my mom. But she was trooper and helped me a lot.”
And that tape didn’t just land her two episodes of American Horror Stories, in which her switchblade-wielding character falls in love with the red-headed resident of the infamous Murder House, but also a lead in “Death Valley.” “It’s so interesting that Ryan saw my tape and saw the two different characters in that because I think Rudy and Kendall are very, very different,” Gerber said.
“And it was a really good transition to go from quite a dark and sometimes mean, for her own reasons, character to a more lighthearted and fun character like Kendall,” she continued, adding that the latter “is very smart and very passionate. And I like that she is the kind of girl who runs toward the scary thing.”
On break from college, where her handsome professor has been schooling her in the ways of landlines and simpler times, Kendall convinces her friends -- Cal (Nico Greetham), Troy (Isaac Cole Powell) and Jamie (Rachel Hilson) -- to ditch their cellphones for a glamping getaway in the New Mexico desert. However, things don’t go quite as planned when they discover the lake they wanted to visit has been drained and come across a bunch of dead bovines. Later, after they decide to return home, they encounter a mysterious light in the sky resulting in them all being pregnant.
“Delivering that line, that all four of us were pregnant with a straight face was one if the bigger challenges,” Gerber admitted. “We find out, when we get the scripts, what’s happening to us. We don’t know anything before that. So, when I read that line, we were all pretty shocked.”
And as for what that revelation means for Kendall and her friends, she teased that audiences “might see some belly bumps” in coming episodes.
For fans of American Horror Story, learning that two men are suddenly pregnant after an alien encounter is not all that surprising. However, trying to explain that one’s family is a different story. “My grandma was asking me, ‘How do I watch? What is it?’ And I was like, ‘Oh God, how am I going to explain this?’ Gerber recalled.
However, her parents seemed to have a better grasp of the series, watching Gerber’s debut live over FaceTime with their daughter. “It was fun to see their live reaction to it. I’m still like the kind of kid that when something happens, I look up to my parents to be like, ‘Did you like it?’” she said with a laugh, before revealing that “they loved it.”
She did, however, have to give her parents “fair warning” before watching any of her more scandalous scenes. “They knew what they were being subjected to. And especially my dad, I was like, ‘Hey, for two seconds, you might want to close your eyes,’” she said. “But they were troopers about it.”
And after her experience on both Stories and Double Feature, Gerber is ready for more. “I’m such a fan of everything that Ryan does. I think he’s such a genius and such a trailblazer,” she said. “So, if he would have me back, I would gladly, gladly join them again.”
American Horror Story: Double Feature airs Wednesdays at 10 p.m. ET/PT on FX. Want to catch up before the finale? Every episode, plus previous installments, are now streaming on FX on Hulu. (We may receive an affiliate commission if you subscribe to a service through our links.)