Interview with Disney Star, Kenton Duty, about Managing Food Allergies
Born and raised in Plano, Texas, Kenton discovered his love for acting in the fourth grade when he landed supporting roles in the Dallas Theater Center’s rendition of A Christmas Carole. It was such an amazing experience for Kenton! He loved being on stage and got great joy from entertaining the audience. The show did thirty-five performances between Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, and Kenton relished every single one. He followed that with a lead role in the production of Ragtime. The production was seen through the eyes of his character! The following year, Kenton was asked by his agent in Los Angeles to give California a try.
Kenton Duty can currently be seen as one of the stars on Disney Channel’s hit series “Shake It Up” as the hilarious character of “Gunther.” Most recently, Kenton wrapped production in a lead role in the indie film Contest (2013). The movie is a story about standing up to bullying. Kenton is also writing and recording a song for the movie.
Kenton, thank you for ‘speaking’ with me at AllergicChild.com. Can you please tell us how old you are and what food allergies you manage?
I am 17 years old. I have a chocolate allergy and a wheat allergy. I outgrew my dairy allergy when I was younger.
Have you ever experienced anaphylaxis or been to the ER with an allergic reaction?
I have never been to the ER or experienced anaphylaxis due to my food allergies. I have had to go to the doctor several times.
Do you carry an EpiPen? How do you carry it?
I carry an EpiPen with me at all times. I carry it in my backpack. It is extremely important to have it with you at all times. You do not know when you might need it. I really like to think that it is just another item I carry around like my phone, iPad, sunglasses, etc!
With all your traveling, how do you manage your food allergies to stay safe?
I do several things to make eating a safe, but enjoyable time. I pack or ship my food to the various locations. I also bring my food on airplanes. At some restaurants, it is easy to ask them to prepare my sandwich on the bread I brought in versus their bread. I definitely explain to restaurants what my allergies are.
What is done for you at Disney and on movie sets to keep you safe?
I have explained to Eric (our on set caterer) what my allergies are, and he is amazing! He is so thoughtful and encouraging. He ensures I have healthy food choices to eat every day. I also supply him with bread and bagels that are gluten free, so he does not have to worry about that. The producers on the show and movie sets are very supportive too. It is nice they accommodate my diet. On the movie set I am currently working on, there has not been one meal where I have not had an option for food! THANKS guys!! (I am also a pescatarian, so I do not eat meat other than fish.)
I saw in a recent FAAN newsletter that you went to Capitol Hill to encourage the US Congress to support the School Access to Emergency Epinephrine Act. Can you tell us about this? What was the best part of this experience?
Oh my goodness! It was amazing. To be there with FAAN was so much of an honor. I enjoyed every second of the day having the opportunity to speak with congressmen and senators about how important it is to pass this legislation. I believe in the Act 200%, and I wanted to convey my thoughts as someone who carries an epinephrine auto injector, is a student in school, and can relate to the situations where an auto injector may not be available at the critical time in which it is needed. The individuals we were able to meet with were very nice, and I walked away hoping they were a little more enlightened by our meetings.
Do you have any advice for younger kids who manage food allergies?
I know that you can possibly be bullied or made fun of because of your allergies. I have definitely experienced those things. I like to encourage kids to not feel weird or different because you have allergies. It is hard, but if someone is not being nice or bullying you, let your parents or teachers know. You do not want to let it get out of hand. One of the lessons we are hoping kids learn in the movie I am currently filming, “Contest”, is that they can stand up to bullies.
I also encourage kids to not eat anything their parents have not let them know is safe. Whoever cooked the item may have used different ingredients than what you are used to having in the product. So, always check with your parents!
I definitely want to encourage kids to carry their epinephrine auto injectors with them. It is just another thing to have in your backpack! And, it will save your live.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I appreciate you asking me to share in your newsletter. Your newsletter is very informative and educational. The more aware of food allergies we can make society, the more safe it will be for those of us living with food allergies!!