Black Sails Actress Wants to Soar

Jul 18, 2016

When the Black Sails actress was a toddler, she tried to fly. “I climbed up my high chair to get a popsicle, and I fell,” Kennedy remembers, “but my instinct was to flap my arms like a bird.” The memory has become somewhat of a metaphor for her life, she says—and now her dream career is in full flight: The 31-year-old recently wrapped the fourth season of the hit pirate drama on Starz. Her secret? She refuses to outgrow that sky’s-the-limit attitude.

I’m grateful for…
my mother. I’m an only child raised by a single mom. She was a teacher but she’s retired now. She’s always been really supportive of what I wanted to do when other people were like, “Oh my God, your child wants to be an actor—good luck with that.” She would say, “No, let her do it!” I never had a plan B because she knew that if I had to figure it out, I would. My mom was right there always saying, “Let’s focus on plan A.”

I feel most confident when…
I’m just at home in Los Angeles with my best friend. We’re so silly, and we love each other so much. I think we feel stronger together, so when I’m around her, I am more relaxed.

When it comes to traditional beauty standards…
I remind myself that, at the end of the day, it’s all nonsense. Thankfully, I’ve never had anyone tell me that I needed to lose weight or change my appearance. But I was on a set a long time ago where there was a rumor that the crew would notice when we had salt for lunch. I really don’t fall for that stuff, but I watched people around me get quite affected by that negativity. And it’s not just women: The men, too, feel a little bit more pressure in this industry. I’m not saying it’s a good thing, but it’s interesting to see that guys have to go through those pressures, whether it’s being told to be more muscular or get their stomachs contoured. Again, I remind myself it’s nonsense and background noise.

If I have to give advice to my younger self I would say…
keep your head on your shoulders. Entitlement is just the grossest kind of human behavior. It’s important to remember that everyone is equal. We come from different backgrounds. Some people grow up with money in their pocket, or they have a certain last name; others have nothing. But it comes down to work ethic. That’s where we all play on the same playing field. You have to work really hard, and if you’re lucky enough to start achieving your goals, you’ve got to keep working hard. I know it sounds cheesy, but listen to your heart a little bit.

As I get older I want to…
continue evolving. I learned that from my mother too. She isn’t afraid to change and improve. She realized where she was lacking and worked really, really hard to strengthen her character, even as an adult. I think a lot of adults are kind of set in their ways. My mom is always changing. She’s excited to learn.

My healthiest habit is…
water. I watch people around me not drinking any water all day and I turn into the water police. I’m constantly asking, “Are you drinking water?” Being dehydrated very quickly affects my energy.

The world could use more…
thoughtfulness. We live in a time when people are tremendously thoughtless. Even the teeny tiny moments count—something as simple as asking somebody how their day was, or being a good listener when they tell you about a problem. We’re also in this place where we’re on our phones all the time, absorbed in our own moments. We have to think beyond ourselves.

All products and services featured are based solely on editorial selection. TIME may receive compensation for some links to products and services on this website.