By Oscar Wolfe
Right when she walked in, the entire Green Room was bubbling with Laura Marano’s energy. She gave me a hug and said, “THIS IS GONNA BE THE BEST INTERVIEW EVER!!!!!!!” She warned us that she was very talkative right off the top. I was not expecting her to be so outgoing because the character I know her for, Ally, from Disney’s Austin & Ally, is very shy. I guess I thought that she would be shy, too. This interview was especially fun for me because I have spent countless hours at home on the couch watching her act on TV. It’s super cool to interview someone when you really know what they’ve done. I had the chance to talk to Laura before she performed at the Mall of America.
What were you doing before you started with Disney?
I have been professionally acting since I was 5 years old. I’ve been in a lot of show that you probably haven’t seen: Dexter, a movie called Superbad — don’t see it, yet! I was also on Are You Smarter Than a 5th Grader? I was an original 5th Grader! Then I started pursuing music when I was around 11.
That’s my age, and I’m in a musical right now! I’m in Guys & Dolls.
Congratulations! I love that musical. When I got Austin & Ally, way more opportunities opened up for me musically, so that was awesome. When I was 16, I finally got a music manager and started doing real songwriting sessions, instead of the amateur shower songwriting sessions I would do when I was younger. I definitely, had a bit of a set up before Austin & Ally, but Austin & Ally was a once in a lifetime experience.
Did you always know this is what you wanted to do?
For sure. My mom owns a children’s theater (Agoura Children’s Theater in Los Angeles). My sister and I grew up in my mom’s theater, and I always loved performing.
There’s a pause while Laura’s manager brings her hot water for tea. Laura gets up to grab a Throat Coat tea bag out of her handbag.
You’re like my Grandma! She always carries tea bags!
That is the best quote I’ve ever heard!!! Okay, you want to know why I’m really a grandma?
Laura pulls a flip phone out of her bag.
WHAT? A flip phone?
I have an iPad, so I cheat a little bit, but I like my flip phone. It’s a good phone!
Are you friends with your co-stars from Austin & Ally?
We clicked from the very first day. We still talk, we’re still together. It was awesome that this huge experience in my life could be with people I liked.
Are you friends with actors from other Disney shows?
Where we ended up spending most of seasons 2-4 was a place called Hollywood Center where a lot of other Disney shows are made. Jessie is filmed there, Liv and Maddie. So I absolutely love the casts of some of those shows, and the crew. With Jessie, we had the Austin & Ally/Jessie crossover.
I watched that! That was so good!
We always talked about wanting to set up a huge freeze tag, or some situation, but it never really happened because we were always working. But it was so fun hanging out with them.
What was your favorite Disney show as a kid?
Lizzie McGuire! So good! You probably didn’t even know it. What’s your earliest Disney show memory?
Probably The Suite Life on Deck. What’s your favorite Disney show now?
I love Girl Meets World. I think it’s so good!
So what was school like for you?
So how it works is, until you’re 16, you have a set teacher. They’re not only a teacher, but a social worker to make sure you’re protected. Your parents are there as well, but the set teacher is like an extra team player for you. My sister is an actress as well. When she hit middle school, she decided to homeschool. It is a lot to do regular school and acting. For me, I knew that I really really wanted to go to school. I liked the social aspect. I’d constantly ask my friends for notes. And there were a lot of sleepless nights, but for me it was so worth it. I was lucky that Austin & Ally worked in the fall, so I didn’t go to school physically in the fall, but in the spring we were off, so spring semester I could be at school.
What did the other kids think?
My high school wasn’t an acting school—it was a totally regular school. I was so lucky because my freshman year, I hadn’t started Austin & Ally yet, so no one really knew me. I could be a “normal” high school girl. I’m a little outgoing—as you can tell!—so I quickly got to know everyone in the school and by the time I got Austin & Ally as a sophomore, it was more like, “That girl Laura has a Disney show!” Instead of, “Oh, that Disney girl goes to our school.” So that was cool. When I started getting older, the younger generation didn’t know me, so I’d be, like, going to the bathroom, and the freshmen would say, “Can I take a selfie with you?”
How do you become a Disney star?
For me, it was another job. It was auditioning. Shows put down the characters they’re looking for. I remember reading the breakdown for Ally Dawson and I was like, oh my gosh, this girl sounds like me! I’m not shy like her, but we have so many things in common. And then, I auditioned. Originally, they didn’t think I looked the part. They were going more blonde. So I was actually auditioning for other Disney shows. They had trouble finding an Ally, so they finally agreed to see me. On my test, it was pretty obvious that Ross (Lynch) was going to be Austin and everyone knew Raini (Rodriguez) was Trish. For me, there was still another Ally there at end of day and I was dying! I was like, I want this so badly. And then I finally got the part!
What’s the best part of being a Disney star?
The people you meet. And you get free tickets to Disneyland and Disney World—the best thing ever!
What’s your favorite Disney ride?
Splash Mountain all the way. What’s yours?
The Yeti one.
The Matterhorn? Scary.
Are you going to go on the rides here, at Mall of America?
I want to! It’s my first time here.
Go on Rock Bottom Plunge. It’s the one that goes way up and straight down.
I love drops. And I love water rides—I have to do the log ride. I don’t like spinny stuff—I get a little dizzy. I’m the worst person to go on Teacups with at Disney because I won’t spin it.
What else do you do for fun?
I’m really boring. I just go home, watch movies, TV shows. I love playing soccer and hiking. I love reading.
Harry Potter. And Pride and Prejudice. I’m a Jane Austen fan.
What do you see for your future?
I see me continuing to do all the things I love: acting, singing, making music. Acting came first, but music has always been my passion. I’m also going to college part time right now.
What advice would you have for someone who wants to act or sing?
To work your butt off and do it! Make sure it’s really something you love. If you love it, if you truly truly love it, it could take five years, it could take 10 years, or 20, but if that’s what you love to do, and you really work at it, it’s inevitable that you’ll succeed.
Keep up with Laura and check out her hit song Boombox at lauramarano.com.