Sneak Peek and Cast Interviews from Disney’s New Show Andi Mack
When my two older kids started watching Disney Channel over Disney Junior, I was a little sad. It meant they were growing up. What I never expected though was for me to enjoy the shows as much as I have. Since the switch, I’ve found that we’re actually enjoying television shows together. My daughter and I love catching up on episodes of Liv and Maddie, so we were both sad when they announced the final season. We’ve been looking for a replacement and I think Andi Mack will be the show that does it for us.
Last month during the #BeOurGuestEvent we were treated to a screening of Andi Mack. The team at Disney Channel came in and gave us a vague intro about the show and played us the first two episodes in the series. They wanted us to experience everything on our own and find out just what the show was about without prior knowledge or bias. I was immediately hooked. I cried like boo hoo cried during the screening. It was so touching and I knew then it would be the perfect show for my daughter and me.
About Andi Mack:
Created and executive-produced by acclaimed writer Terri Minsky (“Lizzie McGuire”), “Andi Mack” is a contemporary, coming-of-age story about a relatable girl who’s trying to determine where she fits in and the many amazing ways she can live her life. On the eve of her 13th birthday, her life goes from routine to roller coaster when her free-spirited older sister Bex returns home with a revelation that changes everything and sends Andi on an uncharted course of self-discovery. At least she’s in good company; her best friends, Cyrus and Buffy, are also figuring out their places in the world. Along the way, Andi learns that sometimes the unexpected is what makes life great.
After the screening, we had the opportunity to interview Peyton Elizabeth Lee (“Andi Mack”), Lilian Bowden (“Bex”), Lauren Tom (“Cecilia”), Creator/Executive Producer Terri Minsky and Executive Producer Michelle Manning.
We were excited to learn more about the show from the cast and creator. It’s such a unique but relatable show that pre-teens and teens can enjoy with their families. We started the interview asking about how the show was created.
TM : This is weird to say to a large group of people, but I read a profile of Jack Nicholson. He was raised with his mother as his sister and I thought, that’s an interesting idea. I said to myself, you just keep it in your file of ideas and then when somebody says to you, do you have any ideas, you go, yeah, I have Jack Nicholson.
So that’s really where it originated from. I wish it was as cool as I know somebody who went through this, but you do, so that’s like one degree of separation. And, I don’t know if that’s the most satisfying answer, but that’s where it came from.
We asked the cast how was it for them when they read the script and were they ready to jump into the script and the story line once they had read it.
PEL : Definitely. I think the first time I read it was before I even got the part, right? So you’re reading it and you’re like, this is so amazing. Already just going through the first episode and you think how she’s an amazing writer. So you’re reading it and even the beginning, you’re already thinking it’s so amazing. The voice is so unique and different from everything that you usually see.
But then when you get to the end of the first episode, I was like wait, what? Cause you’re just like reading through the script, and… wait, what? And so I had to read the last scene like five times before it really sort of sank in, you know? And then it just made it that more meaningful to me.
LB : It was super surprising. So that reveal was in the sides that I auditioned with and they were the second pair of sides. And the first pair of sides is this super fun lighthearted scene that was closer to the beginning of the pilot. And I remember reading the sides and thinking, oh, my, gosh, this is so funny. This is really funny. This is great. Oh, this is great. You know, oh, this is a Disney show. This is great.
And then that second scene when it takes that turn… that was the thing that cinched me, and I was like, I have to get this. It has to be me.
LT : And for me, I really read it thinking this is something that’s got some meat on the bone for me because I didn’t wanna — I have two kids that are 13 and 16 and so in order for me to pull myself away from wanting to be with them, cause that’s when they need you the most, in a way, I thought, I didn’t wanna be that mom, dinner’s ready, you know?
I just thought that I would go a little brain dead, but Terri’s writing is just so phenomenal that I was like, yeah, I think I need to attach myself to this for so many reasons, just how innovative it is and the diversity and, and feeling like when I was growing up, I didn’t have a lot of role models and I’m so old that I was watching, the Harriet, you know, whatever that show was where I never felt like I could be those perfect white kids that I was looking at because they just didn’t have anything to do with my reality whatsoever.
Whereas this show is so much more real and reflective of what’s going on in the world today. And then also just having so many people of color on the show.
The show is geared towards middle schoolers, I remember being in that age range. Andi reminded me so much of myself and the ackward things I experienced at that age. We wondered about the message if any the show was trying to send to kids in that age range.
TM : Honestly, my message is watch TV with your parents. My goal is I have a daughter who’s 22 and a lot of our conversations were generated by shows that we saw on television and it was just like, oh, you watch a Lifetime movie about bullying and just be like, does that ever happen to you? And I totally think that television is a great medium for parents and kids to start a conversation.
And that was my goal. It wasn’t so much of a message to the kids. It was more like, I hope this is good enough for mothers and daughters or mothers and parents — I mean children and parents. Generations of family to watch together.
There aren’t many shows with minority or multicultral families on television. We wanted to know about the creator’s decision to create a show using a multicultural family.
MM : The decision to go with it was this one(referring to Peyton) walked in the room and that’s Andi. Andi walked in I didn’t even know she was to me, she was just Andi. It was like, when she came in it was that was it.
LB : Yeah. I think the writing, though, speaks so much to the relatability of Andi because Peyton was already cast when I was going in to read for it. And so when I read the script — I didn’t see it any differently than an Asian-American family. I saw Celia as like your archetypical tiger mom, you know? And, I really saw Andi as the kid that I was when I was growing up, somebody who was trying really hard to please everybody and trying really hard to like figure out my place in the world and dealing — I didn’t have the same type of circumstances that Andi did.
But for me, it didn’t read anything else but an Asian-American family. And for me getting in this was so exciting because I’m biracial as well and when I get cast in roles, there’s always an adjustment that needs to be made where it’s like, oh well, maybe you’re an adopted sister because the majority of people that we see on TV are Caucasian.
So they’ve had to adjust my back story if they wanted to cast me. And it’s so nice to be able to be in a role where I can be truly myself, you know?
PEL : Yes. Definitely. I think that the fact that there is different ethnicities and stuff on the show, it just makes the show that much more relatable and exciting. And it’s very different from anything that’s on the air right now. So, I definitely think it’ll be good for people are like us and who aren’t just your average white kid to be able to see that on, on the screen.
We talked to Peyton about any imput they put into the show and where Terri get inspiration for the character and the show in general.
PEL : Yeah, I definitely think when I read the script I close my eyes and I picture it when we get onto the set, what it’s gonna look like. And so when we get onto the set and we’re blocking it, a lot of the time I’ll be like, this doesn’t feel natural. Maybe if we did this or that line sounds kinda weird and especially when Terri’s on set, she’s so open to any changes. And so I can always go up to her and be like, this sounds weird. Could it be this? And all the time she’s really open to those opinions. And so that has been extremely helpful because a lot of the time you get a script and you’re like, wait, this doesn’t work for me, you know? It’s not true to what I would do, and she’ll adjust that. She’s so open to those opinions that makes the show so much more authentic and raw.
TM : And I also try to take from the, the actors themselves. I mean pretty much everything that Cyrus does is him. He actually couldn’t straighten out that motorcycle. He actually couldn’t get the helmet off. I mean he’s adorable and just uniquely, you know uncoordinated. I just try to do that with all of them. As soon as we cast Peyton, I was just making a mental note of her like verbal — how she talks and, and frankly, some of our best lines have been improvved by Lilan who’s from UCB so, you know, it’s like bonus.
In the first two episode we experience a few firsts with Andi, we asked about how many more firsts we can expect to have with Andi as the show continues.
MM : I don’t know how much we’re supposed to say.
LB : There will be more firsts. We can say that.
PEL : There definitely will be a lot of firsts. There will definitely be a lot of things that kids watching will hopefully be like, oh yeah, I felt like that before or I’m not the only person who’s felt like that.
LB : Or I can’t wait to feel like that or I hope never to feel like that.
PEL : Exactly. Everything that happens in the show I think kids around the world will be able to look at it and say, I’m not alone in this. And so I think that’s really important because a lot of the shows, you’re like, can I just be like that one day? You know, and I think this show it’s really relatable and I think everyone, young and old and anywhere in between can really look at it and see themselves in the characters.
The last thing we touched on during our interviews were the mother/daughter relationships on the show. It’s such a unique family dynamic once the secret was revealed.
LT : Well, for me, I mean Peyton once said, hey, we’re all just playing ourselves. And I was like, hey. [LAUGHTER] You know, Michelle said, too, she vouched for me because I’m more like a tiger mom wanna-be, cause I have two kids but I just can’t quite raise them the way that my parents raised me. So I’m actually channeling my own mom when I’m playing this character and, and really it kind of feels natural because she’s in my body. [LAUGHTER]
LB : And I’m channeling my relationship with my own mom. [LAUGHTER]
LT : But I love this girl and I think it’s important for the story to have some of that dramatic conflict going on because, again, that’s also real life. And mother daughter relationships can be be tough. Same gender relationships.
LB : Yeah Lauren is the exact opposite of Celia in so many ways because her heart is so gentle and I remember when we had our first read together, I didn’t get a chance to meet Lauren beforehand and she just was so fierce that it intimidated me. We got to like do the table read, I was like, I hope she likes me. And then just to find out that there’s just like this big sweetheart, who’s just like giving and loving and supportive every single day, it was like, wow.
LT : I hope that it comes across how much we love each other on screen, it’s been years since I’ve never been in a cast that has genuinely loved each other.
Andi Mack premieres on Friday, April 7 (8:30 p.m. ET/PT) on Disney Channel. Be sure to tune in with your pre-teen or middle schooler for a fun show, that you’ll love.