Director Kenny Ortega knew he had discovered the lead for Netflix’s “Julie and the Phantoms” when he noticed Madison Reyes’ audition tape after casting administrators had put out requests to performing arts colleges throughout North America. Reyes, now 16 however aged 14 at the time of her audition, blew away Ortega along with her rendition of a tune from the musical “Waitress.”
“I used to be searching for ‘Julie from the block.’ I wished one thing a little bit extra uncooked, and extra genuine and relatable,” Ortega tells Selection. “[I] turned on her video, and I used to be bedazzled. I had goosebumps throughout my physique. I had tears streaming down my cheeks. Her audition was as distinctive and particular as I’ve ever seen.”
Reyes stars as the titular highschool pupil who types a band with the ghosts of a former ‘90s pop rock band (performed by Charlie Gillespie, Jeremy Shada and Owen Patrick Joyner). The present, streaming now, relies on the Brazilian sequence “Julie e os Fantasmas.”
The teenager actor/singer, who was born in Brooklyn, hails from Allentown, Penn., and is of Puerto Rican heritage, says realizing that younger viewers of shade will see themselves represented on-screen is one thing she takes to coronary heart.
“It’s unbelievable. I can image my little self wanting up at the TV and type of seeing Zendaya for the first time and being like, ‘Wow she seems to be similar to me,’ and ‘Have a look at her. She’s doing these unbelievable issues,’” she says, including that she additionally seemed as much as Vanessa Hudgens starring in “Excessive Faculty Musical” (which Ortega additionally directed and choreographed). “Having the ability be the position mannequin for [people] is loopy — realizing that there’s going to be little women, and little boys as properly, as wanting up at me and simply being like, ‘Wow, she did it.’”
To arrange for the rigors of being on a music-heavy present, solid members went by way of a two months-long “band camp” the place they practiced devices, singing and dancing. The soundtrack to “Julie and the Phantoms” has held a high spot on the iTunes soundtrack chart since its launch. And whereas billed as a household present, the 10-episode sequence consists of arguably extra mature storylines about loss, grief and younger romance, together with one between two homosexual characters, Willie (Booboo Stewart) and Alex (Joyner). It’s one thing star Cheyenne Jackson says he want to see extra of in a second season, which has not but been confirmed.
“I feel it’s really very progressive and type of wonderful to need to have this story on the present and have it simply be straightforward — not lots of drama and not [fraught] with guilt or disgrace. It’s similar to two cute boys — the cute blonde in the band is courting a skater,” Jackson, who performs villain Caleb Covington, says. “What I need to see for season 2 is a duet between the two of them. I feel queer youngsters want that.”