The young new star of Disney's adaptation of Jerry Spinelli's Stargirl, Grace VanderWaal, took the stage at D23 today to introduce the film in which she makes her acting debut.
She promised that her character is "just completely herself," painting the movie as an inspirational story for young kids.
Julia Hart is directing the film from a script she wrote with her partner Jordan Horowitz. Kristin Hahn created the screen adaptation from Spinelli's award winning novel about non-conformity and being proud of your own style and personality.
The novel follows Leo Borlock, a normal kid, who under no circumstances will ever stand out. Then Stargirl arrives at Mica High and changes everything. After 15 years of homeschooling, Stargirl enter tenth grade, a colorful, ukulele-playing whirlwind. As the school society shuns her for all of her uniqueness, Leo falls in love with her. Through Stargirl, Spinelli explores the tense and emotional journey of high school, the nature of conformity and the joy of first love.
The casting of Grace VanderWaal is fitting seeing as she won American's Got Talent at 12 years old for playing the ukulele. Following her win, she released a top selling EP in 2016 with her debut "Perfectly Imperfect." Her debut album, Just the Beginning, came out a year later, and then she set off on her first ever sold-out headline tour of the same name. VanderWaal reportedly beat out 700 other girls for the top spot in the upcoming Disney Plus film. In an earlier interview with Deadline, Hart had this to say about the opportune casting.
On August 24th, Singer Grace Vanderwaal stopped by the D23 Expo to promote her upcoming film "Stargirl." She was joined on the Disney+ stage by Director Julia Hart and the two reminisced about making the upcoming film before Grace gave a concert of two songs, one of which is from the upcoming film.
"Stargirl" will be exclusive to Disney+, a new streaming service that launches on November 12th.
Grace VanderWaal stopped by Rolling Stone to detail how she wrote her song “Ur So Beautiful” for our series The Breakdown. The 15-year-old recently wrapped a short tour named after the song.
VanderWaal revealed that the song is based on her own experiences. “That’s always what I do with my writing,” she explains. “I exaggerate everything and add in my own little sprinkles of magic.”
She wanted to make the term “beautiful” less gendered, since she sees both that and “pretty” almost exclusively used to describe women. “I’ve seen so many very pretty boys,” she says. “We’ve always thought about incorporating that into a song. It was kind of the perfect moment to really make that idea we’ve had for years really come alive.”
VanderWaal’s process is built on spontaneity: this song in particular was written while the track was on a loop. She kept adding lines as it progressed. She compares songwriting to perfume: “If you don’t smell anymore don’t keep spraying it on. Your nose is getting used to it.”
The video for “Ur So Beautiful” was similarly spontaneous. She had been filming her life and recording process, thinking it would possibly be a documentary. Instead, the scenes felt like a perfect match for the song itself. “It was so magical and it just happened.”
VanderWaal has released a few songs this year but has yet to reveal if the new singles are leading to a new album. She released her debut LP, Just the Beginning, in 2017. In 2020, she will make her acting debut in Disney’s Stargirl adaptation.
The young winner of America’s Got Talent season 11 — who became famous for her unique singing voice and penchant for the ukulele — is about to make her acting debut in the upcoming Disney+ adaptation of Stargirl, based on the fan-favorite book by Jerry Spinelli. It’s her first official role and it’s a pretty big one, playing the nonconforming titular icon who inspires countless teens to stand out rather than hide in the background.
“My initial thoughts when I read the script for the first time was ‘oh no!’” VanderWaal tells EW. “It’s a very scary movie to me, it’s like a horror movie to me and no one else. It’s probably the scariest movie I’ll ever do in my life. It’s more vulnerable than anything I’ve really ever done.”
Coming from a singer/songwriter background, VanderWaal is no stranger to performing in front of large crowds. But she found acting to be a bigger challenge than she thought. “It’s easy to hide behind poetry and music and still say what you want to the world,” she says. “But with movies, you can’t hide.”