Actress and singer, Olivia Rodrigo, is the star of Disney +’s newly revised High School Musical: The Series, which sees a reinvented take on the hugely popular and award winning hit High School Musical. Taking on Netflix, Disney + is the new and ultimate streaming destination for entertainment from Disney, Pixar, Marvel and Star Wars to name a few.
The young 17 year old most recently starred as Paige Olvera in Disney Channel’s live-action comedy ‘Bizaardvark’ before her HSM debut. As HSM returns with a collection of new songs, Olivia’s love and passion for music shines through. During the series, Olivia in the role of Nini, performs a beautiful rendition of her self-penned piano ballad ‘All I Want’, which has now amassed over 288 million streams globally, breaking into the Top 100 on Apple Music & Spotify UK. If the original HSM franchise is anything to go by, the young Disney + stars are in for an exciting and memorable career.
With her ever-growing fanbase networking over 1 million followers and counting, we were eager to chat with the rising star. As High School Musical: The Series takes flight, we caught up with Olivia to hear the lowdown on Disney, acting, signing and everything in between.
From growing up in Temecula, CA, Olivia Rodrigo began singing, dancing and acting from a young age. Landing starring roles in school plays, as well as regional musical theatre, Olivia’s love of performing blossomed. Olivia notes “music as the clearest window into the soul” and in the solitude of her bedroom she began writing song lyrics before she could even read.
Playing Nini in the HSM latest franchise, we were keen to hear which OG character she would most relate to. As a fan of the original movies herself, Olivia was delighted to see her character Nini reminded her of Kelsey; sharing similar dispositions and a shared passion for writing music. Watching the show, we also acknowledged similar attributions between Olivia and Nini. With Nini a lyricist, it seemed fitting Olivia was able to write and record her own song for the show. A talented singer/song-writer, Olivia wrote ‘All I Want’ amidst the filming of the finale. During reshoots and finale touches, the producers decided to include the track during a scene with Nini in episode 4. As the self-penned hit amasses staggering plays, the experience no doubt became a career highlight for Olivia.
“Nini and I are super similar. I remember reading scripts and wondering if the writers had bugged my apartment. There was one night where I had a long talk with my best friend about self esteem in relation to boys, and the next day I filmed a scene where Nini and Kourtney had the exact same conversation.”
Being such a big fan of the beloved High School Musical movies, it must feel surreal participating in such a big show that is set to inspire a new generation of teens. Describing her involvement in the series as “an honour”, we were interested to hear if the role came with such daunting expectations. Disney +’s new show took a different spin on the childhood classic. To curb this, they steered clear of recreating the cult film, but instead introduced new characters, plot and song. With the film propelling the careers of fan favourites Zac Efron and Vanessa Hudgens, it must be an extremely exciting time for Olivia.
Also featured in Disney’s ‘Bizaardvark’, Olivia is vastly becoming a recognisable and seasoned star. The long-term relationship Olivia has formed with Disney, will no doubt shape her experience as an actress. Being a Disney star can be a great first step towards a thriving career in the music/film industry. For example Disney is credited for the birth of many award-winning performers such as; Miley Cyrus, Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, Hilary Duff, and Demi Lovato.
At the tender age of 17, Olivia will be growing as an adult whilst perfecting her art as an actress. As a generation of teens watch Olivia on tv, they simultaneously will be resonating with her on-screen roles whilst also experiencing adulthood’s challenges, curating a unique bond. Known as ‘teen idols’, their influence inspires an entire generation. With Olivia already hurdling over many career milestones, paired with Disney's track record, her stardom is only just beginning.
“I just about died when I met Michelle Obama. She was the coolest human ever!”
Olivia’s talent is being recognised worldwide. Her starring role in HSMTS has really shone a spotlight on her collective of talents; acting, singing and songwriting. With her ever-growing fanbase paired with a million and counting streams; we wanted to discuss Olivia’s career highlights so far. In such a fast paced, crazy industry it is extremely important to take a step back and appreciate.
Following the success of her self-penned song, ‘All I Want’, she was touched that the lyrics resonated with so many. As the song debuts more and more covers, Olivia candidly describes how this gets her ‘misty eyed’. Still figuring out adulthood, Olivia is naturally unsure on where her future career path shall lead. Reflecting on her success to date, her journey has only just begun. With many exciting things on the horizon, we look forward to witnessing Olivia’s career flourish.
We couldn’t leave without touching on her affiliation with the Geena Davis Institute on Gender in Media. As a speaker and panelist at the institute, Olivia embraces her mixed heritage and Philippine descent, with diverse representation in the media being something very close to her heart. Children’s television has such a wide reach and often remains a treasured childhood memory. Whether intended or not, the media shapes our perception of the world and Olivia, as a rising star, is wholeheartedly acknowledging her influence.
“Showing people from a young age stories and people they can relate to is powerful.”
Since its launch, the High School Musical reboot has acclaimed much success. From millions of views, to an outstanding award nomination in the GLAAD Media Awards 2020, the young cast are set for a wild but fulfilling journey through the tv/film industry. Star of the show, Olivia has debuted her talents to the world - whilst highlighting the importance of diversity in media. A teen idol and cultural icon, Olivia Rodrigo is the start of something new.
Enjoy some Disney nostalgia and watch High School Musical: The Series now!