Three INCREDIBLE Young Women: Interviews with the young divas of AQUAMARINE
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The young women in the entertainment business who constantly make the covers of the tabloids, or who are the ad nausea subjects of the daily and weekly TV entertainment shows, paint a picture of what life is like for young starlets that the public is more than willing to accept as a stereotype. The same thing tends to occur in the real world of teen girls, where everyone makes generalizations about their giddiness, lack of sophistication, and their tendency to make inappropriate choices while living only in the moment.
Well… the world has reason to rejoice in refutation of both the above named stereotypes. There are (at least) three young women, who happen to be actresses, who happen to be beautiful, who are dealing with financial issues well beyond that of most of their peers, and who still have their heads firmly and straightly attached.
In recent interviews for the opening of Aquamarine, I had the profound pleasure of meeting the three main characters: Sarah Paxton (Aquamarine, the Mermaid), Emma Roberts (Claire), and Joanna “JOJO” Levesque (Hailey). What they each had to say affirmed the themes of the movie they had helped to create, and also revealed an inner strength of character that was both refreshing and admirable.
Joanna Levesque brightened the room as she entered. As a 15-year-old, she has lost the characteristic “tween” chubbiness and has grown into a sleek, effervescent, and obviously happy teen. When asked if she was as body conscious as her character, Hilary, she laughed and said, “Not at all…I am what I am.” She spoke enthusiastically about her family recently buying their first house in Massachusetts and her long-term goal of releasing a new album every three years so that her music would not get “stuck in a rut,” but rather reflect the experiences of her life as she matures.
Turning to the movie, Joanna explained how close the girls had become as they worked together. They found themselves not only acting out the themes of friendship, loyalty, and love, but also realized that they were indeed the characters they played. Since I had seen the movie prior to the interviews, it was easy to look back and understand why the movie was so good—the actors were living their parts! In fact, Joanna admitted that, “My friends are everything to me. I lean on them.” She, Sarah, and Emma have remained friends and see each other as much as they can within the busy lives that they lead.
On the practical side, Joanna will be exciting to watch as a young entrepreneur. She professed to like guys who are goal-oriented and very focused—“…who want to accomplish something,” she said. She was also adamant about being responsible for herself. She has been learning all she can about her finances, and plans to be prepared to manage them herself when she reaches legal maturity.
Sarah Paxton had an air of being on the brink of a major life transition. Soon to be 18, she has applied to USC and is waiting on the “pins and needles” of any college applicant. She also expressed identity with the rebellion of Aquamarine against her father. Sarah is an only child who is experiencing the difficulty of parents “let[ing] go when you’re an only child and a girl.”
Sarah was not the first pick to play the mermaid, but she went to the audition intent on being herself and accepting the whole thing as a good experience. She was ecstatic when she learned she had landed the part because, “Since I was young, it was my dream to be a mermaid. One of may favorite movies as a little girl was The Little Mermaid.”
The reality of becoming a mermaid turned out not to be so glamorous, however. It took two hours every morning to get Sarah into her tail and after that, she still had two hours of makeup to endure. She had to be carried on, off, and around the set on a stretcher, which she admitted was kind of like being treated like a queen.
Sarah enjoys working in movies, but like Joanna is firmly rooted in living a “normal” life. She has never been tutored while away from the public schools she has always attended, and did all of her own school work while on location in Australia—even keeping up in complex subjects like chemistry. She admits that her friends call her “Granny” because she is such a homebody.
Emma Roberts has the strongest roots in the movie world. She has been on sets since she was two weeks old, making her the least likely of the three to act “star struck” in any way. Coming from a family steeped in movies (father, Eric Roberts, and aunt, Julia Roberts) and soon to become even more famous as Nancy Drew, Emma exhibited the most awareness of these interviews as being “routine”—just part of the job. That did not keep her from being engaged and excited by the questions, however, and she was open and thoughtful with her answers.
Playing a character who had lost both her parents and was about to lose her best friend proved to be difficult for Emma. She spoke of finding it “hard to get into that mode of sadness,” when it is something she has never actually experienced. Emma also professed to being just about as opposite from her character, Claire, as she could possibly be. Neither of these concerns was at all detectable in the movie, which proves Emma's dexterity as an actress.
Most of the interviewers in the room were insistent on gleaning information from Emma about her relationship with her Aunt Julia. The young actress handled the questions with great aplomb saying, “We don’t talk about the industry. She talks to me about regular life things. We just hang out and do the aunt/niece things.” Emma finished by noting, “It’s weird that people care about our lives so much that they have to make things up.”
Emma intends to go to college and would like to study photography and fashion.
After spending only fifteen short minutes with each of these young ladies, several things were apparent:
- All three are deeply steeped in family, and understand the value of putting those relationships first.
- Friendship that is genuine, loyal, true, and lasting is valuable to them all beyond anything money and fame can bring.
- Acting is a wonderful profession, but not the only thing of value in their lives.
- Taking control of their own lives is very important for these girls, and they are proof that the new generation has actresses with brains.