Meet Laura Marano, actress, singer, producer, best known for her role as Ally Dawson on Austin & Ally. Having gotten an early start in acting at only 5 years old, Laura acted in shows like Without A Trace and The Sarah Silverman Program before securing her starring role on the Disney Channel. Accruing millions of young fans throughout the show’s 5 year run, Laura is transitioning out of the child star mold and building a career for herself as an adult in the industry.
This Summer, Laura is set to co-star in Netflix original movie, The Perfect Date, alongside Camila Mendes and Noah Centineo, from the same producers that made last year’s To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before.
In addition to her success as an actress, Laura is leaning into her love of music, with the upcoming release of her EP in March, and a sprinkling of brand new singles slowly being released, including the heartstring tugger, Let Me Cry, and her most recent single, F.E.O.U, a tongue-in-cheek song about getting “messed up” in a relationship.
I chatted with Laura about growing up after Disney, working with her sister Vanessa on their upcoming movie Saving Zoë, and pursuing music on her own terms.
THIS INTERVIEW HAS BEEN EDITED AND CONDENSED FOR BREVITY AND CLARITY.
'How did you get into acting and when did it become a viable career option for you?
“So, you know my sister and you know her story… it’s literally the same story, but I kind of just ended up into it. I definitely loved performing and I was obnoxiously outgoing, but I was 5 and I just liked to talk to people and I went up to the agents and I was like, “I don’t have an agent” and then all of a sudden, I had an agent! It’s funny how it becomes every part of your life, and I know for me, I had so many opportunities throughout the years to not do acting and I always found myself drawn to it. I also have this music component that I’ve always loved and I didn’t have the same road to that, no one in my family does music. I was lucky that my mom knew the acting business and was in the industry, and I find myself 18 years later with the same agents and being in this business and feeling very grateful that I was able to start really young. I don’t know if you’ve ever read the book Outliers, but I’m pretty obsessed with it and the idea of 10,000 hours. I still have so much to learn and so much to do, but I feel so connected with acting and I’ve been pretty consistent with it and I’ve done it for years. Everyone has a different success story, but if I had started when I was 18 or 19, I wouldn’t have the same comfort and weird stability in this unstable business that I do.”
You're currently working on Saving Zoë - tell me more about how that project came about.
“I guess there are a few things to put in the background. I was 11 and Vanessa was 14, and it was a little bit of a tough time in our careers. We both went through challenges and we came to a place of kind of building our own destiny and being in control of our careers instead of having other people in charge. Mom and Vanessa got a bunch of books that had teenage girls on the cover and they gave them to me, the reader of the family. I read all of the books and one of them was Saving Zoë, and out of all of the books, not even just of the ones my mom gave me, but of a bunch of books I was reading, I was really drawn to it and intrigued by it. I thought the story was great, and so I gave it to my mom to read and she also thought it was amazing, and then we got Vanessa to read it, and she loved it, and we all cried at the same part of the book. So we reached out to the author and met with her, and Vanessa was on Gilmore Girls that season, and it turns out that the author, while she was writing the book, her husband (who is now totally healthy and recovered), he had cancer and was going through chemo, and together, they were watching Gilmore Girls. It was this really weird, interconnected situation and the moment we met the author, Alyson, she was so gracious and incredibly wonderful and believed that we could take the project somewhere. We’ve had the rights to this book for 10 years, and every year we were trying to make it happen, and then finally, last year, everything worked out timing-wise, and we were able to sell it and it’s been an incredible experience producing for the first time. It’s stressful and overwhelming, but overall really rewarding and it was something that was so insanely special to me that I want to keep doing.”
What's the most career-shaping role you've played and how did it change you?
“Well, obviously I’ve been lucky enough to do quite a few projects over 18 years, but I can’t speak about my career without talking about Austin & Ally, which I think completely altered my career in a different way, and really opened a lot of doors for my music, which is something that I’ve always wanted to pursue and never had the right avenue. Once I got that show, it opened doors in so many different ways, and I got a platform from it, I ended up getting my music managers, I made my way into the very interesting, chaotic music industry from it. I definitely have had some challenges in the way, and people definitely have perceptions of what an actor/actress on Disney channel is, but I’m so incredibly grateful and thankful for it. Since then, it’s been fun, but definitely challenging figuring out where exactly I wanna go next and what I want to do. Since the show ended 2 years ago, I’ve been lucky enough to do quite a few projects, I’ve been recording a bunch of music and worked on a few films, and it seems like this year, all of the projects are going to be seeing the light of day, so that’s exciting.”
And then the music piece - Tell me about your upcoming EP.
“I just released a new song called F.E.O.U, which is a little bit of a departure for me. It’s about the dichotomy of an intense relationship and all of the amazing positive things that come with being passionately in love with someone and all of the negative things that come with that…knowing you’re gonna be with someone and you might not end up with them, and it’s probably gonna mess you up for all of your other relationships, but also knowing that they’re gonna bring something really special to your life. That’s what the song encapsulates and I’m really excited for people to hear that. I released Let Me Cry, which is the most vulnerable song I’ve ever released, a few weeks ago. My EP comes in March, which I’m super excited for. The EP is kind of a collection of music that I’ve released in the last few months, and there’s gonna be another song a few other surprises on it, but I wanted to have one place where my fans and people who might not know me quite yet can go to listen to the body of work that I’ve just started creating. It’s funny, I’m releasing this music independently, and it’s definitely been a little bit scary, but really cool and it’s been an incredible experience in the way where I’m in control of my own destiny, Im in charge and there’s something really empowering about that.”
YOU HAVE A NETFLIX MOVIE COMING OUT THIS SUMMER WITH NOAH CENTINEO AND CAMILA MENDES, WHAT CAN YOU SPILL ABOUT IT?
“Yes! I’m super excited about it! It’s called The Perfect Date, I filmed it last March, and I think everyone’s gonna love it. I don’t want to jinx it, but I really think everyone’s gonna love it. It’s definitely reminiscent of To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before, and to be honest, when To All The Boys came out, it’s the same producers and obviously Noah’s in both, I was a little bit worried if there were similarities… but I’ve just seen it and it’s pretty different. They’re both great, but definitely different movies and I’m really excited for everyone to see it.”
What other big projects do you have planned for 2019?
“I’m releasing more music, Saving Zoë is gonna be coming out in the Summer, and I’m about to go film another movie that I can’t talk about yet, and I think it’s also coming out in 2019, and I’m really excited by the idea that you can film something and it could come out in the same year, it’s crazy.”