China Ann McClain was one of the most fun interviews I’ve ever done, actually all of the Descendants 2 cast interviews were amazing. There is something so special about meeting people and interviewing them as they get their big breaks. It was easy to see that China was really loving her opportunities and and being a part of Descendants 2 was something she truly cherishes. Check out this fun Q&A I got the chance to do with her.
Getting the Call
Joining the cast of the Descendants was a surreal experience for China. She said it was an honor because everyone loved the first film and she was a fan of it herself.
“I thought it was beautifully put together. And Kenny Ortega is just great. I really wanted to work on it so when I got the call saying I got the role, I said, “Yes!””
Being Ursula’s Daughter
“She is one of my favorite movie villains ever. She has so much attitude.” When it comes to preparing for her characters, this girl is dedicated. “I watched “The Little Mermaid” about 20 times before I went to Vancouver to shoot. I was looking at her mannerisms, how she talked and everything that she said, and that helped me a lot on set.”
A Day in the Life of a Villain
Playing a villain can’t be easy but China handles like a boss and actually enjoyed the different role. “It’s cool to play a villain. This is my very first time playing one. We all have those feelings inside that we just want to unleash on people sometimes, and that’s the definition of Uma’s character. She has always bottled up feelings that she randomly unleashes on people and is not sorry for it at all. So, it was fun playing that and it was really cool. She’s really cool.”
Story Behind the Hair
China gives us the scoop on her mermaidesque hair. #Hairgoals. “They braided the perimeter of my head in the back and the rest of it was a wig. They braided all of this with teal extensions and I walked around for the length of shooting with these braids. It was really cool and it was quick every day. You would think it would take a really long time, but they just slipped the wig on and put the hat on.”
Our girl China turned 18 while filming. Even though she was away from her family, the cast of the Decendants made sure China still had the celebration she deserved. “They said, “It’s your birthday! We’re going to go out and you’re going to have fun! You’re not doing anything on your birthday!” So it was really fun being around them because they’re such a cool cast. They’re like a family and they included me immediately. I was away from my family and my sister was off shooting “Empire” and I couldn’t be there with them, so it was like having another family that I could spend it with and they made it really fun.”
Working in Those Awesome, Crazy Costumes
China looks like she was born to play Uma but apparently wearing Uma’s costume took some getting used to. “It was difficult working in the costumes because I had a skirt and heels on, not to mention the heavy braids and the leather jacket I could barely move my arms in. I had to do a dance number in all of that, and part of the process is just getting adjusted to the costume
We did three weeks of rehearsing before we started shooting, and part of the rehearsal was that I had the wig on. I told myself, I’m going to wear this so I can get used to doing the dance numbers in it. So, after I got adjusted to it, it was pretty much cake.”
Biggest Challenge Playing Uma
China’s biggest challenge playing Uma was making her relatable and likable. “The fans love the VKs and I see why because in the first film they are really, really good and they connected with a lot of kids. So, making kids not dislike her and helping them be able to understand her was probably the biggest challenge.”
Sides of Uma
We see Uma’s tough side in the trailer. Will Uma show us a sensitive side? China’s keeping that a secret but she assures us that we will see some dimension to Uma’s character.
Working with Legendary Director/Choreographer Kenny Ortega
These two click and it’s obvious. Kenny is very complimentary of China and China has nothing but love for him too. “Kenny is a genius. I can call him that because he really is. He’s worked with everyone. He’s so patient and he doesn’t settle for anything less than your best. He’ll push you until you’re really giving your best and going all the way there, and that’s what you want in a director. You want somebody that knows what they want and knows how to get it out of people. That’s exactly who he is. He’s a genius.”
China gives us the scoop on the set dynamics. We were dying to know if she had any good stories or pranks to share. “I’ve known Cameron Boyce, fun fact, since he was nine. We’re always picking on each other and playing pranks on each other. He and Booboo Stewart have the coolest relationship ever. They’re really close, and a lot of the original cast and the new cast got close so quickly. It was like there was no difference between us. It felt like we’d worked on the first film, too. That’s how comfortable they made us feel. So that was really cool.”
Unleashing Sass With No Apologies
We just had to ask China how much of herself did she see in her character and China didn’t hold back. “I got to really unleash that anger and I didn’t have to say I was sorry for it. Just doing that was cool and really fun, so that wild side of me was in this character for sure. Also, just the dancing and the singing was a part of me. I was expressing Uma first but I got to express myself through that because I love to sing and I love to dance. Being in the studio and being in rehearsals was just really fun for me. It was a cool way to let myself shine through.”
Dancing on Tables
Kids don’t try this at home! “It was really hard because you rehearse in this huge studio so you have a lot of space. But then they put you on the set and it’s a totally different story and there are tables and there are background actors and you’re in costume and everything’s totally different. So, that was a big challenge and we only had one day to rehearse on set. It was really fun so I’m so happy y’all enjoyed it.”
ABOUT DESCENDANTS 2
The story deepens in the music-driven sequel to the global smash hit “Descendants,” as the teenage sons and daughters of Disney’s most infamous villains – Mal, Evie, Carlos and Jay (also known as Villain Kids or VKs) – try to find their place in idyllic Auradon. When the pressure to be royally perfect becomes too much for Mal, she returns to her rotten roots on the Isle of the Lost where her archenemy Uma, the daughter of Ursula, has taken her spot as self-proclaimed queen of the run-down town. Uma, still resentful over not being selected by Ben to go to Auradon Prep with the other Villain Kids, stirs her pirate gang including Captain Hook’s son Harry and Gaston’s son Gil, to break the barrier between the Isle of the Lost and Auradon, and unleash all the villains imprisoned on the Isle, once and for all.
DESCENDANTS 2 PREMIERES JULY 21ST, 2017
It will air at 8 PM simultaneously on Disney Channel, ABC, Disney XD, Freeform and Lifetime. For more information and to keep up with the latest scoop on the film, be sure to like and follow Descendants 2.