Model Diaries with Laura Marano
Interviewed by JILL WINKLER at Hyatt Regency Los Angeles International Airport
Our cover girl, Laura Marano, is Determined, Hilarious, and—Above All—Real
For Laura, being a multi-talented musician and actress is just another part of the job and yet somehow she manages to maintain a refreshing openness, youthful vibrance and a beloved and pointedly off-the-cuff sense of humor. Here is what we learned from our most radiant cover girl on-set for this month’s issue of Modeliste.
Where did you grow up?
I grew up in a part of LA called Woodland Hills actually, so I am one of a few born and raised LA girl, total valley girl, and it’s my home. I’ve been here since literally forever.
How did you originally get into acting?
I originally got in acting with kind of a funny story. My sister and I grew up hanging out in this children’s theater that my mom owned, and still owns, and we loved it. We loved performing. I loved any sort of performing. I was always making up songs on the spot. People were annoyed…really, they actually kind of were because my songs were really long, but I just loved doing it and I loved performing.
When we grew up my sister asked my mom straight up, “Hey, can we be professional actresses?” She wasn’t even asking for me, she was asking for herself and my mom said, “Nope, no, not going to happen, no, no, uh-uh, no.” Her mentality was that it’s a pretty tough business, it’s a lot of rejection. She said, “I don’t want to put my kids in that.” My sister is the most persistent person on the face of the Earth, so she continued to beg my mom every day for two years and my mom finally got guilted into it. She still didn’t really want us to do it, so she looked up various agents and found an agent that is known to turn down kids 95% of the time, and she was like, “Ding, ding, ding! I’ll take my kids to that agent and they’ll get rejected and they won’t want to do it anymore. They’ll realize it’s much harder than they think.”
So, at that time Vanessa (my sister) was eight, and I was five. I’m not even really going in to audition. It was just that my dad teaches and my mom works at home and she was able to drive my sister, but, “What are you going to do with me? You’ve got to take me!” I told her. So I’m on the road with them and in the office and my sister goes in and the agent asks to see my mom and I follow my mom in. I’m ridiculously outgoing and so the agent tells my mom, “We want to take Vanessa,” my sister. My mom’s like, “What?” Then I say, “I don’t have an agent,” and the agent says, “Oh, honey, I’ll take you too.” My mom’s like, “What?!” And…we’ve been with the same agents ever since, which is actually kind of amazing.
In 2011 you landed the huge role of Disney Channel’s Austin & Ally. What was it like being part of the Disney legacy?
Being a part of Austin & Ally was one of the most special experiences in my life. I absolutely adored the cast and crew. Everyone uses the term family so loosely when they talk about projects, but it’s so easy to become a family with someone because you’re spending so many hours with them, and especially when they’re really good people. I had such an amazing time and it was a different experience for me because all the kinds of projects I was doing before were a little bit more adult. All my friends never watched anything I had done previously, in fact no one really believed I was an actress. When I started high school, people started getting into the other things I was in like Dexter, Superbad, but when I was growing up everyone’s like, “Why do you miss school Laura? You’re a weirdo.” When I got Austin & Ally, it was finally something that people my age and people a little bit younger than I really connected with. That was such an awesome, cool experience for me. On top of that, getting to do music as well and getting to work with people that I honestly really got along with well and enjoyed, it was just kind of the best experience ever. It was really, really special.
What is one of your best memories of being on set of Austin & Ally?
It’s hard to pick because there’s a lot of pretty amazing moments and memories, but honestly going back to the first episode we ever filmed, the pilot episode. There was our live audience taping, and keep in mind since this was our first episode, we didn’t know this was going to go to series. None of the kids knew who we were, and after we filmed the episode, all the kids in the audience were freaking out and wanted to get our autograph and wanted to take pictures with us. All of us were like, “This kind of feels like this could be something special. This is crazy!” Afterwards we were playing piano all the other instruments on set and it was such an amazing moment. We all looked at each other and we’re like, “This could be it.”
You’ve also got a film coming out soon called The War with Grandpa. Can you tell us a little bit about what it’s about?
The War with Grandpa that’s coming out in October, which is pretty insane considering I just finished filming it in the end of June. That doesn’t happen. It’s about, in the core of it, the love of family and really appreciating the family around you. Robert De Niro plays the grandpa in the movie and my younger brother in the movie, his grandson and him have a bit of t a war going on because the grandpa, Rob, has to move back into the house and he takes the grandson’s room, so shenanigans occur. It’s pretty adorable and pretty hilarious. We have the craziest cast with Robert De Niro, Uma Thurman, Christopher Walken, Cheech Marin, Jane Seymour, the list goes on and on and on. It’s really, really fun. I honestly couldn’t believe every day when I was going to set that I was a part of it. It was the most surreal working experience of my life.
How is this role different than roles you’ve played in the past?
I play Mia, so I was the eldest grandchild. I guess I would say this role is a little different than some of the other characters I’ve played because she is pretty self-involved to the point where I could really have fun with it. As humans, I think we’re all selfish a little bit, but she was very obviously into herself and to what was going on in her life, so it was really fun to play that part of her character.
What was a typical day like on set for you with The War with Grandpa?
I got up from the hotel, would go down to where there was a van waiting with all the cast members and we would go on set. Filming a movie is so different than filming a TV show, especially a TV show like Austin & Ally where we could spend all day on one scene and that was totally fine, we had the time to do it and then could get all the different angles. There’s one scene in the movie that literally took six days to film. It’s a pretty intense scene, so it’s not necessarily slower paced, but slower in the amount of stuff you get done per day. It’s pretty different and very cool.
This year you also signed a huge deal with Warner Brothers Records- congratulations! How long have you been singing and are you currently working on any special projects?
Yes, I signed with Warner Brothers a few months ago and I’m so ridiculously happy and grateful. I have been singing for as long as I can remember, flashback to when I was a little girl and annoying people with my incredibly long songs. It’s just something I’ve always wanted to do. It’s funny, because I don’t know where it comes since no one else in my family does it, but I’ve always been obsessed with singing. I was doing amateur recording and songwriting sessions when I was 11-15 years old. When I started doing Austin & Alley a lot more doors opened for me because the whole show is about music. I literally played a songwriter in the show, so I got music managers and started doing professional co-writing sessions.
I signed my first record deal and it’s been kind of a crazy journey the past few years, but I really feel so at home with Warner Brothers and feel like that is exactly the place I belong as an artist and as a team member. We’re definitely working on music. We want to release a whole body of music. A single is going to be coming first and I feel so hard for my fans because they have been waiting for such a long time for my music. Since I started Austin & Alley, I’ve been writing for my debut album. It’s gone through so many bumps and so many challenges, yet so many beautiful, wonderful things have occurred. I finally feel like we’re getting to the end of the road and the debut album is coming soon, so that’s really, really exciting!
How would you describe your style of music and do you play any instruments?
I do play instruments. I play piano. I’ve been playing piano since I was nine, so I’m kind of obsessed. I wish I played a few more instruments, but I’m pretty happy playing piano for now. It’s where I feel most at home.
A for my style of music, every time I describe it to people, like when I was filming this past summer and it would come out that I was a singer, people were like, “What’s your style of music?” and I would say, “It’s moody pop.” Then everyone would ask, “What is moody pop?” It just makes so much sense to me. The moment you hear the songs I’ve been doing, it makes a lot of sense, but if you kind of take it out of context, you’re like, “What are you talking about?” It’s definitely pop, it’s a little moody. I’m a pretty happy person, but I like to write kind of moody music recently, I don’t know why.
Who are some of your favorite music artists in the industry right now that you look up to for inspiration?
There’s so many amazing people in music right now. It’s so awesome, so cool. I’ve always been a fan of Tink. Tink is my everything. She’s so underrated and so good. I love her so much. She’s incredible. I also love Julia Michaels, she’s super special as person and a writer and a singer. I’d also have to say Justin Bieber because every song he puts out you’re kind of like, “Yes, this is happening.” There are so many people I admire. Niall’s Slow Hands I was obsessed with this year. It’s just been amazing time for music.
What do you like to do when you are not working?
When I am not working, I am so boring. I sleep on my couch and watch Harry Potter movies and read. Sometimes, if I’m really feeling crazy, I go to a bookstore and hang out.
How do you describe your fashion style?
There’s two sides of my style. On one end, I’m obsessed with Stevie Nicks and I love the really cool witchy leather situation she has going on. It’s witchy, flowy leather. It’s pretty huge in Stevie Nicks land. Then on the other hand, I can get a little girly. It’s funny how your style evolves and changes when you grow up, and I’ve recently become really obsessed with flowy skirts and dresses. I used to be, and I still am very much a skinny jeans rocker type girl, but over the course of six months I’ve found my love for dresses and flowy skirts again.
What is your current favorite item of clothing you own and why?
I have a few favorite items at home. I have these Hudson bell bottom jeans that I’m obsessed with and I’ve been obsessed with for a while. I have this vintage black and white flowy skirt that I like to put on with a crop top or a T-shirt and I’m like, “I feel ready. I can either go to a meeting or the beach, who knows? I don’t know.” Then, I love chokers. This year I’ve become really, really, I keep saying obsessed, but it’s so true. There’s no other word to describe it, obsessed with chokers. They’re so cute. Maybe it’s the short hair with the chokers. This is kind of the first time in my whole life that I’ve had short hair, so it’s like I’m finding different new things to complement that.
What are your current favorite lip shades to wear?
I love coral shades. I’ve always loved coral since I was 14, and it’s always been one of my favorite shades. I’ve also become more of a red girl. I wasn’t always courageous enough to go red because it takes a certain amount of bravery to really go for it, but once again, when I cut my hair and I brought it back to my natural color, a little darker, it just felt right. I took that step, got my MAC red lipstick, got a lip pencil and it’s kind of amazing when you have nothing else going on hair and makeup-wise, if you just want to put on some mascara, put those red lips on, maybe put on some shades and you’re good to go… just saying.
Besides your wallet, cell phone and keys, what are three things you never leave the house without?
I would have to say my iPad is first. I carry a lint roller in my purse because you never know when you’re going to need it. Then I’d have to say chewing gum, again becuase you never know when you’re going to need it and then some Burt’s Bees ChapStick because it always feels so great plus they’re really cute. There’s like little bees on the packaging, so maybe you don’t even need to put it on your lips. You just need to have a smile, and you look at it and you smile, so that’s great.
What place have you never visited that is at the top of your bucket list?
Paris. I’ve actually never been to neither Paris nor France at all and I’ve always wanted to go. I think I’m going to fall in love and be obsessed. I also always wanted to go to Africa. Anywhere on that continent, I would be like, “Woo-hoo!” because I think it would be just so beautiful and amazing, I’d love to go to South America as well. There are so many places I want to go to.
What is your favorite late-night snack?
Late night, I love to have a few, pancakes. When you go to IHOP at twelve midnight, you’re doing great. Then there are Cheerios. It’s all breakfast items, I don’t know why! Honey Nut Cheerios are great, again with the bee thing. But also when in doubt just plain popcorn. Who needs to watch a movie, just have some popcorn and read a book. It’s fantastic, let me tell you.
What was your favorite look that you did today for the shoot?
There was this amazing Dolce & Gabbana lace dress, and you could see through it, so I had to wear a bodysuit underneath. It was just amazing. I couldn’t completely appreciate it because I was wearing it out in the cold and I was cold, but then after I saw some pictures I was like, “This is amazing, it looks so beautiful!” That was one of my favorites. There’s a lot of great looks in the shoot today.
What was your favorite part about the shoot location today?
My favorite part of the shoot location at the Hyatt Regency Los Angeles International Airport was that it was so close to the airport. I’ve actually never been to this area and not gone to the airport. The last few shots of the day we were on the rooftop and planes were landing behind us. It was really crazy.
What are you looking forward to this year?
There are so many things in the works that I’ve been working for in so many different capacities. Obviously, the War with Grandpa’s coming out. There is also a movie that I did last year that I have a pretty small part in, but I think is pretty epic is also coming out in the fall. It’s called Lady Bird. Greta Gerwig is directing and wrote it and Saoirse Ronan is starring in it. I just worked on it for a few days, but it was the coolest experience and I’m really excited for it because I think the script was amazing, shooting was amazing.
I, myself, produced a movie for the first time with my mom and sister called Saving Zoe, which is a book that I have owned the rights to for ten years, which is insane. We finally filmed that in July and August, and we’re going to be releasing it at some point. Hopefully we’ll be putting it in film festivals.
On the music standpoint, I’m just so excited for my debut album. I’ve been working so hard for it and all I’ve ever wanted to do is make amazing music to share with my fans. I know they’ve wanted that too, so I’m glad we’re on the same page with that. I think they’re going to kind of love this direction that I’ve been in because it feels really right for me. I’m kind of like at the place where I love it and everything honestly feels super right. I am beyond grateful and excited to release it this year.