Yara Shahidi & Sofia Ongele Interview: Growing up

Yara Shahidi and Sofia Ongele collaborated on Ongele’s episode of Disney+ Grow up, a show created by Brie Larson and Culture House to provide a platform for a diverse group of young people to share their very different experiences of growing up. Shahidi, known for her roles in Black and Adultdirects Ongele’s episode and brings a unique perspective to her story in recreations and retellings.

Ongele, who grew up in Los Angeles County, shares her story of growing up in a community that lacks diversity and how her interest in math and science led her to struggle with imposter syndrome . When her friend goes through a traumatic event, Ongele decides to use her skills to make a difference. This included developing an award-winning app called ReDawn to support survivors of sexual violence.

SCREENRANT VIDEO OF THE DAY

Also see: Disney+: Every new movie and TV show is coming in September 2022

screen rant sat down with Ongele and Shahidi to discuss their collaboration Grow up, what it means to tell such a personal story on such a large scale, and what Ongele is up to. Watch the trailer and read the full interview below:

Screen Rant: Sofia, you tell a really important story on such a huge platform. Can you talk a bit about what it means to you personally to tell your story so big?

Sofia Ongele: I personally feel very privileged to be able to do that because I feel like my story isn’t necessarily an anomaly. I feel like it’s something that a lot of people can relate to. And that’s one of the things that we realized, we the cast, all the heroes talking to each other, and we realized that, oh, a lot of our stories are very similar. And that’s because, while growing up feels very isolating at the time, it doesn’t have to be. It’s about having those conversations with those around you and having that sense of community to be able to support you as you go through what seems like a very scary time. Not even seems, it really is a very scary time.

And that’s why I’m so glad to be a part of this project, because I feel like a representation in relation to — especially young black girls growing up. I didn’t have much. Yara was my representative when I was eight or so. Because when we talked about it imagine– I love this movie – I said, “Yeah, black girl!”

To see ourselves represented in different areas and in different ways, not only going through the grief and some of the more heartbreaking events, but also celebrating that joy and showing that we are all multi-faceted people who go through anything and do anything. And I think hopefully a lot of black girls will be able to see that and be like, oh my god, I can do that too.

Yara, you bring this story to life visually and you sort of mentor and bring out a new generation. How was it? How did this process work for you to bring Sofia’s story to life visually?

Yara Shahidi: I don’t know if I would classify myself as a mentor as I am the same age as all the heroes and they had so much to offer. But honestly, I think my approach to the whole directing experience was to honor my own experiences in front of the camera and try to reflect on what worked for me as an actor, what didn’t work, what I’m not trying to replicate. And I use that as a pretty good base to set the tone.

Luckily I had the experience Adult what it means to set the tone on set. And I’ve been grateful that I’ve already stepped into a really well-oiled machine and a wonderful group of people who love to work together. And to be honest, I feel like my job was easy. I would classify it as just borrowing from what was already presented and what was already there.

Sofia and I had already spoken and knew how many parallels there were in our stories, so I already knew there would be an ease in our conversation and sharing of these experiences. And everyone on set was so excited to tell the story that it was fun to lean in. When people had different ideas about what to do with the camera, different lighting ideas, it became a really joyful experience because people were having so much fun.

Sofia it was so amazing to see you teaching at the end of the episode and talking about how black women are really underrepresented in STEM and similar positions. Can you give viewers an update on where you are right now and what you’re doing?

Sofia Ongele: Yes. I recently mentored the Code With Klossy camp this summer, which was really cool. I’ve been involved with the program since 2016 which is really crazy if I’ve wanted to learn and I’ve taught so many times through it and I’m so glad I’ve been able to mentor some of the camps that have been in New York.

I took a few years off school just because of COVID – online school is not my thing. I’m going back to school in the fall. I transferred to Columbia University, where I study information science with a concentration in human rights. So I’m still doing the same thing. I still code all the time, I work with my organization, Gen Z for Change, and I do a lot of really fun, crazy things. Like shutting down like an anti-CRT template in Virginia by spamming it with text and lines from the bee movie, that’s really cool. So stuff like that. It’s real and you can look it up. I love being able to still be my authentic self.

I’m still learning and growing of course, but I have so many communities now. And I still liked it when we were shooting the show. But finding more and more communities makes the process a lot less daunting, I think. And I think that’s, even though I’m grown up, I think now, I think it’s something that remains a theme in our lives. Our community is who we are and without that I feel like you need to go through this daunting process all over again.

Growing Up Synopsis

Growing Up is an innovative hybrid docu-series exploring the challenges, triumphs and complexities of youth through ten compelling coming-of-age stories. The series uses narrative, experimental and documentary filmmaking to follow a cast person, aged 18-22, as they tell their story. Representing a wide range of lived experiences, they provide audiences with emotionally powerful narratives that offer an engaging look at the teenage years and the multiple social, family and internal obstacles young people encounter on their journey to self-discovery and acceptance.


Each 30-minute episode features a young person or “hero” and their coming-of-age experiences. Each episode is anchored by a deeply personal interview that allows our heroes to take us through their childhood and adolescence. Alongside these interviews, creative cinematic re-enactments help bring their key turning points to life.

Grow up Premieres September 8 on Disney+.

About admin

Check Also

EP about Gina & Ricky – Hollywood Life

view gallery Photo credit: Disney+ The curtain has closed High School Musical: The Musical: The …