Descendants 2 has a few new faces this year, among them a few new VK’s. China Anne McClain plays the formidable daughter of Ursula. Uma is her name and she isn’t playing around. We got to meet this incredibly talented young woman to see just how well she has adjusted to joining the cast.
What is it like joining the cast of “Descendants?”
Joining the cast of “Descendants” was surreal for me. It was an honor because everyone loved the first film and I was a fan of the first film. 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!”
How did you feel about being Ursula’s daughter?
She is one of my favorite movie villains ever. She has so much attitude. In preparation, 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.
What was it like to be a villain?
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.
Your hair is so cool in this movie. Was it a wig?
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.
On Celebrating a Milestone Birthday (18) on Set
Yes! I mean a lot of them just picked on me. 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 it was fun. They made it really fun.
What was it like working in those awesome, crazy costumes?
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 thought, “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.
What was the biggest challenge playing her?
I think the biggest challenge playing Uma was probably making her relatable and trying to make her likable because you can’t mess with the VKs. 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, just making kids not dislike her and helping them be able to understand her was probably the biggest challenge.
What was it like working with the legendary director choreographer Kenny Ortega?
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 it 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.
What was the dynamics like on set? Any pranks or any good stories you want 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.
How much of yourself do you feel you put into the character?
Am I portraying anything? Well, like I said earlier, just having that wicked side of her come out. 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.
I love how in the songs and the dancing, you can see that sassiness. Was it challenging?
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.
Descendants 2 movie premieres simultaneously on 5 Networks on Friday, July 21 (8:00 P.M EDT): Disney Channel, ABC, Disney XD, Freeform and Lifetime, plus on each Network’s branded digital platform.
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