In the new Netflix series Alexa & Katie, which premiered worldwide last week, Merit Leighton plays the role of Hannah throughout the series, with the show created by Heather Wordham (writer for Hannah Montana). As a voiceover actor, Merit has been voicing Lucinda in Sofia the First for Disney Junior since the age of nine, with Merit’s next episodes due for release later this year. Merit also has a popular YouTube channel – KawaiiHappii – which features videos about topics such as K-pop, Anime and video games, and she is currently an ambassador for Nintendo. Speaking to Merit, we find out about her role of Hannah in Alexa & Katie, voicing Lucinda in Sofia the First and her YouTube channel.
What can you tell us about the new show Alexa & Katie which premiered on Netflix last week?
Alexa & Katie is a heartwarming comedy about two best friends who support and uplift each other no matter what. The show has an extra layer because Alexa has cancer, but it doesn’t change who she is. Alexa wants to start her freshman year of high school like everyone else and Katie is there to make that happen as best she can.
The series is created by Hannah Montana writer Heather Wordham, is it aimed at the same aged audience?
The show can be watched by families because the storyline for parents is hilarious! Eddie Shin, Tiffani Thiessen and Jolie Jenkins cracked me up on set and you’re going to love them. Of course, teens and kids can watch as well, and anyone dealing with a chronic illness could relate, so I think it will reach a really wide audience.
You play the role of Hannah, can you tell us about the character?
You never can be sure what Hannah is going to say, she’s out there a bit, but she has a huge heart and she’s a good friend. We would totally hang out in real life.
Was there anything in particular that drew you to the show?
I was intrigued by a sitcom that dealt with a teen battling cancer. What I loved most was the really smart way it was written by Heather Wordham and the amazing staff of writers.
Is there a soundtrack for the series and, if so, have you recorded any of the tracks?
I actually have not seen the show yet myself, and I did not record any songs for the show but maybe in the future that would be really fun.
Did you know any of the cast members before filming started and how long were you on set?
I had met Paris Berelc at events in town over the years, and I had always looked up to her, so it’s such an honour to be a part of Alexa & Katie. I filmed from June – October of 2017 and it was a fantastic summer with a great cast and crew.
Were there any unscripted funny moments on set?
There were many funny moments! The set had such a cool laid-back vibe.
Can we see Alexa & Katie in the UK?
Yes, in fact, here is a link to the trailer on Netflix UK: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xxvXu3re0ek.
What was it like voicing Lucinda in Sofia the First?
I first voiced Lucinda when I was nine and I’ve had an amazing time voicing her and singing for her over the years! Getting a chance to work on a children’s show is super great because I love kids and the response has been amazing. Lucinda has a few new episodes later this year so watch out for that.
You also have a YouTube channel, what made you decide to start uploading to YouTube and what’s the response been like to your videos so far?
YouTube was something I always wanted to do since I was pretty young, but a few years ago I really got serious about it. At first, it took me forever to choose a name and figure out what I wanted to say with my channel. I really enjoy making videos and getting a chance to ramble about my favourite things like K-pop, Anime and video games. My videos being watched is the best response I can get, and that’s been happening so I’m super thrilled to see what the future holds. I’m making a lot of new content coming out soon.
For those that haven’t seen your channel, how would you describe your videos?
If you like cute things, K-pop, anime, Nintendo video games, and virtual hugs, come hang out with me and my friends on KawaiiHappii.
Do you have any YouTube events planned for this year?
Yes, I’m going to a creator only event in April that I am super excited about. Last year I went to this event and I met SO many wonderful people like Melissa Hunter and her super cool daughter Gracie from The Mommy and Gracie Show, Team Edge and David Choi, I had a great time.
Would you consider attending the UK YouTube events such as Summer In The City in London, and have you visited the UK before?
YES! I would love to! I haven’t had the opportunity to travel a lot yet, but Europe and Asia are on my bucket list. No, I haven’t visited the UK before, but I’ve always wanted to visit!
Can you tell us about your charity work?
I’m a Celebrity Ambassador for The Jonathan Foundation that helps kids with special needs get the education they deserve. Raja Marhaba is a hero to these kids in need and their parents. I also really enjoy serving the homeless at the Los Angeles Mission on the holidays whenever I can.
Do you have any acting or voiceover roles coming up this year?
Yes! I can’t wait to tell everyone but…*sigh* it’s a secret right now, but I can tell you that it’s another Netflix show so stay tuned for more info and announcements soon!
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