In the new release of the feature film Alex & Me, Lily Mae Silverstein can be seen playing Penny alongside a cast including the film’s star – professional soccer player Alex Morgan. Lily plays the recurring role of Lydia in the Disney series Bunk’d, having joined the show in Series 2 in 2016, and she is part of Disney XD’s Walk the Prank as Katie. Further roles for Lily have included Jane Banks in Mary Poppins Quits and Gwen in the American pilot of the popular British comedy Outnumbered. We talked to Lily about playing Penny in Alex & Me, her time as Lydia in Bunk’d and filming for Mary Poppins Quits with Kristen Bell.
What can you tell us about your character Penny in the new feature film Alex & Me?
Penny is very demanding of her teammates and is not shy in the slightest. She is the kind of person who says what’s on her mind without thinking of the consequences. This is shown in many occasions like when she kind of yells at the other team and constructively criticises her own teammates.
I tend to find myself playing ambitious characters, which helps me develop a sense of each character. I say this because Penny is nothing like Lydia, my character on the Disney Channel show, Bunk’d. Their intensions are very different – Lydia is all about herself, and Penny wants what’s best for her team, but will not lose sight of the real goal… winning as a team!
How long were you filming for and where did filming take place?
We were filming for about three weeks. We had to work around Alex Morgan’s schedule and our school schedules as well. Kudos to the director and production staff for creating such an amazing movie with all the time hurdles that they had to overcome. Incredible!
Our fabulous director, Eric Champnella, was on top of the time limitations and never lost sight of the needed downtime too. He made sure we had cast dinners and trips to the aquarium. We were there to work, but if your work is fun, it never feels like you’re working. Three weeks just flew by.
We filmed in New Orleans! It was so beautiful and full of history and culture. The production gave my castmates and I ample time to explore in our free time. We had so much fun. We travelled to the Haunted Mortuary for Colin Critchley’s (Ben in Alex & Me) birthday and the aquarium on another day. I have never had so much fun filming a project in all my life. I couldn’t have asked for a better location. Just to add, people in New Orleans really know how to celebrate Halloween, as you can see in pictures below.
Did you get chance to see the completed film before the release?
There are three girls from the movie who live here in California with me and we tend to hang out a lot. One is Reagan Champnella, the director’s daughter and the inspiration for the film. Occasionally, Eric would pop in and give us a sneak peak. We didn’t want to see the full movie because we wanted to see it all together.
Warner Bros. and Nickelodeon held the Alex & Me World Premiere on May 31st. We all watched it together for the first time. I was ecstatic with the outcome! Such a great movie!!
You play the role of Lydia in Disney’s Bunk’d, can you tell us about her?
Lydia is feared by all and loves every bit of it. Lydia is extremely dark and likes to torment the other campers. She is dressed in a weasel camper T-shirt, a flannel, and an oversized jacket full of bobby-pins and boys’ swim shorts. There are black tire skid marks over her clothes and she has large teased hair with crazy black eye makeup. The process of turning Lydia back into Lily Mae takes about an hour every night to get the makeup off. Lydia was one of my first big roles and is still one of my favourites.
How is the experience on set of the show and working with the rest of the cast?
Bunk’d has been such an amazing experience for me and I have so many fantastic memories from being on the show. Everybody – and I mean everybody – on that show is so nice and funny. Although my role was recurring in a handful of episodes over three years, the writer/creator Pam Eells, producer Adam Lapidus and director Bob Koherr always made me feel like family. My most recent experience with Bunk’d – Season 3 – was amazing. On-screen, I worked a lot with Skai (Jackson) as our characters are in revival cabins. Off-screen, we had dance parties!!
Who is your character Katie in Walk the Prank?
Katie is a school reporter who is very bubbly and enters situations at just the right time. She appears at events when the school has something really interesting to share with the viewers. She is very energetic and passionate about each story she tells and never lets that energy die. She’s kinda cutesy with pigtails!
What was it like filming as Brianna in A Happening of Monumental Proportions?
Brianna is Patricia’s best friend. Patricia, lead character played by Storm Reid (star of A Wrinkle In Time), and Brianna (supporting character) played middle school girls. We walked around the school a lot. I remember how the director, Judy Greer, would pull me into scenes when she thought Storm should be walking with a friend, or sharing a glance with me. It was some fun days of filming. Judy Greer was great and made the experience so fantastic.
What do you remember from filming as Jane Banks in Mary Poppins Quits alongside Kristen Bell?
I auditioned for the role of Jane Banks over FaceTime when I was ten years old. Kristen Bell was so sweet. For the first time I got to experience what it’s like to sing on camera. I was extremely nervous to be in the project because Kristen seemed to know what she was doing and I had no clue. Kristen was very professional and it was a great learning experience. You can still see the Funny or Die – Mary Poppins Quits video on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TlTO8ggfes8MaryPo
Outnumbered was a huge UK hit series, how was it working on the American episode and did you have chance to meet the creators Andy Hamilton and Guy Jenkin?
Funny story… I was six years old when I auditioned for a lead character for this show. My brother, Kyle Red Silverstein auditioned for the lead older brother as well. The casting director really liked us, but Ava Acres and Gibson Sjobeck were more suited to play Lucy and Ben Tully. Although we didn’t get the lead roles, the producers liked us so much that they wrote our characters, Gwen and Owen into the pilot. Kyle and I were so honoured to get that opportunity and felt truly blessed to get to work on the show. We had a blast working with Ava and Gibson that day, and unfortunately we never had the opportunity to meet Andy and Guy.
Flash forward seven years! Ava Acres and I got to work together again on Alex & Me. Ava plays Gia, a fellow soccer player. Since the movie lasted three weeks and not one day like the pilot, we really got to know each other. She’s a real doll and I’m so happy to get to call her one of my closest friends.
Can you tell us about your character Gwen?
Gwen and her brother, Owen, were the neighbour kids living next door to Lucy and Ben Tully. Since we were just introduced in the pilot, there wasn’t much to their characters. My guess is that if the show continued, Gwen and Owen would have been a little bratty and would have tormented the Tully kids!
How did you get into acting and when did you start?
I was about two years old. My mom was an account manager in the promotions department at Nestlé in California. She knew how fun it would be for us kids to play in front of a camera and maybe earn a little money for college while doing it. My brother, Kyle was four years old when he went in for a Disneyland commercial. The casting director walked out of the room and she spotted chubby little me. She asked my mom if I could follow directions and my career took off from there. (Just to clarify, I got the role WITH my brother, and it was a toddler’s dream first job. We got to ride in the Storybook Boat and run around the Tea Cup ride – all before the park opened to the public).
Do you have any projects coming up that you’re able to share?
I have some opportunities coming up – but a little too early to talk about now. I’m so excited about the release of Alex & Me, and I will be in an upcoming episode of Bunk’d. Keep a look out for a recent episode of Walk the Prank where Katie the Reporter shows up to interview Bailey (Jillian Spaeder) and Courtney (Jessica Treska, another Alex & Me soccer player) at a slumber party.
We understand you’re passionate about animal pet rescue and you’ve adopted two dogs, can you tell us more about this?
My family and I rescued Marley when I was around six years old and we have loved him ever since. A couple of years later, we adopted Buster at the pet store when we went in to buy dog food. (True definition of IMPULSE BUY). I have loved animals from a young age, but have become extremely passionate about dogs.
When I was little, I wanted to have a dog-themed birthday party so we went to a local pet shelter and my guests and I played with the dogs. My mom and I decided that I would ask for donations for the shelter instead of gifts. The next year, I said that I wanted to do the same thing, but that I didn’t want to play with the dogs, I actually wanted to volunteer to help the dogs and make them happier. To this day, I have continued this birthday tradition successfully.
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