With The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers premiering on Disney+ in 2021, Lia Frankland was in the cast as podcast co-host Mary Joe, which marked her first recurring character on screen. Last year, Lia played Melissa Green in episodes of Devil in Ohio on Netflix, and she previously guest-starred in The Baby-Sitters Club as Amanda Delaney, worked on Christmas films Spotlight on Christmas and Road to Christmas, and played Francie in TV series Dead of Summer. In 2018, Lia played Charlize Theron’s on-screen daughter Sarah in the Golden Globe-nominated film Tully, which saw her attend the film premiere in Los Angeles and win Joey and Young Entertainer awards for her performance, and she played Avery in the 2017 feature film Betting on the Bride, which won her the Joey Award for Best Principal or Supporting Actress in a TV Movie – 9 Years & Up. Chatting with Lia, she talks about working on her episodes of Devil in Ohio, filming for The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers as Mary Joe and her award-winning performance of Sarah in Tully.
Can you tell us about your character Melissa Green in Devil in Ohio and how was it being part of the Netflix series?
This was such a fun role to film, especially since the scenes I was in were supposed to have occurred around Halloween, which is one of my favourite times of the year. The sets had some fun decorations, and it was cool to see all the costumes that the cast and background were wearing. I also enjoyed meeting cast member Naomi Tan, who played Dani, Emily Deschanel’s on-screen daughter. I had seen Naomi do such a great job singing in a musical theatre production of The Sound of Music the year before. It was great getting to know her.
In Series 2 of The Baby-Sitters Club, you guest-starred in an episode as Amanda Delaney, how much did you know about the franchise before booking your role and what was Amanda like to play?
Amanda Delaney was a fun role to play because she goes from being really snobby and annoying at the beginning, to being more down-to-earth and likeable by the end of the episode. I was familiar with the book series, but I had really enjoyed watching Season 1 the year before, so I was really excited to be able to be a part of Season 2.
How was it filming for an episode of Maid as Ella?
My scene in Maid was mostly cut from the final edit. Originally, I was playing piano and singing a song and was really irritating and rude to my father in the scene. I really like getting to play characters like this because it’s kind of fun to really lean into being nasty when that’s what the role and director are really looking for.
You played Mary Joe in Series 1 of The Mighty Ducks: Game Changers, what did you enjoy most about playing the character and working with the rest of the cast?
I think of all the roles I have played so far, Mary Joe was maybe one of the closest to who I am as a person. My younger cousin is a hockey player and I love to go to his games and cheer for him and his team. So it wasn’t much of a stretch to play Mary Joe, who was a total superfan. It was also cool to be on set with a cast who was so close to me in age. We would play games and do singing performances between scenes.
What was it like having Mary Joe as your first recurring character and how was it working on a Disney series?
Well, one of the directors of the show told me that originally, Mary Joe was not expected to be in so many of the episodes. But I think that there was a really fun chemistry with my on-screen dad, Terry, played by the hilarious Mark Chavez. Also, I think they thought it was helpful to have more colour commentary of the hockey games, to explain what was going on and to keep the energy up. Like a lot of people, I grew up watching Disney shows, so it was super exciting to be in an actual Disney series.
How did you find the experience working on the Christmas films – Spotlight on Christmas as Janey Wilson and Road to Christmas as Sally?
First of all, Christmas has always been my favourite holiday, so I am always excited to be in a Christmas film. Also, people might not know that those films were not filmed during the winter months at all. It was actually warm outside and all the snow was fake. Even so, everyone on the set just seemed to get into the spirit and it always ended up being a lot of fun.
What are some of your favourite memories from your time filming as Sarah in the feature film Tully alongside your on-screen mother Marlo, played by Charlize Theron?
I think my favourite memories were spending time with Charlize’s kids and with my on-screen brother, played by Asher Miles Fallica. I was eight at the time, so I really didn’t know who Charlize Theron was. She was really nice though, and I remember hanging out and eating lunch together on the set.
How was it attending the film premiere and seeing the huge success to the release, which included a Golden Globes nomination and you winning a Joey Award and a Young Entertainer Award for your performance?
I have a lot of great memories of going to the premiere in LA, walking the red, well, actually black, carpet, and being interviewed by the hosts of Entertainment Tonight. I remember that I was shocked that people showed up with photos of me, asking me to autograph them for them. The whole thing was kind of surreal. Then, after the screening, people were wanting to take photos and some of the fans became a bit intense, kind of all around me, at one point. But there was security there, and the guard and my parents kind of whisked me away. It was just a bit overwhelming for a second.
What was it like playing Avery in Betting on the Bride and winning Best Principal or Supporting Actress in a TV Movie – 9 Years & Up at the 2017 Joey Awards?
I have such great memories of Betting on the Bride because both Karissa Lee Staples and Peter Mooney, the leads, were so nice and fun to be around. They were both really great role models for me at that age. I remember Peter, for example, running to get water for the kids doing background work because it was a really hot day that particular day. It is always great to have your work recognised and it felt great to win the Joey Award.
What do you remember most from playing Francie in the TV series Dead of Summer at the start of your career?
I guess, the thing I remember most about being on set tends to be the friendships that are created in a situation where it can be intense, exciting and you have to be “on”, and other times when you are doing a lot of waiting and hanging out with the cast and crew between scenes. One particularly fond memory of my Francie role was picking salmonberries between scenes with Elizabeth Mitchell. She was so amazing and I remember how she was always so positive. I kind of saw her as the mom to all of the younger cast members, including myself. I think I was the youngest cast member on that set.
Where does your love of acting come from and how did you get into it?
My parents tell me that I always loved singing and performing, even before I was two years old. When I was five, I pointed to the TV screen and told my parents that I wanted to be on TV. They were kind of reluctant about it and it took me about a year-and-a-half to convince them to enroll me in acting classes. Then my acting teacher had to convince my parents to let her send out some videos of me in my classes to some agents that she knew. By the time the series of acting classes were over, I had worn my parents down and they agreed. Within a couple of weeks I had met my current agents and I started auditioning after that.
What are some of your favourite films and TV shows to watch?
I like watching old episodes of Criminal Minds. That may seem like a strange choice, but actually I am really interested in the criminal profiling. I also really like the relationships between the characters, especially Penelope Garcia and Derek Morgan. One of my favourite movies is probably Pretty in Pink. I just love the character of Duckie, and I am kind of in awe of James Spader’s performance. I have seen it three or four times now.
How do you like to spend your time away from acting?
I really like spending time with my friends and family. I am an only child but very close with my two cousins and we just enjoy hanging out and cracking each other up. I am kind of a goofball most of the time.
What are you hoping 2023 brings for you?
In terms of roles, I always like playing characters that are quite different from me and my life. I would like to play a villain, or some other role that you might not expect when you look at me or get to know me.
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Categories: Film & TV, home, Interview, Young Performers
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