In the Disney+ series The Santa Clauses, Ruby Jay plays Riley alongside a cast including Tim Allen (Scott Calvin/Santa Claus), Elizabeth Mitchell (Mrs. Claus), Austin Kane (Cal) and Elizabeth Allen-Dick (Sandra), with the second series currently releasing weekly. Previously, Ruby starred as the titular character in Holly Hobbie, which aired worldwide including on CBBC in the UK, and she has voiced Rhonda and Wanda in Disney Junior’s animated series Fancy Nancy, and she played Grace for two years in the sitcom The Unicorn. Last year, Ruby released her EP Good Vibes, which was written for the TV series Love Island. Chatting to Ruby, we found out about filming as Riley in Disney+ series The Santa Clauses, starring as Holly Hobbie in Holly Hobbie and voicing Rhonda and Wanda in Disney Junior’s Fancy Nancy.
You play Riley in the Disney+ series The Santa Clauses, how would you describe your character and what is she like to play?
In the new season, I would describe my character as bubbly and curious, which just makes her the perfect kind of girl for Cal! Playing Riley has been a blast; being on this set with all of its magical elements brings such a joy to the rigorous set lifestyle.
How was it reading the scripts and meeting the rest of the cast for the first time?
Reading the scripts was like reading a fairytale for the first time. The show has so much magic built into it from the start. Meeting the cast was a very similar experience, everyone is just so kind and loving. I would especially love to give a special acknowledgement to Elizabeth Mitchell. I love her with all of my heart, she is exactly how she is on camera as she is in person; the perfect Mrs. Claus.
Had you seen the original The Santa Clause films before auditioning and what is it like on set of the new Disney+ series?
Yes! The original The Santa Clause movie is a holiday staple in our house. Ever since I can remember, that movie has always been on repeat during the holiday season, playing all hours of the day. I could recite the first movie like the back of my hand. Being on set for the first time, and seeing Tim Allen and Elizabeth Mitchell was such a surreal moment. I mean, I grew up with him as my Santa Claus, so seeing him in real life, dressed as Santa… I felt like I was five years old again on Christmas Eve. It was magical.
What was it like seeing the fan response to Series 1 and how was it attending the premiere?
Attending the premiere, and seeing the show for the first time, was just such an otherworldly experience. To be able to watch myself as a part of The Santa Clause franchise, standing right there next to Santa himself, it was just unexplainable. The whole experience has just been something that I don’t think any combination of words could fully describe.
Do you remember how you felt finding out you’d booked the starring role of Holly Hobbie in the TV series Holly Hobbie and what was it like being in the cast?
I was 14 years old when I booked Holly Hobbie, and I had only been in the industry for about two to three years at the time, so finding out that I had booked the lead role on a show was the craziest thing I had ever experienced. I still was such a newbie to the industry, but I was so excited to take on the role and try my hand at playing Holly. Fun fact, I was out with my mom when we got the call, so on our way home, we stopped to get some balloons and confetti, then set it up with a note and confetti inside the balloons for my sister and dad to pop and find out the news!
What was Holly like to play and how was it recording the music for the series?
It was so much fun working with Matthew Naylor and Christi Vaughan to bring Holly’s emotions to life through the music. Recording the music was actually the first time I had ever actually played Holly, it wasn’t until after the music was recorded that I flew out to Toronto to film and meet the rest of the cast. It was after that that I found a love for writing and recording in the studio, which is something I still do today!
Is there anything you miss most about filming for Holly Hobbie and what are some of your stand-out memories from playing the character over the years?
I miss the cast with all of my heart. I will occasionally see some of them if they happen to be in LA, but I miss being with them every day on set. I mean, we practically grew up on Holly Hobbie together, so I feel like we all have a bond that’s a bit different from just normal friendships; we’ve become a family. Every moment spent with them has so many memories built into it, which I hold onto very tight.
How was it having the show aired worldwide and who do you think will enjoy watching it?
It’s so cool to know that the show has the opportunity to reach so many kids in so many different cultures and lifestyles. I am a big lover of learning about different cultures, so to think about the possibility that Holly Hobbie has touched and maybe even had a positive impact on young kids is such a heartwarming feeling. I truly believe that young teens everywhere would enjoy this show as Holly deals with situations that could relate to their own experiences! Everything from friendship problems, boy problems, family problems, and so much more is on in the show.
How did you find the experience voicing Rhonda and Wanda in the Disney Junior animated series Fancy Nancy?
Voicing Rhonda and Wanda was an absolute blast. Being able to play train sisters who were rough and tough and loved to bicker with each other gave me lots of amazing and memorable stories from within the booth. When the two would fight, I would actually just say the lines back and forth in one take, so it was so much fun switching between their two voices so quickly!
What was it like playing the series regular role of Grace in the sitcom The Unicorn and what was the show like to work on?
I truly believe that I gained so much experience from playing Grace. I got to work with so many incredibly talented actors, and I got to watch them work their magic first hand. The two years we spent on that show really helped me grow into the actor I am today. I learned so much from everyone and I am eternally grateful for the love and support we all shared on The Unicorn.
Can you tell us about some of the other projects you’ve been involved with over your career so far, which have included FBI: International, Madagascar: A Little Wild, Tangled: The Series, Modern Family and Grey’s Anatomy?
On FBI: International, I had the opportunity to meet and work with the absolutely incredible director Avi Youabian. I have worked with him twice now (😉), and I have genuinely learned so much from him. He is such a supportive and kind person and I hope that I will get the opportunity to work with him again in the future!
Last year, you released your EP Good Vibes, did you have a favourite aspect of recording the songs?
For the Good Vibes EP, I absolutely loved just having as much fun with it as possible. Mathew, Sonny and I had such a blast thinking about all of the summer romance vibes to make these songs. I actually wrote this EP for Love Island, so if you watch the show you might hear some familiar songs in the eighth season!
How long were you working on the release of Good Vibes and who do you think your music will appeal to?
The songs were written I believe about six months before their release, and we actually wrote and recorded all the music in just three sessions! This EP will appeal to anyone who enjoys upbeat summer music with all the good vibes (pun intended).
Where does your love of acting and music come from and how did you get into both?
Ever since I could remember I have always loved acting and music. My mom tells me all the time that just when I was starting to speak, I would point at the TV and say “Momma! I want to do that” and she assumed that I wanted to do whatever it was they were doing on screen like baking cookies or something, but I would always clarify “No, I want to be on TV baking cookies!”. How a toddler knows the difference between real life and characters on a screen is beyond me, but apparently I just knew what I wanted to do! I grew up in musical theatre, which is where my true love lies, and somewhere along the lines I accidentally fell into my passion for acting and music.
What are some of your favourite films and TV shows to watch, and music artists to listen to, and how do you like to spend your time away from your career?
Anything that is built around the medieval fantasy genre is my absolute favourite. Some of my personal favourites are Game of Thrones (of course), The Witcher and Reign. When it comes to music, I kind of just love anything, but I definitely have a fondness for indie folklore-ish songs. Some of my favourite artists are The Oh Hellos, Alan Gogoll, Florence + The Machine, Aurora, and The Lumineers. Outside of work, I love reading, crocheting, spending time with my friends and family, and of course, watching my bunnies just exist. They are my favourite.
Do you have any acting or music plans coming up that you can tell us about and what are you hoping the next few months bring for you?
Nothing that I can speak of as of now, but I’m excited to see what the rest of this year and 2024 has to offer!
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