Grace VanderWaal as Stargirl Caraway walks down a street in Los Angeles with her pet rat on her shoulder in Disney's live-action Hollywood Stargirl.

“Figure It Out” with the Stars of Disney’s Hollywood Stargirl

By Andie Hagemann

Lights, camera, action!

Stargirl Caraway (Grace VanderWaal) heads to La-La Land in Disney’s Hollywood Stargirl, a sequel to the hit Disney+ Original movie about the eccentric, free-spirited young girl—with an even more unique name—from Jerry Spinelli’s best-selling book. After her mother Ana (Judy Greer) is hired as the costume designer for a movie, Stargirl is transported out of Mica, Arizona, and into Los Angeles, California—a city full of dreams and possibilities… as well as eclectic people just like her. Upon arriving in L.A., Stargirl meets aspiring filmmaking brothers Evan (Elijah Richardson) and Terrell (Tyrel Jackson Williams), who recruit her to be in their movie; Mr. Mitchell (Judd Hirsch), her reserved downstairs neighbor; and Roxanne Martell (Uma Thurman), a musician she has long admired whom she meets in a chance encounter. As she acclimates to her new life in L.A., Stargirl’s kindness and infectious optimism inspire her new pals to “figure it out” as they go. Hollywood Stargirl premieres Friday, June 3, exclusively on Disney+.

(L-R) Grace VanderWaal as Stargirl Caraway, Tyrel Jackson Williams as Terrell, and Elijah Richardson as Evan rehearse a dance scene for their movie in Disney+’s live-action film Hollywood Stargirl.

Hollywood Stargirl, co-written by Julia Hart and Jordan Horowitz, is an original story that continues Stargirl’s journey from her perspective compared to the first installment, which is told from Leo’s viewpoint. “Grace was 14 when we made the first movie and she was 17 when we made this one—that’s a huge difference,” said Hart, who also directed the film. “We wanted to honor both Grace’s growth as a young woman and Stargirl’s and how they’re different and how they’re similar… it was exciting to have a whole movie through her eyes and her mind.”

VanderWaal was equally enthusiastic about reprising her role as Stargirl and taking her journey to L.A. “It was very exciting because after seeing everyone love Stargirl it really made me appreciate and be honored even more to play her character,” VanderWaal said. “I slowly grow more and more love for her, and I’m so happy to get to play her as she’s growing up, seeing the world, and experiencing different things.”

She continued, “[Stargirl] is still her, but she’s maturing and defining that word of maturity and what it really means to her.”

(L-R) Grace VanderWaal as Stargirl Caraway and Uma Thurman as Roxanne Martel in Disney+’s live-action film Hollywood Stargirl talk as they sit against a wall outside a recording studio.

Life imitated art for the ukulele-playing teen as she was tasked with writing an original song for the film. Hart asked VanderWaal to compose a song using Hollywood Stargirl’s central refrain: figure it out as you go. In a mere two days, VanderWaal and songwriter Mike Elizondo wrote “Figure It Out,” which becomes the song that Stargirl and Evan compose for their sizzle reel. “The movie is so much about the creative process and the people who make the creative process rich and fulfilling,” Hart said. “I love that song so much.”

As Stargirl, Evan, and Terrell chase their show business dreams, Ana is also “figuring it out,” while learning from her eternally optimistic daughter. As she attempts to balance a new job, new city, and maintain her tight bond with her daughter, circumstances beyond her control make the transition quite difficult. Greer found Ana’s predicament relatable as she has two teenage stepchildren, and she channeled her own experience when portraying the role. “There’s so much opportunity for vulnerability when you’re a parent and you have an older child,” she said. “You have this moment in time with your kid when they’re a certain age where you can stop trying to cover up all your faults and be open with your older child. Ana in this story was struggling and on that line. She didn’t know how to put herself first nor how to be honest with her daughter.”

(L-R) Grace VanderWaal as Stargirl Caraway and Elijah Richardson as Evan sing in a recording studio in Disney+'s live-action film Hollywood Stargirl.

The stars of Hollywood Stargirl hope the film encourages the young and young at heart to keep chasing their dreams regardless of the hardships that may arise in the process. “Running away from your issues or your problems isn’t the way to go about things,” Richardson said. “Taking risks doesn’t always mean that you’ll fail. You can take a risk and be the most successful person ever, so be willing to take a risk.”

Watch Stargirl “Figure It Out” when Hollywood Stargirl premieres June 3, exclusively on Disney+.