By: Amrie Cunningham
I had the great chance to speak with Anna Maria Perez de Tagle (Ashley from HANNAH MONTANA) to celebrate her role in the upcoming Jonas Brothers movie from The Disney Channel – CAMP ROCK.
Tell me about CAMP ROCK.
Anna Maria Perez de Tagle: CAMP ROCK! is about a whole bunch of kids coming to this camp to discover and enhance their talents, like singing, dancing, rapping, drumming. And Mitchie comes to this camp, she’s played by Demi Lovato, she comes like a turtle. She’s very shy, she’s very reserved, but as the movie progresses, she gains a confidence and shows the camp how real and raw her talent really is. I play the girly-girl of the Mean Girl clique. She’s not so smart, she’s kind of a ditz, but her character changes completely towards the end of the movie. She’s obsessed with makeup hair, clothes, and lip gloss most of all. I talk about lip gloss 24/7 in the movie.
What about the character made you want to be in the movie?
I think just because Ella is kind of like Ashley DeWitt from Hannah [Montana]. And so it was kind of like I knew how to play this part. I didn’t have to go through many auditions. I just did two, and luckily the producers and the casting directors knew that I could play this role perfectly, so it was a lot of fun. I knew that I could probably make this role kind of fun.
Did you know anybody in the movie before you shot it?
I did, I knew Demi Lovato about 2 weeks before. We met on a show called Just Jordan, and when I found out she got Mitchie, I called her and said “Oh congrats” and like a week later, she found out I got Ella and she called me and she’s like “Congrats, we’re so excited!” and then I also met Allison on a show that I was on called CAKE TV and she was a judge on a show next door so we got to meet there. I’ve never met the Jonas Brothers, so meeting them the first time was exciting!
They’re pretty popular – everyone seems to love them!
They’re pretty good for their age. They’re great.
Did you have a great time on the set?
Yes, we loved it. Where we filmed, it was kind of like a remote place, we had no internet connection and no cell phone reception so all we really had to do was bond. We’d do dance parties at the Jonas Brothers’ villa and just dance around or we’d play golf or tennis. We had a lot of fun while we weren’t filming, too, but while we were filming, it was just like a big party!
Why do you think people should tune in to watch?
CAMP ROCK’s got good morals, like to never be somebody you’re not and to always be yourself, and that kind of happens in the movie. It will show kids that if you really like what you’re doing, or if you know you have talent, then it shows that you don’t have to be in a shell, just gain your confidence. It’s got good morals and I think kids will be able to relate to it.
Let’s switch gears and talk about HANNAH MONTANA for a little bit. Does Ashley know yet that Hannah and Miley are the same person?
No, we don’t. It’s funny because we make fun of Miley Stewart in school, but we’ll go to a concert and watch HANNAH MONTANA and then come back the next day and just rub it in Miley’s face, but she knows what’s coming, and she knows that we don’t know who Hannah Montana is.
What do you think would happen if they found out? What would your group do?
I think, it’s kind of happened in one of the episodes. It was almost there, and I think that the Mean Girls would turn into nice tagalongs to Miley Stewart. There’s one episode called Achey Jakey Heart and Miley starts dating Jake Ryan and int hat episode, both Mean Girls act as if Miley Stewart is their best friend. I’m excited if I ever do get to find out in the episodes that Miley Stewart is Hannah Montana; that would be pretty exciting.
I also read that you’re going to be a part of the Disney Channel Games.
I did, it was like [a month] ago. It was pretty exciting. I was on the red team, and my captain was Brenda Song. I had Mitchell Musso, Jason Earles, Jasmine Richards from CAMP ROCK also, I had two internationals – one from Australia and his name was Dennis, and one from Brazil, and his name is Rafael, and I also had JT Austin and Adrienne Bailon.
I like the idea of the DC Games, because it brings everybody together. Everyone who is a fan of something can watch and enjoy.
It was like a family reunion, being with everybody from The Disney Channel.
What else do you have coming up?
It’s kind of in the works. I know that I’m filming a movie called A FORGOTTEN INNOCENCE with Michael Copon and he plays my brother. I’m excited for that.
How did you originally get into acting?
Well, it all kind of originated from when I appeared on Star Search and I was junior finalist. From there, I got an agent, and then modeling, and then commercial and print work here and there. Then my agent called and said, “Why don’t you try out for this pilot called HANNAH MONTANA?”, and I was like “ok, whatever” so I went to do it, and then sooner or later, I just got flown back and forth between San Jose, where I originally lived and then went back and forth from LA, and then Disney called and said, “you got the role of Ashley DeWitt from HANNAH MONTANA,” and then they said you should really move to LA, because if you really want to pursue it, then this is the place to be. I literally packed my bags and the next day I moved to LA. It was very fortunate, because my dad’s work was alos moved to LA, so it was perfect. My parents came with me, and then my brothers followed like a year later. From there, from HANNAH MONTANA, I did a show called CAKE TV, and I just did voiceovers for Disney, I did a pilot called WHO SHRUNK DANIEL FUNK? And you know HIGGLYTOWN HEROES and then CAMP ROCK. It’s a long way.
Whose career would you like to have? Who do you idolize?
I hope to be somebody like Reese Witherspoon. She’s just an inspiration to me. I’ve followed her career, and how she started very young but she’s still down to earth. I think that she’s a very versatile actress. She does many roles and she’s very convincing.
Do you see yourself pursuing a music career aside from acting?
My first passion was singing actually. I did musical theatre when I was younger and loved it. I’ve been working and talking with producers, hopefully in the future, or near future, I can start doing record deals and singing more. I really want to do some music, I’m really excited for that.
Who are some of your favorite music acts?
I probably have to say Miley, I love her. The Jonas Brothers obviously [laughs]. Christina Aguilera is one of my idols for music inspiration and everything. And also Alicia Keys.
I read also that you lend your time to Children’s Hospital – what do you do there?
We visit the kids with different diseases and sicknesses. It’s kind of sad to see them but once all the Disney Channel stars go into their room, it’s like they have a complete transformation. They go from really sick and sad, but when they see us, they get big smiles on their faces and it’s really humbling, very heartwarming for us. Sometimes we sign autographs for them or sometimes we’ll play video games with them. I know that me and Jason Dolley, and Maiara Walsh, we got to play guitar hero with some of the kids and it was fun.
So you’re 17, right? Do you think it’s hard to be looked at as a role model? Do you ever want to just go home and hide? Or is it something that comes with the territory?
Yes, that’s definitely why. I think that coming into the business, you kind of know that you’re going to be a role model for kids and I love it. It shows kids how down to earth we are, and how we’re just normal kids, but at the same time we work on TV. I think that’s the whole point of being in the business. You’re always going to be a role model to somebody.
Anything else you want to say to fans before I let you go?
I think that they should totally watch CAMP ROCK. It’s coming out June 20 on The Disney Channel and it’s also coming out on June 21 on ABC if you don’t have cable. On the 22nd it shows on ABC Family and we’re excited for that. I hope you guys watch it.
Keep your eye on Anna Maria, and don’t miss the Disney Channel Premiere of CAMP ROCK tonight at 8PM [Family Channel in Canada].