China McClain has an A.N.T. Farm!
By: Lynn Barker
Cute TV star China McClain was a regular on TV’s “House of Payne” and appeared in several episodes of “Jonas” and “Wizards of Waverly Place”. The young actress, who turns 13 in August, will play a music prodigy at a special school for “gifted” kids in the new Disney Channel series “A.N.T. Farm” premiering this Friday. (A.N.T. stands for Advanced Natural Talents).
We’re chatting with China at the ABC TV building in Burbank, Ca. We wanted to know how much she is like her character in the new show and it’s cool that she has something to say about kids, teens and competition. Let’s dish!
Kidzworld: What kind of a musical prodigy is your character China Parks?
- China McClain: She’s into instruments, singing, writing, pretty much everything. She’s really talented.
Kidzworld: Did you ever go to a school for performing arts?
- China: No, I actually never went to a school for performing arts. I don’t play all the instruments China Parks plays. I play some but definitely not all. She plays like thirteen. Some of them I’m faking.
Kidzworld: Do you feel a little pressure, given that she’s so gifted, trying to capture that?
- China: Well, not pressured because, whenever I have to play an instrument that I have never played before, somebody comes in and helps me and shows me how to hold it and stuff like that. On the first episode I had to play violin and I had never played it before so, hopefully, it looked real. But, I’m learning it right now, which is pretty fun.
Kidzworld: If she is so good at everything, what are her flaws?
- China: She is sometimes overly confident. She gets herself into stuff that she can’t get out of sometimes. I think that’s definitely one of her big flaws.
Kidzworld: Describe the relationship she has with her older brother on the show.
- China: We pick on each other so much. He’s one of the high schoolers in the program so he looks at it like “Why are you going to my school? This is so embarrassing”. I make huge scenes sometimes so he’s kind of like “I don’t know her”. But we love each other too. He helps me do certain things and helps me get out of stuff so we have a lot of fun together.
Kidzworld: Is the show a mixture of comedy and serious stuff?
- China: It’s a comedy but sometimes there is drama where you are like “Awwwww” but there is comedy all the time.
Kidzworld: Did you have to audition several times for the role or what was that process like?
- China: No. I did a Disney pilot before called “Jack and Janet Save the Planet” and actually, my two costars, Sierra McCormick and Jake Short, we did that pilot together so, on this one, we kind of got the parts together and I didn’t have to audition at all so that was pretty cool. I guess “Jack and Janet” was the audition sort of.
Kidzworld: You were also on “House of Payne” on TV. How was that set? Was everybody really focused or what?
- China: (laughs) No. They weren’t focused on “House of Payne”. We did a lot of improv and added stuff. We played around. That show kind of taught me the basics of acting; you have to pay attention. I was young and sometimes, I go off. But on this show, it’s a lot more serious because it’s a lot of responsibility (being a lead). I’m really glad I did “House of Payne”. It prepared me to come and do this show.
Kidzworld: How does the atmosphere on that set compare to “A.N.T. Farm” then?
- China: On this show the cast plays around off set and goes bowling, plays laser tag but on set, it’s serious. We have to pay attention and focus more.
Kidzworld: This is a summer show. What has been your favorite summer so far?
- China: Probably two years ago. Me and my family did a lot of stuff together. We went to Disneyland which was ironic but it was so much fun. We got to spend a lot more family time together than when I’m working.
Kidzworld: The show is about a bunch of super talented kids and teens. Do you think teens face a lot of competition?
- China: Yeah and I think some take it a little too seriously but I don’t really worry about it. If we are competing, we’re competing but it’s not like a competition to me. I’m just doing it because I love it, not to win anything. On the show I guess my brother is kind of competitive but not in real life. On the show, he doesn’t have any special talents; he’s a regular high schooler but, in real life (actor Carlon Jeffrey) he’s amazing. He’s a rapper and he’s great and not in my shadow at all in real life.
Kidzworld: What has your experience been like working with Disney? Are they helping shape your career?
- China: They’ve groomed me a lot before coming on this show. I guest-starred on a lot of Disney shows, “Wizards”, “Hannah Montana”, “Jonas” and it’s been great. To come and get my own experiences on how everything works has been great.
Kidzworld: What was your most memorable experience on “Jonas”?
- China: Nick Jonas actually gave me a guitar. That was very, very memorable! I still have it at home in its little case. I don’t mess it up. I take it out and I’m very careful with it. That’s definitely the most memorable.