Olivia Rodrigo is Disney’s Next Break-Out Star in ‘High School Musical: The Musical: The Series’

The young star discusses her all-encompassing acting craft and her dedication to music.

In the world of entertainment, 17-year-old Olivia Rodrigo is certainly a master of all trades, refining her expertise across acting, singing, and dancing with each new project she takes on. Most recently, the young triple-threat stars as Nina Salazar-Roberts in Disney’s High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, an ambitious teenage actress who is cast as Gabriella Montez in East High School’s on-stage production of the classic film.

For Rodrigo, taking her craft to theater was nothing out of the ordinary; in fact, she actually uncovered sensations of nostalgia as she reminisced on her early acting days in musicals. “I did a bunch of school plays when I was younger,” she tells V of her initial introduction to performance. “I was in Seussical and Annie, and I just loved it. High School Musical: The Musical: The Series is just so great because it’s a perfect intersection of all of the things I love to do. I love to act and sing and write music.” 

On embodying her theater-leading character, Rodrigo underwent an explorative process to ensure she was able to fully inhabit the mind of Nina, going so far as to imagine the high school star’s life outside of the scripted series. “I love creating and so my favorite thing to do whenever I get an audition or book a role is to kind of fill in all the blanks that the writers didn’t include,” she explains. “I’ll ask myself questions like where did they grow up? What were their parents like?’ What do they want to be? I try to explore different things that aren’t explicitly in the script.” Painting a full picture of Nina before ever stepping on set, Rodrigo certainly dedicates her entire being to her acting craft, even citing that she created a playlist of songs she thought Nina would listen to as a means of getting into character before filming. 

Reflecting on the show’s impact, the budding starlet points to the series’ innovative take on a classic movie and its intentions to revitalize a feel-good storyline. “I think my favorite thing about the show is how new and different it is from the original films,” she says. “I think going into it, I was initially a little apprehensive because, you know, you want to be really careful when you kind of do your own thing with such a beloved classic film. People are obsessed with it, as they should be, and it has so much nostalgia associated with it. The fact that they were doing this thing that was totally a 2020 take on this old stone was what really drew me to it.”

Equally as successful as Rodrigo’s on-screen portrayal is her contributions to the show’s highly-acclaimed soundtrack, particularly her single “All I Want,” which found widespread success across streaming platforms and social media. Now, as she works on writing more music for a future EP, Rodrigo has dedicated her time while social distancing to enhancing that craft. “I challenge myself to write a song every day, and I force myself to do it, even if it’s bad,” she explains. “Half the time they are bad, but I still do it anyway.”

It’s that never-give-up mentality that fuels Rodrigo’s creativity and aids her in her journey of self-discovery, and although she may come across as incredibly well-put-together, she actually admits to having no idea who she is. “If people see me for me and maybe feel like they could relate to something that I’m going through or something that I like, that’s essentially what I want to use social media for,” she says. Leaving V with one refreshingly honest take on her journey through life, Rodrigo concludes: “I have no idea what I’m doing, and I don’t think a lot of people have any idea of what they’re doing either. Let’s all just be confused together.”

Below, revel in a selection of at-home editorial photos of Olivia Rodrigo, lensed at a safe distance by Connor Franta.

Olivia wears Moncler Simone Rocha
Olivia wears Moncler Simone Rocha
Olivia wears Michael Kors Collection
Olivia wears Etro
Olivia wears Etro
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