Along with their slate of original Marvel and Star Wars content, Disney+ is bringing an iconic book to life for the first time. The streaming service is adapting Jerry Spinelli’s beloved book Stargirl with Grace VanderWaal in the titular role.
Stargirl is a story that is inspiring and dear to many. The title character is an eccentric teen who moves to Mica, Arizona and attends the local high school where her colorful style and personality are initially embraced. But when the students turn on her, she attempts to fit in and discovers the importance of self-expression and being true to yourself.
Although the book was published in 2000, VanderWaal saw its core message as still very relevant today.
“With the growth of social media, there’s the strongest force to conform more than ever, more than ever, ever, ever,” she told EW. “All young people feel that. I’ve felt that because I’m not the standard at the moment and it’s really, really important for everyone to know that if we were all supposed to be the same, we would be the same. We’re different for a reason and I don’t know why we would change that because that’s such a cool blessing.”
The movie also allows for a deeper look into Stargirl the characters. The book is told from the perspective of Leo, one of Stargirl’s classmates who struggles with not wanting to stand out or completely blend in. But the film follows Stargirl beyond Leo’s interactions with her.
VanderWaal explains the significance of this change and how she felt a kinship with the characters she’s playing. “Especially when the school turns on her and she toughens it out,” she says. “I’ve definitely done that before. Stargirl seems so perfect and confident but what’s cool about the movie rather than the book, it really shows she’s just like everybody else and she can feel insecure. She doesn’t spread the message of, be confident and perfect and then you’ll be able to be yourself, because that’s impossible. We all have insecurities and you have to accept that for the rest of your life you’ll be scared and have insecurity. Stargirl more stands for, you will always have insecurity and nerves but you have to strengthen your other side to be stronger than that.”
VanderWaal is the winner of season 11 of America’s Got Talent, where she wowed with her singing voice and ukulele. The first look photos from EW show us that the latter will make an appearance in the film.
Directed by Julia Hart and also starring Graham Verchere, Giancarlo Esposito, Karan Brar, Darby Stanchfield, and Maximiliano Hernández, Stargirl will be available exclusively on Disney+ beginning March 13.
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