There’s no denying Disney+ has a hit on it’s hands with High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, with fans and critics both cheering on the new show focused on the lives of teens at East High. While the original iteration broke records as a DCOM, this series has set it’s sights on breaking boundaries, focusing on teens with very diverse backgrounds and upbringings. For Olivia Rodrigo, who starred in the Disney Channel series Bizaardvark before nabbing the role of Nini in HSMTMTS, it means portraying a young girl raised by lesbian moms.
“Yup, two moms,” Olivia said proudly when we spoke to her EXCLUSIVELY at the premiere. “My character has two moms and I loved the way that they did that. They just portrayed it as completely normal and natural, which … that’s just real life. And it’s not a statement, it’s not a punchline; it’s just how it is. It’s completely accepted and just a normal part of life that we’re portraying.” The scene introducing Nini’s parents is quick; barely a minute of screen time is given to her TV moms, played by Michelle Noh and Nicole Sullivan. Still, Olivia understands the impact that it undoubtedly have.
“TV [can] transform how you see the world,” she added. “It’s a really important thing, especially for a younger viewers to see. I’m really excited for that.” But her excitement doesn’t end there. Before the show even aired for a wide audience, the series had a second season greenlit by the streaming service, proving Disney’s faith in the show. While the news was thrilling to hear, Olivia admits that she felt confident people would gravitate to the series right away.
“There’s really something for everybody,” she said. “My personal favorite part of the show is the music; both the music that we do from the original High School Musical movies and the music that we do that was made just for this show. I also think that people really are going to love the characters. There’s something so special about a group of people who are so diverse. The audience will be able to see themselves in every character, which is a really special thing, especially for the younger audience. There’s so many characters for everybody, even groups that are marginalized or underrepresented in TV and media. I’ve been really excited for people that see that.”
As for Nini’s journey in the series, Olivia confesses that fans shouldn’t expect to just see her caught up in the love triangle between herself, Ricky, and EJ (played by Joshua Bassett and Matt Cornett ). “You know what? She might be in love, but it might not be with a boy,” she added. “Might not be with the girl. It might be with herself. You’ll just have to see.”
High School Musical: The Musical: The Series is streaming now on Disney+