Special thanks to Disney for the magical trip to Los Angeles to cover the World Premiere of Moana and its press events, including this Q&A with the cast of “Stuck in the Middle”
One of Madilyn and Grady’s favorite shows on TV is Stuck in the Middle, and I have to admit, I catch myself watching it when it comes on too. The antics are totally relatable, even though I only have three children and not seven like the Diaz family does. Going grocery shopping with them is like trying to take a family of untamed monkeys to an antiques shop, which is exactly why I paid a babysitter to come hang out with them yesterday so I could go to the store. Alone.
Stuck in the Middle is premiering a series of short films on the Disney Channel App on November 24, and will be launching the series on The Disney Channel on December 16. I had the pleasure of previewing the series and it’s typical Diaz madness, and absolutely hilarious. It’s like watching my kids, times two, plus one, go shopping in a big-box store.
After previewing the series, we got to hang out with the cast for a fun, extremely heartwarming Q&A.
Jenna Ortega who plays Harley Diaz is actually from a very large family of 6 kids, but she also has two young nephews. Cerina Vincent who plays the Diaz family matriarch said that there are so many parallels between Jenna’s real family life and the Diaz family that the show was basically written for Jenna. She’s even really stuck in the middle in her biological family.
Jenna: I love being stuck in the middle. I like Harley’s storyline because at first she’s kind uncertain of like where she’s going with her life. She feels very invisible but later on she realizes that she is very important. She plays a very important role in her family. I think it’s important to know that for those middle children out there who feel like they’re not noticed that they are. And they are very important in the families because they make their families their families.
Cerina: I thought that Disney created the show for her and the family because there are so many parallels. It was perfectly designed.
I was also super excited to find out that Isaak Presley, who plays Ethan Dias, is a fan of jump scares on set. Doing jump scares is my favorite thing in the world, right behind anything Lin-Manuel Miranda touches, and cookies. I’m not very good at setting up elaborate pranks, but I’m the master of a good jump scare. The night before our interview with them, I had set up a camera in our hotel hallway and scared the pants off of my friends Melissa from The Mommyhood Chronicles and Leanette from Funtastic Life. Make sure you watch the whole video, it’s hysterical.
Jenna and her family got Isaak on April Fool’s Day by putting deodorant between two Oreo cookies because Oreos are his favorite cookie and they knew he wouldn’t think twice before popping a whole cookie into his mouth.
Isaak: I was like oh wait, can I have one? Her sister hands me one. I’m like, great. I take a bite of it. As I’m chewing I’m like having different thoughts. I’m like wow, is this a mint Oreo? This doesn’t taste right. And then, and then I freaked out.
When asked about the chemistry on set, the entire cast said “family”. They literally are like a family. Cerina always wanted seven children when she was growing up, and she doesn’t yet have any children of her own, but she has these seven wonderful children on set and she does feel very much like they are her own kids, and the kids feel like she’s their second mom.
Joe: And that happened right from day one, right from day one it happened. It was immediate and fantastic.
Isaak: I know for Malachi and I, we’re only children, so us walking into this as only children, we’re walking into this big family. It was actually like adopting a family. I do like to be able to learn from them, and I learn even from the younger ones how I can be better as a person. And I’ve learned so much from them, as an actor, as a person. I grew up just my dad and I. It was just us two, so Cerina was like a mom figure to me. So walking in I was like, I have a mom now and it’s great. I got to learn how to be more of a son to a mom, and I got to learn how to be an older brother figure, and a brother figure.
Ariana: We’re like family.
Joe: We went to the Moana Red carpet event last night and just watching it, it was the first time where I was really proud of them. They all looked beautiful. They handled themselves so well. I was beaming with pride for my TV show children. I was really happy. They were gorgeous.
Malachi: I was just going to say, what [Isaak] was saying is that in real life, we don’t have any siblings. So it’s like interesting but it’s really, really fun to have siblings on set. I mean even for the only children onset that don’t have siblings, it’s amazing how you can have siblings when you actually don’t have siblings.
Cerina: Love is Love
You guys. I gushed. Because love is love and family comes in SO many different forms. Blood does not equal family, and no biological connection doesn’t mean you cannot become family. It’s so much bigger than that, and this family proves that.
The cast loves photo ops and all feel very humbled when people stop them on the streets for a shot at saying hi. They made that very evident after the Q&A when Jenna, Kayla, and Isaak offered to make videos for those of us who had kids who love the show.
Jenna: It, I’m pretty sure I speak for all of us when I say this was like a dream of ours to be on a Disney Channel show, so the fact that you know we’re walking down the street people are like, “hey, Harley, you want to grab a photo?” “Hey, Jordan…” you know, reach out. It means a lot to us.
Ariana: It makes me happy! I see them they’re like hi, and they just smile.
In Stuck in the Middle, Ronni Hawk’s character Rachel Diaz is very hip. I loved hearing that Ronni is not hip at all and enjoys hanging at home watching Netflix with her animals and playing video games. She’s very similar to my own fifteen year old son in that way so knowing that there are other completely well rounded teenagers out there with the same habits was very comforting to me.
My favorite part of the Q&A sesh was when the cast was asked to sum up in one word what Stuck in the Middle meant to them. Ariana’s answer literally gave me goosebumps and brought a sweet tear to my eye.
Joe – Special.
Ronni – Joy.
Nicolas – Exciting.