With a hit show on Disney and an album on the go, Laura Marano is making a mark in show business. And while the Kids’ Choice Award winner has words of advice for aspiring teen actors, she also has encouraging words to parents: be supportive (even if you don’t want to).
By Jordana Handler
Photos by Josh Williams
ACTOR. SINGER. SONGWRITER.
Whether she’s a “Millennial Overachiever” or just a triple threat, one thing for certain is that 20-year-old Laura Marano is making her mark. Best known for her starring role on the Disney Channel’s international hit television series Austin & Ally (Marano won the 2015 Kids’ Choice Awards for best actress for her portrayal of “Ally”), Marano is also a singer/songwriter who just signed a record deal with label Big Machine Records.
With her older sister, Vanessa, in the biz (Switched at Birth, Gilmore Girls) and a mother who owns a children’s theatre, Marano comes by the acting bug quite naturally. It’s surprising, then, to find out that her parents weren’t initially thrilled about her choice of career.
Marano sat down with INBETWEEN to chat about being a young adult in Hollywood, the important role parents play when it comes to teen actors and her advice for making it in the biz.
BORN A STAR
With an interest in performing from the get-go, Marano’s first gig was in a JCPenney commercial when she was five years old. At age six, she took a role on the television show Without a Trace alongside her older sister, Vanessa. While all signs would point to a career in acting, Marano says her mother was initially against her getting into show business.
“Vanessa begged my mom to let her try out for a talent agent,” says Marano. “My mom was opposed to the idea of it so she arranged an audition with an agent notorious for turning down children actors.”
The sabotage didn’t work. In fact, it backfired. Big time. The agent not only signed Vanessa but signed Laura that same day as well.
“I will never forget that day,” says Marano. “I still work with that agent today.”
While Marano experienced success acting in commercials and taking small roles on TV shows, her biggest breaks came when she landed roles on the television show The Sarah Silverman Program and the movie Superbad. That lead to Marano scoring the lead role in the TV show Austin & Ally—the job that vaulted the actress into the public eye and made her a
“I really began to grow my audience with Austin & Ally both as an actress and as a musician.”
At the 2015 Kids’ Choice Awards, Marano won Best Actress for her role on Austin & Ally and the show also won for Best TV Comedy. “A lot of doors began opening for me during that show.”
When it comes to family, Marano describes her parents as “the best parents in the world.” While Marano’s parents were initially concerned about how she would deal with rejection, she says their constant support has allowed her to blossom and grow in her career. Her advice to other parents of teens who aspire to work in entertainment: “You should always encourage your child. It [entertainment] is a psychologically exhausting business; make sure your teen has a healthy balance in their lives. Support them but don’t pressure them.”
To help their teens stay grounded, Marano suggests parents urge their kids to continue with their education. (Marano attended school throughout her rising career.) “Trust me, balancing school and work is very tough but it is so rewarding if you can do both.”
Having started in the business at such a young age, Marano says she escaped a lot of the insecurity and fears that many teen girls face.
“When you think about the business, it can be scary, but you have to really forget about everyone else and not compare yourself.”
Like fearless females before her, Marano identifies and respects strong and passionate women in her field. Musically, she really looks up to P!NK whose music Laura credits as “honest and real.”
For inspiration in her personal life and acting career, Marano says her biggest role models hit closer to home: her mom and her sister, Vanessa.
“They are both such strong, talented and successful women,” she says.
For someone who loves to perform, music was a natural progression for Marano.
“To be honest, making music just makes me so happy, and I define success by how happy my music makes everyone around me,” she says.
Judging by the attention her video is getting for her single “Boombox,” Marano’s music career is going to be uber successful. To-date, the video has garnered over 36 million views. While her album, which also includes the song “LaLa” will be out later this year, Marano says she is only having one big problem: she can’t stop writing songs.
“The longer it takes to release the album, the more songs I want to add on,” she says.
Not that working and striving for perfection is anything new to Marano, who is also launching a new fragrance line including scents—Hug You, Kiss You, Love You—in November.
That’s why she advises other teens to keep working on their craft—whatever it is.
“Keep working hard,” she says. “You never stop growing as an artist, so embrace the hard work and you’ll get better and better.” ■