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Grace VanderWaal Shares The Fan Interaction That Changed Her Life As Hollywood Stargirl Hits Disney+

Singer-songwriter Grace VanderWaal has a number of incredible accomplishments on her resume, despite only being 19 years old. She won a season of America’s Got Talent by singing her original songs at age 12. She has headlined her own tours, and performed as part of the opening and closing ceremonies at the 2017 Special Olympics World Winter Games. And now, she is expanding her film franchise based on the Jerry Spinelli romance novels centered around Stargirl, which got their start on Disney+. The sequel, Hollywood Stargirl, moves the main character to Los Angeles… which is exactly where VaderWaal tells CinemaBlend she experienced a fan encounter that completely changed her life. 

When movies open on streaming services such as Disney+ (opens in new tab), it’s hard for us to know how they perform. There are no box-office figures to point at, and no ratings system equal to the Nielsen ratings to determine success. So when we interviewed Grace VanderWaal on behalf of Hollywood Stargirl, we asked her when she began to realize that the first movie was catching on and finding its audience. And she told us:

I didn’t even know! I really didn’t know. And by the way, I love that. I feel like that if it were all (about) the numbers, that would really stress me out. But all I know is, I went to the first premiere, and there were these two little girls who were dressed up as Stargirl – like, her cheerleading outfit. And they made it themselves, and I was like, ‘I didn’t realize people were actual, like, fans of the movie!’ I thought they were so cute! I’ll never forget. It changed my life.

Making a movie and then releasing it to the masses can sometimes feel like it’s happening in a vacuum. Unless you are sitting in a crowded theater listening to the laughter or the cheers, you just have to imagine how the story is playing, and hoping that a crowd is connecting with the material. Even the best original Disney+ movies might enjoy word of mouth for a while, but then something else incredible like The Mandalorian or an upcoming Marvel TV series such as Ms. Marvel or Moon Knight starts to take up space.

In case you can’t recall what happened in the original Stargirl movie, we broke down the events of the ending, and you can also head to Disney+ and stream the first film so long as your Disney+ subscription is up to date. Like the original film, the sequel features original songs written by Grace VanderWaal, while also showcasing the charms and talents of co-stars Elijah Richardson and Tyrel Jackson Williams. If you need veteran talent in your Disney+ features, Hollywood Stargirl replaces the actress playing VanderWaal’s mother with Judy Greer. Uma Thurman pops by in a supporting role (who is crucial to the plot). And the always welcome Judd Hirsch rounds out the cast. Who doesn’t want that?

Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. He's frequently found on Twitter at @Sean_OConnell. ReelBlend cohost. A movie junkie who's Infatuated with comic-book films. Helped get the Snyder Cut released, then wrote a book about it.