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My Interview with Ysa Penarejo of An American Girl : McKenna Shoots for the Stars

My daughters are American Girl fans & we watched the movie this summer the night it aired on NBC. It was a nice movie with good messages for its young audience.  Needless to say that when I was asked if I would be interested in interviewing Ysa Penarejo, one of the movie’s co-stars, I happily accepted.

Photo credit Mike Rozman

At 12 years old, Ysa is beyond impressive and keeps very busy with dance, acting, singing & songwriting. Here’s what she had to say in response to a few of my questions:

Q: How did you get started in your acting career?

A: I was auditioning for commercials & I told my mom I wanted to audition for TV & film. So I started taking classes when I was 9 & started going to auditions when I was 9 & after a handful of auditions, I auditioned for American Girl.

Q: At 12 years old, how do you balance acting, dance, singing & songwriting with school, friends & everyday life?

Photo credit Mike Rozman

A: Well, all of those things: dancing, singing & acting and songwriting & school & everything… I have so much fun with it that it isn’t really hard, so balancing it is very easy to me because I have so much fun with it.

Q: In the movie, Toulane’s character works very hard striving for perfection, does Toulane’s character remind you at all of yourself?

A: I think that we are both hard workers & that we can all relate to her because we have feelings for our friends – we don’t like seeing them hurt and we would like them to succeed, too.

Q: As Toulane, you had concerns about your best friend getting a new best friend (or so you thought), how would you recommend that someone who finds themselves in that situation deal with it?

A: Talk to your friends & work out your problem, because that’s the only way that you can do it.

Q: What are your personal feelings about having to fill someone else’s shoes such as Toulane had to do in the movie

A: If you feel that it’s not your dream, then talk to your Mom about it. Make sure you’re having fun at what you’re doing.  If you’re having fun with it then stay with it.

Photo credit Mike Rozman

A: Being honest & not lying because that could really hurt someone.

Q: Any advice about kids who feel embarrassed?

A: If you want to tell (your friends) but (feel) you can’t, maybe just go somewhere quiet or have a playdate with each other & talk about it.

Q: What advice do you have for young girls that have dreams that they wish to pursue?

A: Keep on thinking big & keep on pursuing your dream!

Q: What do you think is the most important message in the movie?

A: There are a couple of messages in the movie: (1)Being honest with yourself, your family and your friends.  (2)Don’t be afraid to ask for help – it’s OK to ask. (3) Balance your hobbies & your school.

Photo credit Mike Rozman

A: My song is about making choices (whether or not) to have a boyfriend or girlfriend and having a lot of pressure on yourself from your friends.  It’s about making choices & having the pressure.

Q: Are you a big fan of American Girl dolls?

A: Yes, I have four!  I have McKenna, Julie, Ivy & a Just Like Me doll.

Q: If you had one piece of advice for all of the girls who admire you, what would it be?

A: My Mom always reminds me to always do my best & I’d like to remind my fans to always do their best in school, their hobbies & everything, because it’s important.

Q: Anything else?

A: I’d like to say thanks so much to my friends for supporting me & don’t forget to check out my Facebook page for the latest & greatest!

You can find the DVD and Blu-ray Combo Pack of AN AMERICAN GIRL: MCKENNA SHOOTS FOR THE STARS exclusively at Walmart (USA), American Girl stores and  You can also follow Ysa’s on Twitter.  Her song  is available for download at iTunes.

Wishing you a day of pursuing dreams,


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