By Gerry Strauss
When you’ve got true talent, things can happen for you in a hurry. Such is the case of the Lehigh Valley’s own Sabrina Carpenter. A budding actress and singer last time we spoke to her, the 17-year old starlet is now a teen megastar, thanks to her role as Maya on the Disney Channel hit reboot, “Girl Meets World”. Incredibly, Carpenter has also found the time to star in movies (like Disney’s remake of “Adventures in Babysitting”) and blow up her music career to a whole new level. This week, she comes home to headline the big stage at Bethlehem’s Musikfest and Hershey Park.
Gerry: When we last chatted, “Girl Meets World” was just getting started. Three seasons later, your character of Maya has probably evolved more than anyone else on the show. That being said, how has the real you changed over the last few years?
Sabrina: I just hope that I’ve learned a lot more. I think being surrounded by so many incredibly intelligent people that are also creative in their own different ways really can rub off on you, especially when you’re working with them every single day. You have to learn to be quick on your feet and you get better because you’re practicing constantly. You know, we rehearse every week, and we rehearse more that we shoot. We rehearse for 3 days and in those days is where you learn the most. I think I learned a lot about being on set, but also just being a person off set, and learning to keep incredible people around me… people that are just very positive influences. If anything I’ve learned to be more aware, learned to be more… what’s the word I’m looking for? Observant.
Gerry: “Girl Meets World” is different than anything else on the Disney Channel because it plays to all ages… kids love the show, but so do adults who grew up with “Boy Meets World”. Do you feel that universal appeal from fan feedback and the way you approach your work?
Sabrina: Absolutely. Creators and writers keep that in mind because we’re not just writing to kids, and even if we were just writing to kids. We write to them as if they were adults because they’re all going to be at some point. I think that the best thing that our writers do is they don’t talk down to the audience. These kids are a lot smarter than people give them credit for. Then also the people who are watching with their parents, and the people who are watching with their new families. It is truly a family show.
Gerry: One of the long-running storylines on the show lately has been the big love triangle that you were involved in. With such passionate fans undoubtedly taking sides with their favorite characters, what was that experience like for you to live through?
Sabrina: Well because social media has become such a big part of our lives now that I think people are really involved a lot more than they probably should be in these fake character’s love lives, especially because they are elementary kids and high school kids (laughs).
It’s flattering for us to know that we have such hardcore dedicated fans, and that they want our characters to have the best possible situations in life. I’ve seen so many incredibly funny tweets from supporters of the show, and all they want is for Maya to be happy. All they want is for it to have a happy ending and for her get the love she deserves. It’s so funny, you know, because I’ve been living in the shoes of that character for the past 3 years. It’s really nice to know that people are that involved, but I think with the love triangle, it didn’t really happen. It wasn’t meant to happen in the beginning. I think shows take turns, and the writers get creative. They think that something that could have been really interesting, they didn’t realize it was going to get them in a huge mess. I think that’s just all the fun in experimenting with writing, and experimenting with characters because it is real feelings that real people do have.
Gerry: On the musical front, you’ve been performing in front of huge crowds all over the country, but there has to be something special about coming home to play Musikfest this week. Was that festival a big deal to you when you were growing up here?
Sabrina: Yeah! It was actually the one thing that we could look forward to every year where we had legitimate artists coming very close to our house. Besides that, there’s cows in the middle of the road (laughs)… not much happening where I live. My whole family’s very musical. We’ve always loved music very much so for us to be able to get together as a family and be able to, whether it’s to be able to see people that we know, or new artists and bands, and just spend time together, it was always incredible. I’ve always wanted to perform there.
Gerry: You’ve often headlined your own shows or played pop-themed events with a lot of similar-sounding artists. What do you think is different about playing a diverse, eclectic festival like Musikfest?
Sabrina: I think it’s just exciting. I think for people to have the ability to seen any kind of music that they want, and obviously there will be a reason that they watch you, and they stay. I think it’s kind of honor to be any part of a show with different artists because everyone’s got their taste, everyone’s got their own spin on things. I love to go to a show that’s full of diversity and I don’t know exactly what I’m getting.
Gerry: With your crazy schedule, will you have time to do anything fun while your back in town?
Sabrina: I mean, I get to be home for a little bit. I get to go to Wawa so that’s really all I care about!
Gerry: Your TV career is in full swing. Movie roles are coming. Your music career is growing by leaps and bounds. Has it been a challenge to juggle everything?
Sabrina: No. Well, yes. Yes and no (laughs). If anything, I need a lot more energy, but I’m very lucky. I’m very grateful because I am that type of person that never likes to be bored. My wish was definitely granted. I get to create every day. I get to do exciting new things that I love. It’s fun for me. That’s the most important thing, the fact that it doesn’t really feel like work. The fact that they are both working out, and obviously I’ll follow whichever life takes me, but so far to be able to balance both has made life 10 times more exciting and more fun, and really it makes me feel like I’m creating something new every day.