Brie Larson Interview on Her New Disney+ Show, ‘Growing Up’

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Brie Larson, seen here visiting the Avengers Campus at Disney’s California Adventure in 2021, was created Growing up. (Photo: Derek Lee/Disneyland Resort via Getty Images)

Oscar-winning actress Brie Larson’s latest project is different from the blockbuster she’s usually seen in. Instead of donning the superhero gear required to play Captain Marvel in front of the camera, she got behind the lens to create, as well as produce and direct episodes of, the new Disney+ documentaries Growing up.

“It’s really about my own feeling of feeling completely unloved and ashamed of who I am as a person. That’s what fueled all of this,” Larson tells Yahoo Entertainment. “Because I realized that because I was living with shame about who I was and being afraid of who I was, that meant I had to talk about it. And I started having conversations with friends and family and I realized that everyone I talked to was living with something or maybe several things inside of them that they thought was shameful, and 100 percent of the time, there was nothing to be ashamed of.” .

Larson realized it was time for a larger conversation, and noted that shame comes at the same point for everyone.

“There’s this transitional period in adulthood where… we’ve almost become self-aware. And from a child who is so free, suddenly we think, “Oh, this person doesn’t like me. I should hide. I should hate this for myself,” says Larson. in love? And say, “That’s what I learned, and just because I went, but that doesn’t mean someone else has to.”

The Room The star’s show features 11 young people — one in each of the 10 episodes, though one follows two friends — coming of age, and all the struggles and triumphs that entails. They struggle with being accepted or not by their peers because they’re different, because they’re black or disabled or gay or homeless or just don’t fit into what society tells them they should be. We see them overcome their circumstances to become, as Larson calls them, heroes.

Here, Larson addresses the assembled team as they film:

Each episode is directed by a different person or persons, including one directed by Yara Shahidi, whom audiences know from Blackish and the character spinoff of this series, Grown up.

“I just want to shout out how special the environment was,” Shahidi tells Yahoo Entertainment. “Honestly, it was a first-of-its-kind experience for me to be on a set that was so different in every, I don’t know, version of the word, that really prioritized creating a safe space because, you know, every hero trusted our his story, with information that he didn’t have to give us in any way and so, I think, it gave me hope as a young person who was on both sides of the camera in terms of the power of what really thoughtful and intentional media can do.”

According to the production, the department heads were 65 percent female and 70 percent of color, while the crew was 63 percent female and 69 percent of color.

Now 22, Shahidi is a former child star who had to live most of her adulthood in public. He understood what the show was about, the difficulty of finding your place in the world.

Yara Shahidi directed an episode of it

Yara Shahidi directed an episode of it Growing up. (Photo: Arturo Holmes/Getty Images for MVAAFF)

“I was grateful for that, for the most part. I didn’t have absolutely any crazy experiences in this industry. And I felt very protected by the presence of my parents and other people,” says Shahidi, “but I have to say that, as a young woman , as a young black girl, I know I’ve had a lot of moments where I’ve been interviewed or opened up and they suddenly conclude that if I use too many big words, I’m being political or afraid to open up or protecting something. I remember there was a moment where I felt like I was really authentic and I kept seeing this stuff, and I was like, how did you get here? How did you put your own stuff into my story?”

These kinds of experiences were on her mind as she directed the episode about Sophia Ongele, a black teenager with immigrant parents who often feels out of place as she studies math and science. For Shahidi, it was helpful that she had also been misunderstood.

“It allowed me as a director to realize the risks of doing that, like it’s my job not to put my own stuff in Sophia’s story,” says Shahidi. “There are of course parallels in our history, of course moments that reminded me of my coming-of-age experience and where I am even now in my moments, but I’m grateful because, I think, every modest experience has allowed me to be a more purposeful filmmaker.”

Ongele approves of her episode, although she wasn’t sure it would be. She liked the way all the young people looked Growing up they appear to speak as a group in each episode.

This clip from Ongele’s episode depicts her feelings as a cheater:

“At first I was very scared about it,” says Ongele, who is often the only person who looks like her in classrooms and other settings. “But … at our round table, it was a very, like, cathartic experience, as we realized together that the experiences we had were not isolated, not anomalies. They’re very normal, and it’s just a matter of letting them go and talking about this to make us feel comfortable with it.”

Growing up premieres Thursday, September 8 on Disney+.

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