WAILUA — On Wednesday, after a two a.m. interview with “Good Morning America,” Siena Agudong, 15, from Wailua, sat down with The Garden Island to chat about her role in the new Disney movie, “Upside-Down Magic,” premiering today on the Disney Channel at 5 p.m., Hawai‘i time.
The movie is based on the New York Times bestselling book series with the same title. In the film, Agudong plays the role of Reina Carvajal, a student at a magical academy called Sage Academy. The story follows Reina and her friend Nory Boxwood Horace, who are separated at the school because they have different magical abilities.
“I have fire powers,” Agu-dong said. “We both have to find our places and go through different challenges while we are away from each other.”
The movie’s message is one that Agudong said is perfect during this time of pandemic.
“One of the messages is the power of friendship and what it can do for both sides of the relationship,” said Agudong. “The other message is embracing who you are.”
Since the pandemic started, Agudong has been home on Kaua‘i keeping busy with online school and catching up with her family.
“I love it. I don’t mind,” said Agudong. “I get to spend time with my family and friends.”
Agudong was already going to school online before the pandemic. She began her early education bouncing from King Kaumuali‘i Elementary School to Island School when she lived on Kaua‘i full-time before her acting career began. As she began to land more roles that required travel to California, she decided online school was more accommodating.
“You do have tutors on set, but you got to do all the work yourself,” said Agudong. “Find an online school that works for you.”
Agudong landed her first acting role when she performed in the “Willy Wonka” play through Hawaii Children’s Theatre on Kaua‘i.
“I only did one of the fall plays, but once I started I really loved it,” said Agudong.
Dolly Kanekuni, president of Hawaii Children’s Theatre, said Agudong made a big impression.
“Cute as a bug,” said Kanekuni. “Little Siena stole every show with her big, spunky personality.”
Agudong also stared in Netflix movies like “No Good Nick” and “Alex &Me,” and has shared the screen with actress Melissa Joan Hart and actor Kyle Howard.
Agudong said each role she’s had has taught her different lessons, and has provided new networking opportunities.
“’Alex &Me’ and ‘No Good Nick’ taught me a lot because Netflix was a huge set for me, and I got to be around admirable actors who taught me a lot,” she said.
For those inspired to act, Agudong has some advice.
“It’s so intimidating initially because we are in the middle of the Pacific, and being away from the center of the industry of Hollywood is kind of scary,” said Agudong. “You have to make a lot of scarifies, putting in 100% is so important, and know that everyone has their own timeline.”
In her free time, Agudong loves hiking at Hanakapi‘ai trail and surfing at beaches on the North Shore. She loves animals, and even raised a baby boar at one time. She also loves spending time with her ‘ohana.
“I am not a professional at all, but I love surfing, (and) my family and I get really competitive. We love to play a lot of ‘Halo,’” said Agudong. “My mom, she tries.”
Agudong said she is grateful for the support of her Kaua‘i ‘ohana.
“It’s just crazy. My family and my mom have been there for me for such a long time,” said Agudong. “They have been very strong as I fly back and forth, and Hawai‘i has been very good to me.”
Agudong said she is currently working on two different feature films coming out soon, one an independent, sci-fi film called “Let Us In,” where she plays a character named Scarlet. The other title is confidential.
“I have a super-secret project coming out in 2021, and it’s a blockbuster franchise movie,” said Agudong. “I am so excited about it, but I can’t say anything about it yet.”
Stephanie Shinno, features and community reporter, can be reached at 245-0424 or email@example.com.