How Sofia Wylie Went From Backup Dancer to Fairytale Princess

After starring in Disney Channel’s Andi Mack as Andi’s best friend Buffy, Sofia landed another main role on the Disney+ hit High School Musical: The Musical: The Series as Gina Porter. Though it may feel like a lucky landslide of starring roles, Sofia knows that the stars were aligning with her in mind.

Her dancing background and physical training has helped her with almost every part she’s booked, from Buffy the athlete to Gina the dancer (Gina was written to be a dancer only after Sofia landed the role), to her role as Agatha in The School for Good and Evil. “I had to do a lot of stunts,” she says. “The coordination of learning choreography my whole life really helped with that.”

In the new fantasy film, now streaming on Netflix, childhood best friends Agatha and Sophie (played by Sophia Anne Caruso) are separated when sent to opposing sides of an enchanted academy — Aggie in the School for Good, and Sophie in the School for Evil. While trying to reckon with the labels they are given and control their own fate, they find themselves at the center of an extraordinary battle to protect the balance of good and evil.

The film is an adaptation of the popular YA series written by Soman Chainani. “When I was having a meeting about the script and getting the breakdown, I was like, ‘Wow, I’m sorry, this sounds so familiar,’” recalls Sofia. “After the meeting I go on to my Goodreads account and I see that I had it on my To-Read list. So I had heard about the book, read the summary and loved it enough to want to read it soon — I just hadn’t gotten to it yet. Even if I hadn’t booked this role, I definitely would’ve been a fan.”

Raen Badua

Raen Badua

Raen Badua

She ended up reading the first book in preparation for filming, but soon learned that nothing could have truly prepared her for production of a fantasy movie.

“Special effects [are] weird!” says Sofia. “I thought for some reason that filming would [involve real] magic, like I would be on set and point my finger and the thing would float. I don’t know why I didn’t realize that it’s all fake. [Instead] I have a man in a green suit with a stick and he’s pretending to be a stymph that’s coming to eat me, and I have to somehow conjure up enough belief in my mind. It is so challenging, but I think it’s what I’m most grateful for in the entirety of filming. I had to completely become a child again. I had to regain that unrealistic sense of imagination and incorporate that into my daily life at work.”

Though so much of her time on-set involved a heightened imagination, Sofia says she was able to ground herself in her connection to her character. Agatha is a complex heroine for the ages, a reluctant witch-turned-princess who uses her elite position to celebrate the differences in others rather than ostracize them.

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