The Stars of ‘Hollywood Stargirl’ on Dreaming Big and in Color

Hollywood Stargirl tells the story of Stargirl (Grace VanderWaal) as she finally finds a home with her mother (Judy Greer) in Los Angeles. Based on the characters by Jerry Spinelli, Stargirl brings so much of her eclectic and joyful nature wherever she goes.

Fortunately, she lands in Los Angeles, where being different is embraced. She befriends two brothers and aspiring filmmakers Evan (Elijah Richardson) and Terrell (Tyrel Jackson Williams) and they embark on a summer filled with adventure.

The first film Stargirl (2020) was filmed in a whitebread community where Stargirl felt like an outsider because she didn’t conform to the typical bland standards of fashion and attitude. Because the main characters were mostly white — with the exception of Karan Barr, Annacheska Brown, and Giancarlo Esposito — racial identity or difference was never discussed or mentioned. But, Hollywood Stargirl, which stars two Black men and follows their aspirations for the Hollywood limelight, director Julia Hart made sure to discuss with Richardson and Williams how their background could reflect the characters’ development.

“When reading through the script, that was something that made me very interested in it and surprised by it,” Williams told The Nerds of Color. “[I thought] ‘Oh, this is a story that is not only about young filmmakers, but it’s about young Black filmmaker.’ It has an awareness of the history and the sort of shoulders that Evan and Terrell want to be standing on.”

Hollywood Stargirl has a scene where Evan takes Stargirl to watch Cooley High, directed by Michael Schultz, a 1975 film also about an aspiring Black playwright and his best friend growing up in the inner-city. The film itself is iconic for the Black community and has inspired so many filmmakers, including Spike Lee and John Singleton.

“Ever since the first conversation I had with Julia Hart, our director and co-writer of the film, she made it abundantly clear that she wanted it to be represented in that way and to be treated with respect,” said Williams. “She was very open with Elijah and I about making sure that everything made sense [and] that it were represented in the right way and that she was telling the story.”

Richardson, Williams, and VanderWaal also related with the story on how the characters’ dream of making it big in Hollywood with their own. Richardson said he didn’t really need to reach far for his character’s progress, because he’s living it.

Check out the full conversation below: