EXCLUSIVE | 'The Babysitter's Club' star Momona Tamada says role of Claudia was 'literally like me in a TV show'
The actor shares her love for the book series and how much it means to her to be able to portray Claudia Kishi in the series
'The Babysitter's Club' has just released on Netflix, and for fans and critics alike, the series is a hit. The 10-episode live-action series is based on Ann M Martin’s cult-classic coming-of-age novels of the same name and follows a group of teenage girls who bond through their shared babysitting jobs. The young girls who play gang of friends from Stoneybrook, Connecticut are Sophie Grace as Kristy Thomas, Malia Baker as Mary-Anne Spier, Momona Tamada as Claudia Kishi, Shay Rudolph as Stacey McGill, and Xochitl Gomez as Dawn Schafer. In fact, you might recognize Momona from Netflix's hugely popular flick, 'To All the Boys I've Loved Before: PS I Still Love You', where she played a young Lara Jean. Momona's new role is also quite exciting and in an exclusive interview with MEA WorldWide (MEAWW), Momona shared her experiences bringing Claudia Kishi to life in the series.
For people who don't know much about 'The Babysitter's Club,' what can you tell us about Claudia?
Claudia is the fun and cool trendy girl of the group. She has amazing fashion taste and amazing wardrobe, and she's super artistic and creative. She's a dreamer for sure.
Can you tell us a little bit about how you landed the role?
It started with a self-tape audition, which is a video audition. I sent it on, didn't hear back for a little while. So I got a little bit nervous, but then soon after that I got a callback. Then I did a Skype audition with some of the creators of the show. Shortly after that, I was told that I was going to be flying to LA to do a chemistry read. I got to read the script with a bunch of the other girls.
What was that experience like?
It was so fun. Even in the chemistry read, before we knew we were cast, we all gravitated towards each other. We were all running lines together. We were talking to each other. That was before we knew we got the role, so that was kind of crazy.
What did you know about the character being cast? Have you read 'The Babysitter's Club' book series?
Yes, I did read the books growing up and I loved them. I read them as a novel study book, but then after that book was done, I went to the library and got a bunch more and then read them at lunch with my friends. So I was familiar with the books before I got the role.
What has Claudia meant for you personally, even before you landed the role?
She was a huge inspiration to me. It was kind of the first time I saw myself in a book, as she was an Asian American girl. It was kind of difficult to find that representation in books. Being able to portray her is such a dream come true.
Can you tell us a little bit more about what makes 'The Babysitter's Club' special for you?
I love how it's so relatable, and that the audience can really fall in love with the characters and find their own personalities within - maybe like all the characters, maybe like one of the characters or two of the characters. I feel like everyone can see themselves and imagine themselves in the series and I love how it's so nostalgic and it brings so many generations back to it.
Claudia is an iconic character, Netflix is even devoting a special to the character. How do you feel about stepping into such an iconic role?
I feel the pressure for sure. It's a lot because she's such a loved and iconic character. I'm not going to lie, I was a little bit nervous at first, but after you're in hair and makeup, you're in the wardrobe and everything, it's kind of weird, but the character kind of just comes to you. Just seeing this Claudia was such an inspiration to me growing up, and now being able to portray her is just like something I can't even put into words. It's crazy.
Do you remember the first time that you first you'd got the essence of Claudia right in your performance?
Even in the audition, I feel like...I was talking to other girls about this and we all kind of get like a sparkly type of feeling. I definitely had that after my first audition, I was super excited and I was like, "This role is literally like me in a TV show." So I was super excited for this. That was probably the first time I felt that.
Is Claudia's creativity and artistic taste something that you enjoy as well?
Definitely. I love art. I've always loved art and I'm also a dancer, which is like another form of art. So I've always loved art and it's been a big part of my life, so, yes
Do you have a favorite outfit of Claudia's that you got to showcase on the series?
I would say one of them is her mustard-yellow jumpsuit that I wore in some of the shoots. Also, there's this one outfit with these splatter painted overalls and then this really cute pink sweater that I love so much.
How did you prepare to bring Claudia to life? What sort of preparations did you do to really get into character?
Well, after we found out I got the role, my mom and I tracked down as many books as we could find. I started reading as many books as I could before we started shooting. She actually has this character portrait book, I believe all the characters do. So I read that and studied her character. But like I said earlier, it's kind of crazy how the character just comes to you. As the season went on, I felt like more connected to her as well.
Did you have a chance to put a bit of your own spin into portraying this character?
I think because I'm so similar to her, I probably did, but unknowingly, because doing the scene, especially with the girls, it almost felt like we were kind of just like in our real lives, hanging out. So I definitely probably did, but I didn't realize it at the time.
Do you have a favorite scene from the show that you want audiences to keep an eye out for?
One of the best scenes that was really fun to film was at the end of one of the episodes. We are all dancing together and that one was super fun. But the one episode, I'm excited for people to see is definitely Episode 6. That was a big one for me and for Claudia.
Lastly, do you have a favorite 'The Babysitter's Club' book?
Of course, I loved 'Kristy's Great Idea' because I feel like that was the beginning of the whole legacy. Also in the show, that was like our first thing shooting together. You could definitely see the growth from the beginning to the end.
Is there anything that you would like to add?
I'm excited for everyone to see the show. I hope they'll love it as much as we loved putting it together.
All episodes of 'The Babysitter's Club' Season 1 are now available to stream on Netflix.