China McClain is joining the cast of Descendants in Descendants 2 as Uma, Ursula’s daughter. Ursula has always been one of my favorite Disney Villains so I was eager to learn about Uma when in LA for the Descendants 2 Event a couple months ago. From the footage we were lucky enough to see, Uma is pretty amazing. She is strong and powerful, and China plays her perfectly.
Joining the Cast
We asked China what is was like joining the cast of Descendants. “Joining the cast of “Descendants” was surreal for me. It was an honor because everyone loved the first film and I was a fan of the first film. I thought it was beautifully put together. And Kenny Ortega is just [great]. I really wanted to work on it so when I got the call [saying I got the role], I said, “Yes!”
We found out that China turned 18 while on set, so we asked her if and how the cast celebrated with her. “A lot of them just picked on me. They said, ‘It’s your birthday! We’re going to go out and you’re going to have fun! You’re not doing anything on your birthday!’ So it was really fun being around them because they’re such a cool cast. They’re like a family and they included me immediately. I was away from my family so it was like having another family that I could spend it with. They made it really fun.”
Dynamic On Set
We asked China what the dynamic on set was like, and learned she had known one of the cast members for quite some time! “I’ve known Cameron Boyce since he was nine. We’re always picking on each other and playing pranks on each other. He and Booboo Stewart have the coolest relationship ever. They’re really close, and a lot of the original cast and the new cast got close so quickly. It was like there was no difference [between us]. It felt like we’d worked on the first film, too. That’s how comfortable they made us feel. So that was really cool.”
Since Ursula is absolutely one of my favorite villains, as I mentioned, I had to ask China how she felt about portraying her daughter. “She is one of my favorite movie villains ever. She has so much attitude. In preparation, I watched “The Little Mermaid” about 20 times before I went to Vancouver to shoot. I was looking at her mannerisms, how she talked and everything that she said, and that helped me a lot on set.”
Of course we had to ask China what it was like to be a villain. “It’s cool to play a villain. This is my very first time [playing one] I think. We all have those feelings inside that we just want to unleash on people sometimes, and that’s the definition of Uma’s character. She has always bottled up feelings that she randomly unleashes on people and is not sorry for it at all. So, it was fun playing that and it was really cool. She’s really cool.”
We got to see the costumes up close while there, and they were amazing to see in person! But they were certainly extravagant and seemed like they might be hard to work in. We asked China how it was dancing, singing, and filming in hers. “It was difficult working in the costumes because I had a skirt and heels on – not to mention the heavy braids and the leather jacket. I could barely move my arms. I had to do a dance number in all of that, and part of [the process] is just getting adjusted to [the costume]. We did three weeks of rehearsing before we started shooting, and part of the rehearsal was that I had the wig on. I thought, ‘I’m going to wear this so I can get used to doing the dance numbers in it.’ After I got adjusted to it, it was pretty much cake.”
Playing a villain can sometimes be tough, so we asked China what it her biggest challenge playing Uma was. “I think the biggest challenge playing Uma was probably making her relatable and trying to make her likable because you can’t mess with the VKs. The [fans] love the VKs and I see why because in the first film they are really, really good and they connected with a lot of kids. So, just making kids not dislike her and helping them be able to understand her was probably the biggest challenge.”
By now, you have all seen the music video for What’s My Name. I personally love it, and we had just watched it before we sat down with China. We asked her about it, and I loved her response. “Working on that was so much fun. How did you guys like Thomas and Dylan, who played Harry and Gil? Harry is bomb. He’s [Uma’s] best friend. Fun fact, this little tattoo that I have right here, he has one back here and Dylan does too. So we got really close on set. Hopefully you can see that on screen because that was one of the last things we shot, another fun fact. We had all gotten to know each other and had all become really close by that point. So, we were lucky that we got to shoot [“What’s My Name”] last.”
— Tessa Smith (@MamasGeeky) July 6, 2017
Stay tuned for more Descendants 2 interviews coming to Mama’s Geeky all week!
Descendants 2 Synopsis
The story deepens in the music-driven sequel to the global smash hit “Descendants,” as the teenage sons and daughters of Disney’s most infamous villains – Mal, Evie, Carlos and Jay (also known as Villain Kids or VKs) – try to find their place in idyllic Auradon. When the pressure to be royally perfect becomes too much for Mal, she returns to her rotten roots on the Isle of the Lost where her archenemy Uma, the daughter of Ursula, has taken her spot as self-proclaimed queen of the run-down town. Uma, still resentful over not being selected by Ben to go to Auradon Prep with the other Villain Kids, stirs her pirate gang including Captain Hook’s son Harry and Gaston’s son Gil, to break the barrier between the Isle of the Lost and Auradon, and unleash all the villains imprisoned on the Isle, once and for all.
Descendants 2 Premieres July 21st!
Descendants 2 will premiere Friday, July 21 at 8 PM simultaneously on Disney Channel, ABC, Disney XD, Freeform and Lifetime.