We spoke with actor Chrissie Fit about returning as Cheechee in the new Teen Beach 2 film, which debuted on the Disney Channel last week. Disney describes Fit's role as "a classic biker girl who travels from the movie world into the present day "real" world to convince her friends to return".
Fit was extremely friendly and fun to talk to during our nearly 20 minutes on the phone. She is a Walt Disney World fan, and has aspirations to direct and produce in the future. Here is our interview with her!
MS: How did you get the role of Cheechee in the original Teen Beach Movie?
CF: You know, it was the old fashioned way. I went to an audition, and I remember...they only really said that Cheechee was a member of the Rodent crew. So I decided to give her a funny voice and a little laugh, and I did it at the audition and it was like quiet. And I thought, "Did I mess this up?" And then, they were like "That was great!" and then from there, we had a couple of other auditions. It was a couple of month process. My first audition was in November, and I didn't get cast until February. It was a long process, but it was totally worth it.
MS: You hadn't known the actors of Teen Beach Movie when you signed on, but it is different this time around. What was it like working with everyone again?
CF: It was amazing. I got there a little later in the game because I was still doing Pitch Perfect 2 while they were doing dance rehearsals and all that. So I got such an incredible, huge welcome because they were all waiting for me to get there. I got bombarded at a photo shoot, and everyone came and gave me hugs. It just feels like the best experience ever. You get to go to Puerto Rico and shoot a movie with your friends, because we've all become really good friends and really love and support each other. It was kind of surreal because we were back in the same place with all of the same people, with incredible new additions to the cast with Raymond and Piper and Ross Butler. So it was awesome, it felt like coming home.
MS: Have you become close friends with any of your co-stars?
CF: Yeah, all of them I'm pretty close with. I do hang out a lot with John DeLuca and Grace Phipps. She lives really close to me.
MS: How is the dancing different from Teen Beach Movie?
CF: Well, for sure we have a lot more - because we go into the modern world - we have a lot more of that influence, so there's breakdancing, and faster, sharper movements. I remember getting a videotape sent to me while I was doing Pitch Perfect 2, and seeing the choreography and thinking, "How am I going to learn this?". It was just so intricate and cool, but then there are other dances where what you loved about Teen Beach Movie still exists. It's bigger, faster, and leaves you amazed.
MS: What goes into rehearsing for one number? There are several big musical sequences in Teen Beach 2.
CF: Well, they (the rest of the cast) all had like a month of dance rehearsals, I had three hours - which is crazy (laughs). I would learn what we were filming, and immediately forget it so that I could learn the next part. Once you get to the location, things change, because you are used to dancing in a dance studio. Then you add the element of sand, heat and leather...and it is a whole different game. It was just crazy. It took a long time, but as far as the filming of the dance numbers, these are all pros and they are so good at what they do. Our choreographer Christopher Scott is fantastic. And some of the bigger numbers only took 2 days to film, which is really, really fast when you think about how much goes into it. There are so many different moves and setups, they are just so good at what they do.
MS: You've mentioned Pitch Perfect 2. Did any of your work on the two movies overlap?
CF: It overlapped with the rehearsal process. There were times we were filming the opening sequence to Pitch Perfect 2, which we filmed last, and I was given videos for the dances here. I was on a flight straight to Puerto Rico on a Saturday and started filming Teen Beach 2 on Monday. It was kind of crazy, but it was the best summer of my life, which is funny because we have a song called "Best Summer Ever" that I think was like was specifically meant for me because last summer was incredible.
MS: When you filmed the original Teen Beach Movie, was it also a month of preparations for the dancing?
CF: Yes. They had like a skeleton crew that created all the choreography with Christopher Scott, and then once we got to Puerto Rico, we had 2 or 3 weeks of dance rehearsals and then we started filming. We filmed for a good one and a half months. So there always is a lot of preparation, and a lot of care and attention because...especially with Teen Beach 2, so many people loved the first move and we wanted to give the fans another cool experience and up the ante...and make it bigger and better, for them because they are such incredible fans. We are so grateful for them. We just wanted to make a great movie.
MS: We have friends of various age ranges who enjoy the first Teen Beach Movie. Do you find that your fans tend to skew younger or older?
CF: It's kind of a mix of both. I think that parents like Cheechee because she's tough, and fun and funny. And the teenagers are all about the boys, lets get real! And the little girls around 3-7, they love my character. I think it's the voice, and the hair and that kind of stuff. It has been a crazy ride.
MS: So you were here in Orlando for the Teen Beach Party at Typhoon Lagoon. Are you a big Disney fan as far as the theme parks?
CF: Yes! I grew up in Miami, Florida. That was like our family vacation, to go to Disney World - Magic Kingdom, Blizzard Beach when it it was really hot in Florida, which is always. I remember being a kid and my dad would take out the back of the van seats, and put in a mattress...so random (laughing), so that me and my brother could sleep on the way to Walt Disney World. He would always pull into the gas station and the fluorescent lights would wake us up. I would wake up, and it always felt like Christmas! So many of my favorite childhood memories are at Walt Disney World with my parents. It was 4 hours away. We were very lucky that we were able to go a lot.
MS: What are your favorite Walt Disney World attractions, either then or now?
CF: Now I love Space Mountain. When I was a kid, forget it - I would never ride Space Mountain! It was so scary to me. I love, like...I don't know, it's so funny, you always think that what you remember are the rides and all this stuff, but what I remember the most is waiting in line (laughing). Waiting in line with my brother, my dad, and my mom - and then my dad playing games with us while we waited for a ride. He would always play, like, "What was the name of Pinocchio's dad?" And we were like, "Gepetto"! All this Disney trivia that we would do while we were waiting in line, and I know we all complain about it now, "Oh, we have to wait in line!", but so much of the bonding I made as a family was waiting in line at Walt Disney World. So those are the memories I remember. Of course I love Pirates of the Caribbean...what was my favorite ride as a kid? I can't remember which one. All of them! As a kid I didn't like to go to Epcot, I wanted to go to the Magic Kingdom to see all the princesses and stuff.
MS: When did you know you wanted to act?
CF: I think ever since I was a kid, I was always a performer. I have a big family, so we would have parties. My mom and dad would be like "Go dance!", we had salsa music blaring, because my family is Cuban. We would dance and sing, and I think when I was in 5th grade is when I did my first play. It was all to try to get a boy to fall in love with me. He didn't. But I fell in love with acting, so it all worked out.
MS: That is really great that you were able to follow your dream from a young age. What advice would you give a child who also has the same aspirations?
CF: What I would say is definitely do well in school, and get an education. I know a lot of people say that, and here is why. I feel the success that I've had has been attributed to the education that I received. Not just with acting, but with everything. Study acting, study everything else. Have a lot of experiences, because you draw from those experiences if you want to be an actor. Also, don't give up - 110%, all the time. Be focused and have a very thick skin. Know that if this is your dream and this is what you want to do, go for it 110%. Don't give up on it and study, study, study.
MS: This is our last question. Can you tell us about your upcoming projects?
CF: Well, it's Teen Beach mania right now! I am a writer as well, so we just finished writing a movie and hopefully we will get it made this year. That is my next dream. I love acting, I love singing, but I also want to create content...maybe one day direct and produce. For me, it's kind of important to take initiative, have more women in film, more Latinas in film, and I feel like the best way I can do that and contribute is to create and be on the other side of the camera as well. So that is what I'm looking forward to in the next couple of months.
Thank you to Chrissie Fit for spending some time talking with us!
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