The Actress with heart of Gold, OLIVIA SANABIA
photography | MICHAEL CREAGH stylist | SOPHIA BONNY makeup & Hair | MILAN MANOR retouched by | DMITRY SEROV RETOUCHER Dress: Ienday Earrings: INCSource:
Born and raised in Southern California, Olivia Sanabia has been performing since such a young age of two years old. As she tells us in this excellent interview, it all started with singing whenever anyone would listen or where ever she found a stage. Her love of singing and acting eventually led to performances in Annie as the leading role, Annie. She also starred in Anastasia, Seussical, Fiddler on the Roof, and plenty others. Olivia first acting gig in her professional career was when she was eight years old; it was in a campaign with Jennifer Garner. Since the onset of her career, Olivia has starred in more than 25 commercials; she has featured for Disney, Nickelodeon, Ford, and many others. With her passion for dramatic acting, she has additionally studied the craft for both film and television for numerous years.
Olivia’s latest role is the part of Kelly in a new Amazon original series call Just Add Magic, about a magic cookbook where her and two of her best friends face challenges to overcome and save her grandmother. In her fun, lighthearted, entertaining and enjoyable interview, Olivia shares with us many significant facts about herself, including where she and her family enjoy taking trips, her love for cooking and inside knowledge about her homemade fondant making skills. We learned so much more about the rising star it was such a pleasure to interview her. We wish her every success with the incredibly successful career she has ahead of her. The moment I picked up the phone, her personality came through. It was the Friday after St. Patrick’s Day and we started off talking about it. She tells me she spent the holiday hanging with her siblings wearing green. We laughed and then dived into the interview.
Great! So, I see you, you were discovered very early on of your passion for singing and performing. Tell me a little more about that. Obviously, it’s very early. It’s about the same age as my son, two years old.
OMG that’s crazy! Yes. So, I discovered my love for singing and performing once I was two years old. I would sing for anybody who would listen, you know, basically put on shows and perform for anybody that would watch. And I had always had that love and that passion. And so, when I was six years old I finally got to put it onto the stage. I was, and I fell in love with musicals. And I got to do, you know, a few theater productions with local theater groups. And that’s what kind of made me fall in love with acting as well as singing. Now musicals is still a huge part of my life, even though I can’t pursue it as much. So, after doing musicals for a little while, I transition into the acting business. And yeah, it’s an amazing, incredible journey. So yeah, completely different from being on stage. You have to be able to turn that switch. There’s a huge difference between stage acting, and of course, you know acting in film and stuff, but that’s a really cool thing to know and to be able to kind of turn that on and off switch. I absolutely love it.
Amazing! Now, I know one of your first big career moves was with Jennifer Garner, who I love. And one of my favorite movies was “13 Going on 30”!!! So, tell me more from all about the big campaign that was, that was the beginning of your big professional career, right?
It was my first job that I had ever worked on, so it was really exciting, but at the time I was so young, I didn’t really know who she was. My mom was freaking out. She is such a fan of her. So, I’m a little bummed out that I wasn’t as aware of her work and her incredible talent. I kicked myself for not knowing much of her films when I had the ability to work with her. But she was fantastic. I just remember seeing her kindness towards everybody, and the way she carried herself and learning from that, and really that being my first job I was soaking up everything and trying to take advice and learning experiences from everything I did. I just remember going on set for my first time, and I’m truly falling in love with it. Working and being on the set, and being in front of a camera and just expressing myself through my passion. It was really cool. But now, I am in love with Jennifer Garner. I think she’s an amazing lady. I love her work. I absolutely love “13 Going On 30”. And that was really cool for me to watch. Going back and seeing that I’m like oh I’m dying to work for her again. So hopefully someday.
Oh, that’s so nice to hear you say because, you see all these actresses and actors on the TV and you think, oh I wonder what they are really like in person? Jennifer Garner is an actress I feel like comes across on screen as she would in person. In her acting role, she is very genuine, and she’s very nice, etc. I feel like if I ever met her in person that she would be just like that.
Absolutely, that’s what I remember from her.
Yeah. That’s so nice. Can you explain a little more about the campaign that you guys worked on, like what it entailed?
Yes, it was just a print job that we were working on, and it was for so long ago, and it was all kind of like a whirlwind because I was so young. I haven’t gotten to see the campaign yet. It was long ago and I kind of lost track of it, but it was a really cool experience, and I remember, we got to test out a few because we were placed in a kitchen during the campaign. It was a little bit of a hint of what I would fall in love with later in life because now I absolutely love cooking.
I see that you have starred in many commercials which are quite fun. I heard that it was 24 – 25 commercials, is that correct?
Yeah, I think, I owe a lot of my learning experiences to commercials. Some people might not want to do those at the beginning of their career, but I do. It gave me experiences, and I got to learn my way around the set before going on to working on TV. I absolutely loved making commercials, and I still love making them. They’re such a fun thing to do. I love that you can go on to a new set for a day or a week and meet new people and get to experience new places and new scenarios. I think that’s really cool thing with commercials you can experience so many different situations. Whereas, rather than if you’re working on TV, you know you’re with the same people, which can be amazing, but with this, it is like traveling all over the world, with commercials, it’s just amazing.
Yeah, I can imagine. I’m sure it is a fun job because of all the excitement of all what’s going to happen next, whereas, with you doing the acting, you obviously, you have the script, you know what’s coming.
That sounds great. Which out of all of those, was your favorite that you starred in? That’s hard, it’s hard to pick. I think all the commercials are an amazing experience. But I did do a Ford commercial, and it was a Christmas commercial. I was sitting on Santa’s lap and (Oliva laughs while remembering) I was playing a very sassy character, and for some reason, it’s just always really fun to play. I think because I hope that I don’t obviously behave like that on a daily basis. It’s a nice adventure outside yourself and be able to, you know, give a little sass, in acting of course, right?
I mean, Christmas is always a lovely time. Everyone feels really good. So that’s nice you have that as one of your memories.
Yes, absolutely. Christmas is my favorite time of year.
I know, I love Christmas. You’ve performed in many roles as “Annie,” “Anastasia” and “Fiddler On The Roof,” and I see in Annie you were the leading star, right?
I did! That was incredible. It was a dream of mine to play her. When I was two years old, I was singing songs from Annie, and there was always a dream of mine to be able to play her. It’s not a wide amount of time that you can, you know, have the ability to play her age wise and height. And so, it was really cool for me to be able to accomplish that dream. I just remember so vividly hearing that I got the role, it was just an incredible experience and I wouldn’t trade it for anything. It was amazing!
It is amazing! And I’m sure you could wear the curly wig.
Yes! I did wear a wig!
What did you enjoy most about those roles? From what I understand, they’re slightly different?
I love all the roles that I’ve been able to play because I love just being on stage. It’s such a gratifying feeling of being able to make people laugh, and you know, automatically feeling that you moved the audience, rather than filming something and waiting months and months much to see how people react towards it. So, I love that about all the roles, and I’ve been able to play, but obviously like I said, Annie has been one of my favorites. But, Anastasia, I played the funniest character, and I was the evil guy’s accomplice. So, I played a little bat, and I had to hit him. Yes! It was very hilarious! And it’s probably a picture that someone can hold against me, but it was really fun experience, and I had to do a little chipmunk voice. I was six years old, and I just remember my first time going on stage. I stepped out, and you know the nerves kicked in at the beginning, but then when I was on stage, I realized how much I absolutely loved it. That was a really cool experience.
And it is, you suddenly felt so natural, and you’re not in danger.
Yes, that is where I was home.
So, your most recent role, you are Kelly in “Just Add Magic,” tell me all about this new role?
We’ve been working on this production for about three years now, and I play Kelly Quinn in “Just Add Magic.” Let me tell you what “Just Add Magic” is all about. It’s about Kelly Quinn and her two best friends Hannah and Darby who go on a journey to Kelly’s grandmother’s attic, and they find a magic cookbook. The story is about their friendship and their adventures with the magical recipes. They bake these recipes, and a lot of crazy things happen, and there’s a lot of mystery and magic. There’s also a lot of cliffhangers, which is what I love about the show. It keeps you on the edge of your seat. It’s a really fun show. I play Kelly Quinn who is a very determined girl. In the first season, she is trying to save her grandmother and because her grandmother is under a magic spell and so she kind of drives the pack and leads them to the ultimate goal, which is, saving grandma.
How would you relate yourself to your character? Do you feel like you and Kelly have similar characteristics and traits?
I sure hope we do, because Kelly is a very kind girl and she is always trying to do things for others. I think we relate in the sense that, we both care about our family over anything. Family and friends are everything, and I believe that Kelly and I relate in that way and I think the drive that she has is so admirable. She does have a few breaking points. Kelly always picks herself back up, with the help of friends. She is back on track and where she needs to be and where she needs to be helping everyone, and I think that’s an amazing thing to see in three young girls, is that they are so driven and not obsessing over the same things that you usually see on a typical kid show. They are they’re not obsessing over boys or clothes or what they’re wearing and how they look. There are obsessing over helping others. And you know ultimately something a little crazy, which is magic but baking and pursuing their passions and helping others which are a really fun thing to see. And the unique thing we see in three young girls.
Nice. That sounds amazing. Earlier you were saying, that you love cooking and with filming the show, do you do any real cooking like that on the show or is everything is what was made earlier?
Yes, we do have an amazing food stylist who makes all the pretty food. But, we do a little bit of cooking montages when they need to see our faces. But for the most part, they don’t like us to do a lot of the chopping and stuff like that. But I took a little bit of cooking lessons before and in preparation for the job so that I can look educated in doing it the proper way.
Oh! So, if they say, can anybody who set up and chop an onion in 30 seconds, you can shout out “yes! I can! I could!”
Yeah, I hope so, I sure hope so.
Is there anything particular that you love to cook? Do you have a favorite dish, something you enjoy to make and enjoy to eat?
I like making a lot of things, but I am homeschooled, so I can make myself lunch every day. I can try and craft up new things. When I’m not working, I can stay home and bake new dishes. I like making healthy options. I like to grill veggies and that kind of stuff. I like playing around with that stuff, but baking is my ultimate favorite. I love making new sorts of bread and cakes, especially making a cake. But one special thing that I really, really, enjoy making is, homemade fondant! You know, yummy, and it makes the cakes that I make, look a little bit more together. It is not always the easiest thing to work with, but I think I have a recipe that I make and it works out. It’s, a really fun thing and it’s different.
Oh yeah, I have such a sweet tooth, so for you to say you make homemade fondant, oh wow, this girl is impressive! I love cupcakes, cookies!!!
Oh girl, same here!!!
They’re delicious. Well, that’s impressive. I mean you can make homemade fondant, and you’re self-sufficient. Have you ever gone to a regular school or have you been homeschooled all your life?
The majority of my elementary school years I did go to just a regular school, and I loved it. I really did for a while. But starting to get older, I was feeling the urge to be homeschooled, and I just knew that it would work better with my schedule and allow my opportunities to kind of, widen. I did like it for a lot of years, and I met my best friend through school, but it’s the right decision for my family and me. It’s been amazing, and I think homeschooling is an amazing thing for the situation that I’m in right now.
Ok, Perfect. I ask because I wanted to know if you had the opportunity for the comparison. You have had and having, the best of both worlds because you’ve been in a regular school experience.
It’s awesome. So if I have to play, someone that’s obviously at a public school, then I have those experiences to kind of take from in my acting, and I love the people that I was able to go to school. But you know, two new chapters and new experiences is a great thing for me.
It seems you’re very adaptable. You can just fit right anywhere. If you had a magic power to fix one problem, anything, what would it be?
I would cure cancer. Absolutely. My family and my community lost a friend to childhood cancer. And it really impacted everyone that knew him and was involved. And so, I am just working at what I can to give back and help. Hopefully, do my part to find a cure for cancer. I work with the foundation, “Cookies for Kids Cancer.” And basically, they are a foundation that raises money for research for pediatric cancer. Anybody can help, which is the best part. Anybody can donate or hold their own bake sales to raise money, and all the profits go to go to “Cookies for Kids Cancer.” And it’s an amazing, amazing foundation that I’m so blessed to be a small part of and to be able to help in any way that I can.
Oh that is so nice to hear you say that. I did a 10k run for “Children with Leukemia” so that’s really nice, to hear you say that because it means a lot to me too. Especially to me, because no parent can ever imagine, a doctor breaking the news, especially of a child.
But, when you find out of a child or an infant then it’s awful. You feel like they’ve just come to this Earth and just experiencing life and then suddenly, given such horrible disease. I’m very impressed that you have such an impact. You’re fundraising and do all of these wonderful things. You should be very proud of yourself.
Well, thank you, that’s very nice of you. Children have a huge place in my heart, and they always have and they always will. I love babies and toddlers and seeing them and their families. When something bad happens and what they have to go through is absolutely heartbreaking. And I can’t even imagine. But I just want to be able to give back and help them in whatever way I can. I’m very honored to be able to help.
Lovely, how was it working with Abby and Aubrey?
Oh my gosh! We have such a great time, and we laugh together all the time. We’re always laughing, we have a bunch of inside jokes, and when you spend that much time with people, you get to know a lot about them. We’re always laughing with each other and cracking jokes. In general, the whole crew is incredible. You get to know so much about people and the way they work and just to watch some amazing actors that we have in the cast, like Dee Wallace and Amy Hill. Just being able to see them work and see how they behave on set is really interesting and you can take away what you got from them and kind of soak up their advice and how they behave. And so, it’s a really cool thing to be able to be a part of something so big and be a small part of a huge team on a show that impacts people’s life.
Oh, and considering you guys have been working together for three years, you said, right? The girls you are working with are very close to each other and filming on a regular basis. They must feel like sisters now rather than coworkers?
Yea! The whole cast has become like a huge family. You feel like you’re just going to work every day and hang out with your family, which is such an amazing thing to me, to be surrounded with such an amazing cast and crew.
Oh Good! It’s good to hear that you were very supportive and encouraging to each other. Which was your favorite episode for you to film and it could be from either a season or this season? Have you got one episode that really stands out, one that maybe got messy maybe or one that there was an explosion?
Yes! I have a few favorites which are all at the end of season one. At the end of season one, in episode 110, which is just sad memories. Kelly had reached her breaking point. Her heart has been played with so much, she breaks down and cries, and it was a really cool thing to see her so vulnerable, because she usually has that strong wall up, and you get to see her be vulnerable and break down and ultimately just want to hug her friends and be with her grandma again. That’s why Kelly’s crying. She is so upset that she’s done so many efforts to break her grandma’s curse and none of them have worked. She is so angry and upset, and I think that’s just, wow! You know the magic is relatable. Her feelings are completely relatable. People all have great points, and they’re trying to accomplish goals, whether it’ll be with their favorite sport or whatever it may be. Everybody has that breaking point when you’ve been working so hard on your goals, and it seems you’re not getting there. I think that was a really good thing to see in the film. And I also loved when the girls went camping, and it was a fun episode. In episode 111, it was a really fun thing be camping and walk through the woods and see the magic glowing there and the trees. It was a fun episode to shoot, even though it was 110 degrees outside while filming. But nobody can tell that when you’re when you’re watching it. Hopefully.
I was about to ask about where was it filmed, as in an exquisite location?
Yeah. Where we filmed, it was beautiful. Gorgeous! But the only thing was, it was blazing hot, and everybody was dying. We had these huge tents that we had to go into to get some air. Everybody is so hot, and that’s when you really are like guys, we are a family, and we’re going through hard times together. But you know there’s so much fun that we get together and, and we got through the heat. So, it was really fun and when you go through so many different conditions with these people, but it does build a bond.
Is there any inside scoop on the show, anything that you know that you can share with your fans?
Yes, on our set we have several hiding spots, and we have accumulated them over the past few years. We have a hiding place in pretty much every different set that you guys see on the show. We have actually had a special little hiding spot built for us by our amazing production designer Gary Gordon. Here is a little bit of an inside scoop for you guys. Gary created a little hiding spot built underneath the stairs in the Quinn living room. It’s super cool! We have a hidden door where any of us, can go in when there’s a little break, and you don’t have school. It is a really fun place, where we have like a lamp, and we’ve got pictures of ourselves up in there, chargers for our phones, relaxing close to the set. It is a really fun little crevice on set that not everyone knows and a fun little place we can escape.
That sounds like Harry Potter’s little closet.
It is, it really is. I’ll have to show you guys. It’s the most amazing thing, so cool.
I remember as a child one of my hiding places was the in the dens and secret places…
I’m with my pet!!! No one is coming in!!!
I know, I know, Yeah, I’m not that young anymore, but I still love that kind of stuff.
So, I do you have a celebrity crush or anything like Ryan Gosling? Woo hoo, who doesn’t???
Oh my gosh!!! I love him in “La La Land, ” and I went to see it before it was all hyped up. I had seen it before the movie was released to the public and everyone went crazy. I did fall in love with it, because like I said I’m in love with musicals and I just think he’s adorable and I love the film.
Oh wow! I have to see it. I mean, off of your recommendation!
Yes. It’s incredible you have to see it!
I have the meaning to get to watch it, so I need to see that!
Oh yes, it’s a must see!
Oh my gosh, for sure! But yeah, he is cute, and he’s been in many other great roles and movies. I agree with you there!
Yes. I think many girls will.
What actor or actress you aspire to be like while you’re progressing through your singing acting career?
I think that an actress, I aspire to be like is Bailee Madison. She has always inspired me, and I just admire her, you know, her, what she advertises and her kindness to others and what she stands for and her faith. I also think that the way she does it, in such a classy way, the way she does everything and I want to take that road and follow her path. You know, being a classy young lady who treats others with kindness and I hope that I can share that with others and be able to inspire others to do the same.
Ohh… that sounds great is there, is there an actor or an actress who you would love to work with and those reasons why you would choose those?
Oh, my gosh! There are so many people that I would love to work alongside. I would absolutely love to work with Jennifer Lawrence. I’ve always admired her in, of course, “The Hunger Games,” but I think her work is so honest and natural. I think that’s something that every actor or actress should know attain to be like. That’s what truth should come from, your acting and that’s what I see from her. And so, I would love to work with her and soak up all her information and learn from her and take notes. I would carry around a notepad just like take notes on everything she does.
Have you seen her most recent film? It was “Passenger’s,” right?
No, I need to see that, was it good?
I hadn’t seen it. I feel terrible because I I think I was talking about her on one of my other interviews because I like Jennifer Lawrence a lot and a friend of mine worked for the racing firm, the Formula One, and he actually met her. Then from there, I was like, “Oh I love her, she’s in all these fantastic movies” and I haven’t seen her most recent one which was “Passengers.” But yeah, I think this weekend I might have to stay in watch movies.
Yes, for sure.
I have to find the time. What do you have planned, for your next move? Have you exciting things in the works?
Yes! So, we do have more episodes of “Just Add Magic” coming out and which we’ve been filming. I also I have an original song that I’m going to share with everyone, and I’m very excited to share it. I’ve been working on my YouTube channel. I will be posting a bunch of covers and sharing with you guys a little bit of a day in my life, so you guys can to subscribe to my channel and can check out a little behind the scenes of my life and covers that I do. It’s super fun and focusing a little bit more on music, and I’m going to be filming some stuff soon. So yeah.
Oh, sounds fun and busy.
Oh great! You’ve read our magazine, and you know we are obviously a magazine about celebrities, lifestyle, and fashion. So, I was wondering, who are your favorite designer? What is your favorite brand which you love, and you’re either always wearing or your go-to outfit for a special occasion?
I really like Kate Spade. I think she’s an amazing designer. I love her pieces. I own a lot of her purses. And I like a style that is useful, colorful but yet simple and sophisticated. I think she really captures that. Also, do you know Ted Baker? Those designers are incredible, and I love to look at their work and be able to wear their pieces.
Do you have a casual brand you enjoy to wear, like Lululemon? Or is there a regular brand that you wear day to day?
I just love like shopping at places like Nordstrom. I think I am not really as much of a brand shopper as much as I am like going to places like Nordstrom and finding just the right pieces that I love and stuff that I know go together.
What is your, what is your favorite piece of clothing? Do you have like a snuggly sweater, a cozy scarf or a favorite t-shirt with “I Rock” something like that…?
I love my army jacket. I think it’s kind of perfect for casual or sassy. I kind of think is a little staple in my wardrobe. But I also, I absolutely love purses. I have a purse obsession. So, I said that I have a bunch of them, Like, I have a lot of Kate Spade purses, and to me, that is so beautiful. I can incorporate the purses into my outfits. And also, I love colorful items in my wardrobe. I love solids and kind of like layering. I’m in love with dresses. Dresses are my go-to outfit. I think they’re so girly and cute so I just love to throw them on. It’s like an effortlessly cute look.
Yeah and especially considering springtime and summer is coming up.
Exactly. The heat makes the perfect weather for a dress.
Exactly. Do you have any time with your family? Are you heading anywhere for spring break? I mean, I know you don’t obviously follow the school calendar, etc. but you know, around the time you guys usually go away?
Yeah. This year we’ve got a couple of fun trips that we have. It’s still kind of in the works on what we’re planning, but I just can’t wait to get away and be with my family and just enjoy time relaxing before the crazy work season comes again. And so, it’s going to be kind of nice to relax with them wherever we go.
Are you a beach summer person or snow winter person, like, lounging on the beach or enjoy skiing or snowboarding?
You know, I, I’ve never skied or snowboarded before, so I can’t really tell you that. But I do love winter. I’m obsessed with everything winter. I would say that I like winter and I used to not like summer. But, I’m getting older, and I like summer a little bit more, and I’m just able to jump in the pool and hang out with your friends and eat popsicles.
Yeah you certainly like, OK I see the benefits of summer.
Now. Yes. Now I get what everybody raves about.
Have you got a favorite location or destination In the world?
Oh yes. I’ve never been actually out of the country, but I have been to several places in the United States. I went to New York City. I love going to New York. We have so much fun there. It’s a great environment. I love being able to go to Broadway itself being able to see these amazing actors at in their home and enjoy.
Exactly. You must feel right at home when you go see them… you’re like… oh, one day.
Well, yes, where I can think that that’s where I want to be. You know in New York, on Broadway one day.
Well that’s a great aspiration to have, keep going.
Thank you, I will.
It was so lovely Olivia to talk with you and to get to know you a lot more. It was a pleasure.
It was so nice talking with you.
photography | MICHAEL CREAGH
stylist | SOPHIA BONNY
makeup & Hair | MILAN MANOR
retouched by | DMITRY SEROV RETOUCHER