Updated: Jul 13, 2020
by Catherine Michelle
Watchmen? No, watch ‘her’! The young standout star in HBO’s Watchmen and Amazon Prime’s Just Add Magic: Mystery City sat down for an interview with us to discuss her serendipitous journey from entertaining her family to the stage, to our TV screens. With a dog named Mr. Darcy and a love of classic rock, Jolie Hoang-Rappaport is wise beyond her years and brings that maturity to each challenge she is presented with.
Jolie always loved to entertain and perform for her family, and when she was seven, she convinced them to let her audition for musicals. She said everyone was a little surprised when she booked her first professional production in How the Grinch Stole Christmas, but that was just the beginning of her acting journey. So, how did she make the jump from the stage to the screen? It was just the first of many serendipitous moments. “Acting for television happened organically because while at a Broadway workshop, the head of the workshop sent a tape of me singing to my current agent, and I started auditioning almost right away!”
Shortly after, Jolie had her first audition for Disney. What a dream come true, right? Not exactly…
“I felt like it was a total flop. I was so nervous. Coming from a theater background, the way I prepared the material meant I was projecting and enunciating way too much. I actually had the chance to audition for that casting director again, and when I talked to my agent about my past experience, she said ‘What are you talking about? He loved you!’ It wasn’t the disaster I thought it was. I guess I just wasn’t the right kid for the part!”
Talk about a lesson learned, you just never know what someone else is thinking. She didn’t let her perceived ‘flop’ stop her from going to more auditions and chasing her dream. Jolie’s tips for easing audition anxiety? “Preparation is very important! To ease nerves, sometimes my mom and I will jam out in the car on the way to the audition. My favorite music right now is classic soft rock like Queen, Elton John, and Electric Light Orchestra’s Mr. Blue Sky!”
After that, Jolie auditioned for Amazon Prime’s Just Add Magic, and she landed the role of Zoe! The opportunity got the young actress hooked on acting in front of a camera and taught her a lot, including how to stay on your mark and what all the equipment on a professional set was.
Jolie took her experiences from Just Add Magic to the set of HBO’s Watchmen, a superhero drama that exists within the DC Comic universe. The two shows could not be more different. Jolie plays Bian, a young girl with the soul of an old woman. I won’t go into more detail for fear of spoiling the show, but Jolie took the complexities of the character very seriously.
“Imagination is essential in creating the character of Bian, especially because Bian’s life experience is so different from mine. I even considered how her wardrobe influenced her mannerisms, like how she stands. From that, I could see that she was sophisticated, formal and wise. Figuring that all out and being able to create a whole new person is what I love about acting!”
Her journey to Watchmen wasn’t smooth sailing but yet another serendipitous moment in her life, a phoenix rising from the ashes, a perfect example of when one door closes another one opens.
“I was auditioning for the role of Cassandra Cain in the new movie, Birds of Prey and the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn. In the comics, she is a kick-butt superhero who is also half Asian like me! The audition process was an incredible experience. I even got to read with Margot Robbie!”
Unfortunately, she did not land the role of Cassandra Cain, and it was the first time she ever cried over losing a role. Jolie has been preparing for her chance to be an action star for years now, even studying krav maga, an Israeli military fighting practice that mixes boxing, wrestling, karate with real-life scenarios for self-defense and offense. But as I mentioned above, Jolie prevails.
“I had my Watchmen audition the next day where I had to cry, and I was able to use the disappointment I was feeling the day before from losing the role in Birds of Prey to be able to cry in the audition, and I believe that’s what landed me the role of Bian!”
This is Jolie’s first dramatic part, and the cast is mostly adults. She said that everyone on set treated her like an actor, not just a kid actor. Her co-stars include Regina King, a 2019 Oscar-winning actress for her role in If Beale Street Could Talk, Jeremy Irons (The Lion King, Justice League, Red Sparrow), and many other highly acclaimed actors.
“Every time I watched Regina King work, I learned from her. She takes so much detail from her environment into crafting every scene, and I have started to do the same. She taught me that I need to put in that much care into each scene.”
Her other role models include Awkwafina and Zendaya. “Awkwafina’s success can hopefully open doors for other Asian-American actors. I think she’s wildly talented and hilarious! I love Zendaya’s Tommy Hilfiger collaboration. Zendaya inspires me because she’s a fashion icon, and she executive produces her shows. I also want to executive produce projects one day.”
What can Jolie be found doing when she isn’t on set and plotting her world domination? At the mall with friends, on hikes with Mr. Darcy, or baking with her cousins! “Brownies are my favorite to eat, but my favorite thing to make is chocolate mousse. I love to experiment with spices when baking, kind of like Zoe in Just Add Magic!”