by Jessica Giles | November 10, 2020

One-on-One with the One and Only Ariana Greenblatt

This Parkland teen is already taking Hollywood by storm

Ariana Greenblatt hasn’t even turned 14, and she’s already starred in everything from Disney Channel series to blockbuster films. Photography by Robyn Breen Shinn.

Ariana Greenblatt has accomplished more before her 13th birthday than most people will in a lifetime. The budding star from Parkland has appeared in everything from Disney series like Liv and Maddie and Stuck in the Middle to blockbuster films such as Avengers: Infinity War and even salsa’d all the way to the finals of Dancing with the Stars: Juniors (which might come in handy for her role as young Nina in the upcoming In the Heights movie adaptation). It’s exactly this versatility that’s made her a Hollywood hit before she’s even entered high school, nailing the innocent, endearing role of Julia in The One and Only Ivan while bringing depth and spunkiness to her fearless Minnow character in Love and Monsters, just recently released in October. Impossible to type-cast and always up to the challenge, Greenblatt continues to add impressive roles to her resume, from voice acting in the 2021 Boss Baby sequel to starring alongside Gina Rodriguez in Netflix’s upcoming sci-fi thriller Awake. You never quite know what the South Florida native will do next, and that’s just how she likes it. 

Your busy acting career has moved you to Los Angeles full time. What do you miss the most about the Sunshine State?

AG: I have to say the beaches because I used to go there all the time with my family and friends. It was just so warm and beautiful and the sand was amazing. The Florida beaches are like bathwater, it’s just incredible. The beaches in LA are cold and rocky.

You starred in the film adaptation of the children’s book The One and Only Ivan earlier this year. What was it like to take your character Julia from the page to the screen?

AG: I always feel like bringing the character to life is one of my favorite parts of acting. It’s just so magical to put each detail on like the costume, the hair, the makeup, the everything. I talked to the director, Thea [Sharrock], a lot and got a bunch of little ideas for Julia. It’s just such a magical moment to see a character come from what’s written on the script into life and have my own details and create such a beautiful character.

Greenblatt is always looking for roles that challenge her. Photography by Robyn Breen Shinn.
Speaking of hair and makeup, you had some pretty extensive body paint for your role as young Gamora in Avengers: Infinity War. How long did it take to get into costume each day?

AG: Oh my God, yes. It was so funny because every day I was on set, the makeup artists tried to beat their time that they had the day before, which I was just mesmerized by. So they did all the prosthetics, all the different layers of paint and the metal tattoos and everything. It took up to three hours, which is crazy because I first thought, “Okay, they’re just going to do like one layer of green paint.” They put like seven different layers of yellow, lime green, and dark green and put freckles on my face. It’s crazy. So, watching the steps each day was so mesmerizing. 

What sorts of things do you look for when it comes to the roles that you’re offered?

AG:  I always try to find a challenge with every role I do because doing something I’ve never done before is super important, and I love challenging myself. And also I love reading the script to get a clear idea of what the project is, and I can see the team who’s attached to it. But yeah, doing my research definitely and seeing if it’s challenging.

You have so many exciting new projects on the horizon, including playing Gina Rodriguez’s daughter in the upcoming Netflix movie Awake. What was it like to film with Gina?

AG: I love Gina so much. She’s literally family to me at this point. She’s incredibly inspiring, especially because she’s a fellow Puerto Rican just like me. So I was so excited to have the opportunity to work with her. She always made me laugh. Yeah, she’s just incredible in every way. 

Gina Rodriguez has been a role mode in the industry. for Greenblatt. Photography courtesy of Ariana Greenblatt.
How does it feel to know that you’re a role model for so many girls and young women, especially Latinas?

AG: To be honest, I feel super honored that so many people look up to me. I mean I’m literally only 13 years old. So to think that I can make them smile or laugh or inspire them is really crazy, and it’s an amazing feeling. I also always just want to be a good example. And also, being a Latina in Hollywood is extremely hard. So I think Hollywood definitely has to change and to see more Latinas and Latinos in leading roles because I didn’t really grow up watching people who look like me on TV. So I think if Hollywood can change and I could be someone for young Latina girls, it’s just mind-blowing to me.

What upcoming project are you most excited for the world to see? 

AG: Ah, that’s hard, There are so many! I probably have to say Boss Baby because I’ve never done any voice acting before other than the Scooby-Doo thing. So I think that could be really cool. And my baby cousin Sophia, that’s going to be probably one of the first things she sees me in, so I feel like that’s going to be awesome. I just am so excited for all of them. They’re like my babies.

READ NEXT: One-on-one with Emmy Award-winning actor Tony Hale