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'I never thought of America.'

Maia Mitchell found 'Hot Summer Nights' after big move

Maia Mitchell attends the 2017 American Music Awards at Microsoft Theater on November 19, 2017 in Los Angeles, California.

(LIONEL HAHN/ABACA PRESS/TNS)

By RICK BENTLEY | Tribune News Service | Published: July 24, 2018

LOS ANGELES - It was never Maia Mitchell’s intention to move from Australia to Los Angeles. For something she never planned on doing, the move has paid off for the 24-year-old, as she not only is starring in “Good Trouble” (a spinoff of the Freeform series “The Fosters”), but she’s one of the main characters in the new feature film “Hot Summer Nights.”

“America was never my plan,” Mitchell says. “I would have been very happy to work in Australia. I am so close to my family and my friends back home are still my friends.

“I never thought of America.”

The thought of making the big move came she was auditioning for an American TV show that was shooting at Warner Bros. in Australia. A manager started having her audition online for roles that would be shot in the United States, and she landed a job her senior year of high school. Once she started making projects with Disney, including the two “Teen Beach Movies,” Mitchell knew she would need to move to America.

The change of address not only opened her up to TV series work, but put her in line for a role in “Hot Summer Nights” when it filmed three years ago. It’s the story of the socially awkward Daniel Middleton (TimothChalamet), who in 1991 visits his aunt on Cape Cod and turns a summer before college into a thriving drug business. His partner in crime and brother to his new love (Maika Monroe) is Hunter Strawberry (Alex Roe), the local bad boy. Mitchell plays Amy, the love interest for Hunter. If Roe is channeling James Dean with his dark, brooding performance, Mitchell is doing the same with Natalie Wood.

Mitchell knew there was always the potential that Amy could be nothing more than the “cute girl next door.” As soon as she talked with writer/director Elijah Bynum, Mitchell knew it would be a role with a lot of layers to play.

“I think it was important for Amy to be a catalyst for Hunter to make a change in his life. It was important this wasn’t that stereotype dynamic of good girl meets bad boy and is attracted to him because he’s edgy and exciting,” Mitchell says. “It was more that she saw through his fae that no one else in the town did.

“She was able to pull back his layers to get to his vulnerabilities and his sweetness.”

Mitchell has always had a passion for the arts, going from entertaining family members during the holidays to school theater productions. She was so excited about acting that her parents finally decided they needed to find a way for her to channel all that energy. Mitchell’s big acting break came in 2006 when she was selected in an open audition for the lead role of Brittany Flune on the Australian television series “Mortified.” The highly-touted show broke numerous Australian Children’s Television records.

Her other credits include “Castaway,” “Zombies and Cheerleaders,” “Jake and the Never Land Pirates” and “The Lion Guard.”

She’s been able to be selective about roles over the past six years because of “The Fosters” and its spinoff. “The Fosters” dealt with a same-sex interracial couple and their blended family of biological, adopted and foster children.

Mitchell, who earned multiple Teen Choice Awards for her work on the show, was convinced “The Fosters” would be going on for at least two more years. She’s excited with the chance to continue to tell stories through the character because the show has such a strong fan base. At the same time, Mitchell feels bad that she’s been given an opportunity others didn’t get.

In “Good Trouble” (set to debut in 2019), Callie (Mitchell) and Mariana (Cierra Ramirez) move to Los Angeles to start their adult lives. In some ways, it lines up with Mitchell’s move thousands of miles away from home to continue her acting career. She got more than just a way to earn a paycheck.

“I feel lucky that since I moved to the United States, I have had this consistent family base with the cast and crew. I spend my days with people I have known for years and have seen me in my darkest days,” Mitchell says.

“Hot Summer Nights” is currently available on DirecTV and opens in theaters Friday.

Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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