INTERVIEW BY GALAXY INTRO BY ETHAN BREHM

If you ask any actor or actress, they’ll tell you that getting the title role on two different TV shows is like getting struck by lightning twice. And before she even turned 21, Brec Bassinger had already starred as Bella in Nickelodeon’s Bella and the Bulldogs and now as superhero Courtney Whitmore, aka Stargirl, in DC’s Stargirl, whose second season debuted on The CW back in August. Brec joins the short list of actresses to ever do so let alone this young.

And this success doesn’t go unnoticed by the actress, who’s constantly counting her blessings and looking to improve in her craft. Brec speaks with the incisive clarity of a veteran twice her age (after all, she’s been in this industry for nearly a decade now), offering some great advice for aspiring young actors, speaking on the value of acting classes and always being willing to learn. But she also shares with us the tougher aspects of auditioning and the amount of rejection she’s faced despite her two big breaks.

Always so humble and with a great head on her shoulders, the young star is only in the sunrise of her career, of which Stargirl will undoubtedly level up even higher. Starring in the upcoming films Saturday at the Starlight and The Man in the White Van, Brec continues to look ahead as she chats with Galaxy about what it’s like being part of the DC lineage, as well as her similarities to her character and how she handles being a role model.

SPOILER: How does it feel being Stargirl?

BREC BASSINGER: It’s so surreal. I don’t think in my wildest dreams I ever thought I would get to be a superhero. It’s something that’s so special. It’s like your name gets put on this list. I’m forever part of the DC Universe. It was also so much more fun than I was ever expecting.

SPOILER: And this is the first ever time Stargirl has gotten her own show.

BREC BASSINGER: Yes! There have been two other actresses who have played Stargirl very quickly on other series [in Smallville and Legends of Tomorrow]. But there’s never been a show where she’s been celebrated and highlighted. I personally think she is so underrated. Even the JSA as a whole which is a big part of Stargirl they’re the first superhero group ever in comic book history. So it’s been so fun to be part of a show that brings these underrated, underappreciated characters to the forefront.

SPOILER: What’s it been like working on the show?

BREC BASSINGER: It’s a lot of hard work, but it is very rewarding! I have met some of my best friends who I believe will be in my life forever.

SPOILER: Do you miss them when you’re not filming?

BREC BASSINGER: Yes! Especially now since I’m not living in LA. But I do see them some! Yvette [Monreal] and I actually went on vacation over this past hiatus.

SPOILER: Season 2 is called “Summer School,” and it highlights these characters in a way that’s so relatable.

BREC BASSINGER: Growing up, one of my favorite superheroes was always Spider-Man, specifically the Tom Holland Spider-Man. The first one came out when I was graduating high school, so I just loved seeing this guy balance high school while simultaneously balancing being a superhero. And Stargirl has so much of that. This group of kids who weren’t necessarily the popular kids— misfits you could say—coming together and becoming a group of superheroes. So you have someone to relate to, whether it’s the parents of these kids or the kids themselves. Season 2 has a tonal change. It’s a lot darker. It still has the heart that makes our show, but there is a new horror aspect that the first season didn’t have.

SPOILER: It’s a very wholesome show as well.

BREC BASSINGER: Our showrunner Geoff Johns, he created the show in honor of his sister, Courtney Johns, who passed away. So obviously this show is very important to him, but he wanted to create a show that brought people together and didn’t have a lot of negativity. And interestingly enough, our season 1 came out in the midst of the pandemic last May, and [the pandemic] was very scary, and is still scary, but all people wanted was new content to watch. They were just sitting at home with their families. And I had so many people reaching out saying that they looked forward to it every week and they would sit down and watch it with their kids, and it was a show that their kids liked that [the parents] could actually enjoy as well. So I think it did exactly what Geoff set out for it to do, probably even more so than he was expecting.

SPOILER: Do you feel a lot of pressure?

BREC BASSINGER: Yeah, of course I feel pressure, because Geoff means so much to me and the show means so much to me that I want to do Courtney justice and what he sees of her legacy. And he’s so lovely. I’ve had these open, candid conversations with him and he always makes me feel like I’m doing what he wanted and how he envisioned it. And throughout the first and second seasons, I feel like I’ve gained this confidence.

SPOILER: How did it feel when you first became Stargirl and you started getting all of these fan messages and fan art and everything like that?

BREC BASSINGER: Well, I came from a Nickelodeon show, so I already kinda had a taste of getting recognized when I was going out, getting fan mail, people drawing pictures of me. And I’m not exaggerating, but just in the past month I’ve noticed I’m no longer getting recognized as Bella from Bella and the Bulldogs, but I’ve been recognized as, “Oh my gosh, you’re Stargirl!” and it’s been so fun to see the transition of the different audiences and the different demographics.

SPOILER: What does it feel like playing this role model that everyone looks up to?

BREC BASSINGER: I love it. Even in my personal life, I’m a very goaloriented person and I like to help people achieve their goals. And I feel like Courtney has a lot of that, so I pull from my own life. But even me as Brec, I pull things from Courtney. The way she sees the best in people regardless of circumstances. In playing her, I feel like it’s a constant reminder to do that in my own life. And also, I have to give so much credit to Geoff. Even from the beginning, he sat me down and said, “Brec, you have a responsibility on our set to be a leader. Not only on the show, but for the other cast members.” And he helped guide me so much throughout this process.

SPOILER: Do you feel pressure with that aspect as well?

BREC BASSINGER: I definitely feel pressure to perform and stay on top of my game, because it is hard. The hours we work are not for the faint of heart. But I think one of my best attributes is my self-awareness, so I’m also very good at not putting too much pressure on myself for the roles I play, because there’s only so much I can do as Brec. I mean, I’m not a superhero in real life, so I try not to give myself too big of expectations [laughs].

SPOILER: You get to work with these legends as well. Your mom and stepdad are played by Amy Smart and Luke Wilson.

BREC BASSINGER: I remember the first time I met Luke Wilson, I was so nervous. Legally Blonde was one of my favorite movies growing up. I remember when Geoff was hoping to get him, he said, “I couldn’t envision anyone else to play Pat.” So when we finally got the deal signed, I was over the moon. And then on set, I feel like I’ve learned so much from him. And Amy as well. She is just so humble and respectful and really just a beautiful artist, the way she balances her outside life and her artistry. I look up to both of them, not only as artists, but also as people.

SPOILER: What does it feel like playing this role model that everyone looks up to?

BREC BASSINGER: I love it. Even in my personal life, I’m a very goaloriented person and I like to help people achieve their goals. And I feel like Courtney has a lot of that, so I pull from my own life. But even me as Brec, I pull things from Courtney. The way she sees the best in people regardless of circumstances. In playing her, I feel like it’s a constant reminder to do that in my own life. And also, I have to give so much credit to Geoff. Even from the beginning, he sat me down and said, “Brec, you have a responsibility on our set to be a leader. Not only on the show, but for the other cast members.” And he helped guide me so much throughout this process.

SPOILER: For those who haven’t seen the series, what is the premise of Stargirl?

BREC BASSINGER: A teenage girl, Courtney Whitmore, gets picked up and moved from Los Angeles with her blended family. She gets a new stepdad and stepbrother and they move to Nebraska. And she stumbles upon the Cosmic Staff, and she learns about her stepdad’s history with the superhero group the JSA. And the Cosmic Staff hasn’t worked for anyone since Starman died, and it now works for her. So, she takes on the responsibility of becoming Stargirl. And she starts a new Justice Society of America, but with different kids from her school. Her stepdad has a giant robot, and he makes him her sidekick, which is a really fun dynamic [laughs]. But also, there’s this coming-of-age aspect from the high school and this beautiful heart from the family. And we go against super cool villains of course.

SPOILER: And I love how the series allows its heroes to fail and isn’t afraid to show their humanity.

BREC BASSINGER: Yeah, well, we’re all new superheroes; we are all rookies, especially in the first season. We don’t have teamwork skills, we barely know how to use our new powers, and we’re going up against a group of villains who have been doing this for years. So, I think it’s only reasonable that we get beat and have to learn. But I think it makes our wins that much more deserved and that much more fulfilling, even for the viewer. It’s a bigger payoff.

SPOILER: Do these scenes ever linger after they yell cut?

BREC BASSINGER: I think it depends on the scene. If it’s an emotional scene, it will stay with me for the rest of the day, because I feel like I have to put myself in a place both physically and mentally where it’s very difficult to snap out of it really quickly. The comedy scenes, which have made up most of my career up to this point, I just let them go with me. I think it’s fun once we get on a roll on set and we just keep that going once we’re off.

SPOILER: What are the most memorable scenes you filmed?

BREC BASSINGER: The first Stargirl versus Brainwave fight in season 1—it was my first time wearing the suit on the show! Also, season 1, episode 11, when I give my dad the necklace—it was such an emotional scene for Courtney’s story and really impacted her, and was also very memorable for me. And then season 2, episode 6, the fight against the Injustice Unlimited. That fight scene was by far the biggest we’ve ever had and there were so many fun and crazy moments while filming!

SPOILER: Do you ever feel like people confuse you in real life with your characters?

BREC BASSINGER: [laughs] I feel like most of the people who watch our show are old enough to understand the difference. But even on set, sometimes people will call me Courtney—no one ever calls me Stargirl—and I’ll just turn around [and respond]. I mean, it’s hard though. We have three names for almost every character: We have our real-life name, our character name, and our supername. And God bless our crew, because they have no luck [laughs]—there’s a lot against them.

SPOILER: Is there a piece of you in Courtney?

BREC BASSINGER: One hundred percent. Courtney and I have a lot of differences, but I feel we have even more similarities. My quirky sense of humor definitely sneaks through some. Also, our overall belief in good. I do believe people are good, and I feel that’s one of the things that makes Courtney, Courtney.

SPOILER: Have you been to a convention yet?

BREC BASSINGER: That was one of the things I was most excited about when I was cast as Stargirl. I was like, “I’m gonna get to meet people who watch the show and are fans and it’s gonna be so fun!” But since our show debuted at the beginning of the pandemic, I have not gotten to go to a convention yet. It breaks my heart. It’s actually a conversation I’ve had with my loved ones because it weighs heavily on me. I haven’t really gotten to meet very many people who watch Stargirl, so sometimes I’m like, “Do people actually watch it??”

SPOILER: They do!

BREC BASSINGER: [laughs] I know they do, but when we’re working 80 hours a week, I’m like, “Are people actually watching what we’re working hard on?” But I cannot wait for the day when I can finally go to one. From a writer’s perspective, the slow burners always have the best payoff and storyline, and I feel like that is my life with conventions right now. I’m just waiting and it’s such a slow burn for when I’m gonna go. And when I finally get to go to one, it’s just going to be that much more fulfilling.

SPOILER: What got you into acting originally?

BREC BASSINGER: I wanted to be an astronaut until I was about 6, and when I found out the moon wasn’t made of cheese, I didn’t wanna be an astronaut anymore. And at the time, I was in natural beauty pageants, and we had a talent portion, and I did ventriloquism. I did a little sketch with my puppets—I know this sounds really silly, but it’s the truth—and I just loved performing in front of people. So around six-yearsold, I told my mom, “I’m gonna be an actress.” And after that, anytime anyone would come up to me and ask what I wanted to be when I was older, I would say, “I don’t want to be anything. I’m going to be an actress.” And so finally my mom put me in an acting class when I was 10, and I took acting classes like crazy for three years. And when I was 13, I went out to LA for the very first time to test out the waters. I had gotten an agent who told me to go out for a week to see how it goes. And it went really, really well. So I went back for a month, and I ended up booking The Haunted Hathaways, which as a really strong recurring role that kept bringing me back to LA, which allowed me to continue auditioning. And then I booked other stuff and the rest is history!

SPOILER: Was it hard getting into this industry at only 13?

BREC BASSINGER: I was so excited! The hardest time I’ve had so far in my career was getting an agent. I could not get an agent to save my life. I was sending out my headshots every month to every Texas agent for probably two years. We would never hear back. And so I’d spend more money on more headshots. And I told my mom, “I don’t care if I’m the girl on the swings in the background, I just want to act!” I just loved acting so much and I just wanted to do it. So in LA, just getting an audition felt like a win.

SPOILER: What advice would you give to someone trying to get into this industry?

BREC BASSINGER: I always like to ask my fellow actors, “How did you get into acting?” And I find the main consistency among all of us is “acting class.” We were all working on our craft, training, being around fellow actors, and through that, you meet people, you learn, and that’s where I finally met my manager who’s still my manager today, who finally helped me get an agent, which is the reason I came out to LA.

SPOILER: Did you face a lot of rejection early on?

BREC BASSINGER: I would say I book probably only one out of every 100 auditions I go on. About two weeks before I got the audition for Stargirl, I had screen tested for an Amazon show, and it was between me and one other girl. And I just thought, “This is gonna be my career! I’m moving to New Zealand! It’s gonna be such a wonderful experience.” I loved the script and, I kid you not, it was the best audition I ever had. I went in and I went, “Okay, this is mine.” And I didn’t get it. And at that moment I thought, “Well, maybe acting isn’t my thing.” It was the first time I had ever put it into question because I was always so sure. But that one kind of just broke me. It hurt a lot. And then I got the audition for Stargirl two weeks later, and I wasn’t even super excited about it. I was just being a Debbie Downer, a little negative. That being said, the audition was very secretive. There were like, fake names and they didn’t tell you where it was going. So I was like, “Just another audition. I don’t know what t is is.” But I ended up going and doing it, even though I was like, “I’m probably not gonna get it anyway,” which is so unlike me. I’m annoyingly optimistic [laughs]. But good thing I went and persevered for those two weeks.

SPOILER: But the grind never stops, does it?

BREC BASSINGER: Oh yeah. Like the film I’m on right now, I auditioned for it, I chemistry tested, I screen read—it was a whole process. I will say I probably have more opportunities now, but I’m still very much having to grind.

SPOILER: How do you get yourself in the right mindset before an audition?

BREC BASSINGER: I get extremely nervous. I’m a very nervous person in general. So definitely some deep breaths to calm myself. I say a little prayer, and then I go and do it.

SPOILER: What is your favorite food?

BREC BASSINGER: Pizza… No, no, no, wait! Steak.

SPOILER: What is your perfect date?

BREC BASSINGER: “April 25th: not too hot, not too cold, all you need is a light jacket.” That’s a quote from Miss Congeniality [laughs]. But I’d say the perfect date is something adrenaline-filled. Like I’ve gone bungee jumping on a date. That was awesome!

SPOILER: If you could do anything right now, what would it be?

BREC BASSINGER: Take a walk along the beach.

SPOILER: Do you believe in ghosts or the paranormal?

BREC BASSINGER: Absolutely. My friend and I were messing around with this app that made recordings go backwards and we were saying “murder” to try to get it to say “redrum,” which is “murder” backwards. And it wasn’t working because the sound isn’t like the spelling, and so we just started making noises—and I was only 13 and was being so stupid. And at the very end of this recording, there was this whisper. And I kid you not, I still have the recording, and it just went, “Redrum, redrum.” And we looked at each other and we just started bawling. We were just terrified.

SPOILER: Do you like Halloween?

BREC BASSINGER: I love it. One of my favorite holidays.

SPOILER: If you could be on any show other than Stargirl, what would it be?

BREC BASSINGER: Peaky Blinders.

SPOILER: If you could have any superpower, what would it be?

BREC BASSINGER: I would want to be able to teleport. I value my time more than anything else and being able to skip traffic or travel would just be awesome!

SPOILER: If you could be Stargirl in real life, would you do it?

BREC BASSINGER: Absolutely! I want a Cosmic Staff!

SPOILER: Did you learn anything new while working on the series that you can use in a practical situation?

BREC BASSINGER: Weird answer, but I have learned how to better care for my curls. They wanted Courtney to rock my natural curls, and our hair department has taught me so much about how to care and emphasize naturally curly hair.

SPOILER: Do you rather play the hero or the villain?

BREC BASSINGER: Funny enough, I’ve always wanted to play a villain! Most of my career I have played the “girl next door” or “team leader,” and I think it would be so fun and really push me in my craft to play a villain.

SPOILER: Do you think social media has helped the superhero genre?

BREC BASSINGER: Most definitely. Social media has given a way for comic book fans to connect. It’s like a giant comic book club!

SPOILER: If you were in a zombie apocalypse, what would your weapon of choice be?

BREC BASSINGER: A cast iron skillet. I’m gonna have a Tangled moment.

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