Looks like actor Sofia Wylie has found a unique and safe way to get into the holiday spirit this year with a solo dance party in the desert.
The 16-year-old star of “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” gave HuffPost a sneak peek at her performance from the show’s forthcoming holiday special via the above clip. In it, the Arizona native croons a sterling version of Donny Hathaway’s 1970 classic, “This Christmas (Hang All the Mistletoe),” while showcasing her fancy footwork amid some festively decorated cacti.
“I’ve never really had white Christmases with all the snow, so seeing a cactus decorated in lights and decorations, I was like, ‘OK, yeah, this is so normal,’” Wylie, who grew up in Scottsdale and spent much of 2020 hunkered down in her home state, told HuffPost. “The holiday special is so lighthearted, so much fun and just a really wonderful Christmas dream. I think it will allow people to take a break and have a smile because this year has definitely been a lot.”
Debuting on the Disney+ streaming service next month, “High School Musical: The Musical: The Holiday Special” is a celebratory affair, featuring 11 Christmas classics and two original songs performed by Wylie and her castmates. Still, the special is a bit of a consolation prize, given that production on the second season of “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” was delayed due to the COVID-19 crisis.
By comparison, the 45-minute holiday special is comprised of musical segments featuring one or two cast members and shot with a minimal crew. In addition to Wylie’s performance, highlights include Joshua Bassett and Matt Cornett’s rendition of the Beach Boys’ “Little St. Nick,” and an emotional take on Joni Mitchell’s “River,” sung by Olivia Rodrigo. Actors Frankie A. Rodriguez and Joe Serafini, who play a gay teen couple on the show, give a “Feliz Navidad” a fresh, modern shine.
After wrapping the holiday special, Wylie and the rest of the “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” crew were able to return to the show’s Utah set where they are at work on Season 2, which has a plotline centered on the student production of Disney’s “Beauty and the Beast.” Though the actor is tight-lipped on specifics, she promises “new dynamics” for her character, transfer student Gina Porter, when she returns to East High next season.
“Last season, Gina was definitely trying to find her place,” she said. “And, of course, she was on the outs. And so this season she’s coming into her own and figuring out where her place is in this Wildcat world.”
Prior to joining “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” last year, Wylie appeared on the Disney Channel Series “Andi Mack” for three seasons. Both shows have received praise for their diverse casts, which include Black, Asian and LGBTQ actors and characters.
The significance of that isn’t lost on Wylie, who said she “wasn’t able to see many people who resembled what I looked like, or what I felt inside” in television or film prior to her Hollywood breakout.
“Being able to be on the other side of that now, and being that representation for other young girls with big curly hair and brown skin, is really important to me,” she said. “I hope I can do justice for anyone out there who feels represented by me, not just young girls. And I feel like the rest of the cast are all such amazing role models. We are very blessed to be in a position where we can represent people, and I don’t think we take that responsibility lightly.”
Listen to Sofia Wylie’s “This Christmas (Hang All the Mistletoe)” below.
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