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Growing Up: Exclusive Video Interview with Directors and Heroes

Check out more of our video interviews on our YouTube channel.

In the ever-changing social environment in contemporary society, it’s more important than ever for young people from all racial and economic groups and sexual orientations to be given a public platform to share their very different experiences. Disney+’s new innovative hybrid docu-series, Growing Up, gives 11 young people, who are referred to as heroes, such a platform to share the struggles they’ve endured and subsequently overcome throughout their lives to finally find happiness.

Brie Larson served as an executive producer on the show, which she also created with Culture House. The Captain Marvel star also directed the episode that highlights the lives of two heroes, Clare Della Valle and Isabel Lam.

Behind the camera, the Oscar-winning actress was joined by fellow  executive producer, Nicole Galovski, who also served as the project’s showrunner.

Larson and Galovski were also joined by diverse filmmakers who all helmed their own episode of Growing Up. Ashley Eakin directed the episode chronicling hero Emily Flores’ life. Kishori Rajan helmed the episode telling the story of hero Alex Crotty’s life. Smriti Mundhra directed the episode following the life of hero Athena Nai’s life.

The episode narrating hero Vanessa Aryee’s life was helmed by Ekwa Msangi. Hero Amiri Nash’s life was showcased on the episode directed by Elegance Bratton. The episode recounting hero David Puma’s life was helmed by Rudy Valdez.

Interview with Ashley Eakin, Gavin Arneson, Kishori Rajan, Nicole Galovski and Smiriti Munhra

Galovski, Rajan, Mundhra, Eakin, Msangi, Bratton, Nash, Aryee, Valdez and hero Gavin Arneson generously took the time recently to talk about directing, producing and appearing on Growing Up during exclusive group interviews over Zoom. You can watch the videos here, and read below for an official summary and where to watch the series.

Growing Up explores the challenges, triumphs and complexities of adolescence through ten compelling coming-of-age stories. The show uses narrative, experimental and documentary filmmaking to follow one casted individual, who’s between the ages 18-22 and referred to as a “heroes,” as they tell their story.

The heroes represent a wide range of lived experiences that give audiences emotionally powerful narratives. Each story offers an engaging look at teenage-hood and the diverse social, familial and internal obstacles young people face on their path to self-discovery and acceptance.

Each 30-minute episode features one hero and their experience growing up. Each episode is anchored by a deeply personal interview that allows the heroes to discuss their childhood and teenage years. Alongside these interviews, creative cinematic reenactments help bring their major inflection points to life.

Growing Up is set to premiere this Thursday, September 8 only on Disney+.

Check out more of Karen Benardello’s articles.

Karen Benardello
Karen Benardello
As a life-long fan of films and television shows, and an endless passion for writing, Karen Benardello decided to combine the two for a career. She graduated from New York's LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic in 2008. Karen has since been working in the press in New York City, including interviewing film and television casts and crews, writing movie and television news articles and reviewing films and televisions series. Some of her highlights include attending such local events as the Tribeca Film Festival, the New York Film Festival and New York Comic-Con, as well as traveling across North America to attend such festivals as the Sundance Film Festival, SXSW and the Toronto International Film Festival. She has been a member of the Women Film Critics Circle since 2012, and the New York Film Critics Online since 2019.


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