Usually by mid-June I’m blockbuster-ed out. Aliens attack the White House? Been there. Beam me up, Scotty? Done that. More than meets the eye? Got the toy.
I’m ready for a movie that’s light on the Autobots and Decepticons and heavy on the laughs with my friends and family. Which is why Imagine That is a perfect summer movie for me. In Imagine That, Eddie Murphy plays a successful executive who makes more time for his job than his 7-year-old daughter, Olivia. When his job starts a downward spiral, however, he finds answers in a place he never thought he would — Olivia’s imaginary world!
In keeping with The Splot’s tradition of bringing you first-hand entertainment info, we’ve got an exclusive interview Yara Shahidi, who plays Olivia:
In the movie, your character, Olivia, has imaginary friends and she’s really attached to her blanket. Have you ever had imaginary friends? Do you have a security blanket?
Yara: Well, I have a security blanket, but it’s not for security. It’s more like remembering, kind of. And I don’t have any imaginary friends, but I do have my brothers. One’s 6 and one’s about to turn 1. When we have enough time, we’ll build these houses out of Legos. And we pretend to be neighbors.
This was your first movie?
Yara: Yes, it is. It was really exciting. I thought of it as a long, fun commercial, because I’m a commercial actress too and I work with my mom a lot. And everybody was really nice on set.
In the movie, you sing a song: “All You Need Is Love” by the Beatles. Did you know that song?
Yara: No, I had not heard the song, but during the auditions when I figured out I needed to sing it, we listened to a ton of Beatles songs and now I love the Beatles!
What was it like to work with Eddie Murphy?
Yara: He was really nice and really funny. He gave me two movies. One was Oliver and one was the Beatles’ Yellow Submarine.
Your character goes to an imaginary magical kingdom. What kind of kingdom would you like to escape to and what would you call it?
Yara: Well, the kingdom I’d like to escape to — I’d like it to have a ton of old castles like they did in ancient Rome and a ton of art, from Leonardo Da Vinci or Michaelangelo or Raphael. And it should have at least three beaches.
Do you have a favorite time in history?
Yara: Renaissance. You can learn about things from the past that helped us in our life or something that expressed someone’s feelings.
Are you an artist yourself?
Yara: I’ll paint. And draw. A lot. And I’m into making inventions. I was making this eco-friendly [invention]. It helps the air filter and become cleaner. You put a bunch of clean water and filtered water into this tube, and it heats it up and it turns into evaporation so then there’s more clean air.
If you would recommend three books to a friend, what books would you recommend?
Yara: My favorite book now would be Greek Myths. So, Greek Myths, Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, and War Comes to Willie.
What do you like to do for fun?
Yara: Build Lego houses, go to museums.
What grade are you in now?
Yara: I’m in fourth grade, except fifth grade math.
Do you like math?
Yara: It’s my second favorite subject.
What’s your first?
What do you like about math?
Yara: It comes into use in everyday life. Like there’s the make-your-own sandwich at this one café and I multiply how many different sandwich combinations you could have and it came up like 3,510. Something crazy like that.
Is there any place you haven’t been that you really would like to go?
Yara: Greece. I want to see the Parthenon and all the places where people would worship the gods, because I’m really into Greek myths, so I really want to see Athena’s temple.
What kind of things would you suggest kids do to help their neighbors, to help other people in the country?
Yara: Well, I would suggest donating, because every year we donate at least two or three times a year. Every Christmas, our gift is we choose a place to donate to and our whole family — we donate in their names. And we donated to Water for People, which filters all the water, makes sure people have enough water and clean water, and we donated it to Zambia.
And there you have it — straight from young Hollywood to you!
Are you going to see this sweet little gem of a movie? Let me know what you think, and if you’ve seen any other cool summer movies.
— Ratha, STACKS Writer
Photos © Bruce McBroom/PARAMOUNT PICTURES CORPORATION. All Rights Reserved.