Interview: ‘The Quest’ On Disney Plus Presents A New Prince With Elliott Ross

By: Amanda Guarragi

The Quest on Disney Plus offers fans of the Fantasy genre to dive into the world itself. It is a ground-breaking immersive competition series that drops eight young people into the fantastic, fictional world of Everealm, where they must save a Kingdom by fulfilling an ancient prophecy. Audiences have fallen in love with the fantasy genre because it is the truest form of escapism. When playing video games, reading a book, or watching a series, any fantasy world that is created can become a haven for so many. Disney has made a show for teenagers to believe in their power within to become a warrior on their terms. 

When Elliott Ross came across The Quest it was one project that he wanted to work on. As someone who is a diehard Lord of the Rings fan, he needed to be part of a fantasy television series. Ross plays Prince Cedric in the series and lights up the screen in every scene he is in. He has been honing his craft for over 12 years in London, until recently when he relocated to LA. He has a strong theatrical background, having worked at The RSC, Shakespeare’s Globe and on London’s West End. Ross has been passionate about studying his craft and exploring every avenue in the acting industry, “I think I just felt like the work didn’t feel like work, and I enjoyed being consumed by it.” Sometimes work is more of a calling and that’s what it feels like for Ross. 

This series presents a new concept that allows fans of the fantasy genre to be more interactive with it. It fuses the fantastical realm of Everealm with regular teenagers who have always wanted to be part of that world. To be able to add the twist of a competition show, while structuring a narrative that fits the fantasy genre on top of that is impressive. Disney Plus has been able to construct new, interesting concepts that can have fans of any genre come together to work on something different. Ross loves the fantasy genre and when he found out that he was working with producer Mark Ordesky (Lord of the Rings), it was a dream come true,

“I was riding through the forest during a night shoot and I just kind of, I just took the moment in. I looked at the forest and I looked at the armor I was wearing and it looked like I was in Lord of the Rings. And I was like dude, this is my dream. I’m living my dream.”

– Elliott Ross, The Quest

It has been known that Disney always makes dreams come true for so many children all over the world. But little do people know, that actors who make-believe for a living also get the chance to fulfill their dreams in the projects they produce. Even though Ross plays a Prince in The Quest, he carries the same poise and kindness in his own life. When talking about his future and how he wants to grow his platform, he wants to share his resources to help others. He has had a passion for writing and in his next step, he is currently developing a TV comedy series script that explores modern patriarchal masculinity. Ross wants to use his platform to have an open discussion with his fans and others who have struggled with the process. He wants to be able to touch upon all of the sensitive topics while having a respectful dialogue in his series. 

Courtesy of Disney Plus

Ross has been able to explore every avenue of this industry and he has gained some wisdom as he creates this pathway for himself. After going through many projects and auditions, he has some advice for upcoming actors trying to make their way in the industry,

“I would say to young actors is it’s to not worry so much about the conventional way, because it doesn’t happen for everyone. It’s not easy to get into drama school and it’s, you know, not everyone gets to audition for all the projects. You have to make your own path through it. And I think with that in mind, it’s very important that young actors don’t get carried away in focusing on the big dreams. So my main piece of advice is focus on what is in front of you and focus on the next step.”

– Elliott Ross, The Quest

By creating your own path in life and not comparing yourself to others, you will be more fulfilled. Social media has also affected everyone’s mental health and motivation because of this constant comparison to other people. Ross believes that if you take it one step at a time and focus on what’s in front of you, you will be able to achieve anything. More importantly, you must surround yourself with people who will uplift you and support you while you navigate your life. Similar to the series The Quest, even though you’re in healthy competition with others, they’re all in the same boat trying to reach the same goal, but everyone is different. Ross has been working on his craft for some time now and his hard work has paid off because he now has a platform to help others.

All eight episodes of The Quest are available now on Disney Plus

‘Senior Year’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

There are many people out there who would love to go back to high school – with the knowledge they have now – and do things a bit differently. Depending on which clique you were part of in high school, everyone has their own experience. As long as you had a great group of friends around you, high school wasn’t so bad. One thing is for sure, that no matter when you went to high school, the popularity contest was still prevalent. Even watching a movie like Senior Year makes you reminisce about the fun times and also the times when you would cringe because of how awkward certain situations were. Everyone had a different high school experience and everyone can relate to a film like this.

After a cheerleading stunt went wrong, Stephanie (Rebel Wilson) landed in a 20-year coma. Now she’s 37, newly awake and ready to live out her high school dream: becoming prom queen. It does feel a bit generic as far as older people returning to high school to fulfill their dream, but Rebel Wilson is back. Here’s the issue with Senior Year, if you are a fan of Rebel Wilson’s humour then you really will enjoy this, but it feels like this type of humour is outdated. When Wilson first stepped onto the big screen in Pitch Perfect that awkward humour was funny, but there are only so many films that you can place it in. Wilson grasps at straws because the jokes just didn’t land and her character was more irritating than anything.

The one good thing about Senior Year is the social commentary surrounding social media, cliques, and how technology consumes teenagers. There is one thing that Stephanie said in the film that rings true, that the popularity contest that used to be in high school just expanded into the virtual world of social media. Everyone is worried about comparing themselves to other people and social media has made people doubt the nature of their true selves. It’s difficult to be on social media at any age, but now teenagers are growing up with it. It can harm one’s self-esteem and personal image. Sometimes, people can even lose themselves to the pressure of an online persona.

Is Senior Year as deep as it could have been regarding the social commentary on social media and popularity? No, but it does give you that nostalgic 90s feeling while watching the movie. It’s a fun watch just to feel like you’re back in that high school state of mind, but it doesn’t deliver on the laughs. Sam Richardson is also in this and he is just a charming ray of light that saves certain scenes in this movie. If you want to see Rebel Wilson back in action, then this is the movie for you this weekend. It’s light, fun, and does warm the heart. It brings all the awkwardness of high school back again and you may suffer from secondhand embarrassment. There are some decent emotional moments, but ultimately it just doesn’t stick the landing as a whole.

‘The Lincoln Lawyer’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Legal dramas are always entertaining to watch, just as long as the story is engaging. Whether it’s a television series or a movie, the storyline has to be interesting enough to keep the audience invested. The Lincoln Lawyer offers a bit of everything in regards to a strong, fun, engaging legal drama series for Netflix. The series movies pretty fast and allows for multiple storylines to be used effectively throughout. Surprisingly, having smaller trials in the first half and then diving into the bigger trial in the last half worked. Viewers get to know Mickey Haller (Manuel Garcia-Rulfo) through those smaller trials and then root for him in each episode.

When we meet Haller, he is an iconoclastic idealist, who runs his law practice out of the back seat of his Lincoln Town Car. He takes on cases big and small across the expansive city of Los Angeles. It is based on the series of bestselling novels by renowned author Michael Connelly and this first season is based on the second book in “The Lincoln Lawyer” series, “The Brass Verdict”. What’s so interesting about Haller is that he has a past of his own that he tries to work through in the first half of this season. He wants to get back on his game and rise to the top like he used to be. We see him overcome his trauma and rebuild relationships in his life, while he gets his practice back together.

In the first half of this season, Garcia-Rulfo is a bit stiff and doesn’t really do much as Haller. It takes a bit to warm up to him and by the time you do the season is over. He is good in the role of Haller, but something still feels off and it’s hard to put a finger on it. Once we see Garcia-Rulfo in the courtroom his energy changes which does help his performance a bit. The supporting characters, especially the women, Maggie McPherson (Neve Campbell) and Lorna (Becki Newton) made each episode even better. Even though Maggie is in the middle of her own case, separate from Haller, their shared past gives the storyline a bit of an edge. Then Lorna, who is Haller’s ex-wife and is working with him, adds some humour to the show.

The Lincoln Lawyer is your generic legal drama with a solid cast to bring this all together. The storyline is the most important thing and it draws the viewer in. It’s intricate and the character relationships add so much to Haller as a character. It is funny at times just because of the way Garcia-Rulfo delivers his lines, especially in the courtroom. There are some emotional moments as Haller dives deeper into the case he’s working on. Even though the show has many moving parts, the episodes feel cohesive and not overstuffed with legal drama that viewers won’t be able to understand. It’s very surface level for Netflix viewers so that they can understand the layers of this character and the trial.

‘Our Father’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

There are documentaries that have highlighted many different stories, some of them have been slightly altered, and others have been true stories. The ones that turn out to be true stories will most likely leave viewers a bit shaken because of the possibility that there are people like Dr. Donald Cline in Our Father that actually exists. It is an interesting expose because of the current conversation surrounding women’s rights in the United States. Director Lucie Jordan addresses the meaning of consent and the many ways that consent can be violated without anyone realizing it. This story is disturbing and emotional for those involved in this case.

The true story is about one woman whose at-home DNA test reveals multiple half-siblings. She then discovers a shocking scheme involving donor sperm and the popular and controversial fertility specialist Doctor Donald Cline. Besides the fact that they show the extensive relation to multiple people within the same grid, the viewer feels the same sense of dread while watching all of this unfold. Instead of imagining this situation happening to you, you’re re-living it with the victims through this documentary. It’s a difficult watch because it is a Doctor breaking consent and administering his specimen in place of the woman’s actual choice. We see these women who have struggled to even admit that they were violated by a medical professional in a female-based field where it’s necessary to understand women’s bodies.

To see these women break their silence and carry so much pain with them is heartbreaking to see. Their children have a different biological father and we see how the children process their history with the father who raised them. After all this time, finding out that the man you grew up with and idolized for so many tears isn’t your biological father is a horrible feeling. There is a wide range of emotions when watching this documentary because of how each family processes this information. It’s so unethical and inhumane for a doctor to even switch out the semen for his own. Was the benefit to keep your practice afloat, to rise to fame as the one medical clinic that has a guarantee of women being pregnant so they can finally have a child?

Many questions will swirl around in your head while watching Our Father. Women should have the right to know exactly what is happening with their bodies at all times and have full control of their bodies. Is it even safe to have men in the medical field practicing these procedures on women after finding this out? Women feel much safer when discussing anything about the female reproductive system with other women. More women need to be in the medical field, so situations such as this one never occur again. This documentary is not for everyone, but it is so important for everyone to watch given the current state of women’s rights.

‘Sneakerella’ Review

By: Amanda Guarragi

Everyone believes in something, and some people truly believe in fairytales. What Disney has taught young children everywhere is that if you do have a dream, you should always push forward and fight for what you want most. It’s not about the kingdom, or winning the affection of a prince or princess, it has always been about achieving your own personal goals, no matter what they may be. Of course, life comes with many obstacles that one must overcome, but those obstacles just make you stronger in the end. It’s nice to know that Disney will continue reworking these old fairytales to modernize them for a new generation. That way there’s always an appreciation for these wholesome, heartfelt stories.

In Sneakerella, we meet El (Chosen Jacobs), who is an aspiring sneaker designer from Queens. He works as a stock boy in the shoe store that once belonged to his late mother. He hides his artistic talent from his overburdened stepfather and two mean-spirited stepbrothers. When El meets Kira King (Lexi Underwood), the daughter of the legendary basketball star and sneaker tycoon Darius King (John Salley), sparks fly as the two of them bond over their mutual affinity for sneakers. With a little nudge from his best friend Sami (Devyn Nekoda) and a sprinkle of Fairy Godfather magic, El finds the courage to use his talent to pursue his dream of becoming a ‘legit’ sneaker designer in the industry.

The film caters to the talents of Chosen Jacobs, who will easily become a young Disney star. His voice, acting abilities, and great dance moves made him shine in every scene. Even though this film is reworked from the original story and slightly altered like A Cinderella Story was, it still felt original. It felt like a modern-day story that works in favour of new-age technology to get the classic story to work. The use of social media worked for the most part, but like any millennial, we know it’s easy to find someone by searching for them in every possible way, by using keywords. It worked and it didn’t, but it was still fun to watch. Jacobs and Underwood had really sweet chemistry, which made their duets adorable to watch.

Sneakerella had some strong moments because of the beautiful lyrics in the songs that were written specifically for this film. Even though the story of Cinderella has been remade over and over again, it was nice to see this modern take for a new generation. The link to El’s past with his mother being the heart of their neighbourhood carried emotional weight throughout the film. He just wanted to pursue his dream of making sneakers to make his mom proud and carry on her legacy in his way. It is heartfelt and sweet, even though the film does drag a bit in the last half. Some of the schemes went on for too long making the ending feel like a bit of a drag. The music and choreography are what make this film enjoyable and, of course, the performance from Chosen Jacobs.

Sneakerella premieres on Disney Plus on May 13th.