Sadie Stanley: Call Her, Beep Her, If You Want To Reach Her
There's no easy way to define a generation (trust us, because we've really tried with millennials), but who wants to do that anyway? Rather than trying to put a whole cohort of people born within the same 15-year span into some kind of box, let's just celebrate them, in all their distinctiveness.
More specifically, let's celebrate Gen Z, a generation who refuse any attempts to be seen en masse, and instead can best be understood through their individuality, their unique hopes and dreams, desires and demands. They are idealistic and unafraid, motivated and headstrong; they are icons and iconoclasts, and they make us excited for the future.
Last year, we took a look at 25 Gen Z'ers changing the world, a group that included activists, musicians, and actors. This year, we narrowed our focus to Hollywood, and are excited to share with you five young actors who are all primed to be the next big thing. Get to know them, below, and get ready to see them everywhere, soon.
It would take someone super level-headed to stay calm once they knew they'd be starring in a much-anticipated reboot for Disney. But for Sadie Stanley, aka the new Kim Possible, it wasn't much of a problem—she'd been too young to watch the show when it first aired. Still, though, as Stanley recently told me, the new Kim Possible film was more than just the perfect first audition: "I knew exactly what it was when I heard about the project, so I knew how important it was, and how iconic the character is."
But while Stanley knew the role was a potential launching pad for her career, she didn't realize just how much she would relate to the character she'd soon inhabit. "Kim and I are both very ambitious. We both like a lot on our plate, sometimes to a fault," Stanley told me. "She's so multidimensional—so strong and powerful, but she's also flawed."
It's hard to see Stanley's flaws, but it's easy to see that she's got real determination—even if it is hiding under a sweet, bubbly exterior. But it takes real drive to get to where Stanley is now, especially at such a young age. After all, it wasn't so long ago that the 17-year-old was just a kid in South Carolina, doing local theater. But Stanley knew she could be more and begged her mom to fly "out to L.A. for the first time just to see what would happen." And now, she's sitting atop a Disney franchise—not too bad.
But perhaps the most exciting thing about Stanley's career is how much is still unknown. She's ready to jump at the next opportunity but doesn't have it all planned out. Stanley says she hasn't "really fully grasped" what she's looking for in her next role, but knows she wants the chance to "fall in love" with her characters and with their "idiosyncrasies," and bring them to life on screen.
Until then, though, Stanley is heeding the words of her Kim Possible director, Adam Stein, who gave her a note on their final day of filming. "I read it all the time," she tells me, "One thing he said was, 'Stay grounded, and stay humble, but never stop believing in yourself.'... Coming from him, that meant a lot."
Stanley has no shortage of people who believe in her, and she says that's what she reminds herself of when she looks back and thinks, " Wow, how did I get where I am?" She knows "it was all about the right timing, it was just the right role for me; I was just what they were looking for; it was the right combination of hard work and opportunity," and so is determined to keep moving forward. She's also pretty open about believing in a higher power, saying: "God has his plan for me. It is weird to think that all of it happened so quickly, but I'm just so grateful for every second of it, and I'm never going to take that for granted."
"It is weird to think that all of it happened so quickly, but I'm just so grateful for every second of it, and I'm never going to take that for granted."
What strikes me most is that while Stanley speaks with the assured confidence of someone who got their dream gig on their first try, there is an uncanniness to everything she says—though I guess that's representative of her generation, which is well aware that everything they say is on the record. So whereas many teens would be word-vomiting when given the chance to speak about their hopes and dreams, and give their thoughts on pop culture, and on their friends and family, Stanley chose her words wisely, apologizing to me for being "all over the place" after giving a carefully thought-out answer—with perfect grammar to boot—about what she's learned, and would impart to other young women in her generation who want to pursue their dreams.
"This career is incredibly difficult," she tells me, acknowledging it's not for the faint-hearted, despite how easy she may make it look. "I didn't realize before going into it. There is so much living in limbo, and so much rejection; so much constant uncertainty, so it can really take a toll. But if you love acting and you love what you do, you want to learn more about it, you want to prove yourself because you're the most passionate about it as you can possibly be, then all of that other stuff just gets pushed to the side."
Director: Dani Okon
Co-Producers: Charlotte Prager & Alexandra Hsie
Production Manager: Alison Yardley