News

History of Music

TFK talks to actress China Anne McClain about an upcoming musical episode of A.N.T. Farm for Black History Month

January 07, 2013
ADAM LARKEY—DISNEY CHANNEL

China Parks (played by China Anne McClain) transforms into soul singer Aretha Franklin during a dream in an upcoming episode of Disney Channel's A.N.T. Farm.

Have you ever put extra pressure on yourself to do well on a school project? That’s what happens to young prodigy Chyna Parks in an upcoming episode of Disney Channel’s A.N.T. Farm. Chyna, played by 14-year-old actress China Anne McClain, and the A.N.T.s (Advanced Natural Talents) are assigned a special project for Black History Month. Chyna struggles to write a song for her presentation, until a special dream inspires her to write a new take on the A.N.T. Farm theme song, “Exceptional.” TFK spoke to China about the episode, which premieres on Disney Channel on February 1 at 8 p.m. Eastern Time—just in time for Black History Month.

China gives a music-themed Black History Month presentation during an upcoming episode of A.N.T. Farm, airing February 1 on Disney Channel.

ADAM LARKEY—DISNEY CHANNEL
Chyna gives a music-themed Black History Month presentation during an upcoming episode of A.N.T. Farm, airing February 1 on Disney Channel.

TFK:

There's an upcoming episode of A.N.T. Farm about Black History Month. What is your character Chyna up to in the episode?

CHINA ANNE MCCLAIN:

My character has to put together this presentation for Black History Month, and she's struggling because she's trying to [write] a song that really incorporates black music and black artists. She's really struggling with how [to] fit all of this stuff into a minute-long song. So when she goes into her studio, trying to come up with ideas, she falls into this [dream] world, where she actually becomes people like [jazz singer] Ella Fitzgerald, [pop singer] Janet Jackson and [soul singer] Aretha Franklin. It was really amazing for me personally because I really do love these women a lot. I studied for it. This is a really big episode for me.

TFK:

Your character is inspired by her musical influences to write a song for Black History Month. Which African American inspires you most in music, and why?

CHINA:

I actually really love Beyoncé. I just think that she's amazing. She's a great performer, and she really inspires me and my two sisters. [China and her sisters perform together in a musical group called the McClain Sisters.]

TFK:

What was your favorite part of filming this episode?

CHINA:

I think my favorite part of this episode was all of the costumes. [Dressing up as] Janet Jackson was awesome. I got to try to do some new things. I had to scat [a style of jazz singing] in the episode because of Ella Fitzgerald. That was really fun. I got to try a lot of stuff that I had never done before.

TFK:

How did it feel to record a new version of the show’s theme song?

CHINA:

That was actually really cool because it was a song that I already knew and was used to hearing, so to get to record it again and for it to have this really cool twist on it was really fun.

TFK:

Your sisters were guest stars on a recent episode of A.N.T. Farm. What was it like to have your sisters on set with you while filming the episode?

Actress China Ann McClain (center) performs with her real-life sisters Sierra and Lauryn McClain during an episode of A.N.T. Farm.

RANDY HOLMES—DISNEY CHANNEL
Actress China Ann McClain (center) performs with her real-life sisters Sierra and Lauryn McClain during an episode of A.N.T. Farm.

CHINA:

That was really fun. We are all really goofy and kind of crazy, so when they came to set it was insane. The whole two weeks that they were here, everyone [on set] loved them so much. I loved having them around to run lines with me. I got to show them around the whole set, and they really took a walk in my shoes for two weeks, so it was really fun.

TFK:

We are talking about inspirations, so what about your sisters inspires you?

CHINA:

In general, I think they are just good people. No matter what I'm doing, even if I'm about to do something that makes me really nervous, like perform or do something that I haven't done before, then they'll always cheer me on. They'll always make me feel better about it, so I love them for that. They've always been really supportive of me. My sister Lauryn is an amazing guitar player, and my sister Sierra is an amazing songwriter, so I really just learn from them.

TFK:

What else is coming up on A.N.T. Farm?

CHINA:

We actually move to a new school, so we are at this boarding school for prodigies now. There is a lot of stuff that the A.N.T.s have to get used to at this new school, being away from their families and everything. So it's going to be really different than the first two seasons, but I think everyone is really going to love it.

TFK:

What do you like most about your character?

CHINA:

I love that she's really spunky and not afraid to say whatever is on her mind. She's not afraid to try new things.

TFK:

What other projects are you working on?

CHINA:

We [the McClain Sisters] are working on our album right now, and that's been really fun. We are actually finishing it up, so it should be out sometime next year. I just shot Grown Ups 2 this year, so that was a lot of fun and that should be coming out sometime in the summer. I play Chris Rock's daughter. Other than that, more episodes of A.N.T. Farm!


Current subscribers log in/register for timeforkids.com 

Registered Users Log In

 
 
Forgot Password?
Register Now for FREE
Subscriber Benefits
Do it now to get all this:
  • Access to Interactive Digital Editions
  • Online Archives of Past Lessons & Teachers' Guides
  • Interactive Teacher Community
Website Login Page