For 15-year-old actress Aria Brooks, playing Libby in the Disney+ film "Better Nate Than Ever” was like being with a good friend. “I think Libby and I are similar in a lot of ways,” said the teen, who resides in Atlanta with her family. “We stand for a lot of the same things, like feminism and Black power. Libby and I have very similar energy because we're always the life of the party. We also have a lot of self-confidence. I feel like my self-confidence developed more after playing Libby.” Yes, but does Brooks like her fictional character enough to want to travel with someone like her? “Libby would definitely make a great travel companion,” she said. “She brings the fun with her wherever she goes.”
Q: What intel can you share about your latest Disney+ series, "High School Musical: The Musical: The Series"?
A: This season is going to be so much fun! It takes place at a California summer camp and this year’s production is “Frozen.” There are a lot of new faces and I’m honored to play Alex, an eighth-grade camper at Camp Shallow Lake.
Q: Do you film mostly on a set or on location?
A: For “Better Nate Than Ever,” there were so many scenes that were shot on location. We got to film at the New Amsterdam Theatre, the American Museum of Natural History and even in the middle of Times Square. This was a super fun experience because I got to explore these places when we weren't shooting. It was incredible to do what I love while also seeing so many amazing places in New York.
Q: Do you have any plans for the summer?
A: Most summers, my family and I go to Virginia to visit my dad's side of the family, so it’s likely we will do that this year. My little sister's birthday is around that time too, so we'll definitely do something fun to celebrate her. It is difficult to plan that far in advance because my schedule is constantly changing.
Q: If you had to cancel travel plans with your family due to the pandemic, where were they to?
A: In 2020, one of my goals for the year was to plan a vacation for my family. I wanted to take my family on a Disney Cruise because I've wanted to go on one since I was nine years old. I wanted to take them on a cruise to the Caribbean, but the pandemic hit and messed up those plans. I'd still like to go some day.
Q: What was the first trip you took that you remember? And did you love it ... or not so much?
A: The first trip I have memory of was when my family went to Florida for my sister's birthday. We went to Disney World and the Crayola Experience in Orlando. I absolutely loved it and cannot wait to go back. Disney World is one of my favorite places to go because it has something for everyone, and it is an amazing overall experience. That was my first time at the Crayola Experience, and it was really fun.
Q: What are your five favorite cities?
A: Orlando, New York City, Hollywood, Malibu and Atlanta. Orlando is so fun to me because of Disney World. New York City and Hollywood are busy and historical cities, that I love to visit. I find something new every time I go. I've only been to Malibu once, but I loved the weather, the beach and the views. Lastly, Atlanta will always be home for me, no matter how much I travel.
Q: Where would you like to go that you have never been to before?
A: Paris someday. There are so many sights and experiences that interest me. My main reason for wanting to go to Paris is for the food. I really want to try French cuisine and desserts straight from France.
Q: When you go away, what are some of your must-have items?
A: I definitely need my phone and my charger. My AirPods as a must have. I am always listening to music or watching something. My skin-care products are also a necessity because I need to properly clean my face twice a day. It is relaxing and comforting to do my skincare routine at the end of a long day.
Q: What would be your dream trip?
A: (It’s) still a Disney Cruise. I've been wanting to go on one for six years. I’ve had my eye on the seven-night Western Caribbean Cruises. It would go to Mexico, Grand Cayman, Jamaica and Castaway Cay (Disney's private island in the Bahamas).
Q: What is your guilty pleasure when you're on the road?
A: Nutella. I love Nutella so much. I could put it on everything and enjoy it. I eat it on fruit, pretzels, toast, waffles and even by the spoonful. I could eat an entire jar if someone didn't stop me.
(Jae-Ha Kim is a New York Times bestselling author and travel writer. You can respond to this column by visiting her website at www.jaehakim.com. You may also follow “Go Away With…” on Twitter at @GoAwayWithJae where Jae-Ha Kim welcomes your questions and comments.)
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