Magazine article Variety

Brooklynn Prince & Valeria Cotto & Christopher Rivera: 'The Florida Project'

Magazine article Variety

Brooklynn Prince & Valeria Cotto & Christopher Rivera: 'The Florida Project'

Article excerpt

BROOKLYNN prince, Valeria Cotto and Christopher Rivera, the three child stars of Sean Baker's "The Florida Project," stopped by the Variety offices to discuss the poignant coming-of-age drama set in a welfare motel outside Disney World. In the film, Prince plays Moonee, a precocious 6-year-old left to her own devices while her spirited mom struggles to make ends meet, and Cotto and Rivera are her two best friends. Over the course of one summer, this ragtag trio embarks on a series of mischievous adventures, winning over the hearts of everyone on their path, including the motel's craggy manager, played by Willem Dafoe.

How did you all get cast in this film?

Valeria Cotto: Can I tell you the story? Once upon a time, there lived my mom, my uncle, myself and my siblings. We were walking around a Target store, and Sean [Baker] approached us. And he gave us this business card that had his two dogs on it, but on the other side it had his name and his email. He said, "Call me if you want to audition." I really wanted to act, because I watch TV a whole lot, so when I heard I could probably be in a movie, I was like, "This is my chance!" So when we went home my mom said, "Do you want to do this?" And I said, 'Absolutely!" And I go to audition, and the first day I meet these two kids [points to Brooklynn and Christopher] and they're my best friends now, and when I heard they got the part and I got the part, I was like, "Yay I get to be with my friends and I get to be in a movie!"

Brooklynn Prince: I did a commercial for Chuck E. Cheese. I've done acting since I was 2. I was in modeling, then I did commercials.

Christopher Rivera: This was my first movie, but I did something before. I think it might have been for TV: I forget what it's called, but I remember running and somebody was chasing after me.

What was your favorite part about making this film?

Prince: That we got to make a family.

Rivera: We got to shoot for two months.

Prince: It wasn't two months. It was 35 days!

Rivera: I loved that we got to eat, be funny and make new friends. I liked that we go to eat gummy bears in one scene.

How did you like working with Sean Baker?

Cotto: Sean was amazing to work with because he'd always be patient with us. He'd treat us equally. Sean, he loves us, and he's an amazing director. Who doesn't like him?

Prince: My favorite thing about Sean was that he was nice, he was patient and he was always there for us if we didn't know any lines. We were equals, and he wanted to play with us.

The film tackles some pretty serious topics, like poverty.

Prince: What's poverty?

It's when you're poor and don't have enough money, like the characters in the film.

Prince: Oh, yeah.

Have you seen the film?

Rivera: Yeah, but we can watch it because we're the stars of the movie.

Cotto: People that are reading this, this is rated R. Not for children. Capiche?

Prince: When I saw it I was amazed. Like mind blown!

Cotto: When I saw the movie, my hands were shaking.

Rivera: Her whole body was shaking.

Cotto: I was crying. I was sobbing.

Brooklynn, what was it like working with Bria Vinaite, who plays your mom in the film?

Prince: We had so much fun together. I mean, it was like she was my real mom. We have so many funny memories. One time we knocked on the door to see if she could come to me and Val's room, and then she was napping.

Rivera: I'm like, "can you come outside?" And then she was like, "for what?" And I'm like, "to go to my room," and she's like, "no I need a nap first." And then I came back 20 minutes later and then another 20 minutes later. …

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