Disney’s “Wizards of Waverly Place” starred Selena Gomez as Alex Russo, a teenager with magical powers, and helped launch her career as a multi-hyphenate megastar. Fans of the show may also remember Alex’s rival, Gigi Hollingsworth, who was instrumental in Alex’s character arc!
Gigi was a “mean girl” played by Skyler Samuels, and her character bullied Alex dating back to when the two were in kindergarten together. Even though Gigi only appeared in a handful of episodes, the character had an impact on the hit kid’s show. “We definitely wanted to set up a relatable scenario, like wanting to be popular,” the show’s creator, Todd Greenwald, told the International Business Times in 2017. “Another relatable scenario of, I guess, she [Gigi] was a bully, and then that aspirational element of how she [Alex] could then overcome the popularity and bully thing,” he added.
Samuels’ portrayal of Gigi was not her only work on Disney programs, as she also appeared on “That’s So Raven” and “The Suite Life of Zach & Cody,” per IMDb. She was able to parlay her work on Disney into more substantial roles on other networks, too. Scroll through to see how the actor has transformed through the years!
Skyler Samuels' next supernatural roles
Skyler Samuels landed a role in another show based in the supernatural when she was cast as Andie Bates in ABC’s “The Gates,” which told the story of a gated community filled with “supernatural entities,” per IMDb. Similar to “Wizards of Waverly Place,” that show had magical elements, but the story was rooted in universally relatable themes. “While the concept of the show might be crazy it’s relatable to everyone,” Samuels told Teen Vogue in 2010. “Everyone has gone through or felt these emotions at one point or another.”
The next year, Samuels found herself on yet another show about teenagers with super abilities when she was cast as the lead on “The Nine Lives of Chloe King.” Samuels played Chloe, who unlocked special powers when she turned 16-years-old. The actor felt an instant connection to the role when she read the script. “Chloe and I have so much in common. I could hear my own voice in the things she said and did,” she told Collider in 2011. “She’s fearless, she’s fun, she’s funny, she’s quirky, she’s honest, and she’s cool,” the actor added.
After starring in that show, Samuels would go on to act in programming aimed at a more mature audience …
How she became a scream queen
In 2014, Skyler Samuels reached a wider audience when she appeared on “American Horror Story: Freak Show.” That installment of the hit anthology series created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falhcuk took place in Florida during the 1950s, per The Hollywood Reporter.
The actor’s involvement in “AHS” led to being cast in another show helmed by Murphy the following year, “Scream Queens.” Samuels spoke glowingly about the showrunner’s production. “There’s no set like a Ryan Murphy set, mainly because it feels like he’s built an entire world, he’s so thoughtful and meticulous,” she told Collider in 2015. “Scream Queens” boasted a stacked cast that included Emma Roberts, and one of the original horror scream queens, Jamie Lee Curtis. Working with Curtis was semi-daunting to Samuels. “I was really intimidated, at first, because I grew up watching her,” she admitted to Collider. “‘Freaky Friday’ was my favorite movie in middle school.”
Curtis was not the only name on the call sheet that struck a chord with Samuels, as her childhood crush also appeared on the show. “I’m definitely not shy of discussing my childhood love of Nick Jonas [who plays Boone],” she said during an interview with Elle in 2015. “I’m not shy about it at all. We haven’t talked about it in person,” Samuels confessed. Ah!
Keep reading to find out why Samuels put her acting career on pause.
She is a master of juggling multiple projects
An acting career that included a slew of shows may be enough for most people, but it was not enough for Skyler Samuels. The accomplished thespian put her acting career on temporary hold while she attended Stanford University.
Samuels was so committed to her studies that “Scream Queens” co-creator Brad Falhuk had to convince her to take a leave from college to join the cast. “He said, ‘I know you’re super type-A and you love Stanford and you’re a brainiac, but you’re Grace Gardner now,'” Samuels recalled to The Hollywood Reporter in 2015. Even though appearing on the show gave Samuels massive exposure, she still prioritized her education over her career. “[I] still think of myself as a student first, then actor,” she told Elle in 2015. “I’m actually packing my bags and getting ready to go back to school in January.”
In the long run, Samuels believed that immersing herself in school would help enrich her acting chops. “I’ve always said the thing that has helped me be the best actor I could be are my real-life experiences, which have come in the form of my school experiences,” she told Elle.
Keep reading to see how Samuels became part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe once she returned to acting full-time.
How she played three characters at once
Skyler Samuels continued to portray characters with special abilities when she was cast in Marvel’s “The Gifted.” The actor played mutant triplets Esme, Sophie, and Phoebe Frost, who were part of the X-Men universe. Originally, she had a small role in Season 1 but became a full-time character by Season 2, per TV Line.
Playing three characters at once had its inherent challenges, and involved a grueling filming process where Samuels filmed the scenes alongside stand-ins and did the shots three times. “If Skyler shoots a look to her sister, she’s shooting a look to a person who’s acting and interacting,” Matt Nix, the show’s choreographer, told TV Line in 2018. “And they study each others’ mannerisms so if one actress raises her hand at a moment, Skyler will reproduce that action.”
In order to prepare for the role, Samuels used the same studious approach that helped her get into Stanford. “I’m a very serious student, so as soon as I heard the triplet situation, I immediately had a binder full of information,” she told Marvel.com in 2018. She also helped develop the on-screen look for the Frost sisters on the show.
Read below to see how important fashion became in Samuels’ life.
Skyler Samuels created an app
Audiences were first introduced to Skyler Samuels as Gigi Hollingsworth on “Wizards of Waverly Place” and fans have watched her evolve over the years. That being said, the actor admits that transitioning from child star to adult actor was not a seamless process. “There was a weird phase where I felt like I didn’t fit in anywhere, like I was too old for high school but too young to play an adult,” she told Laud Magazine. “It definitely took patience to grow with my job and accept the journey along the way.”
Samuels’ fashion sense has continued to evolve along with her career. “I have long had an interest in beauty and fashion. It has been a cornerstone in my experience as an actor,” she told The New Potato in 2016. That passion led to her developing an called Tipster which allowed users to access stylists and beauty experts in order to hone their own chic looks.
The actor often shows off her stunning looks on Instagram – which she admitted to The New Potato was her favorite app — where she has developed a sizable following. Samuels offers fans a peek into her personal life while sharing behind-the-scenes looks at productions on the social media platform. We can’t wait to see what’s next for her!
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