Merit Leighton Spills on New Netflix Series ‘Alexa & Katie’

Merit Leighton Spills on New Netflix Series ‘Alexa & Katie’
Photo Credit: Brett Erickson

Meet your newest binge-worthy obsession!

Netflix’s latest series, “Alexa & Katie” follows two best friends excited to start high school together despite the fact that Alexa is undergoing cancer treatment, and is the feel-good, packed-with-positivity teen comedy we’ve been waiting for! It even stars some of our all-time faves like Paris Berelc, Isabel May, Jack Griffo, Emery T. Kelly and Merit Leighton!

Want the inside scoop on all things “A&K”? We caught up with 15-year-old Merit for everything from the embarrassing behind-the-scenes moments that went down on set to what it was like working with such a star-studded cast and more! Keep scrolling to catch Merit’s 411 and head over to Netflix where you can now officially stream all of season one!

“When I first read the script, I knew it had to be done extremely well for it to be played correctly, because it’s a very sensitive topic. I’m really proud with how it turned out, and the cast is amazing and it was really fun to work on and work with everyone there. I think that it was portrayed really well.”

How would you describe your character, Hannah?
Merit: My character, Hannah, is one of Alexa and Katie’s best friends, and she’s kind of oblivious at times. She doesn’t always get it, but she tries really hard to be a really good friend and she’s super sweet. She’s optimistic, friendly, and clueless, but I guess her cluelessness kind of makes her charming in a way! That makes her a really fun character to play.

Is there an overall message behind the show?
Merit: I feel like a really important message that this show gives off is that just because someone has a serious illness, doesn’t mean that they’re any different than anyone else. They have interests and things they want to do — like play basketball. It’s a very positive show. Of course it has some serious moments, some sad moments, and some sweet moments but this is definitely a pick-me-up type show. It’s really funny and the whole cast is hilarious!

Is there one funny on-set memory that stands out?
Merit: There was this funny moment where Isabel, who plays Katie, has to slurp a noodle and the noodles weren’t being slurped easily because I think they were from the night before, and they were in the fridge and they got reheated, and they were kind of hard. So she couldn’t slurp the noodles and they had to re-wet it in water and cold butter, and she’s like “It’s so gross!”. Sometimes it would get stuck on her chin and it was really funny!

What was it like working with such star-studded cast?
Merit: They were amazing to work with and it was honestly an honor, especially with Paris because I’m actually a huge fan. A couple years ago I was really interested in some of her work when she was doing flips and I looked up to her a lot so being able to work with her was really, really awesome. And Paris taught me how to do the backpack kid dance because I didn’t know how to do it and she was doing it in between takes for rehearsal and I was like wait, how do you do that, and she just taught me how to do that!

Were there any other actresses you really looked up to as a kid?
Merit: I really looked up to Selena Gomez, I was into ‘Wizards of Waverly Place’ and I always thought ‘she has brown hair like me, and she’s super cool and she has magic, and she’s good at acting, and I want to be good at acting like her!’ And she was a big role model for me too!

Does it make you nervous to know that viewers will be watching you on-screen and looking up to you like you looked up to Selena and Paris?
Merit: There is this pressure that a lot of people my age or younger could be watching and they could look up to me but I tried not to focus on it, instead remember to focus on doing the best job I could now and worry about the rest later. That’s kind of how I go about my life. I worry about what needs to be done the best now, and worry about the rest later!

What advice would you give to someone pursuing an acting career?
Merit: I think the best advice is to just never give up on it. Overall acting’s just a lot of “Uh, sorry, sorry, next one, next one.” If you can’t take rejection, it will be hard. I never really let it affect me!

Do you think there will be a second season of “Alexa & Katie”?
Merit: They left it at a really good spot where it could continue into a season two or it could stop, so it’s really all up in the air right now. It’s a really heartwarming ending and a really good start to something new, so it’s really suspense building!

Big fan of the cast? In case you missed it, catch all the times Jack and Paris were #CoupleGoals!

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