For most schoolkids summer break is about to begin, but later this week on Disney Channel it’s back to school. A.N.T. Farm airs its season 3 premiere on Friday.
Returning as star of the show is 14-year-old China Anne McClain, who plays Chyna, a musical prodigy in the Advanced Natural Talents program. The newest season transplants the A.N.T. students to a slick new boarding school. Read on for what McClain told EW about season 3, the present she got from Nick Jonas, and what’s next for her singing group, the McClain Sisters.
ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY: Season 3 takes place in a boarding school – how does that change things up for the show?
CHINA ANNE MCCLAIN: All the A.N.T.s have moved to a boarding school, so unfortunately our parents aren’t there, so we kind of have to learn how to grow up a bit and be responsible and do things on our own. There are a lot of great surprises this season, like somebody you never thought would be an A.N.T. is an A.N.T. now. And there are hilarious new characters and huge story lines and sets and costumes. There is definitely some romance in this season. There is one really huge guest star that we have, a surprise guest star. I think this is definitely the best season yet.
In an episode that aired in February, you got to play Aretha Franklin, Janet Jackson, and Ella Fitzgerald in a dream sequence. Was it intimidating taking on those roles?
Yes, but it was really fun. I definitely had to study a lot that week, but it turned out great. I was really proud of that episode. That’s one of my favorite episodes that we’ve done because it kind of taught kids the importance of Black History Month. It was really fun playing those singers because they’re all so talented.
What kind of studying and preparation did you do?
I went to YouTube a lot just to see how they moved and how they performed. I also did watch interviews to find out a little bit more about them.
I heard you have a guitar that was a gift from Nick Jonas. How did that happen?
I was guest starring on Jonas, and they were all in their little hang-out spot playing guitar, so I was like, “I don’t know if I should go in there. I’m kind of nervous.” But they were all like, “Come on in!” and they were very inviting, so I went in there, and I ended up singing with them. All of the sudden he was just like, “So you like guitar?” and I was like, “Yeah, I do!” And [Nick] was like, “I’ll have a gift for you on Monday,” and I was like, “Oh, okay.” There was this beautiful pink guitar that he gave me, and it was gorgeous, and I was so excited because I’m a huge fan of the Jonas Brothers.
What’s the latest on your singing group with your sisters?
We’ve actually been in the studio a lot lately. We’re working on a lot of new music. We’ve kind of pushed our sound around, so that’s why it’s taking some time to get the product out, but I think you guys are going to like the sound a lot better. It’s very different from A.N.T. Farm. It’s our own style, and you can see our personalities coming out in our music.
I hear you’re an avid reader – what are some of your favorite books?
I’m really into the Lying Game books because you have no idea what’s going to happen when you flip to the next page. I also want to go back and read the Harry Potter books again because they were so good.
What kind of goals do you have for your career right now?
I definitely want to stay in the acting business, but other than that, I haven’t really planned it out. Wherever my life is gonna go, I’ll just let the wind carry me. I haven’t really set out a path yet, but I’m walking it right now, so we’ll see where I end up!
The one-hour season 3 premiere of A.N.T. Farm airs on Friday, May 31 at 8 p.m. ET/PT. McClain also appears in this July’s Grown Ups 2, and she expects new material by the McClain Sisters to be released this fall.