Amber Appleton has a dream ... but the harsh realities of life threaten to keep her from it.

Netflix's upcoming film All Together Now stars Auli'i Cravalho as Amber, a teen with her sights set on attending Carnegie Mellon University. From the outside, Amber seems to have everything going for her, but what her friends don't know is that every night, she sleeps on a school bus alongside her mother (and trusty pup). "The story's not easy," director Brett Haley (Hearts Beat Loud, All The Bright Places) says of the film's appeal. "It has a journey, and it felt like an opportunity to do a character piece."

Based on Matthew Quick's book Sorta Like A Rockstar, the film follows Amber as she learns what it means to accept help from others. "Amber and I are so alike in that, I feel like I am pretty naturally optimistic, almost to a fault probably because I am not quite as honest with what's happening in my life to even really close friends around me," Cravalho says. "And that's something that really was highlighted during this time with the pandemic. I just really needed to learn to reach out. And so that's kind of how our film is centered — in knowing your community and leaning on your chosen family and times of need."

Cravalho was Haley's first choice for the lead role. "I had met Brett auditioning for All The Bright Places," Cravalho recalls. "I remember I was in the audition room and he was like, 'I'll keep you in mind.' And I was like, 'Okay. Sure.' I'll keep you in mind is just, I feel like a way that directors and casting don't crush your spirit. But he really did keep me in mind for this project."

Haley adds, "When I read this script, I immediately thought of her. I immediately thought of her wonderfully bright and glowing personality. She lights up a room. She just has that quality. But she also has a depth that I don't think many people are aware of."

And with Cravalho at the center of the story, Haley was able to start building out his character piece. "I always talk about What's Eating Gilbert Grape or Good Will Hunting as kind of difficult situations with good people who are going through it, but in the end, they're quite feel-good. They feel really earned and grounded and real and honest, and that felt really important to me. I was like, 'I think I can do a What's Eating Gilbert Grape kind of movie that is just about this really wonderful character.'"

Watch the exclusive first trailer for All Together Now above and check out the poster below.

All Together Now
Credit: Netflix

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