Mary Mouser, Dallas Liu, Anjelika Washington, and more stars share what they want to see from teen TV
A new group of young actors is embodying the latest generation of iconic teen characters, and they have ideas for what's missing in the stories we tell about young people.
"There are a lot of unique stories and storytellers that have yet to be given a chance to kind of share their experience on this world," says High School Musical: The Musical: The Series star Frankie Rodriguez.
EW has been taking a deep dive into the great TV about teens, both past and present, through our I Want My Teen TV initiative all summer. Now, some of the actors, like stars from Generation, Cobra Kai's Mary Mouser, DC's Stargirl actress Anjelika Washington, and more teen TV stars, are getting candid about what's missing.
Increasing representation for specific groups of people was a consistent theme throughout. Whether it's queer stories, first-generation Americans, more body diversity, the APPI community, or stories about persons with disabilities, the young stars want to see more characters from different communities. They also want these characters to lead projects instead of being supporting characters.
"Being plus size is beautiful and should be celebrated and shouldn't have to be something that you make fun of or hide from," says On My Block star Jessica Marie Garcia.
Washington gets specific about wanting more healthy parent-child relationships on shows because she believes "media shapes our culture," and getting to see those dynamics on TV can help teens.
Young voices are being heard through projects like Generation, and there's an interest in continuing that. Mouser and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series star Dara Reneé see the benefit in young people getting to tell their own stories. "If you don't get the experiences of those that are living in it in their daily life, then you will never get an accurate representation of something you're trying to portray," Reneé explains.
We're moving in the right direction, but these young stars are looking ahead at the work that still needs to be done.