Dara Reneé says she used a lot of “female rage” to get into her upcoming Descendants role! The fourth installment to the Disney Channel franchise is titled Descendants: The Rise of Red, and the HSMTMTS actress is set to play Ursula’s little sister, Ulyana.

The Freaky Friday actress sat down with J-14, where she fangirled over the original Descendants movies, what it was like transitioning from one iconic Disney franchise to another and how she feels about her character’s ending in the HSMTMTS finale. Keep reading for our exclusive interview.

ICYMI, Descendants: The Rise of Red is set to premiere sometime in 2024, and follows Red, the rebellious teenage daughter of the Queen of Hearts (played by Kylie Cantrall) and Chloe, the perfectionist daughter of Cinderella and Prince Charming (Malia Baker). The film follows Red and Chloe, who must travel back in time, via the White Rabbit’s pocketwatch, in order to prevent an impending coup in Auradon.

“I was about to spill some real tea. Let me hold on. Let me put my Disney goggles on. What can I share?” Dara began to tell J-14 of the upcoming Disney film, while promoting her recent partnership with Pantene.

“There’s a lot of stunts. My character does a lot of stunts,” Dara begins carefully, before shouting out China Anne McClain, who will be reprising her role of Uma in the spinoff film. “Shout out to China Anne McClain. She’s literally my role model. She’s such an amazing person, an iconic human being and so sweet and kind. I was so nervous to meet her on set, but she literally exceeded my expectations by how beautiful she is inside and out.”

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA – AUGUST 11: Dara Reneé attends Variety’s 2022 Power of Young Hollywood celebration presented by Facebook Gaming on August 11, 2022 in Hollywood, California. (Photo by Axelle/Bauer-Griffin/FilmMagic) Getty Images

While Dara’s not able to share “too much,” the HSMTMTS actress revealed that the dancing in the upcoming DCOM is “next level.”

The young star also revealed that she channeled “a lot of female rage” to get into her role. “My character is such a step away from my comfort zone. Definitely, a very mean villain. I was going through a lot when I did this part.”

Dara also made sure to shout out the original Descendants movies, which stared huge names such as Dove Cameron, Booboo StewartSofia Carson, the late Cameron Boyce, and called the films “untouchable.”

“I still am a fan of the OG Descendants. I mean, they are top tier, no competition, no comparison. That’s period, point blank, end of story. I’m grateful to even be a part of the same name,” she gushed. “To even nearly follow in their footsteps, to be just tiny bit of iconic as they were, is such a gift.”

But there’s some wonderful faces to look forward to in Descendants: The Rise of Red.

“I mean, we got Brandy, we got Rita Ora, I mean Kylie, I mean Malia. There’s so many different people that have so much talent that’s in this movie,” she said. “This is such an powerful franchise and it means so much to so many people. And no way can we compare to what has already been built. So I’m so grateful to just be a part of the legacy of continuation because that franchise is untouchable. And to be Ursula’s baby sister is crazy. I’m glad I could share this screen with that name that means so much to so many people, including myself.”

When it comes to the ending of High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, which aired its fourth and final season in August 2023, Dara says she still hasn’t “fully accepted it” — and she’s praying for a reunion!

“It was very, very hard to let that go. I’m still not letting it go,” she laughed. “I still haven’t fully accepted it. I’m like, ‘Spinoff, please. What are we doing guys? What’s the next move on guys, let’s get back to work.'” So, it’s taking me a minute, but I still contact everybody and everybody is just so talented and so kind. And we’re still close, and I kind of don’t really want to accept that it’s over. I’m not going to, I’m really proud. Yeah, just praying [there’s a] reunion.”

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