She may have already proven her song-and-dance prowess as a star of the Descendants franchise, but Sofia Carson's latest project, Feel the Beat, is brand-new territory for her. The hit Netflix movie serves as Carson's first film with the streaming giant, and it's also one of her only leading roles in a non-Disney Channel movie. This milestone, as well as the popularity of the film since it came out on June 19, is a big deal to Carson.
"When I was turning on Netflix and I would see my movie, right next to Jennifer Aniston [on Friends] and 13 Reasons Why as 'Popular on Netflix,' and then 'Trending Now,' and then I scroll down and it was No. 2 on Netflix ... it's surreal, and it's such an honor," she tells Elite Daily.
Warning: Light spoilers for Feel the Beat follow. In the movie, Carson plays April, a self-centered Broadway hopeful who returns to her small hometown after being shunned from showbiz and gets roped into coaching a group of young misfit dancers. It's a sweet and heartfelt family flick, which is standard for Carson's repertoire, but unlike many of her past projects, the 27-year-old is playing an actual adult with a career — not a teen, like in Descendants or The Perfectionists.
Carson says parts of Feel the Beat were authentic to her own life. "In a lot of ways, April's story felt so close to home, more so than any other story that I've told, because of my love of dance and the arts is so similar to April's," she explains. "There were a lot of moments in a lot of the scenes where it was particularly emotional for me. My sister said the same when she watched it; she cried quite a few times because she felt the same way."
Even in Feel the Beat's silly details, Carson found a deeper meaning. Early on in the movie, she went to their grocery store in her tiny Wisconsin hometown, where she was seen taking bites straight from a block of Muenster cheese. Fans on Twitter couldn't stop thinking about the highly relatable moment throughout the rest of the film.
Though Carson admits she didn't actually eat the cheese for every take ("I would've probably had half a block of Muenster cheese by the end of the day," she laughs), she did spend significant time thinking about the scene.
"It was this backstory that I was so happy our director came up with and developed with myself and Enrico [Colantoni], who plays my dad Frank — playing on the whole idea that Wisconsin is known for their cheese," she explains. "What we thought was, that the day April's mom left back when she was little, we imagined this is something that bonded them; they went to the supermarket and just bought whatever April wanted to eat, and ... whenever she wanted to feel better, she had some cheese."
The same weekend Feel the Beat came out, Carson also released new music — a song called "Miss U More Than U Know" with DJ and producer R3HAB. Carson says it's "surreal" to balance the promotion and celebration of two very different projects at once, but it's something she wants to get used to.
"Growing up, I always admired the careers of women like Barbra Streisand and Cher who did it all, who had incredible careers in film and incredible careers in music," Carson says. I think for a while actors or musicians have to be either-or, and now I feel like we're going back to what it used to be."
Carson thinks Feel the Beat could be a jumping-off point for whatever is next in her own career. "I think it's very different [from my past projects]," she says. "It definitely does feel like a transition as an actress into perhaps more dramatic roles. I feel like I tapped into a much more vulnerable and raw and real side of myself as a performer."
Feel the Beat is on Netflix now.