Actor Ceci Balagot, known for his performance in Disney’s “Girl Meets World” and “Dispatches from Elsewhere” will be starring as fan-favorite character “Frankie Stein” in Nickelodeon’s upcoming Monster High: The Movie.
Monster High: The Movie follows Clawdeen Wolf (Miia Harris), who was born half human and half werewolf, after she arrives at her new school, Monster High. She quickly makes friends with her classmates Frankie Stein (Ceci Balagot) and Draculaura (Nayah Damasen), and for the first time in her life, Clawdeen feels like she has finally found a place where she fits in and can truly be herself, despite keeping her human half a secret. When a devious plan to destroy Monster High threatens to reveal her real identity, Clawdeen must learn to embrace her true monster heart and find a way to save the day alongside her new friends.
Also starring in the movie are Case Walker as Deuce Gorgon; Kyle Selig as Mr. Komos; Marci T. House as Headmistress Bloodgood; Scotch Ellis Loring as Clawdeen’s dad, Apollo; Steve Valentine as Draculaura’s dad, Dracula; Jy Prishkulnik as Cleo de Nile; Lina Lecompte as Lagoona; Justin Derickson as Heath Burns; Lilah Fitzgerald as Ghoulia; and Nasiv Sall as Abbey Bominable.
Check out our interview with Ceci!
First off, were you a fan of Monster High? Prior to working on this movie?
Ceci: Yeah, absolutely. I was totally a fan of Monster High when I was little. I grew up around the time where I was the target audience for it, so I played with the dolls and I watched the TV show which is on YouTube now. That’s the show that I grew up watching with the awesome theme song. And I wasn’t allowed to have Monster High dolls, my mom didn’t like me to have them, so I had to play with them when I was at my friend’s house.
And this is the first live action Monster High production Correct?
Ceci: Yeah, first ever live action movie musical.
What is it like for you to bring a doll to life?
Ceci: It was a really interesting process, actually. There were a lot of physical aspects that I had to work with for Frankie because Frankie is actually a collection of other people’s body parts sewn together like Frankenstein. So, working with being newly created and also uncomfortable with the idea of having a body was really fun and interesting, especially as a dancer, to work with and create this character. But I also watched a lot of the original TV show to get that really bubbly attitude that she’s always had.
So will fans of the dolls and the animated series and movies recognize Frankie?
Ceci: Yeah, I think so. Frankie used to be a scareleader, I think that’s what they were called, or a fearleader, and they were super bubbly all the time and they were kind of like the narrator of the series because it was their first day at school and they were getting to know everyone. And that’s kind of the same energy that Frankie brings this time, except they’re a little less focused on boys and a little more focused on themselves.
What can we expect from this movie?
Ceci: Well, you can expect Clawdeen and Draculaura and Frankie Stein to have the most ghoulish fashion and we will be strutting the hallways in the cutest clothes. There will be amazing music and amazing choreography that I’m so excited for all the kids to learn how to dance. And there’s also amazing hair and makeup that I think a lot of the cosplayers will really enjoy.
How involved is your hair and makeup for Frankie?
Ceci: Frankie’s skin is like a mint, minty blue, like a green blue. And that is honestly I think one of the most amazing parts of this movie from behind the scenes. A lot of the time, especially Draculaura and myself, we would get up really early and go to set and the hair and makeup people would already be there, even earlier than we were. We would spend from two to three hours getting sprayed with the color that goes on your skin that is waterproof and you can wear it all day. So that takes a long time to build the layers up to make it look realistic like skin and then we do the face, which there are some prosthetics that I have where I have some scarring that isFrankie being sewn together. And then lots of eye makeup and lots of sparkles because, of course, they’re preteens, they are going to want to wear sparkles if they can and we also all have very unique nails. So each character has their own unique nail set that they put on before they get into costume and everything. And then we go to get our wigs done after we’re all in makeup, and then after the least get them to go back to makeup to do our finishing touches. So it’s a really long process and our hair and makeup people are some of the most talented artists on set. It’s absolutely incredible what they’re capable of. And we’re so grateful because they were really like they’re definitely like that lifeline for a lot of the cast members. They’re just like regular hairdressers, you talk to them about everything and they were so awesome!
How long does it take to wash off?
Ceci: I took a shower pretty much every day, like a hot shower, and then maybe a bath but I’ve got one of those like bath brushes, like the eco friendly ones, and that really helps to get the paint off. And after you take the wig off, my hair’s really gelled down because it’s super short. They have to gel it down and then pin it so basically it’s like rock hard to my head. I have to get a hair brush like shower brush and get underneath the hair glue to get my hair undone just to have it done again the next day. But I ended up getting pretty good at the process and it got a little bit faster as we went along. So it wasn’t as stressful as it was the first couple of days, we were running around like, ‘ah, this is crazy. There’s so many pieces,’ but as we moved along we definitely got the hang of it.
Also with this movie, Frankie is being reintroduced as non binary. Was this something that you introduced to the character or was this brought to you?
Ceci: It’s extremely exciting that it was brought to me. At this point in my career, I’ve been actually acting since I was really really little, this has kind of just been my life career and when I transitioned, I was really nervous and the main thing holding me back from transitioning was the thought that I would never get a job. And that is a very anxiety inducing feeling when you’ve put so much effort and work into this career that you’re maybe not sure that the world is ready to see you succeed in. But luckily I have been inspired by so many amazing trans actors that are out there. I worked with Eve Lindley on a job right before a quarantine and she really inspired me because she’s a trans actress and she’s so wonderful and extremely confident. And I thought, ‘okay, I guess that could be me.’ And this was one of the first auditions that I got after coming out. And I was really excited because usually for me, it’s like, ‘okay, I guess I’ll audition for it.’ And then if they liked me enough, I’ll just let them know that I’m not a girl. But in this scenario, I was lucky enough for them to be looking for somebody like me and I can’t believe that for the first time it’s actually for the thing that I thought would be holding me back. It’s the thing that makes me most unique and extremely hireable. So, it was extremely exciting for them to offer that up as non binary and also to have a children’s character be canonically non non binary. It’s really exciting for me because as a queer kid, there was not really anybody to look up to in media so I’m really excited to be the person that I always needed when I was a kid for all of these kids out there and to show them that you can be whatever gender you feel most authentic being, wear whatever clothes you want to wear, and you’re still valid.
Based on the trailer it also seems like a very organic and almost casual introduction to Frankie being non binary. How important is that for you?
Ceci: Oh my gosh, that’s that word casual. This is something that I’ve like touted for a long, long time as a queer person in the industry is the idea of casual representation, that not everything needs to be rooted in the trauma of experiencing being an oppressed person. I would like to see stories of joy and that’s something that the director, Todd like really, really wanted to see, a queer character who was just so happy and didn’t face any obstacles regarding their queerness, they just face the regular obstacles that other preteens face and being queer doesn’t make their life any harder, it’s just another facet of their personality and their being. And that’s something that I’ve just really coveted for a long time. The idea that, you know, not every minority story needs to be rooted in trauma. There needs to be some stories of pure joy out there and Frankie is totally that.
Do you have a favorite song or a favorite dance number that we can look forward to watching?
Ceci: Oh my gosh, okay, that’s a great question. One of my favorite songs is already out and you can watch it on YouTube, the lyric video and a music video is out. It’s called “The Three Of Us.” And that’s a song that I do with my besties, which we like to call each other beasties. Clawdeen was played by Miia Harris and Nayah Damasen plays Draculaura and we had the most amazing time recording that song. That was one of the first times that we met each other and we got a really good feel for each other’s personalities and how amazing it was gonna be working together. And then doing the dance was just a lot of rehearsals, the three of us hanging out a lot. And I love them so much and I’m so proud with what the final product ended up looking like because we worked super, super hard. And it was a lot of, even like outside of rehearsal, and just like in the hotel, trying to make sure it looks really good. And yes, that song and dance, absolutely amazing. Another song that I’m really really excited for everybody to see is “Coming Out Of The Dark,” it’s the opening song which introduces everybody’s characters. It’s very, very catchy. I get it stuck in my head all the time. And everybody gets their own featured moments and some of your favorite doll characters will be there and have their little spotlight and you get to see everybody’s backstory. So it’s really exciting, and it launches you into the energy of the movie.
Before I let you go, is there anything else that you want to add about Monster High: The Movie?
Ceci: We’re so excited for everybody to see this amazing piece of work that so many people have put their heart and souls into.
You can follow Ceci on social media @cecibalagot.