Charlee was photographed at Hotel Indigo by Corey Hegel.
If you don’t know the name Charlee Rubino yet, you definitely will. This rising star may only have a couple of commercial and movie credits to her name, but she’ll soon be at the crux of young Hollywood (and probably sooner rather than later). Having auditioned for countless projects like Disney’s K.C. Undercover and High School Musical: The Musical: The Series, Nickelodeon’s spinoff Sam and Cat, ABC’s hit comedy Fresh Off the Boat, and cult Christmas comedy Krapmus, Rubino has the experience and perspective of a much older performer. TV Wasteland sat down with her to talk about topics surrounding her experiences in Hollywood.
One of the most challenging things about breaking into the industry is finding the right person to guide you through it: your manager. Rubino attended an open call (which she said are extremely rare in the industry), where she was asked to sign at just nine years old. She went on to describe that day as her best audition story, when her new manager asked “Do you want to meet my son?” and continued to bring in Michael Eric Reid, who played Sinjin in Rubino’s favorite show of the time, Victorious. According to Rubino, she absolutely “flipped out.”
Ever since then, Rubino has split her time between the screen and the stage, participating in many musical theater productions. Screen and stage “are definitely different because it’s different for the acting,” she said of the differences between the two, claiming that you only have one chance on stage and that you have to “be very big and out there,” while the screen has as many chances to try different things, “you have to be very small on camera because they pick up everything.”
One story that has especially stuck with her was when she was filming a Target commercial as an extra with “a thousand people.” The star of the commercial was another young girl, and as they did various takes, the director kept moving Rubino up closer and closer to the front every time. Eventually, she replaced the other girl as the star of the commercial, and, to the joy of Rubino, made “a lot more money.”
Rubino didn’t have the usual upbringing experienced by many of her peers. Her mother was luckily able to drive her to many auditions as a child, but as “a lot of L.A. auditions happen right in the middle of the day… I’ve had to miss a lot of school, and I almost had to repeat eighth grade because of how much school I missed.” There was a price to all of the high-powered and fast-paced Hollywood work, and Rubino doesn’t “really get to do what a normal kid gets to do” all of the time. However, she was grateful, saying that she was incredibly fortunate to be able to live the kind of life she does.
Outside of usual high schooler activities, Rubino has also found a special community related to her work as well. She says that all of the young stars are going through it with everyone else, and that bonds can be made through waiting rooms and auditions where what might seem like competition can turn into friendship. And having a job like acting doesn’t take away all of the usual issues that adolescents can face, proved by a story Rubino told about how her mom almost didn’t let her go to a music video shoot when she was young because “I was being a brat to her.”
In terms of other young stars, Rubino feels as though there’s a divide between the older and younger actors in that when people her age did acting as kids, “you were in it because you loved to do acting… but I feel that kids nowadays, it’s more about the fame.” She cited social media as reasoning for this, claiming “I definitely see it just being more focused on what you get out of it rather than enjoying it.”
For other teenagers who dream of making it in Hollywood, Rubino gave the advice: “Don’t give up, because there are a lot of no’s, and you’ll continue to get no’s, but you can’t take it personally because it’s not about you, it’s just like you weren’t the look or you just didn’t fit that part, so even though you get a hundred no’s per yes… don’t give up.” She also describes memorization as the most important part of the audition process, saying to implement the acting techniques only after you’ve memorized all of the lines.
When looking to the future, Rubino wants to keep her options open. “If the opportunity arose for Broadway or TV,” she’d be equally excited about either. On the future of the industry, she talked about how it’s all about representation, whether it be for LGBTQ+ people or people of color who usually aren’t fully represented on screen. There aren’t any specific projects or talent that she has her eye on, simply saying that for her, “roles don’t really matter… I personally love to play roles that I can personally connect with because I feel it’s easier… I like having that personal connection with a role that I can bond with.”
No matter what she decides to do next, we can be sure that Charlee Rubino’s name will be on the minds of young Americans in almost no time.
Answers for the lightning round questions are included below.
What’s your favorite TV show?
Who’s your favorite character?
What have you been watching lately?
What have you been listening to lately?
What is your favorite book?
If you wrote an autobiography, what would the title be?
My Messy Life
What do you do to unwind?
Play games with my family
It was just Halloween; what’s your favorite costume you’ve ever worn?
I dressed up as Marge Simpson when I was six.
If you could film a scene anywhere in the world, where would you film?
What was the movie or television performance that most inspired you to act?
Jennifer Hudson in Dreamgirls
If you could guest star on any current television show, what would you choose?
Law & Order: Special Victims Unit
If you had a talk show, who would your first guests be?
Who do you want to work with in TV most?