Walking into All Together Now, you think you know what you’re stepping into. You think this is just another teen rom com with a twist of angst that gets resolved with the power of love. You’d be right on the power of love part of it all. But that’s where the similarities end when you compare this movie to the likes of The Fault in Our Stars or Love, Simon.
We got a chance to sit down with director Brett Haley and star Auli’i Cravalho to talk about All Together Now, the diversity that is clearly visible on screen, how it was working with the icon known as Carol Burnett, and so much more.
To start off things, let’s talk Amber Appleton. We all love Amber. Played by Cravalho, she is hope personified that hits some difficulties along the way that define her in more ways than one. According to Cravalho, “I thought that Amber had a lot of hope and resilience, and I love that her story had hardships, it had difficulties, but her circumstances didn’t hold her back from her dreams and her aspirations.
Because Amber has them; dreams and aspirations. She wants to finish high school, finally kiss the boy who has been her rock for longer than she can remember, and sing the song her father created until those around her feel the power of his love. And when asked about how she connected with Amber, Cravalho was quick to answer.
“I grew up singing as well, and it felt like it not only connected her to her dad but also to her future and wanting to pursue higher education and go to her dream college, so I definitely learned a lot from Amber for sure. She’s so passionate, and she’s such a great friend. She also needs to learn a thing or two about being honest and open and connecting to her friends in a real way, so I definitely related to that.”
And while Cravalho was singing the praises of learning from Amber and hope, director Brett Haley couldn’t help but gush over Carol Burnett, comedian extraordinaire, joining the All Together Now family.
“Well, Carol Burnett is–you would think she would be amazing to work with. She is even better than that. Auli’i and I were very intimidated and starstruck by Carol, the idea of Carol and we went, and I remember we went to her hotel to meet her and we were like you know giddy kids.”
Despite her character, a hardball nursing home resident who forms an unlikely relationship with Amber, Burnett was an absolute sweetheart. Haley continued his praises by saying, “She was so kind and warm and lovely we sat down to have this lovely chat with her. We were just so overwhelmed by her spirit, her generosity and obviously her talent.”
For Haley, this is the key to success in his movies. Kindness. “I have worked with really kind people, in fact, I make it a rule to only work with kind people and Burnett is just wonderful, and she is such a talent, and it was such a dream.”
You know what was also a dream? Seeing all the diversity involved when it comes to All Together Now. Too often we’re told that diversity isn’t something that can happen in movies or TV shows because it’s “not organic” or there aren’t any diverse actors out there. All Together Now proves that doing a diverse job isn’t a pipe dream. It’s a reality.
Cravalho absolutely loved the environment she got to spend time in and the people she got to meet, “It was awesome. Like it was really, really great to work in an environment where creative expression is just that like it doesn’t matter who it’s coming from, everyone’s ideas are heard and working with Brett like if it doesn’t feel true to your character like it’s always a discussion. Like that is truly lacking in some sets that I have been on and my career hasn’t spanned very long, so like let’s just say that.”
All Together Now gave Cravalho a chance to work with other Latinas, a feat unseen many times before because for some reason there can only be one Latina in a project. This one has three of various ages, aspirations, and milestones in life. That’s not all. There were older Korean actors, differently-abled actors, non-neurotypical actors, and people of color that weren’t there to act as a plot device. And according to Haley, this is what you do when you have privilege.
“That is my goal with every project that I do. It is important to me that I don’t take my privilege and say, “I’m going to go make a film about what it means to be something that I am not or could never relate to” because I can’t put myself in the shoes but I can have empathy, I can make a diverse film, I can give voices to other artists within my story and all you have to do is listen to get it right”
That’s why you should watch All Together Now, why you should give it a chance, and fall in love with it just like we did here at Fangirlish. Because this movie is funny, because this movie has tons of heart, and because this movie actually tells a diverse story that feels organic and real. And that right there is something you shouldn’t miss out on.
All Together Now is available on Netflix now.