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TEEN sensation Coco Jones is another Disney “find” who is headed, if all goes according to plan, for greater things. Like Willow Smith, the 14-year-old made her musical debut with a self-titled album back in 2010.
But it wasn’t until she participated in Radio Disney’s NBT (Next Best Thing) that doors started opening for the teenager. A year later, she made a guest appearance on Disney Channel’s So Random! before bagging a key role as Roxie in the made-for-TV movie Let It Shine.
She shares the limelight with Tyler James Williams (famed for his role in Everybody Hates Chris) and Trevor Jackson (Eureka).
In the musical, Jones plays Roxanne “Roxie” Andrews, a singing sensation and childhood friend of Cyrus DeBarge (Williams). When her label sponsors a songwriting competition, a shy Cyrus enters and pens a winning song under the pseudonym of Truth… only to have his best friend Kris McDuffy (Jackson) steal the credit and the girl.
Jones says: “Let It Shine is a teenage version of the story of Cyrano de Bergerac. Our version is set around gospel and hip hop music in modern times – and it’s about three teenage friends who have to overcome little issues in their lives. Some of the characters lose confidence in themselves and they don’t speak up for their beliefs, so they go through little tests and trials in the movie. Once they find the light inside of them, they let it shine!”
The youngster, who is clearly passionate about what she does, researched before the movie shoot.
She says: “At first, I didn’t know what Cyrano de Bergerac was. I had to go and look up the play, but I found out it’s a really cool story. It’s about a love triangle and a guy who lacks a lot of confidence. Our version of the story is totally new and very different.”
Explaining her character, the youngster reveals: “Roxie lacks confidence, which is something I’ve never struggled with. It’s cool to put myself into the shoes of someone else and to figure out what’s going through her mind.”
On getting to sing, dance and act in the movie, Jones, says: “I love doing all three. I’ve always enjoyed singing and dancing. Plus, when I was little, I used to watch The Cheetah Girls, That’s So Raven and Hannah Montana and I would beg my mum (vocalist Javonda) to let me act. I’m so lucky to be here today.”
Recalling an embarrassing moment on set, she chuckles: “I took a tumble during the film shoot, which was very funny… and pretty embarrassing. Thankfully, the cameras didn’t catch it.
“Basically, I slipped during one of the performance scenes because I couldn’t see a step – but I had to try and walk it off. Some of the people in the crowd saw it, but I just carried on.”
With music being a forte, what does she make of the songs in the movie?
“It’s a great mix of rap, gospel and hip hop – and it’s all very uplifting and fun.”
On a personal front, Jones enjoys kicking back to the sounds of Black Eyed Peas, Selena Gomez, Usher and David Guetta.
“I adore music that makes me want to get up and dance,” she says.
Given the genre, comparisons between Let It Shine and High School Musical are bound to surface.
Jones disagrees: “People have been making a lot of comparisons between the two, but Let it Shine is very different. High School Musical saw the characters burst into song during their everyday lives. Let it Shine is a movie tied around music; it’s not a musical. There’s singing and dancing, and it’s awesome. But that’s as far as the comparisons should go.”
Jones is clearly very excited about her first movie, so let’s hope the audiences share her sentiments!
• Let it Shine is on Disney Channel (DStv channel 303) at 5pm tomorrow.
• WIN! WIN! WIN!
Tonight and Disney Channel have 10 Let it Shine soundtracks to give away to readers. To enter, answer this question: What is the name of Coco Jones’ character in the movie?
E-mail the answer, along with your personal details and daytime telephone number, to: firstname.lastname@example.org
Please ensure the subject box reads: Let it Shine competition.
The competition ends at 10am tomorrow and winners will be contacted within a week.