Hannah Nordberg plays Julie Albright on the new American Girl Story – Ivy & Julie 1976. The Julie Albright Doll was released in 2007 and was the ninth of the Historical Characters of the American Girl Dolls, representing the 1970s. Hannah took some time to answer our questions about her character in the special as well as tell us how she liked working with Nina Lu who plays Ivy.
Set in 1976 San Francisco, Ivy Ling (Nina Lu, BUNK’D) is a 10-year-old Chinese-American girl who struggles with finding a balance between her two cultural identities: Chinese and American. With her family’s Chinese traditions and obligations, she wishes to be like her all-American best friend, Julie Albright (Hannah Nordberg, General Hospital). When her gymnastics tournament and family’s big Chinese New Year dinner land on the same day, Ivy relies on Julie to guide her with a difficult choice. The special also stars Gwendoline Yeo (American Crime) and Lance Lim (School of Rock).
BSCKids: Tell us about your character in the An American Girl Story – Ivy & Julie 1976: A Happy Balance Amazon Prime special?
Hannah Nordberg: I play Julie Albright, a happy-go-lucky, free spirit who embraces tough situations with a good attitude. She is Ivy’s best friend and former neighbor. In the special, Julie recently moved to a different house and school after her parents’ divorce and she is trying to navigate the reality and challenges of her new life.
BSCKids: How do you think you are a bit similar and a bit different from your character? Have you faced any of the same struggles with your families and other obligations?
Hannah Nordberg: I’m definitely a free-spirit like Julie, but my parents are not divorced. However, my mom’s parents split up when she was a teenager, so she was someone I could talk to for research. In my own life, I am constantly trying to balance my different worlds: family, school, acting, friendship, etc. It’s not always easy to know what the right choice is at the time. That’s when I reach out to the people in my life for advice… just like Ivy and Julie do.
BSCKids: How did your audition process go?
Hannah Nordberg: Well, first I had an audition with the casting director. A couple days later, I was called back in to audition for the director of the movie. Then, there was a “chemistry read” where the producers brought back a few girls reading for Julie and few girls reading for Ivy and had us mix and match. They basically wanted to see the chemistry between the different actors. The next day, I got a call from my agent saying that I had booked the job (which I was sooooo excited about), but they had not found their Ivy yet. So, I came back in to read with some more girls and that’s when I met Nina. She was/is perfect for the role of Ivy!!!
BSCKids: How was it working with Nina? How did you both get along and any funny behind the scenes stories you can share?
Hannah Nordberg: You know when you meet someone for the first time and there is an instant connection? That is what it was like for Nina and me. We just clicked from the moment we met. It was like we had been friends for years! Nina and I both love to laugh and make jokes, so we definitely bonded that way. Behind the scenes stories… hmmmm… Nina and I were shooting a scene where we had to run down a hallway, and we were wearing socks, so we literally kept slipping and sliding and falling, which of course made us crack up, so that scene took a few extra takes to film. When we weren’t filming, we were usually SINGING! Lance Lim, who played Ivy’s brother, is a blast to hang out with. Lance is a musician and would bring his guitar to set, so we would have jam sessions together!
BSCKids: Were you an American Girl Doll fans growing up? Did you play with them? Any favorite dolls you had growing up?
Hannah Nordberg: I was and still am a huge American Girl Doll fan! Growing up, my grandma would buy me a new doll, outfits and accessories every Christmas and birthday. Over the years, I have spent countless hours playing with my AG dolls – French braiding their hair, dressing them up, and changing their outfits and accessories. I have had friends over for AG play dates and celebrated birthdays at the AG store having tea parties. Needless to say, American Girl Dolls have been a HUGE part of my childhood, which made playing this role all that more special to me. The dolls I have are: Marie-Grace, McKenna, Saige, Melody, Julie and three Truly Me dolls. I can’t possibly choose which one is my favorite! They are all special to me!
BSCKids: Do you think the movie tackles problems that kids face and will it help them?
Hannah Nordberg: Definitely. Life can be complicated for kids, especially these days! Kids are pulled in many different directions and sometimes it is hard to see what is really important. This movie highlights the importance of family and friends, the value of culture and traditions. It about discovering what is important to you and balancing the different challenges that come your way. I think every kid will relate to this movie in one way or another.
BSCKids: Anything you have coming up in the future you can talk about?
Hannah Nordberg: Not currently.
BSCKids: Why should everyone watch An American Girl Story – Ivy & Julie 1976: A Happy Balance Amazon Prime movie?
Hannah Nordberg: EVERYONE! This is a going to be a heartfelt, feel good movie for the whole family!