We are going on record to say we have seen the first few episodes of “Hailey’s On It!” and we just love it, like really love it. So when we had the opportunity to talk to Devin Bunje and Nick Stanton we made sure to add it to our list of tasks to complete. “Hailey’s On It!” follows Hailey Banks as she tries to complete every item on her list of tasks in order to save the world, as well as navigating her feelings about her best friend Scott.
Disney’s upcoming animated comedy-adventure “Hailey’s On It!” will premiere in early June on Disney+ and Disney Channel. Created and executive produced by live-action writing/producing duo Devin Bunje and Nick Stanton, the series follows Hailey Banks, a risk-averse but resourceful teenager on a mission to complete every item on her long list of challenging tasks in order to save the world.
Nick and Devin are best known for their work in live-action TV — creating and/or executive producing Disney XD’s “Gamer’s Guide to Pretty Much Everything,” the Emmy Award-nominated “Prince of Peoria” and Disney Channel’s popular sitcom “Zeke and Luther.” But this is their first time creating and executive producing an animated series. They’ve worked on a few animated shows as writers, including “Phineas and Ferb,” “The Emperor’s New School” and “Brandy & Mr. Whiskers.”
BSCKids: Tell us about “Hailey’s On It!” How did the idea for the show come about?
Devin Bunje and Nick Stanton: “Hailey’s On It!” is a show about Hailey Banks, a risk-adverse 14-year-old whose to-do list takes on world-saving stakes when a time-traveling Professor comes from the future and tells her that she’s destined for big things…but it all starts with her completing her “Big List of Things I’m Totally Gonna Do Someday.” We originally had an idea for a scene where a scatter-brained Professor from the future has two minutes to tell Hailey all of the important things she’s going to do some day, but she never really gets the chance to get the info out because Hailey just wants to know about what things are different in the future. A version of that scene ended up in the first episode! From that, we built a whole world and backstory around the characters, particularly Hailey and her best friend/next door neighbor/secret crush, Scott Denoga.
Tell us about Hailey Banks, was she based on anyone?
Not one person in particular, but we thought it would be fun if our hero started off her journey a little awkward and unsure of herself, then grew into a more confident, capable version of herself as the series progresses.
How did you decide on the animation style?
The big idea we were going for was “a world worth fighting for,” so we naturally gravitated toward bright, beautiful colors and backgrounds that showcased the beauty of Southern California. Then our fantastic art director, Lee Ann Dufour, and her team really ran with that idea and created a world that we think our audience will really enjoy.
How did you go about getting the voice actors for the characters? How hard is that process?
With our two leads, it was clear from the audition process that they were the characters. Auli’i’s audition was great, plus she’s obviously got a fantastic singing voice (and is a Disney Princess to boot!), so it was an easy choice. Manny Jacinto was our first choice Scott as well – he’s so unique and funny and also really sweet, so we couldn’t imagine anyone else playing Scott.
Have there been any funny behind the scenes stories you can share with us while recording/producing the show?
We recently had a spicy ramen eating contest on our crew. Our director Leslie Park brought in the spiciest Korean ramen in the world and dared everyone to try it. Devin’s strategy was to alternate mouthfuls of ramen with popsicles. Nick’s strategy was to eat it all really quickly to not taste it as much — it didn’t work, it still made him cry in pain.
What makes “Hailey’s On It!” a unique show?
I think the fact that the main relationship in our series is a boy-girl friendship that might be more than a friendship is really unique. It’s kind of like Jim and Pam in the first season of “The Office.”
What has been the best part of working with your team on this show?
We love the storyboard pitches because that’s when we can see the episode really come together. During the back half of season one we were able to do them in person, and it was so great hearing our directors Cat Harman-Mitchell and Leslie Park pitching the storyboards and getting big laughs (and sometimes “oohs” and “awws”) from everyone.
What do feel are the greatest differences in creating/executive producing an animated series vs. live-action?
At the end of the day, it’s all about telling a good story. One thing we love about animation is the big, crazy places that you can take stories and characters. The one drawback to animation is that (unlike our last show which was shot in front of a live studio audience) you don’t get that immediate feedback and hear if something is or isn’t getting a laugh. It takes months of animating and tinkering to get things just right – so it’s a waiting game.
If Hailey could guest star on another Disney animated show, which one would it be and why?
I would say “Big City Greens” since Cricket shares Scott’s overall enthusiasm and Hailey’s enthusiasm for overalls.
What is something that people would be surprised to learn about you? (one response from Nick; one response from Devin)
Nick: My oldest son is named Phineas named after “Phineas and Ferb,” which Devin and I wrote a couple episodes of. Also, I won a 24-hour short film contest in college with my friend Jon M. Chu, who went on to direct “Crazy Rich Asians” and the “Step Up” movies.
Devin: I am a huge fan of “Weird Al” Yankovic (who makes several appearances on the show) and once convinced my parents to drive us from California to Darwin, Minnesota to see the “Biggest Ball of Twine in Minnesota”, because “Weird Al” wrote a song about it. In an appropriately cruel twist of fate, that same song is now one of my son’s favorites, and he keeps asking me to take him to see “the ball.”
Ok this is a huge question for our audience, we know about the book that Hailey has to complete, so does that mean it is a serialized animated show? Will the overarching plot build over the seasons? Does Hailey’s On It have a complete storyline at least in your heads with a beginning, middle and end?
There is an over-arching plot! In particular, Hailey and Scott’s relationship will take a lot of twists and turns. Without spoiling anything, there are a couple big “twists” that happen this season – one big one in our mid-season two-parter “U.F.Whoa!” and one in our season finale that change the dynamic of Scott and Hailey’s relationship moving forward. We’ll also uncover more clues about what is happening in the future and who is sending the Chaos Bots as the series progresses. Stay tuned!
In one sentence why should everyone tune in to watch “Hailey’s On It!”?
One sentence? Here goes: It’s really funny and has a great cast, as well as action and romance and a little futuristic smartphone teddy bear named Beta who joins them on some really cool adventures where Scott and Hailey go on road trips and K-Pop concerts and Old West towns, and also Weird Al sings a couple songs!
Thanks to Devin Bunje and Nick Stanton for taking time out of their schedule to talk with us. Make sure to tune into “Hailey’s On It!” on June 8, 2023 on Disney Channel and Disney+ on June 9th. Make sure to check out a cool clip below