Actress and singer Laura Marano was born in 1995, when I was a senior in high school -- and AOL (and the Internet, in general) was exploding in popularity. Now Marano, who's appeared in major films "The Jacket" and "Superbad" and TV shows "Without a Trace," "Dexter," "Back to You," "Sarah Silverman Program," and "Heroes" is a senior in high school and is exploding in popularity, herself, as Ally Dawson of hit Disney series "Austin & Ally."
Download.com caught up with the teenage actress about season two's cliffhanger, taping the new season, her real-life college plans, texting in class, her difficulties with existing video apps, and why she still flips over flip phones.
I've noticed on Twitter that you just started taping season three of Disney's "Austin & Ally" show. What's it like being back on set?
OMG, it's like we never left. So the first day we came back, it was like the first day of school, where we're all like, "What did you do over the hiatus?" And we got back into the groove really quickly. So it was great to be back. I missed everybody a lot.
What are some of the things that fans can look forward to this season?
It's a hard question to answer, because something really big happens in our season two finale, in September -- something really big happens in Ally's career, and something big happens with Austin's career and they just might not intertwine, and it might get in the way of their relationship. Season three deals with that and you can expect a lot more laughs and a lot more great music and just four crazy people trying to make it in the music business.
On the show, you play an aspiring singer. I know you also make music in real life. Do you have plans to release an album?
I 100 percent have music in my future and really want to release a record, but I don't want to release something that I'm not completely 100 percent proud of and I put 110 percent of my time in. So it's definitely going to be a while, but it's definitely in my future.
What are your plans for college?
So I'm a senior right now, and I definitely plan on going to college, but I might defer the first year because I don't know what's happening with "Austin & Ally." But it's definitely in my future. My family has always prized education, because my parents are both teachers, so I know I definitely want to go to school. I know this potentially may make me a nerd [laughs], but I love it; I really do.
Do you have a major in mind?
I'm really into political science, so I want to explore that, but I also want to major in music; but I think that might be the weirdest double major in life. I don't think I'd major in acting, because I've done that my whole life. So I'd like to learn another branch of entertainment or political science.
How did your parents being teachers influence your view of teachers?
I am so glad you asked that question, because I think it absolutely changes your ideals of teachers. I have a lot more respect and compassion for them, so if any of my friends complain about teachers, I say, "Listen guys, being a teacher is super hard and they have to do this and that"-- and I have this need to be liked by every teacher I have so I will do anything to make teachers happy; and I think that comes from knowing how hard both my parents work and validating their hard work.
What is your favorite social media app?
Definitely Twitter. I am pretty obsessed with it and I think that it's because you can connect with people who are fans right away, which is the coolest thing ever. I have only been on Twitter 13 or 14 months and I already have almost 10,000 tweets and I don't know if that's normal. I don't think it is. But I think it's cool that I get to talk to people, just saying I'm excited about the upcoming episode of "Austin & Ally" or talk about whatever they're excited about.
There have been a lot of stories -- from Michael Jackson's daughter, Paris to Will Smith's daughter, Willow -- about celebrity children tweeting too much TMI.
I definitely see where that's a problem with social media, but I have always been a very private person and go to a regular high school and try to keep my personal and professional life as separate as possible. So even though I tweet a lot, I'm very careful about what I do tweet, because it's such a fine line between your personal and professional life and you really shouldn't mix the two. With social media it becomes harder, especially because you connect with people, directly.
So what devices do you own?
I have a flip phone but I also have an iPad.
OK, I know what you're thinking. Wow, flip phone? No one's had a flip phone since the early 2000's; what's up with that, Laura Marano? Let me answer that for you -- because they're really cool. I like that I can snap it shut when I'm having a bad conversation or snap it open when I'm determined to make a call. Do iPhones or Droids do that? No, they do not. They just stay open and are so boring. I have a flip phone and I'm bringing it back, so when they come back in a few years, I want you to remember this conversation and say that Laura Marano brought back the flip phone. I just feel emotionally attached to it.
Do you ever miss apps?
I don't have too many apps on my iPad, but I have Twitter and Instagram and some others. Honestly, I feel like if I had a Smartphone, I would not be social anymore, because I would just be so attached to doing things on my phone. When I'm with my iPad and with other people I feel bad, because I'm concentrating on my iPad rather than the people. It's not a positive thing at all, because I think when you're with people, you should focus on them. If I had a Smartphone, I'd just be too addicted to it.
When I was in high school, teenagers were often compelled to pass notes in class. But now that everyone has multiple devices on them at all times, I'd imagine that it's even harder to get them to pay attention.
I feel very bad for teachers, because instead of passing notes, people are texting each other and even worse, people are also texting each other within different classrooms, so you have the rules -- you're not supposed to have your phone out and it's supposed to remain off during class -- but obviously most people break those rules. I obviously can't do that because it is a flip phone and it's not as easily textable like other phones, so it'd be more noticeable. But I feel bad for teachers, because that's unfair to them.
What are some of the apps on your iPad?
Yeah, I have Instagram, Twitter, and Keek. Now let me tell you about Keek. So I wanted to watch a Keek video on my iPad, but you can't watch it without the app. So honestly I have no intention of getting it, but I had to and wanted to make the process as painless as possible. So it asked if I wanted to connect to my Twitter and I thought, "Sure." Then Keek sent a tweet out that I had Keek, which I didn't want because I didn't want to make one. Then my followers saw that message and they were like, "Oh my gosh, Laura, we can't wait for your keeks." Then I was like, OMG, because I wasn't planning on making any and now I feel bad, so it was kind of uncomfortable, and I've only made one, but now I feel like I should make more. But I'm going to figure it out. There are just so many video apps that I get confused.
Do you use Vine?
No, but I have seen other people's vines. It's fun but really confusing. I give people props who have awesome vines, because it takes a while to get used to. Or maybe that's just the non-technological person that I am. So when I see good vines, I say, "Go them!"
I haven't apped out my iPad, like gotten any games, which is a bummer, because I love games. Whenever I am with my sister, she has all these games on her iPhone like Checkers, and we just want to play them. I probably should make that happen.
You were born the year that the Internet really exploded. Could you even imagine what life was like pre-Internet?
Yes, it's become a major part of our culture and makes things a lot easier when it comes to school. At this point I could not picture what it would be like but I could imagine...I think now there's something almost romanticized about going to the library and doing research or just looking at all the books. I can imagine that, but I think it's just so much easier to have your own library on your computer while you're in your room.
After a long school/workday, do you ever watch TV on your iPad?
I watch YouTube videos. I also watch "House of Cards" and "Orange Is the New Black" on Netflix. I play music videos or funny videos. I had a stage where I was obsessed with puppy videos, but it made me want puppies all the time. So I had to stop that.
You started your career playing popular TV/film characters as children. So if you had to design the child or next-generation release of an existing app, which would improve upon it, what would it be and why?
I think that Twitter is awesome, but one thing that would make it even cooler from an educational standpoint is if it had a section where you could talk about the different current events happening and find out even more info. that way -- where it would just be information, but not personal opinions. I think it would be cool if it was just information without bias, so kids, teachers, or adults could find out about a story first -- without finding out the different opinions on the story.