Interview: Yaya Gosselin Discusses Playing Missy Moreno in Netflix’s ‘We Can Be Heroes’

As part of our three-part interview series leading up to our review of Robert Rodriguez's superhero film We Can Be Heroeswe chatted with another one of the film's young heroes.

YaYa Gosselin, plays Missy Moreno, the daughter of Pedro Pascal's superhero persona Marcus Moreno. Gosselin is an incredibly talented actress who has appeared in 13 Reasons Why, The Purge, Law and Order: Sting Unit, and most recently as a series regular on FBI: Most Wanted opposite series lead Julian McMahon. We Can Be Heroes follows Missy's journey as a young member of a superhero team called the Heroics, and the help she receives along the way from the other young Heroics in the group.

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Cr. NETFLIX © 2020

YaYa Gosselin Discusses Her Role in We Can Be Heroes

ML: Have you seen the original Sharkboy & Lavagirl

YaYa Gosselin (YG): I have seen it now! When I auditioned for the role of Missy I hadn't seen it though. I watched it while we were filming in Austin.

ML: What was the audition process like for We Can Be Heroes? 

YG: You know, I auditioned the first round and didn't hear anything for a month. I just wrote it off and thought it wasn't for me. Then a month later I got a director's session with Robert (Rodriguez). My nerves got the best of me and I messed up quite a bit in that meeting. I honestly thought I blew it. Then a couple of weeks went by and I did a chemistry read with a couple of the other kids and the rest is history!

ML: What was your favorite part of shooting We Can Be Heroes

YG: My favorite part was working so closely with Robert. He is amazing to work with and I love his entire crew. It felt like family. I also love that I got to work in my home state of Texas! Tex-Mex is life!

ML: Were there any unexpected challenges while filming?

YG: It was my first time working full long days. All of us are in every scene and some weeks we even worked 6 days. The workload was a big adjustment for me for sure. It was also challenging being the leader. It might not seem like it in the movie, but I was only 10 when we filmed and most of my co-stars were 12 and 13. It was a big responsibility and it required a lot from me, and I really grew from it.

ML: You’ve done a lot of very serious shows, what was it like to be on a set that was more kid-focused and fun?

YG: It was so different! It definitely made it harder to focus but it was a lot of fun. The food was incredible and production was always doing fun stuff for us. Sometimes it didn't even feel like work and more like a funhouse.

ML: Was there anyone in the cast that you were like, “Whoa, I can’t believe I get to work with them!”

YG: Priyanka Chopra. Not only was she the only adult actor I knew but I had watched her in Isn't It Romantic on Valentine's Day that year and loved it. She has a very commanding presence about her but she is so nice. She really went out of her way to make us feel special and she gives the best hugs. Sharing scenes with her was incredible and I hope I get to do it again.

ML: Did any of the superhero parents give you tips or advice?

YG: No, but I will say that I learned a lot from watching Priyanka. She made very specific choices in playing Ms. Granada. Her body language, her walk, how she used her hands, etc. I got to watch her transform from Pri to Ms. G and it was good! I hope to play a villainous character at some point.

ML: Who was the funniest person to work with on set? Were there any pranks?

YG: Adult-wise the most fun was Pedro. He is fun on set and tried his best not to curse in front of me which I appreciated. He is so silly and that is what I love most about him. Kid wise, hands down, Isaiah. He is a total jokester and prankster and filming would have been boring without him. He is hilarious!

ML: Do you have anything that you do to help yourself get into character? 

YG: I really like to get into a character's backstory and try to relate to it somehow. If a certain character doesn't have a backstory, I always make one up so that I can make solid choices. For example, in Heroes we don't know how my Mom died so I created her story in my head. It gave Missy and Marcus more layers to work off of.

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We Can Be Heroes: (L-R) Vivien Blair as Guppy, Isaiah Russell-Bailey as Rewind, Lotus Blossom as A Capella, YaYa Gosselin as Missy Moreno, Akira Akbar as Fast Forward, Hala Finley as Ojo, Dylan Henry Lau as Slo-Mo. Cr. Ryan Green/NETFLIX © 2020

ML: What sets Missy apart from the other young heroes? 

YG: Well Missy doesn't have powers so there is always that. But I think there is even more than that. She also lives a completely different life than the other kids and she lost her mother. I wanted to capture her grief in the way that she is shut off from the world to an extent. She doesn't fit in but she also doesn't really want to try to fit in either. That can happen after you lose someone.

ML: How does Missy feel about being the one without superpowers? How does she compensate for that in other ways?

YG: If I'm being honest, I was super bummed when I found out I was the only kid in the movie without superpowers. Any kid would be bummed and I would be lying if I said that I wasn't. But Missy's story really moved and inspired me. It really made me realize how important leadership skills are. It shed light on my own life and gave me the opportunity to decide what kind of girl I want to be. Now on the other side of it, I love that Missy isn't like the rest of the group. She is perfect just the way she is. I wouldn't change her for anything.

ML: What songs are on Missy Moreno’s playlist? 

YG: Something tells me Missy likes Rock n’ Roll. The song that makes me feel like Missy when I listen to it is “The Lion The Beast The Beat” by Grace Potter.

ML: What do you hope that audiences take away with them from the movie?

YG: I hope people feel empowered when they see it. It's been a rough year and I hope kids and parents both have fun watching it and feel ready for change in 2021. The young Heroics are a great example of what we can do as a nation to get through the pandemic.

ML: If you could pick one superpower to have, which would you choose? 

YG: The Power of Healing. We had interviews back in 2019 while we were filming and I said the same thing not knowing what was to come. So many people want and need healing right now.

ML: Do you have any real-life “superheroes” that you look up to? 

YG: My grandfather was and is my hero. He came to Austin a few times when we were filming. He was my best friend and my biggest supporter. He helped me get to where I am today. He was diagnosed with Stage 4 Pancreatic Cancer while I was filming Heroes and he died one week after we wrapped. It happened so fast and they didn't want to tell me until we wrapped. I wish he could have seen it come out, but he got to come to set and watch me work and he met Robert. He got to see my dream come true.

ML: Who is your favorite comic book superhero? 

YG:  Right now I'm reading Blue Beetle. He is Mexican-American AND from Texas! I really, really like it but if I had to choose one it would be Wonder Woman. I would love to play Young Diana in a TV series!

ML: I know that We Can Be Heroes filmed way before The Mandalorian premiered last year, but is it cool to share a “TV Dad” (Pedro Pascal) with Baby Yoda? 

YG: Yes, very cool! I like to say Grogu and I are cousins, lol!

ML: I have always joked that I got into acting because I love set catering. What’s the best meal you’ve ever had on the set?

YG: Catering and crafty is the best thing about acting! On the Fourth of July, they had a huge smoker and we had some of the best Texas BBQ I have ever had in my life. That's saying a lot because we are a BBQ loving family with roots in Memphis and Texas. They also had nitrogen ice cream for us that day! On the first day, we had scallops and prime rib and killer baked potatoes. Every single day there was a full Blue Bell ice cream bar. I'm a Texas girl it's my favorite. We were so spoiled on the set of Heroes. It was the best catering I have ever had!

ML: What do you always have to grab at crafty on set?

YG: In Austin, I was obsessed with these dried Fuji Apples. I think they are Members Mark brand. They are delicious. When I am working in NYC my go-to is a cup of the Trader Joe's Instant Ramen. The Miso one. It's so good and most of my scenes are outside so it helps me stay warm. I also love the mixed berry cup with fresh blackberries, blueberries, and strawberries for a nice sweet treat. Now I'm hungry! 

You can find out more about Missy Moreno Christmas Day on Netflix.

Looking for more coverage about Robert Rodriguez's We Can Be Heroes? Check out our interviews with Vivien Blair and Nathan Blair, leading up to our review of the film on Christmas Day. 

Maggie Lovitt is a writer at Wealth of Geeks where she covers her favorite topics: Star Wars and pop culture nerdery.

In her free time, she is also a novelist, screenwriter, actor, and member of the Screen Actors Guild.