You probably think you know a lot about Laura Marano. After all, the actress and singer has graced our TV screens for over 10 years, including her starring role on Disney’s Austin & Ally. Though the show went off the air at the beginning of this year, Laura’s been plenty busy, releasing the first two singles from her upcoming debut album. And while you probably knew all that, did you know that the 20-year-old is also an avid gamer? Last weekend, Laura teamed up with Nintendo to host the 3DS Girls Love Gaming Event, where she and a group of lucky girls got to test-drive some of Nintendo’s classic (and soon-to-be classic) games. We caught up with the multi-threat over email to get the lowdown on her favorite games, her advice for girl gamers, and all the other exciting projects she has on the horizon (including a hint on when you’ll hear some new music).
Teen Vogue: When did you start gaming?
Laura Marano: My love affair started with gaming as a young girl, when I first started playing on a Nintendo Game Boy. I was a beast at the 101 Dalmatians game and Pokémon. Then, I got my first Nintendo DS in middle school, and my love was solidified.
TV: What are your favorite games?
LM:Nintendogs was literally the best thing ever. I literally had over 8 dogs, and had never been happier. Of course, Pokémon and Super Mario Bros. were also on the top of my gaming list.
TV: Do you have a favorite console?
LM: See, this is the issue: I literally am like secretly 80 years old. Like if I could just play on a Nintendo Game Boy for the rest of my life, I would be a happy gal. But I do enjoy my New Nintendo 3DS XL and Wii.
TV: Tell us about the Girls Love Gaming event.
LM: It was so fun! Basically, we had these different gaming stations, and we all got to play 3DS games throughout the event—some of which aren’t even available for sale yet! There was lots of Mario with Mario Party: Star Rush, Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS and Mario Kart 7, but also other games like Pokémon Sun and Pokémon Moon, suiting each girls’ different gaming style. The girls I was playing with were so smart and knowledgeable, and were literally teaching me ways to win.
TV: Do you think there are misconceptions about girls in gaming out there?
LM: Oh, definitely! I think most people would say gaming is a male-dominated activity, which I think discourages girls sometimes from joining in on the fun. In my experience, not only do girls game just as much as boys, but they are also just as good.
TV: What would you say to your fellow girl gamers who sometimes feel there isn’t a place for them in the gaming world?
LM: Don’t be dissuaded by stereotypes because you are the only one who decides what kind of person you want to be. If you like gaming, then you should game. It doesn’t matter if you’re good at it, bad at it, serious about it, or just having fun. Don’t let a stereotype rule the life you want. No matter your gaming style or preference, Nintendo has a game for you.
TV: What would you say to girls who are interested in gaming but haven’t started yet?
LM: Just go for it! There are so many games out there, and all you have to do is just get a device, like one of my favorites is the New Nintendo 3DS XL. You can even go over to a friend’s house and game with a partner (which is my favorite thing to do), so you’re not alone when you try the games out!
TV: What else are you working on right now in terms of acting and singing?
LM: I have been recently working on some really cool films, which I am super excited about! I am going to start shooting this film in Toronto pretty soon, and the cast is so incredible (no big deal, but Robert De Niro is in it…it’s fine, I’m not screaming, you are). I am all done with the music for my album, and I’m actually going to be releasing another single pretty soon — the issue of course is scheduling. My label and I agree we should release the album when I’m going to be able to promote it, so hopefully I’ll get a date soon that I can share with everybody.
TV: What are you most excited about?
LM: In life? Honestly, everything. I’m the kind of person that likes keeping busy, and I truly believe everything happens for a reason. These last couple of months, I unexpectedly had some time off, and I was able to spend it with my family, which I really needed. I’m just thankful for everything in my life.
TV: Is there any one particular Nintendo product you’re hoping to receive this holiday season?
LM: Definitely the new Super Mario Maker for Nintendo 3DS! I got to play the new one at the Girls Gaming event, and It. Was. Awesome.