Actress Elaine Kao
Kids aren’t so charmed by hocus pocus and abracadabra magic these days. It’s all about “Upside-Down Magic,”
which is the new Disney Channel original movie based on the fantasy children’s book series by Sarah Mlynowski, Lauren Myracle, and Emily Jenkins.
The film follows Nory Boxwood Horace (Izabela Rose), a 13-year-old girl who enters the Sage Academy for Magical Studies. When her best friend is placed in the cool class and Nory lands in a class of unconventional UDM (upside-down magic) misfits, she sets out to prove her abilities are as good as anyones.
With the Headmistress seemingly on a mission to hold her back, Nory is grateful for the influential Professor Han, who helps hone her unusual skill of turning into a "Dritten" (half-kitten, half-dragon).
Actress Elaine Kao
brings this enchanted Professor to life. Elaine has also become known for starring in the ABC.com series “American Koko,” produced by Viola Davis; and roles on “NCIS-LA,” along with the films “Wedding Palace” and “Bridesmaids.” She is set to appear in the new season of TNT’s “Snowpiercer” and the coming-of-age indie film “Manifest West.”
Elaine Kao recently answered some questions about “Upside-Down Magic” and more:
Tell us about your role in “Upside-Down Magic.”
ELAINE: I play Professor Han, teacher of the magical art of Fluxing at Sage Academy. Fluxers are the students who have the ability to turn themselves into animals. I start by teaching them how to turn into kittens and then progress to harder animals like goats.
How was it creating this magical world?
ELAINE: A lot of fun! We were lucky to shoot at a beautiful boarding school on Vancouver Island. It was an idyllic location with lush gardens and a lake that was a perfect setting for Sage Academy. Also, our production team did an incredible job creating our sets and costumes so it was very easy to believe in this world we were creating.
What would you consider your characters ‘best’ quality? And their ‘worst’?
ELAINE: Professor Han’s best quality is her positivity. She's always encouraging and supportive to her students unlike some of the other professors. Her worst quality may be that she is a bit too nice and trusting like when she lets Nory take the kitten from her.
Any interesting stories from the set you can share with us?
ELAINE: We filmed the Founders Day scenes at a location in Vancouver that had lots of bears so we had a bear wrangler on set to make sure they didn’t get too close. Bears actually walked through our craft services once! Another time we had to stop shooting until the bears were far enough from set.
What’s the biggest lesson you learned from working on this project?
ELAINE: The biggest lesson I learned is that kittens are extremely squirmy and don’t like to be held!
It was so hard to keep the kitten from jumping out of my hands during the fluxing lesson. We had to shoot that scene so many times because she was so wriggly but eventually, she calmed down for a couple of takes. She scratched me good but she was adorable so all is forgiven.
And, you’ve got a couple other projects coming soon right?
ELAINE: Yes, you can catch me in Season 2 of Snowpiercer on TNT next year. And I also recently finished shooting an independent film, “Manifest West” by Joe Dietsch and Louie Gibson
And, now just for fun:
Who’s your favorite actor/actress?
ELAINE: I have so many. Currently I love Leonardo Di Caprio. I thought he was brilliant in Once Upon a Time in America. And I’m a big fan of Sandra Oh. She’s a great actress and an inspiration to me.
What role from the past do you wish you could have played?
ELAINE: Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman in “Dirty Dancing.” I would have loved to dance with Patrick Swayze and do that iconic lift.
Favorite movie or TV show from your childhood.
ELAINE: “I Love Lucy.” I can still watch any episode and laugh out loud. Lucy was a comedic genius.
Tell us one thing that would surprise our readers to learn about you.
ELAINE: I worked briefly as a substitute teacher for elementary school. I was awful at it. I’m not a good disciplinarian and the kids always knew how to take advantage of the new sub situation. I have the utmost respect for teachers and what they do.
How can fans keep up with you?
ELAINE: You can follow me on IG: @thatelainekao link
Twitter: @elainekao link
or my website: www.elainekao.com link
Thanks, Elaine – keep enchanting us all!
"Upside-Down Magic" - still image (courtesy: Disney Channel)
Elaine Kao and Izabela Rose on-set - "Upside-Down Magic"