What if you discovered that you had magical powers? Now, imagine that right after you start to get your powers you find out that you’re never allowed to use them again. That’s exactly what happens to shape-shifting teenager Nory Boxwood Horace in Disney’s new film Upside-Down Magic.
Nory, played by 13-year-old actress Izabela Rose, can transform into animals, but her transformations are what the school administrators at Sage Academy call “wonky,” and wonky magic is dangerous. So, when Nory ends up in the School of Upside-Down Magic instead of one of the more illustrious Sage Schools like her best friend Reina Carvajal (played by Siena Agudong) who is a Flare, she and the rest of the wonky teens in her class set out to prove themselves.
“I’m so so connected to Nory,” Izabela shared with us. Nory is quirky, funny, and optimistic, a perfect match for Izabela Rose who is an enthusiastic and motivated teen in her own right. While Izabela isn’t a shapeshifter (a “Fluxer” as they call it at Sage Academy), she does have a lot of hobbies and skills. Along with being an actress, Izabela is also learning Spanish and an avid volunteer, gamer, musician, and cook! (She’s been practicing her guitar and cooking in quarantine.) Now that Upside-Down Magic has been filmed and is ready to make its way to the screens of Disney fans everywhere, Izabela has noticed that she hasn’t quite let go of Nory. So, add Disney-bounding to that list.
To prepare for filming, Izabela read the first book of the Upside-Down Magic series by Sarah Mlynowski. She wanted to know what Nory is like behind-the-scenes. Little did she know that she would start acting more and more like her character on a regular basis. Izabela has even been catching herself dressing like Nory post-filming. If purple boots start trending, we have Izabela to thank!
Something else you might notice if you read the book is that Nory’s shape-shifting is complicated. Her signature transformation (and Izabela’s favorite), a half-dragon half-kitten form called a “dritten,” makes her sprout wings, and Izabela shared with us that there are even more interesting animal combinations to look forward to in Upside-Down Magic. (No spoilers!) “It was so magical!”
On-screen, Nory changes forms in a flash, but behind-the-scenes, Izabela was learning to use a green screen to bring settings to life that weren’t there at all, including a green ball that would be animated as the dritten. “I definitely have to give a shoutout to our amazing production [team] that was part of Upside-Down Magic for helping me acclimate myself to a green screen since it was my first time.”
We asked Izabela what Sage School she would want to be in if she had the chance to go to Sage Academy. “That’s a hard one!” She said. “I think I would definitely pick Fluxer because I am a huge animal lover to the point where I actually talk to my animals and my plants…I could turn into animals and talk to animals. That would be a dream of mine.” As a Fluxer, Izabela told us her signature animal combination would be equal parts unicorn, butterfly, and cat. (Would you call that a flying unicat?)
Upside-Down Magic makes its way to Disney Channel on July 31, and Izabela hopes people take away some pretty important messages from the film. “I really hope that people watch the movie and open their minds to every possibility, but I do also hope that people will take away the messages in the movie with celebrating differences, self-identity, and self-worth, respecting yourself and respecting others, and true friendship.”