Christina Vidal Mitchell Talks New Show and Reflects on 'Brink!,’ ‘Freaky Friday’ and Set Crushes (Exclusive)
By Liz Calvario
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Fans grew up watching Christina Vidal Mitchell as a child actor, starring in her own Nickelodeon series, Taina, the Disney Channel Original Movie Brink!, Freaky Friday and more. Now, the 38-year-old actress is headlining the new ABC sitcom United We Fall.
The multicultural comedy follows Vidal Mitchell's Jo and Will Sasso's Bill, a couple with young kids and an overzealous extended family who let their judgmental grandmother move in with them.
"It's about their marriage, it's about their family. It's about how they get through every day because they're these two awesome people who were ambitious. Great with their jobs, good at what they did, their marriage," Vidal Mitchell tells ET's Deidre Behar about the show. "They felt like they were hitting on all cylinders, until they had children."
The show is based on the actual life and relationship of the sitcom's creator and writer Julius Sharpe and his wife, Stephanie, who is also a writer and producer on the show. The first season was also shot and wrapped before the early production shutdowns amid the coronavirus pandemic.
"It's basically about how they get through that, how parenting is hard enough and then they've got the input of Jo's brother, Chuy [Guillermo Díaz], and Bill's mother, Cindy [Jane Curtin]," Vidal Mitchell explains. "And how your family, when they mean well, kind of put more pressure on your already collapsing world -- but with the light of comedy."
Today, the actress is a proud wife and mother of two. In fact, she gave birth to her daughter, Ava, just four days prior to doing this interview. With her latest role, art is imitating life and she couldn't be happier.
"When I read the breakdown for the character before I read the script, I was like, 'This is me, literally!'" Vidal Mitchell exclaims. "Jo's just a little bit cooler and tougher, which if you meet Stephanie, it makes sense. But I was like, 'This is me!' This is how I feel about parenting and being a mother. Just, like, a hot mess." (laughs)
She also loved the fact that she and her character are working moms, who are "confident women, except when it comes to parenting."
"We could have moments of being clueless and feeling like, 'Wow, I really...I am not hitting the mark here.' Which I think is new, it's an unfamiliar role for Jo and it's an unfamiliar thing for me because in the rest of my life, I felt like, 'Oh, I got this,'" she explains, adding that Jo does speak up for herself more than she ever did in her life. "She's not afraid to give you a piece of her mind and I'm not quite like that. I wish I was."
As old fans get to reconnect with the actress, new fans are just discovering Vidal Mitchell's past projects thanks to a slew of streaming services.
"It's surreal, it's bizarre," she notes of now being a mom and people watching her previous shows and movies. "In a lot of ways, I still feel like that kid rollerblading and playing guitar and being on Nickelodeon. So sometimes it's a reality check, you're a grown woman!"
Vidal Mitchell credits Taina as the role that changed her life. Aside from it being her first time leading a show, she recalls having a lot of responsibility and growing up and maturing in "a very short period of time."
"It was a groundbreaking role for me. It catapulted me into a lot of other work and opened up different opportunities for me," she mentions.
While she would love to reboot Taina and see her working on her dancing and becoming a mom, she also loved seeing her Brink! cast in their recent virtual reunion.
"It was so fun! I missed all of them," she says of reconnecting with Erik Von Detten, Patrick Levis and Sam Horrigan, adding that after their Mashable Zoom, they talked about a potential Brink! sequel. "It was a conversation after our Zoom reunion. I don't know if you caught that part, but I think they actually put it on there where Eric was talking about doing a Zoom Brink! reunion and he was like, 'Lets do it!' I'm like, 'I don't know if I could get on roller blades, you guys! I gotta be honest. After two babies!?'"
"[But] I feel like Gabriella would have a school. I feel like she should have a daughter who was into rollerblading," she says of her character. "Yeah, I think that would be great!"
Hear more of what Vidal Mitchell has to say about her previous roles, her reflecting on her friendship with Freaky Friday co-star Lindsay Lohan and even revealing some of her on-set crushes, including Von Detten and Chad Michael Murray, in the video above.
United We Fall premieres July 15 at 8 p.m. on ABC.