'Diary of a Future President' Stars on Season 2 and the Finale's Intriguing Ending (Exclusive)
Spoiler alert! If you have not watched season 2 of Diary of a Future President, details from the finale are included.
Future president Elena Cañero-Reed is ready to be a leader -- at her middle school.
Disney+'s Diary of a Future President recently dropped its second season, which continues Elena's (Tess Romero) origin story as the 13-year-old Cuban American enters the seventh grade and recounts her journey through excerpts from her diary, charting the ups and downs of middle school as she begins her path to becoming President of the United States (played by executive producer Gina Rodriguez). As Elena embarks on her new mission -- to be elected student rep -- the theme of finding your voice (and how to use it) weaves in and out of everyone's narratives this year.
"Every character is growing up a little bit in their own way," creator Ilana Peña tells ET. "At the end of season 1, Elena has the realization, 'I could be a leader.' In season 2, she learns what that means to be a leader and ultimately, that it's not about her. She learns to use her voice and her power for good."
"On the flip side, Bobby is also learning to use his voice but he's learning in a totally different way," Peña notes. "Bobby had a revelation of his own about his identity and sexuality, but Bobby is not a character who shares very much. Bobby is not a character who is super vulnerable with himself or with people he loves. In season 2, those walls start to come down and he learns the importance of using his voice and learns the value that comes with that. They're both learning to use their voice in different ways."
For the actors, having two seasons under their belt living in their characters' shoes meant they became much more in tune with their respective paths.
"Elena's growing up this season," Romero tells ET of Elena's journey, adding that she personally "related to her shifting dynamic with her mother." "Even how Tess and Bobby's relationship evolves. As me and my sister get older, we still fight and we are still mean to each other, but we talk to each other more about our lives and have grown closer as we grow up."
"With the Bobby and Elena relationship, I can definitely relate to that because when we were younger, me and my brother used to fight a lot more and get on each other's nerves. Now we've really developed a friendship. I mean, he's my best friend. I feel like that's what's happening with Bobby and Elena in season 2," co-star Charlie Bushnell, who plays Elena's older brother, tells ET. "Bobby is really trying to figure out who he is and every teen can relate to that because every teen is trying to figure out who they are."
Though Elena's desires to be elected seventh grade student rep is bumpy and rife with challenges (she questions whether student office is right for her), Romero credits the lessons her character learns throughout the process as an eye-opener for her to ultimately go all-in.
"She gradually realizes the reasons why she's doing this, all of the good things, and why she wants to run for student rep and be a leader in the first place," the actress says. "Then she comes back to it and she's fighting really hard for this position because she thinks she can do a lot of good and help a lot of people out. It's been really cool to watch her journey in that regard."
Even though audiences know Elena eventually ends up as the President of the United States, "it's been really interesting to see how she gets there," Peña says.
As the series is loosely inspired by her own life, Peña admits "it's mirrored my own journey as a showrunner and as a leader." "I didn't come in season 2 with the brazenness that Elena came into seventh grade with, but I was learning this is how you be a boss, every voice is valuable, lift up those around you, you're only as good as your collaborators," she reflects. "We were writing those lessons for Elena to learn too. And it's something that I never really expected -- that my own journey would mirror Elena so much. Now I'm seeing her future more clearly because I've stepped into a leadership role myself. So her path is being formed as my path is being formed."
On the other side, Bobby goes on a poignant, but powerful journey, as he comes to terms with his sexuality in season 2, ultimately reaching a place where he feels comfortable and safe to open up to Elena, his family members and friends about his truest self. Bushnell said the season 1 finale, where Bobby struggled to tell his friend and teammate, Liam (Brandon Severs), his true feelings for him, marked "the beginning of Bobby's journey."
"Especially in that last mirror scene in the last episode of season 1 when he comes out to himself and he's like, 'I'm chill with this. This is who I am,'" Bushnell recalls. "We definitely explore that more in season 2 and like Elena, he has high expectations for high school and things don't go as he hoped. In those scenes when Bobby is honest with his feelings with Elena and [his mom] Gabi and opens up to them, I really wanted to have that be as realistic and truthful and meaningful as possible. Before filming those scenes, some of the crew members shared their coming out stories with me and that was really helpful to hear their experiences. I'm so grateful to Ilana Peña and Gina and everyone for giving me the opportunity to play this character and tell this story."
By the sophomore finale, Bobby goes on a date with his crush, C.J. (Donovin Miller), and the two share a sweet kiss. "Bobby's just super comfortable with who he is and he's proud of who he is and he definitely, as you can see within episode 2x05 and 2x09, he's very open with his feelings," Bushnell says. "His story is so important because there are so many kids around the world who are just like Bobby, who are going through something similar to Bobby and for them to watch this show and see themselves in the character and feel represented onscreen, it's amazing."
Adds Peña: "It was really meaningful to weave Bobby finding his voice with his coming out because they're both meaningful journeys for him and they inform one another. It wasn't until he was comfortable opening up that he could open up about who he was. We really tried to guide his journey with that. He wasn't about to tell anybody until he was ready to talk. I think that his sister was a big part of that, his mom, Sam, but also C.J. and Liam and his friends. He was given a supportive environment in which to grow and he thrives."
Of course, Diary of a Future President ends the season with a few untied threads -- first, with the results of the seventh grade election. Was Elena elected student rep? Her cryptic reaction to the phone call can be read a multitude of ways.
"Your guess is as good as mine!" Romero says. "The writers don't even know if she won or not. If season 3 happens, fingers crossed, then we can figure out what happened for Elena. I'm happy she got to that point. It's very exciting. Actually when we filmed it, I did about a thousand takes of just, 'Wait, what?' 'Wait, what?' 'Wait, what?' Gina would stand next to the camera and shout out, 'You won!' 'You lost!' 'Cardi B just gave you a thousand dollars!' 'Wait, what?'"
Not to mention the potential triangle forming between Bobby, C.J. and Liam now that Liam is aware of Bobby's feelings for him. "Oh, that was a doozy," Peña says of the Easter egg of a reveal. "I hope that people keep watching. There's so much more we can do."
Season 2 of Diary of a Future President is streaming now on Disney+. For more, watch below.
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