'She-Ra' Star Aimee Carrero Talks Adora's Journey, Feminism and Billie Eilish (Exclusive)
By Emily Krauser
Leon Bennett/Getty Images
To say Adora is going through a rough time would be putting it mildly.
When we last left the She-Ra and the Princesses of Power heroine, also known by her alter ego, She-Ra, the Princess Alliance was fully united; the protagonist half to her Fright Zone whole, Catra [A.J. Michalka], has been punished by Hordak; and a sickly Shadow Weaver [Lorraine Toussaint] has appeared by Adora's bedside in Bright Moon. It's a lot for one girl -- even one with a magic sword that transforms her into a nine-foot blonde magical warrior -- to take.
It's clear that Adora's story is far from finished. In fact, when season three begins streaming on Netflix on Friday, she's actually digging deep into her past to discover her origin story while still trying to defeat the Horde. Where the first two seasons were full of princess power and mythology-building, these new episodes are very much about Adora coming to terms with being the next She-Ra, a role she never asked for.
Aimee Carrero, the voice actress who portrays Adora/She-Ra, was ready for every messy storyline.
“She doesn't really understand the job, doesn't know why she has the job and doesn't really know how to balance her own personal life with this very important role that she's inherited,” Carrero explains to ET. “I like that it's not just being perfect all the time and having no challenges. She's definitely the kind of hero that has to work at it. I like what that provides for me as an actor, too.”
Adora is essentially your friend who listens to “Bad Guy” on repeat. “I think that's really her vibe,” the Dominican-American actress muses. “Like, she doesn't work out to Billie Eilish, but when she's in her room and wants to think about all the problems in her life, like, ‘Where am I coming from? How do I fix this relationship with Catra?' She's definitely listening to Billie Eilish, for sure.”
“Bury a Friend” could probably soundtrack season three -- but we promise that isn’t a spoiler. Only six episodes long, this is a true character arc for Adora. She goes from feeling like she has a vague handle on her new world to falling into a mind trip of a tailspin after learning that she came through a portal as a baby. Essentially adopted by the Horde, she has no idea who her original family was or where they came from, setting her off on a Mara-focused hero’s quest for her origin story, which Carrero describes as a “minefield for her.” Even though this is all set in a fantasy world, Adora is very much going through the agonizing learning curve that comes with being a teenager.
“Who doesn't understand what it's like to have that existential dread, to not really understand where you came from?” the 31-year-old actress muses. “Just because you know exactly who your parents are and your family, you still don't really understand them until you get older. So, I definitely identify with the frustration of getting older and the responsibility and not having all of the answers.”
Adora’s quest is also a reflection of our current times. Carrero sees our lives in this country right now as having a “real power grab-vibe to everything,” where we have to win all the time. Power has always been a major theme in She-Ra, and now it’s really exploring every aspect of that dynamic.
“It's really portrayed in the light of leadership and heroism being more about sacrifice than it is about power,” she muses. “Power doesn't equal happiness and a lot of the times power equals a lot of drama and sadness and conflicted feelings and responsibility. I like that message because I think more people need to hear that.”
She-Ra also manages to be extremely feminine without overtly saying so. The show has a female showrunner, mostly female cast and features a female lead, but this is never an issue. It’s a post-misogynist, post-racial world -- or as Carrero points out, maybe neither issue was ever even something to be post-. Here, women are just as powerful as men, there’s no discrimination based on how people look, and while there are challenges, they’re “stripped of that kind of prejudiced lens.” This is a world where such things just simply aren’t mentioned. There’s only one place where that can’t be said this season, and that’s when we’re introduced to the Crimson Waste. In the cantina, we do meet a subculture of people who’ve been marginalized, including Huntara, voiced by guest star Geena Davis.
"I haven't talked to [executive producer] Noelle [Stevenson] about this, but I don't think it's a coincidence that we're in the Crimson Waste this season. I think she's trying to say something about our current situation and whatever you think that is, it's probably right…” Carrero says. “Whatever it is we're doing, I know it is intentional and I know it's done with a lot of care because everybody who is involved [in She-Ra] believes in it wholeheartedly."
"It is the project I am the proudest of because of the social impact I believe that it has,” she adds. “I think sometimes you just need to see the ideal represented in order for it to just become a part of the national subconscious. People who grew up watching [the original ‘80s] She-Ra were better off than the people who grew up not watching any feminists portrayed on screen, so the people growing up watching our She-Ra will maybe in their thinking accept a world in which a woman is a leader and it's not commented on."
This all leads to one of this season’s biggest coups: scoring Davis, a Hollywood feminism pioneer. Her character, Huntara, is a power player in the Crimson Waste that Adora looks up to and eventually, with some literal trips and falls, aligns with. Carrero never got to meet Davis on set, but luckily, she was once on a cross-country plane with her, and essentially wanted to thank her for her service to women everywhere. "I have one regret in the whole time doing this job, and it's that I didn't stalk Geena Davis, because I didn't know," she says, joking that Stevenson was still shaking after Davis came to set, leaving shortly before Carrero’s call time that day.
Davis was talking about the lack of equality between men and women in the media for years, well before today’s current conversations, with data and an entire institute to back her up. “The idea that I get to -- even if it's just through the magic of TV making -- have many scenes with her is just amazing,” the former Young & Hungry star admits. “If I told that girl that was on that plane from Atlanta to L.A. freaking out over Geena Davis that one day she'd get to work with her, I wouldn't have believed it.”
In addition to Huntara, Adora's beloved sidekicks, Glimmer [Karen Fukuhara] and Bow [Marcus Scribner] are back, but the rest of the Princess Alliance takes a backseat in these six episodes. The pair play a major part in helping Adora get through the Crimson Waste, while Catra has her own Hordak revenge to seek, which will come to a violent head for Adora and Catra. Carrero describes Bow and Glimmer as Adora's home base, two people who only want the best for her, while Catra is the problematic friend she'll never be able to shake.
"It was important to give her a sense of home, a new home, because she didn't have that outside of Catra and the Horde, which is dysfunctional in its own way. But she's still drawn to Catra, and that's really the beauty of that relationship," Carrero says. "There's really so much love there. Who hasn't had a friend or somebody really important to them that's going down the wrong path and you're like, for my own survival, I need to walk away from you, but it's painful every time and whenever I see you, it's really triggering. That's really what the Adora-Catra relationship is at the moment."
And if you've been shipping Adora and Catra, don't worry -- Carrero is here for every single one of She-Ra's many shipped duos.
"I, of course, love the shipping going on. I love the Adora-Catra ship. I also love the Scorpia-Catra ship -- I'm on that tip, too, even though it's a bit one-sided…” she admits. “I don't want to give away anything, but I don't think it comes from nowhere. They definitely have a history and a connection, and whether it's meant to be more than that, we'll find out, but like any good friendship or relationship, it has so many complications, and that's what people love about it.”
Carrero knows there are too many spoilers to reveal much more about the "crazy, dramatic stuff” that’s going to happen, but she can't wait for fans to see it. "It's definitely a ride," she says. "It's a bumpy one, but I think they will be really happy and satisfied dramatically."