Ninth-grader Julia Schwartz is showing the boys who’s boss in the new Disney XD television series Gaming Show (In My Parents’ Garage).
In the show, Julia’s eponymous character joins fellow teens Ian Duchene and Jesse Sukunda as they create and run an online show devoted to gaming. While the trio plays, reviews and explores various video games, Youtube celebrities and video game experts and enthusiasts – including Toronto Raptors’ centre Jonas Valanciunas – often visit them.
“I think the best thing about video games is that it brings every gender and every age together,” says Julia, who fondly remembers playing video games when her American cousins would venture north to her family’s cottage. “It’s not just a thing for boys.”
In one episode, Julia donned a pink wig and sparkly makeup to interview fellow gamers at Toronto’s fan expo, which many consider “Comic-Con” of the north. In the same show, castmate Jesse travelled to San Francisco to chat with the producer of the latest Sonic the Hedgehog game.
Julia prefers racing games and Mario Kart 8 is her favourite one. “I think that they’re very exhilarating and it makes me excited to drive when I’m older.”
While she’s waiting to drive, this 14-year-old has a dizzying array of interests. Beyond acting, which she describes as her “passion,” Julia loves fashion and music. She also quilts and even sews some of her own clothes, working with a seamstress to perfect her craft. “When I was little I used to tape paper together to see if I could make a dress,” she laughs. “That did not work.”
Julia first ventured into acting through school productions where she played roles such as Ms. Hannigan in Annie and Rizzo in Grease. Before landing her spot on Gaming Show – her first professional gig – she trained at Armstrong Acting Studios in Toronto.
Julia values her Jewish education from Sunday school and training for her bat mitzvah. Though playing video games may not seem like the most traditionally Jewish pursuit, many home gaming consoles exist thanks to the work of inventor Ralph H. Baer who died on Dec. 6 at the age of 92. Baer and his family escaped Nazi Germany for the Bronx, N.Y. in 1938.
Baer held 150 patents related to his video gaming inventions and in 2010, he was inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame in Alexandria, Va.
Along with designing clothes, Julia is also inventive when working on the Gaming Show Youtube channel, which airs online videos between television episodes. “It’s all improv,” says Julia.
The show premiered on Nov. 16. “It’s still crazy to me that I am on TV because I feel like it all happened so fast,” she says. But, she’s hoping to continue in the industry and wants to try acting in the drama or horror genres in the future.
For now, Julia is making the most of her time on television. “It’s so cool that I’m in a position where I can be kind of a role model for younger kids,” she says. She’s become real-life friends with her castmates and wants to use her position of influence on Gaming Show to help viewers have fun, stay grounded and enjoy life.
Gaming Show (In My Parents’ Garage) airs on Disney XD Sundays at 6PM ET.