Mixtape is a sweet film about a girl finding who she is with the help of a mixtape that her parents made. Gemma Brooke Allen plays Beverly and Julie Bowen plays her grandmother (I know what you’re thinking, there is no way she is a grandma, but she was a young mother and it’s part of the plot). To celebrate the new Netflix film, I sat down with them both to talk all things 90s, music, and doing stripper moves for TikTok dances.
“A mixtape is a message from the maker to the listener.”
What was it like for you to actually get to experience that kind of going back to the 90s since you weren’t there for it the first time?
Gemma- Yes, it was amazing. I’m so glad that I got to experience it with my mom. I totally listened to all 90s music. Mariah Carey, Celine Dion, Whitney Houston, and all of the 90s fashion is totally coming back in style too now, so being able to [say] ‘I wish I lived in the 90s,’ but I know that this was close enough. So I’m very grateful that I got to do it. It was so fun.
Julie, did you have to teach Gemma spool a tape? And Gemma did that Walkman actually work?
Gemma – I don’t think so. I’m not really sure. Sometimes I’d actually play it when filming. And it would just…nothing would happen. I would have liked to play some heavy metal but you know, it’s fine. I actually still have that Walkman and the mixtape. The props people are so nice and they sent it to me for my 13th birthday.
Julie Bowen – I did not have to teach her anything about spooling it because there was no hope in this movie for that mixtape, that mixtape needed to be dead. But I would like to have told her the secret of how to stop? Do you remember the secret of how you would make it so you couldn’t record over it? You put a piece of tape over part of it or you would punch out that little tab. And that’s how you would make it so that nobody could record over your like precious precious mixtape by accident.
You were recently rocking out and a Harry Styles concert. So if you could create a mixtape for your children, what are some of the songs that we might hear on it?
Julie Bowen – Oh, I have. I’ve made playlists for them. And they’re just like, ‘Mom!’ Sometimes they put up with it. But I mean, I always start with ‘Over the hills and far away’ by Led Zeppelin because it’s the greatest thing to listen to when you’re driving in a car, which is all you do in LA and just that don, don, don, don, I mean, there’s no volume high enough for that song.
This film was such a beautiful, heartwarming film, as well as a lot of fun, laugh-out-loud moments. I’d love to know what do you hope families take away from this movie?
Julie Bowen – I would like people to take away the message that there’s a lot of value in slowing down. The fact that it used to take hours and hours and hours to make a mixtape alone is sort of like a little hidden message about the value of things taking time. Not being plugged in all the time, not having Wi-Fi not having Bluetooth everything that there really is a lot of value to not be connected at all times.
What made you want to be a part of this film?
Julie Bowen – I had the good fortune to play one character for 11 years. And I do love Claire Dunphy. And I love the Dunphy’s all together and everything about Modern Family. But when I fantasized about being an actor as a little girl. And even when I started getting into the business, it was the variety of roles you got to do that really appealed to me. And it’s been a long time since I got to do something really different. I’m playing a grandma, a very young grandma, Claire Dunphy was also a grandmother, by the way at the very end. But it was more the exploration of grief. And this is more difficult. This is a woman who doesn’t want to talk. That’s stunning to me. Like somebody who doesn’t want to talk that’s like a real leap. And getting to sort of stretch that acting muscle and find out if I could still do that crying bit was a challenge I wanted to take on.
Gemma, aside from getting to sing in the film, I read that you’re releasing your very first song. So I’d love to know did you write the song? And can you tell us a little bit about that?
Gemma – Yes, I wrote the song and I had a lot of great help. And we just finished recording it and it should be out very soon. It’s a Christmas single. And it is called ‘Happier at Christmas’ and the message is kind of like, things happen and stuff. But you know, you just got to let everything aside and party because everyone’s happier at Christmas. I’m very excited.
During filming Gemma was teaching Julie how to do lots of TikTok dances in between their downtime on the set. I suggested that she started a dance trend when her single drops. I had to throw in this little exchange because it was so funny.
Gemma – Yes, Julie, you have to dance. You have to make a dance with me.
Julie Bowen – I’ll make it y’all definitely. I’m gonna pencil that in. So this afternoon. Definitely, definitely. I’m the worst dancer and to be with this little ray of sunshine, Gemma and I didn’t even realize that she is actually a very trained singer and dancer. Those talents came out later. She’s the real deal. She’s a triple threat.
Gemma – Thank you. You don’t give yourself enough credit. You’re a great dancer. Oh, yeah. Huh. got the moves the groove.
Julie Bowen- I did a stripper drop for you. I was in a postal workers outfit and I just stripper drop, like slap the floor. Yeah, I really, I really brought it.
Gemma- That’s your signature.
On the eve of Y2K, orphaned, awkward 12-year-old Beverly Moody (Gemma Brooke Allen) discovers a broken mixtape crafted by her teen parents who died in a car accident when she was a baby. Raised by her grandmother Gail (Julie Bowen), a former teen mom herself who finds it painful to speak about her late daughter, Beverly sees this mixtape as a chance to finally learn more about her parents. So she sets out on a journey to find all the songs on the tape. Along the way, she makes friends with her quirky neighbor, Ellen (Audrey Hsieh); intimidatingly tough, Nicky (Olga Petsa); and Anti (Nick Thune), an anti-everything record store owner who’s the key to finding these tracks, and a renewed bond between Gail and Beverly.