Interview: Austin and Ally's Laura Marano in Dubai

We speak to 19-year-old Disney star Laura Marano about being label mates with Taylor Swift, admiring Zendaya and her excitement to meet Dubai fans

How was the flight over? We heard you got into quite an awkward situation...
I’m just in a mode of excitement, I can’t believe I’m in Dubai. It’s amazing. From the moment I got off the plane, ever being at the airport. This is so embarrassing. I miss my 'Austin & Ally' family. We wrapped this year, we haven’t seen each other in a while. So it’s a 16-hour flight, I had a lot of time. I got to the TV, see Austin and Ally there, start playing it and the woman right next to me with her twins sons next to her said, ‘Is that you on the TV?’. I was like, ‘aaah, yes.’

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You’ll be performing at Dubai’s Ibn Battuta Mall at 5pm at China Court on August 6. You’ve never been here but what kind of relationship do you have with your fans in this region?
That is the coolest thing about social media to me, you can connect with your fans. When I announced I was going to Dubai with Dubai Summer Surprises I had a bunch of fans who said, ‘I live in Dubai but I’m on vacation right now, I’m so bummed!’. It’s my first time working with DSS and I just think the whole idea of it is so cool. We’re performing at the mall but we also have some other surprises in store.
I’m going to Modhesh World. It’s an indoor theme park which is insane amazing. I’m going to help with the talent shows. I started in the entertainment business when I was five years old so I love seeing kids that age, or older. With them I’m like ‘trust me guys, I’ve been there, I know how you feel’. Also DSS is awesome and have planned a desert safari for me.

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What do you know about Dubai so far? Is there anything else you’re planning on doing while you’re here?
So far, what I’ve noticed about Dubai is it’s a really great spot for family. It’s my parents’ anniversary today and they came with me because I’m across the world. It’s so cool they get to celebrate their anniversary here. It’s such a great spot, we’re right by the water. I’ve seen so many families here. I personally can’t wait until I’m performing at the mall. I get very interactive. I’m going to have all the kids sing with me, they might know some of my songs I sing from 'Austin & Ally' and I’ll perform some original songs that I’ve never performed before.
I love kids in general and the show I worked on is targeted for families so this is a perfect spot to be.

You’re well known because of your show Austin and Ally. You’ve just done the fourth and final season. Where do you plan on taking your career next?
Back in March I signed with this awesome record label, Big Machine, they have a bunch of amazing people and they happen to have one of my favourite artists in the world, Taylor Swift. It’s so awesome that we’re label mates. I’m going to be coming out with my single soon and then my album. That’s another reason why performing at DSS is very intriguing to me. I plan on performing at as many places as I can possibly go. It’s awesome to me that Disney Channel has this international fanbase. How cool is it that I get to go to Dubai and meet fans that’s I’ve already talked to before on social media? Music is so important to me and I can’t wait to share my music with not only my American fans, but international fans.

Speaking of that great platform that Disney gives you. What other Disney stars do you look up to?
What’s really funny was last night while couldn’t sleep and I was jetlagged, I started Googling… Disney Channel has this circle of stars, their old cast singing Disney songs. I was in heaven because it’s from my time, watching That’s So Raven and Zendaya. I’ve gone from singing on the weekends to, I have fans in Dubai and I’m flying to Dubai! It’s a crazy experience and it takes some getting used to but it’s still something amazing and I’m living my dream. It’s still hard work, don’t get me wrong.
Zendaya (from Disney’s 'Shake It Up') is the most beautiful girl I’ve met in my life and she’s sweet as well. But her beauty is out of this world. She’s such an incredible dancer and on 'Dancing With The Stars' she was amazing.

You’re nominated for Choice Summer TV Star: Female, Choice TV: Chemistry, along with Ross Lynch, and Choice TV Comedy: Show at the Teen Choice Awards. Which award do you think you stand the best chance of winning on August 16, and how will you celebrate if you do?

I really hope the show wins, also Ross (Lynch, who plays Austin) and I are up for best chemistry which is hilarious but that’s one that could win for sure. I would be happy with any one.
Last year we won the Kids Choice Awards and it was the same day I signed with Big Machine so it was the best day of my life. We all went bowling with our families and it was so fun. I should bring them to Dubai, if I win we should all head over to Dubai, go on a 16-hour flight…go to Modhesh World, hit the water…



What exciting projects do you have coming up in the near or distant future?

Definitely my music. I’m actually going to college but I think my fans can’t celebrate that too much so that’s exciting for me for sure.
I went to orientation at this one college in California. Part of the people recognized me and were like ‘what are you doing here?’ and the other part was ‘you look exactly like that Austin and Ally girl’. People would come up to me and take pictures and the others were like ‘who is that girl?’.
It’s going to be very hard and challenging but you have to understand I’ve always been balancing school with work. My senior year in high school – which everyone says is the easiest year, for me was the hardest. It’s so rewarding for me because both my parents are teachers, so it’s a necessity for me.

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