Bella Thorne and Zendaya Coleman are real-life best friends who play best friends CeCe and Rocky on the Disney Channel hit Shake It Up. Now they're at it again, co-starring as pals-turned-rivals in Frenemies, an upcoming Disney Channel movie.
"It was amazing when they asked us to do Frenemies," the 15-year-old Coleman says during a joint telephone interview with Thorne from the Shake It Up set in Hollywood. "Bella is definitely my best friend. Just the fact that I got to do another project working with someone I already love, it made the experience 100 times more fun."
Set to premiere Friday, Frenemies follows the overlapping stories of three sets of friends who become enemies. Thorne, 14, plays Avalon to Coleman's Halle, and Avalon and Halle end up at each other's throats when someone offers to buy their fashion webzine, but wants only one of them to stay on board as editor.
"Halle is the nerd," Coleman says. "Avalon is the glamorous one, and I'm the nerd who does all the writing for the blog. So I'm the quieter, more reserved one who likes to keep her voice and her comments to herself. It's actually fun to watch her grow throughout the movie and get out of her shell a little."
"We actually didn't want to let too much of CeCe and Rocky into our performances," Thorne adds. "It was a little difficult, to be honest. I think we were a lot like CeCe and Rocky at the table read, but we learned to really know our characters and grow through our characters."
"One of the main things I wanted to do was separate my characters as much as possible," she says. "When you watch the movie, you'll see that my character wears glasses. I asked for glasses, which I felt was something I could use to give Halle some personality as well as differentiate her from Rocky. That was one thing, and then it just took some time to learn about the characters and dive into who they were."
Even as Frenemies premieres, new episodes of Shake It Up will air. The show, currently in its second season, follows the exploits of CeCe and Rocky, who are backup dancers on their favorite dance show, "Shake It Up, Chicago."
Shake It Up initially faced a rocky road, since it had the daunting task of replacing Hannah Montana (2006-2011), but it has all worked out: Shake It Up ranks as television's top-rated series among the important "tween" audience of kids ages 9 to 14.
Thorne, who was born in Florida, has been acting since 2003 and counts among her 20-plus credits guest shots on Entourage (2007) and Wizards of Waverly Place (2009), and recurring roles on Dirty Sexy Money (2007), Big Love (2009), and My Own Worst Enemy (2009). Coleman, who lately is billing herself by the single name Zendaya, is from Oakland, Calif. She modeled and sang and danced in local theater productions before landing "Shake It Up."
The show has put both actresses on the map and on the covers of a slew of teen magazines. There's even a Shake It Up fashion line. Also, each has been recording and releasing songs and accompanying music videos.
Sudden fame has gotten the better of many young actors and actresses, including a few Disney starlets, so Thorne and Coleman often turn to each other when they feel the need to laugh, cry, or vent in their effort to stay grounded.
"I'm really glad that I have Zendaya," Thorne says. "To know that she'll always be there for me in a tough situation ... I think it would be a lot harder if it was just a one-on-one and if we weren't best friends. So I'm really glad I have her."
"Honestly, I couldn't imagine doing a show by myself," Coleman says. "It's such hard work and you're doing so much. To be alone throughout the process, I couldn't do it. To have someone with me, to really support me and be with me through the entire ride, someone I can bond with and who I know has been through the same things I'm going through, it just makes the whole experience way, way better."