The fifteen-year-old actress stars in the latest Build-a-Bear production, where three young artists enter a talent competition that will change their lives.
Even though it’s early, Frankie McNellis hops on a Zoom call with the brightest smile on her face. Her newest role? The energetic and talented all-star athlete turned superstar, Alex, in Build-a-Bear Entertainment's Honey Girls. Fresh on streaming platforms, the film introduces three young hopeful artists who enter an arduous competition for a huge prize: Performing with Fancy G, played by Ashanti. Even though the three girls are told this isn’t a team competition, they begin to perform anonymously as a trio, going viral for their incredible performances. In the end, the movie is all about finding strength in numbers and remaining true to yourself no matter what life throws your way.
While Frankie is quick to note that she doesn’t relate to the basketball-superstar label that Alex carries, she shares plenty of similarities with her character. For one, they’re both musically inclined. From joining their school’s acapella groups to playing all sorts of different instruments. In addition to the music, Frankie is also a talented dancer and has been since she was five. Without a doubt, and fans of the movie can agree, Frankie was the perfect casting for the dynamic Alex. She did a tremendous job bringing this character to life.
Not only does this production count with the talent of those on screen, but the film boasts an incredible resume off camera. Honey Girls features an original soundtrack co-written by Mark Nilan Jr., a Grammy Award winner composer who’s worked with Lady Gaga. In addition to Mark, Julia Michaels, the famous singer songwriter, is the music supervisor for this film. And of course Ashanti also delivers some amazing performances throughout the entire project. For Frankie, working with artists of this caliber wasn’t just inspiring, but she made the most of it by learning everything she could on set.
“I’ve always loved Ashanti,” Frankie said. “I just learned a lot from seeing her do what she does for a living.”
Aside from the great names that are part of this film, Honey Girls introduces some new names. Frankie attributes the special factor of this project to the chemistry she had with her fellow cast mates, Ava Grace and Aliyah Mastin. In fact, Frankie told MUD that a big reason why they were casted is because the casting director witnessed the chemistry they had together, which was an elemental part of their characters.
“We’re like the real life Honey Girls. On set we’d have like sleepovers and everything. It was so fun,” Frankie said.
Since its release, the movie has been welcomed with open arms by all audiences, something that Frankie appreciates with a genuine spirit. Not only does this value the entertainment factor this movie holds, but she’s aware and understands the impact it has on people, especially younger viewers. Her character Alex and the story conveys a message of unity, friendship, and determination. On and off the screen, Frankie shows a grit for what she’s passionate about, and when talking about her dreams, it is impossible to not be excited for her.
What it comes down to is this: Frankie McNellis is someone you’ll find it easy to root for.
“I want to inspire anyone at any age, or of any gender, just any person in general. I want to inspire them to do what they love to do, which is what I do, I love what I do. I just want to express a positive message.”
From Ariana Grande to Tori Kelly, the young actress and artist confirms her excitement for the future. She’s young and already piling up the success, but her sights are set in the present. For now, Frankie will continue honing her skills, working on projects, and making music. She’s someone you will start seeing everywhere, always with a humble smile and a kind heart.
Here’s what’s playing on Frankie McNellis’ playlist:
Spotlight by Jennifer Hudson
Dear No One by Tori Kelly (or in reality, any Tori Kelly song)
I Feel the Earth Move by Carol King
Watch the Honey Girls, out now! Don't forget to follow Frankie McNellis on Instagram.