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ByNick Hemming/May 16, 2022 2:10 pm EST
"Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" is far from the best-reviewed Marvel film, but it still made almost $700 million in its first two weekends. By the time it dropped in cineplexes, fans were very well acquainted with most of the sequel's stars, such as Benedict Cumberbatch and Elizabeth Olsen. But there's one face in Sam Raimi's explosive, reality-hopping adventure that is likely unknown to most audiences: Xochitl Gomez, who plays teenage hero-to-be, America Chavez.
At just 16 years old, the California native has established herself as a name to watch out for in Hollywood. She popped up in a slew of shorts, commercials, and TV shows before she got her big break in 2020, landing the role of Dawn Schafer in Netflix's "The Baby-Sitters Club" remake. Thanks to "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," Gomez has now established herself as a teen queen of the big screen, and you'll almost undoubtedly be seeing her in movies over the next few decades. Here are a few things you might not know about America Chavez herself, Xochitl Gomez.
Potential spoilers for "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" follow.
Gomez started young
Born and raised in Los Angeles,Xochitl Gomez was destined for stardom from a very young age. That being said, fame didn't exactly come easy. Speaking to People, Gomez recalled how her mom would drive her around Hollywood to read for various auditions after school. "Sometimes we would have like four or five a day, it was crazy," she said. "It was a couple of years of doing that." It wasn't just film and television roles that she was auditioning for, either.
Gomez went on to explain how she discovered a love of singing and dancing at a young ago. "When I was five, my mom put me in musical theater class and I absolutely loved it." She reportedly performed in 22 full length musicals between then and the time she turned 12. It was her love of musical theater and being on stage that fueled her desire to explore acting, a desire that blossomed into a reality as the years went by. "I started doing commercials when I was ten, and that slowly led to co-star roles. Then I got 'The Baby-Sitters Club' when I was 12 and I was so excited."
With so much hard work put in at an early age, it's no wonder the young star is where she is today.
The correct way to say her name
As actors gain recognition, they slowly become household names. However, that doesn't mean that their names are being spoken correctly in the average fan's household. In fact, there are many celebs who have names that seemingly everyone mispronounces, from Hollywood A-listers tofamous streamers.Xochitl Gomez, perhaps unsurprisingly, is also a name that is very often butchered by the masses.
WhenYAYOMG!featured the cast of Netflix's "The Baby-Sitters Club" in July 2020, Gomez revealed that many people are too intimidated to even try saying her name (whichmeans "flower" in Nahuatl) in English."It's actually been kind of an interesting way to break the ice and start talking to a new person — kind of an unexpected perk of having an unusual name," the actor said. She then offered a helpful hint on how to remember it: "I pronounce it SO-CHEE, so it rhymes with Mochi!"
Gomez chose Marvel over The Baby-Sitter's Club
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Gomez started landing roles at a young age, popping up in various TV shows from as far back as 2017. You may have seen her briefly in the likes of TLC's "Evil Things," Disney's "Raven's Home," and Netflix's "Gentefied." She also starred alongside "Criminal Minds" actorThomas Gibson in the 2019 action flick "Shadow Wolves." However, Gomez's big break came in 2020 when she landed the role ofDawn Schafer in Netflix'sreboot of "The Baby-Sitters Club."
"The Baby-Sitters Club"is based on the popular children's fiction series written by Ann M. Martin from 1986 to 2000. The books center on a group of tween friends who create a babysitting service and follow their increasingly complicated lives. Martin's series was adapted for HBO back in 1990, but Netflix decided to breathe new life into it in 2020. The remake's first season landed topositive reviews, but it sadly fizzled after its second year, becoming one of the many TV shows cancelled in 2022.
By the time the show got the axe, however, Gomez had already said farewell to the role of Dawn. She didn't have much of a choice in the matter."I felt really sad, but I knew that, just because of COVID, I couldn't be at one place and then another and then have to just switch all the time," she told Entertainment Tonight. It was a choice between "The Baby-Sitters Club" and Marvel, and she couldn't turn down the chance to work with the latter.
Xochitl looks up to Elizabeth Olsen
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Wanda is trying to kill America and absorb her powers in "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," but things were starkly different once the cameras stopped rolling. Elizabeth Olsen couldn't have been more kind to her teenage castmate, and this was something that Gomez truly treasured about her time on the Marvel movie. Gomez even admitted that she was absolutely mesmerized by her Emmy-nominated co-star. "I did look up to Lizzie, especially while she was acting and getting ready to do her scenes," she told reporters at a press event (via Inquirer). "I would just watch her quietly. I hope I don't sound like a stalker!"
Speaking to D23 magazine (via The Direct), Gomez revealed that Olsen gave her some very smart advice about working for Marvel. The up-and-comer said that the Marvel veteran encouraged her to speak her mind when it comes to her character. "She told me that Marvel really means it when they say they want your input," Gomez told the Disney mag. "She said I should never hesitate to share an idea with them or give them feedback." The advice made her confident enough to put her "two cents" in, she said.
Gomez is a skater girl
During her time inVancouver shooting"The Baby-Sitters Club,"Xochitl Gomez spent many hours in skateparks learning how to skateboard. A total newbie, the young star was admittedly quite wobbly on her wheels to begin with. "I'm just a beginner and I fall a lot," she told YAYOMG! at the time. "I'm that kid at the park in a full set of pads." Based on videos she's posted to her Instagram, Gomez has gotten better at skateboarding over the past couple of years. However, she isn't letting anything jeopardize her acting career.
On the red carpet at the "Spider-Man: No Way Home" premiere, Gomez revealed that once she started getting bigger roles — such as that of America Chavez — she began to play things a bit more conservatively while shredding. "I was like, 'I can't really injure myself here,"' she said. "So I just graze a little bit."Given that she likely has a huge future in the MCU, that's probably a smart move by the teen.
The role of America Chavez was rewritten for her
Xochitl Gomez turned 16 a few days prior to the "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" premiere, making for what you'd have to imagine to be one very memorable birthday. It was a celebration years in the making — Gomez was only 13 years old when she put her first audition for the role of America Chavez on tape. Gomez assumed that she was too young for the role, which had been written for an actor aged around 18. So, when Gomez got a callback a few months later, it was obvious that something had changed.
The producers were so impressed by Gomez's audition that they decided to make the character a younger teen instead. She literally changed the course of the Marvel Cinematic Universe with her audition, and that was a huge confidence boost for her."The most exciting part was definitely that she is 14, which is younger than any of the versions in the comics," Gomez told Entertainment Weekly. "It was kind of fun taking the version from the comics and making her younger and less experienced."
Gomez was banned from TikTok
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America Chavez is a real scene stealer in "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," but the character's very inclusion had a much more significant meaning. Gomez knew that Chavez — who in the comics has been portrayed as Afro-Latina and as a lesbian — represented a big step for inclusion in the MCU, and it was something she was incredibly proud to embody. "She is a powerful, smart, charismatic, queer Latina," Gomez told People. "The fact that she is on the screen and is important to the story will make people feel seen in a way that they have never been."
Gomez has received a lot of praise and support for her portrayal of Chavez, but she's also had to put up with a lot of haters. The film (which was banned in Saudi Arabia and Egypt because of itsLGBTQ themes) became the target of internet trolls, and so did Gomez. She got so much hate on TikTok that her account was temporarily banned, presumably because trolls reported her en masse."I got my TikTok back and I posted a TikTok because I know that I do have a very strong young following," she told News 18. "So I thought it was only right to post a TikTok of [me saying] nothing can break me down, I'm going to stay strong, just keep going because it's very important for young teenagers to have a positive person to look up to."
Her guilty pleasure is watching trash TV
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As streaming services like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime rose to prominence, so too did the phenomenon of binge watching shows. In 2016, Variety reported that70% of American consumers were binge watching TV shows, a statistic that proved just how addictive entertaining television can be."When binge watching your favorite show, your brain is continually producing dopamine, and your body experiences a drug-like high," clinical psychologist Dr. Renee Carrtold NBC. "You experience a pseudo-addiction to the show because you develop cravings for dopamine."
This is something that affects all people, even the most famous celebrities. Margot Robbie is a self-proclaimed superfan of "LoveIsland," Kim Kardashian can't get enough of "Bridgerton," and Meryl Streep loves a bit of Bravo's "Real Housewives of Beverly Hills." Xochitl Gomez admits that she also really enjoys watching reality TV, although it isn't something she's proud of.She told People: "I will be like, 'This is trash, Xochitl, why are you watching?' And then I'm like nine episodes deep, and I just can't stop!"
America Chavez is pals with Shang-Chi
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With one mega Marvel movie under her belt, it's only a matter of time before Xochitl Gomez is friendly with the whole Marvel crew. She's become close with her "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" co-stars Elizabeth Olsen,Benedict Cumberbatch, andBenedict Wong, but there's actually another MCU star who holds a special place in her heart: Shang-Chi himself, Simu Liu.
In an interview with Seventeen, Gomez named Liu as the most famous person in her phonebook, explaining how the two became fast friends after they met at the premiere of "Spider-Man: No Way Home." She said: "We talked for a little bit and then he DMed me on Instagram and I, of course, flipped out. He's been super sweet and supportive."Gomez went on to add that although Liu couldn't make the premiere of the "Doctor Strange" sequel, he did send her some heartfelt words that meant a lot to her. This is a friendship we would love to see play out on the big screen, too.
Gomez is a martial arts enthusiast
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So much of what goes into making a Marvel film is movie magic. Robert Downey Jr. isn't really flying around inside Tony Stark's Iron Man armor on set, BenedictCumberbatch can't actually use any of Doctor Strange's abilities to magically memorize his lines, and Mark Ruffalo doesn't actually morph into a gamma-powered rage monster when someone messes up during a take. Yet, if you think thatXochitl Gomez's America Chavez can't actually kick butt in real life, you're sorely mistaken.
Gomez was already into martial arts before she joined the Marvel ranks, but she kicked things up a notch by training with a stuntman pal when she got a callback for the America Chavez role. "We trained for like a month [and did] kickboxing and stunt tumbling every other day for a couple of hours," shetold Seventeen. "I wanted to go in there and own it and I wanted [the Marvel team] to be blown away by my skills."Considering that Gomez landed the role, it's safe to say that the Marvel casting department was blown away after all.
Her dad helped her with some tricky Marvel lines
The opening scene in "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" features America Chavez and a version of Doctor Strange from another dimension (Defender Strange) fleeing some entity of dark magic in an attempt toacquire the Book of Vishanti. As the two desperately race through the mystical, trippy landscape, Strange barks orders to the jean jacket-clad teenager, also providing some brief exposition for the audience. Interestingly, he does so in Spanish.
When Gomez first noticed that there were a few lines of Spanish in the script, she got very excited. The Mexican American's parents spoke Spanish at home, so she was obviously no stranger to the language. Beyond that familiarity, the few Spanish lines meant that she could share the script with her father, who doesn't speak English. In an interview with Complex, Gomez revealed that running these lines with her dad was a bonding moment that she'd never forget. "It was really, really heartwarming to see how excited he got when he realized that I was going to be speaking Spanish in the film," she said. "He helped me kind of choose those lines and the intonation and stuff, and ways to make it actually really funny." For Gomez, this experience will always be a "core memory."