The Goldbergs’ Alexis G. Zall Talks Jackie Geary Recast & Moving Away From YouTube
One of the hottest trends in Hollywood is making the switch from YouTuber and digital creator to full-fledged movie and TV actor. Darren Criss started his climb to fame on YouTube, and even Dylan O’Brien was making goofy short vids before he signed onto Teen Wolf and The Maze Runner franchise. One of the most recent additions to the YouTubers-turned-actors club is Alexis G. Zall, who started creating as a teenager and hit one million subscribers on her 18th birthday (which also happened to be the day she came out with a tweet that read, “My eyeliner isn’t straight but neither is my sexuality.”
my eyeliner isn't straight but neither is my sexuality so at least I'm consistent
— meat in denim (@AlexisGZall) June 5, 2016
She won a Shorty Award for Breakout YouTuber in 2017, but now she’s venturing out of the digital space. Alexis voiced Lois Lane on DC Super Hero Girls from 2015 to 2018 before she became a sixth-season recast on hit ABC show The Goldbergs, replacing Disney Channel star Rowan Blanchard as Jackie Geary. The show handled it better than some others that had to swap out a cast member unexpectedly, saying that Jackie went to camp and came back a new person, but it’s never easy taking over a role that people had grown used to someone else portraying.
the whisp sat down with Alexis at Vidcon 2019 where she spilled all the tea about the (re)casting process, what she wanted to accomplish with her YouTube channel, and what she wants to move towards outside of the video platform.
“I didn’t realize that I was replacing someone until I was well into the casting process,” Alexis revealed. “I was just going in and doing my thing and they kept bringing me back in, which was great. It’s been really interesting; I think I’m really fortunate in that the cast and crew of The Goldbergs are so nice and so warm and so welcoming.”
She continued, “Going into it I was a bit nervous because they’ve known each other for six seasons. The cast is all super tight-knit, but everyone’s been really warm and receptive and kind to me.”
Though Alexis did not get any tips from Rowan about taking on the part of Jackie Geary (the two have surprisingly never met — but Rowan, if you’re reading this, Alexis says she’s “down to hang out”), she did her research.
“I watched a lot of episodes of the show that [Rowan] had been in before I started my first week, so that weekend I was studying up on the character a bit. But I also talked a lot with Adam Goldberg, who the show’s based on and he’s also the showrunner. So, it was kind of figuring out what they wanted me to do that was similar [to Rowan] and finding the differences, too. Ultimately, I got so far in the casting process without really digging into like what she had done with the character, so I feel like it’s very much my take on Jackie Geary, but with Adam’s blessing of authenticity.” She also met the *real* Jackie Geary, who plays her real-life mother on the show — so that helps.
But just ask Charles Melton, who was a second season recast on Riverdale replacing Ross Butler‘s Reggie Mantle, some people aren’t always going to love a new face playing a familiar character, but they get used to it.
“My audience was super excited about [my casting] and people who knew about me were stoked,” Alexis said of the response to her first appearance on The Goldbergs. “Of course, there were some people who were just like, ‘change is scary’ and a little negative. But I think Adam did a really good job. Especially the night that my first episode premiered, on Twitter he was talking about it and like engaging with people about it, and overall, I’ve felt a positive response from it and I love being on the show.”
To quote Jackie — it doesnt matter if she came back and look different, Adam and Jackie will always be Adam and Jackie. Just ask @JackieRGeary.
— Adam F. Goldberg (@adamfgoldberg) October 4, 2018
I never said a word that @AlexisGZall has taken over for Jackie cause I wanted people to be as shocked as Adam. This story is true, the real @JackieRGeary returned from NYC all cool and fringy. I'm so lucky we found Alexis! She's brilliant and my high school romance lives on… https://t.co/f9orbQf9Bo
— Adam F. Goldberg (@adamfgoldberg) October 4, 2018
The good news is that while Rowan Blanchard passed on more seasons of The Goldbergs to do her own thing, Alexis is pretty stoked to be along for the ride, no matter how long that ride may be. “I do not think they will recast Jackie Geary again… one’s enough,” she said.
But just because Alexis is now an ABC sitcom star doesn’t mean she doesn’t have time for her YouTube channel and other projects. When talking about the subjects of her videos — which confront topics like ‘why do gay people need Pride?’ and biphobia within the queer community, along with some lighter topics, Alexis said, “I want my channel to be a resource for those questions you’re afraid to ask people… so my goal is to have the channel act as a way to just explain real issues without yelling. No one wants to be yelled and no one’s gonna hear you if you’re yelling.” She continued, “There are so many people in this space who want to accept people but don’t have the education or don’t know the right words to use even though their hearts are in the right place.”
And although Alexis thinks “digital creation is a way to make [the industry] more accessible to more people because you can start making things on your terms and be creative in the ways that you’re excited about without gatekeeping,” you may have noticed that these days, her YT vids are few and far between as she starts taking on different projects. “Goldbergs season seven, look out for it. Right now, I’m writing a ton. I want to direct a short film that I’ve written within the next few months. I’ve got a lot in that space and that’s what I’m moving towards.”