China Anne McClain: ‘Farm star, musical prodigy spreads wings

Youth Impact Report 2012: Channeling Talent

Music is a family affair for Disney’s latest triple threat and star of “A.N.T. Farm,” China Anne McClain. The daughter of a music producer and songwriter (Michael and Shontell McClain), 14-year-old China Anne was raised with music.

“There was always music playing in the house. I started singing at three, like my sisters did,” McClain says about older sisters Sierra and Lauryn. “When I was around four, we decided to put together a group and had so much fun with it.”

An Atlanta native, McClain parlayed her love of singing into an acting career with small roles in “The Gospel,” “Grown Ups” and Tyler Perry’s sitcom “House of Payne.”

McClain credits Perry with preparing her to become a professional actress: “I learned pretty much everything from him because I was only seven when I started on the show. He taught me how to ad lib, get into a scene and be part of a comedy, since he’s a comic genius.”

Speaking of genius, in Disney’s runaway hit, McClain plays Chyna, a musical prodigy enrolled in an Advanced Natural Talent (A.N.T.) high school program for middle-school-aged wunderkinds.

“When I read the script, I was like, ‘I love this!’ because there was acting and music involved,” she says of the series, which debuted in May 2011. “I knew I was going to get the best of both words.”

An instant success, the show has allowed McClain to showcase her vocal talents in other Disney productions, including the soundtracks for the DisneyNature doc “Chimpanzee” and the upcoming Tinker Bell movie “Secret of the Wings.”

Impact: Singer-thesp plays musical prodigy in Disney Channel’s tween-friendly “A.N.T. Farm.”
Next: More “A.N.T. Farm,” a juicier role in “Grown Ups 2” and an album with her two sisters are on the way.
Causes: City of Hope cancer center, Make-a-Wish Foundation.

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