‘Austin & Ally’: Raini Rodriguez Joins Ranks of Disney Stars to Make Directorial Debut

Raini Rodriguez is adding director to her resume, making her debut later this season on Disney Channel’s “Austin & Ally.”

The 21-year-old, who happens to be the older sister to “Modern Family’s” Rico Rodriguez, stepped behind the camera this week, taking the reins on set and directing her co-stars Ross Lynch, Laura Marano and Calum Worthy.

Rodriguez (pictured, left), who plays Trish on the hit series, now in its fourth season, tells Variety about her first time directing:

Why was this the right time to step behind the camera and direct?

Directing has been something I’ve wanted to do for a long time, and we are in our last season of “Austin & Ally.” It made sense to make my directorial debut on a show I know so well. I’ve been on this set for four years, so the cast and crew have become my second family. They all support me and want me to succeed, so it’s the perfect place for me to get my start. There is no other set I would want to share my first directing experience with.

Why did you have a passion to direct?

I love being able to not only tell the story from an actor’s point of view, but also from a director’s point of view. As the director, you’re in charge of everything from camera angles to what kind of socks this character would wear. It’s so much fun.

Was it strange directing your co-stars Ross Lynch, Laura Marano and Calum Worthy, since you’re all such great friends?

They are the most supportive co-stars ever. The second I told them I wanted to direct they all encouraged me to go for it. Working with them on set has been a blast because they’re so easy to work with and I love collaborating with them. Directing them is a pleasure.

Any surprising on-set moments?

It is pretty funny directing your friends. We just laugh at everything. We get so caught up in our stories and they’ll tease and say things like, “Oh, the director’s here, quick — nobody smile!”

Do you want to direct more in the future, either on “Austin & Ally” or other projects?

I love directing, and it’s something I would love to keep doing in my career. I would love to direct other Disney shows, other network shows — like my brother’s show, “Modern Family” — and even direct movies. The dream is to write, produce, direct and star in a project I’m working on!

Disney stars Debby Ryan, Ben Savage and Leo Howard has previously directed. Did they or any others give you advice?

I talked to a couple of directors I admire like Andy Fickman and Gail Mancuso. I love hearing other directors’ processes with breaking down scripts and working on camera angles because it gives me ideas on what kind of director I want to be. I also went around and spoke with several crew members on set — our editors, camera coordinator, and writers to see their points of view on the script and the show…I always say my little brother Rico is my secret weapon [because] I was kind of stuck on a scene and couldn’t figure out how I wanted to block it, and he jumped in to give me a tip and it solved my whole problem.

Rodriguez’s directorial debut will air later this season on “Austin & Ally.” The episode date has not yet been set.

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