What if the recipes in your grandmother’s old cookbook did much more than just provide your body with nutrition? What if the delicious foods proved magical and could cure wounds and make annoying little brothers lose their voices? That’s the premise behind Amazon’s new original series “Just Add Magic,” which begins streaming today.
The family-friendly show centers on Kelly Quinn (played by the adorable Olivia Sanabia), who discovers a mysterious cookbook in her attic. Along with her best friends Darbie and Hannah by her side, Kelly soon realizes that it belonged to her grandmother — and that the recipes have magical elements to them and may provide a key to saving her beloved family matriarch, who hasn’t been acting like herself lately.
“They try out some of the recipes and a lot of weird and strange things happen — it’s crazy,” said Sanabia about “Just Add Magic” in an exclusive interview with Headlines & Global News. “There’s a lot of action, and it’s a really exciting show that will keep you on the edge of your seat.”
California-native Sanabia — who has been performing since she was just 2 years old — has appeared in more than 25 commercials and on television shows like “Life in Pieces,” “Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn,” “Extant” and “Sam & Cat.” The actress is now thrilled to be headlining her own series. She said that she went through many auditions and callbacks before landing the gig. “After a lot of waiting and working hard, I finally got the role,” said Sanabia. “I was pretty much jumping up-and-down and crying. It was definitely a rewarding feeling!”
The 12-year-old prepared for the role by reading the bestselling book by author Cindy Callaghan that the series is based on. “I was so excited that I was able to bring her book to life,” said Sanabia. “It was such an honor, but also a little scary because her book was amazing and I didn’t want to ruin it in any way.”
Unlike other TV and movie series based on books, this one doesn’t have any sequels for the show’s writers to turn to for further material. “It allows us to be even more creative with where we take the story,” explained Sanabia.
It took the cast about three months at Los Angeles Center Studios to film the entire first season of “Just Add Magic,” and each episode will have at least one recipe that will help move the story along. “We usually make sweets, but once in a while, we’ll make something savory,” said Sanabia, who has always been a fan of baking, but is loving cooking in the kitchen even more so after her experiences on the show. “I’m really happy about that because it’s fun and a great hobby.”
And if you’re wondering if the recipes call for Kelly to add in gross items like toad’s feet or insects, we can reveal that all of the creations are completely safe for consumption. “It’s nothing like that, no. Sometimes I have to eat the food and that would be awful,” laughed Sanabia. “There’s one magical ingredient that is required to make whatever recipe we’re making; just a magical twist on a regular ingredient. We use cedronian vanilla, and a lot of people are left wondering, ‘What’s cedronian?’” (The girls acquire the unique ingredients from Mama P’s shop.)
Since all 13 episodes of the first season are now available to stream from Amazon, should people watch them all in one sitting? “I think it’s so exciting because you can go wherever you want with it and make your own schedule,” said Sanabia, who does admit she likes to binge watch her favorite shows (like “Once Upon a Time”). “Sometimes I’ll be super busy, so when I get one day free, I love to watch everything that I can.”
What else does Sanabia like to do when she has some free time? “I know this probably sounds weird, but I just love to hang out with my family,” said the precocious preteen. “I have an older sister, a younger sister and a little brother. We read books or watch movies together, or go to the mall, ice skating or to the park. We have so much fun. I love them so much, and they are my biggest supporters.”
In addition to “Just Add Magic,” Sanabia can be seen in two movies coming out later this year. One is the supernatural thriller “Day Six,” which is about a teenage boy whose comic book creations come to life. “I was a little scared on set,” admitted the actress, who plays a psychic in the film. “It’s something so different than anything I’ve ever done, but I really enjoyed it. It was a rush!”
“I’m also in a movie called ‘The Secret Life of Me,’” she continued. “It’s a drama, which is something that I don’t do a lot of the time, but I really enjoyed it. It was great to film — I got to do a whole bunch of cool things. There’s going to be a lot of special effects that I’m really excited to see how they come out.”
However, Sanabia’s career goal is to make it on Broadway. She has performed in local productions of “Annie” (as the title character), “Fiddler on the Roof,” “Seussical” and “Anastasia,” and recently took a trip to New York City to catch some current shows. “It was amazing,” she said about seeing “Something Rotten,” “Les Misérables” and “Finding Neverland” (which she called “beautiful”).
Whatever medium talented actress Sanabia winds up working in, we’re certain her performance will be simply magical!