Brandon Moningka

Even though Momona Tamada is only 15 years old, she is wise beyond her years. Case in point: when she started acting, she always knew she wanted to be a multidimensional star.

“I wanted to make sure that I was always going out for auditions that would broaden my experiences and help me grow,” the actress exclusively tells GRAZIA USA. “It’s really cool because you have to understand the different tones of each genre and your approach to the role.”

That’s why when she auditioned for a role in Paramount+’s movie Secret Headquarters, she was thrilled to tackle the character of Maya, as it was totally out of her comfort zone. “I was excited but really nervous at the same time,” she notes. “My character Maya is different than someone who I am used to play. I saw that as a challenge, and it was fun to discover a different side to this character — this was a new personality I haven’t had the chance to embody before.”

The rising star took on the challenge, and she was able to “research and learn all of these new things.”

“It wasn’t something that I was expecting, but it was really fun to explore this character,” she says. “I had some doubt about myself in the beginning, but within the first week or two of filming, I was able to find Maya, and it was really fun. I can’t wait to see the whole thing!” 

In the flick, which follows a kid who discovers a secret headquarters in his home that seems like it belongs to a superhero, Tamada stars opposite Owen Wilson and Michael Peña, which was a real treat. “They are both such kind people, and I think that’s something they both taught me on set,” she notes. “Stay true to yourself kind of thing. Acting with them was always so fun because they’re constantly changing their lines and adding things in here and there. As an actor, it was a great experience and opportunity for me to learn from them.”

Brandon Moningka

Tamada wasn’t sure that acting was for her, as she was a dancer, but her creativity was always flowing. “I feel like it happened so fast,” she notes of her career. “But I’m so glad that everything kind of worked out the way that it did.”

From there, the Canada native made a name for herself on Netflix’s The Baby-Sitters Club, which debuted in 2020. Unfortunately, the show got canceled after only two seasons, but Tamada, who played Claudia Kishi, gushes over the leading role.

“The show came out in such a weird time, so all of the girls and I had to depend on each other and help each other get through all of this new stuff that we were experiencing. It was such a dream of how it all played out, and I think it went well,” she states. 

“To see that the show was having a positive impact on so many people, including critics, made me proud of all the work that we put in on the show. It made me so glad that people loved it,” she continues. 

In fact, Claudia helped Tamada find her confidence. “Every time I’m feeling a little low, I take my time and do stuff that helps me connect to myself a bit more — whether that is putting on a nice outfit or whatever makes you feel more comfortable. It’s important to remember if you’re not feeling 100 percent that day, it’s part of life,” she says. 

Tamada has a lot more left to complete, but she still has to pinch herself at how far she’s come. “I have so much gratitude towards everything that has happened — the good and the bad,” she admits. “I feel like I’m living a dream, which is just everything I could ever ask for.”

Secret Headquarters premieres on Paramount+ on Friday, August 12.

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