ENTERTAINMENT

EXCLUSIVE: Malia Baker is the Gen Z Hero We Need

"We’re able to expose younger viewers to actual issues that are going on in our world."
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Last year, the streaming world was treated to one giant, collective throwback when Netflix launched The Baby-Sitters Club, a modern series inspired by the books that first came out in the 1980s.

WATCH: The Baby-Sitters Club Season 2 | Official Trailer

While our mums read the novels in their heyday, young millennials and older Gen Z’s might have seen them in a dusty corner of the primary school library, and been introduced to the likes of Kristy, Mary Anne, Dawn, and Claudia.

However, 2020 saw the series receive a major face-lift, with a brand-new cast breathing new life into the characters. Malia Baker, who plays Mary Anne Spier on the show, just goes to show how far The Baby-Sitters Club universe has grown.

More than just an actress on a major series, she’s taking on activism and anxiety like the Gen Z poster girl we didn’t know we needed.

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(Credit: Britney Gill)

“I think I’m most excited for people to see the progression arc that Mary Anne has in the second season,” Malia said of the show’s second season, which dropped this week.

“In the first season we really got to see who she is as a person other than just being that shy, whiny crybaby that we all were introduced to her as.

“Throughout the second season that character progression just grows, and we get to see her flourish … while she grows into that kind of awkward, middle-school age, which I feel like we’re all unfortunately very familiar with,” she laughed

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Malia as Mary Anne with Kyndra Sanchez, who plays Dawn. (Credit: Netflix)

With the show beginning to take on some very real issues, the first season of the show saw the girls stand up against inequality and bias, especially the fourth episode, Mary Anne Saves the Day, where she advocates on behalf of a transgender child.

“I feel like with The Babysitter’s Club, because it is so relatable, we’re able to expose younger viewers to actual issues that are going on in our world,” Malia shared.

“They’ll gain more of a perspective, ‘oh, I want to be like Mary Anne in this moment and speak up for people like this’, or ‘I want to be like Dawn and have my voice speaking out.

“There’s just so many opportunities for younger viewers to relate to the characters and want to be more like them.”

And although both the show and the tenth grade keep Malia incredibly busy, she has also begun to use her platform for activism and speaking out about causes she believes in.

“I feel like growing up in today’s society as a young, multi-racial girl, there’s always going to be some things that I experience,” she admitted.

“It just kind of led out to be a platform for me to go ‘oh this is an issue I really care about, and I don’t want my little sister to be growing up feeling this way, I want to create change if I get to,” she said.

“I’ve been using my platform since I got it … I feel like [activism] is just kind of always a part of me, it’s who I am, but it’s just intensified as I’ve grown older and had more of a platform for sure.”

But this is nothing new for our generation. With issues like inequality, discrimination and climate change shaping the lens with which we see the world, it can feel like being young and being an activist are intrinsically linked.

However, Malia’s busy life is also includes a fair share of anxiety, which she’s dealt with since she was very young.

“I really hate it when I say ‘I struggle with anxiety’ … it’s more like I’m living with it, and I’m not going to let it kind of obtain me and control me over whatever I’m doing,” she said defiantly.

“With school, and with acting and activism, I just find having a routine and having that sort of ritual of what calms me down and helps me feel safe is just one of the most important things.

“Also, I would say, what I’ve learned is to find one thing each day that I’m grateful for … just finding those little moments where you’re able to spread the light, for sure.”

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Malia with the rest of the Baby-Sitters Club cast. (Credit: Instagram)

Despite her full plate, and the management of her anxiety alongside everything else in her life, Malia hopes to see the world change, too, and will continue to do her bit in the hope of making a difference.

“It’s very, very easy to say ‘I just want equality all around’, that’s kind of the goal to everything,” she reflected.

“But it starts with the smaller things, like I want people to be open to hearing other people’s perspectives, which is something that I feel is very big, and not many people recognise that,” she added thoughtfully.

“I think that would be amazing. I don’t know if it’ll happen any time soon, but we’ll work towards it.”

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