Based on the graphic novels of the same name by Kim Dwinell, the 10-episode series follows best friends Jade (Cech) and Sam (Gosselin), who literally jump in to save their seaside town.
In the live-action family series, with a supernatural touch, the two energetic girls are psyched to spend their summer riding the waves and sitting in the sun … until they meet a ghost. They dive head-first into a mystery about a pirate ship and a cursed treasure that allegedly lies beneath Surfside’s beloved Danger Point Bluff.
To solve the big mystery, the best pals will have to combine their different approaches of logic and imagination. Together, they are determined to solve the mystery and save Surfside.
Despite their relatively young ages, the busy teen actresses are already quite accomplished. Gosselin is best known for We Can Be Heroes and FBI: Most Wanted, while Cech is best known for Marvelous and the Black Hole, Rim of the World, and The Astronauts.
Cech’s next project is The Santa Clauses, an original Disney series, based on the 1994 movie starring Tim Allen. The series debuts on Disney+ this winter.
Both girls said that they were inspired to see reflections of themselves on the screen since the series is about Mexican and Asian best friends who team up to save the day. They also enjoy being role models for teens and adults who can identify with Jade and Sam.
“I’m really big into advocating for representation. Whether that’s in terms of being a minority or adopted, like I was,” Miya Cech exclusively tells Parade.com. “I feel like this show made me so excited to see two young minority leads who were best friends, and they went on this crazy adventure together. I hope it inspires a lot of other young girl best friends to go on their own adventures.
Both girls say that providing female role models for girls, teens, and young women is one of the perks of their roles in Surfside Girls.
"I think it’s really important for little girls to see themselves on screen because I think that it’ll just empower them to do anything," YaYa Gosselin exclusively tells Parade.com. "I know that when I walk out of the theater and I see myself represented, I feel so empowered. So, I just hope that that’s what girls take away from the show."
Read on for more adventures, in and out of the water, for these accomplished teen actresses, and why diversity on TV is so important to them.
What attracted you to Surfside Girls?
YaYa Gosselin: What drew me to Surfside Girls is that it is about a Mexican surfer girl. I never really saw something like that. The stories were really intriguing, and I appreciated the fact that it was a mystery. There’s something about that, finding clues that I just love. It has Goonies vibes.
I thought the ghost and the little quiet beach town was very cool and not really something that I’ve seen before in a kid's show. I also loved that it was two lead girls, so it is all about girl power. I immediately thought “Wow, it would be so fun to be a part of something like this.”
When did you meet your co-star Miya Cech?
YaYa Gosselin: I met Miya over Zoom when we did the little table readings. Then we met in person a day before filming, so we had to become really close friends in 24 hours, but it was so much fun.
Tell me about your friendship and how it’s evolved both on and off-screen.
YaYa Gosselin: It was so much fun because over a course of three months you basically live with these people. You see them every single day for hours. So you just build a tight relationship. I built very good relationships with all my castmates and we would enjoy going out to dinner after. I remember one time we went and did Build-A-Bears, and it was so much fun. I’m just so thankful for the friendship that I got out of that.
Tell me about working on the popular show, FBI: Most Wanted.
YaYa Gosselin: When people talk about that show I almost start crying because I grew up on that show. I started on that show when I was nine years old and I finished it I was 13, so it was just crazy to be a part of something so amazing. Working with Julian McMahon was totally awesome. We text and Facetime and all that stuff. It was probably one of my favorite projects because everything that we did felt extremely natural.
How are you in the water? Surfing and swimming, was that a big thing to learn?
YaYa Gosselin: Basically, we had stunt doubles for the surfing because there were some pretty crazy things that our characters were supposed to do in the ocean that we couldn’t do for liability reasons. But we did get to do some of the stuff coming in and out of the ocean.
When we did the first two days of filming it was November in Malibu and it was so cold. The water was like 50 degrees. I’m pretty sure we got stage one hypothermia and I got bitten by sand fleas—so that wasn’t the most enjoyable part, but everything else was really fun and memorable.
Was that the biggest challenge of making Surfside Girls?
YaYa Gosselin: Yes, I think so. They would say “rolling,” and we would have to run to the ocean, and dip our heads in the water to get our hair wet. And then they’d say “action” and we’d have to run up to the sand with our surfboards. I could not hold onto the surfboard; I kept dropping it. But it was a fun challenge and I’m happy about the way it turned out.
How are you like and not like your character in this?
YaYa Gosselin: I think I’m a lot like Sam in the way that I’m extremely free-spirited. I think I’m also pretty funny in real life. I’d say I’m also kind of a wild child too kind of like how Sam is, and I love going on adventures with my family and whatnot.
I’m not really like Sam in the way that Sam goes without thinking. She just does something without thinking about her actions. I’m kind of an over-thinker and I’m very much in my head, and so I think that that’s something we don’t necessarily have in common. I’ll think about 500 reasons why I shouldn’t do something or why I should do something before I actually do it.
What interested you about acting at an early age?
YaYa Gosselin: I think I have been an entertainer forever. Like at family gatherings I would always put on little shows or whatever. It started out with dance. I started dancing when I was three. Then my mom is like, "She really likes this, I’m going to sign her up for modeling," and it just kind of went from there.
I was like, “I want to be in movies.” Once I stopped watching animated stuff and started watching actual actors, I was like, “Oh wait, so people can do that? I want to do that. I want to entertain.” And then it kept going, and here I am.
Talk about female role models that you look up to and what it means to you for a young girl watching your shows, this show in particular, who sees you as a good role model.
YaYa Gosselin: I love female role models. Some of mine are Salma Hayek, Zendaya, and Julie Andrews, and I think that it’s just so important for girls that look like me to see themselves on screen. I think it’s going to empower girls to think, “Oh yeah, I can do anything. A female surfer girl? I could do that.”
Talk about the diversity in this series, something we may not have seen on TV some five or ten years ago.
YaYa Gosselin: Yeah, it’s amazing, because my co-star Miya Cech is Asian and I’m Mexican, and I just feel like two diverse girls on screen that are leads—I just feel that it’s so rare. I’m really hoping that this project is one of the many that start making that normalized because I think that it’s really important to see everybody represented. Something that was amazing in my show We Can Be Heroes is that lots of those kids are diverse. I love putting myself in diverse casts because I think it’s so important to have everybody represented.
So, Miya what are you doing next?
What attracted you to Surfside Girls?
Miya Cech: I knew the writer May Chan, and she had worked with me on a couple of other projects. She came to me and said, “Hey, I have this graphic novel, it’s a wonderful book. And I’m adapting it into a show with Apple TV+ and I want you to read for it.” So, I was like, oh, this sounds interesting. I read the books by Kim Dwinell, she is incredible. Then I found myself wanting to play Jade and so I went through the audition process. I met America Young, our first director for the show. We had multiple different directors but she was the first one, so I met with her. I met with YaYa, and yeah, the rest is history.
How important was the diversity aspect of the series, especially because this was not previously often seen on TV?
Miya Cech: I totally get where you’re coming from. It’s not common to see two young teen girls leading a show and having both of those girls be minorities. I think it’s something that should be more normalized in the industry because I feel like representation is really important.
It was really fun just getting to be on set because they incorporated Jade and Sam’s families into the show a lot more, so we got to see more about their ethnic background. I think that’s something that’s really important because a lot of young girls look up to this and see their families and see themselves represented in it I feel like other people can learn about some traditions in certain cultures.
I know that you two met on Zoom. How did that friendship evolve?
Miya Cech: We met on Zoom and we discovered we had a lot of mutual friends. I feel like as a kid in the industry, you’re kind of always connected to other kids in the industry somehow. We met for a chemistry read and then we both got the role. We met for a meeting, getting to know each other, getting to see what we were going to be doing when we came to set for filming, and we both found that we have a love of socks! We bonded over different fluffy socks, socks with patterns, and that was kind of the icebreaker.
From there, we were spending about six hours of our day on set with each other because we’re supposed to play best friends. Oftentimes the other actor is not going to be your best friend, in the beginning, you’re going to be total strangers and so you have to develop that relationship fast. I feel like with us it was pretty easy, it was almost like an instant click.
What else do you have in common besides socks?
Miya Cech: Well, we both have a love for arts and crafts, which is something we found out in school. We both don’t like math. I think there are a lot of things we have in common but I think that it’s even more interesting to hear about what’s different. YaYa is an incredible dancer and she writes her own music, and I think that’s super cool.
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How are you like and not like your character in this show?
Miya Cech: Jade is a 12-year-old Chinese-American. She’s a science nerd but she’s also a fashionista, kind of a social butterfly in a way. She’s always making cool outfits and wanting to be friends with everyone in the room. I feel like personally, I can be a little more introverted at times. I’m definitely not as extroverted and outgoing as Jade, but I also think that we’re alike in the way that I love science. I loved science growing up and I love it now. I think Jade is a little bit funnier than I am.
Talk about the challenges in making this series, including swimming and surfing. And that very chilly water.
Miya Cech: So, we shot a summer show starting from November through January, which means we were shooting over the holidays. Even for LA, it wasn’t going to be summer sweltering heat. Our first day, the first and only day we did not shoot at the studio, was the day that we had to go into the water.
We were in Malibu, it was 8 a.m., and they had a water spigot for us to use in the show as a way to make it look like we were just in the water. But it wasn’t working, and of course, that was the warm water. They just looked at us and we’re like, “You guys don’t mind going in the actual ocean, do you?” We just looked at each other and went, “Let’s do it!” and we just started running into the water. We got in super-fast, got out, did the scene, and then admitted we were freezing.
How are the two of you keeping in touch?
Miya Cech: With social media, there are always platforms like Instagram and TikTok. I believe all three of the kids, me, YaYa, and then Spencer Hermes-Rebello, who plays Remi and lives in Australia, all have a Snapchat group chat to send texts and photos. With technology the way it is now there are always ways to be in touch and stay connected.
Talk about the importance of having female role models in film and TV, and playing a female role model yourself.
Miya Cech: For me personally, I feel like it’s really important to have female representation. It was really wonderful to see people like May Chan who is a writer, she was the showrunner actually, she wrote the whole thing. We shot in blocks, so from episodes one through eight we had different female directors. We had about four female directors and then we had one male director, and that was really interesting to see, because I had personally never seen that.
A majority of the directors that I’ve worked with have been male, but I’ve had the opportunity to work with wonderful female directors. For me it’s really inspiring because I want to be a director when I get older. It gives me a lot of hope to see how it’s becoming more normalized and actually, it’s becoming something that’s very common to see.
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How do you enjoy spending your free time when you are not working or in school?
Miya Cech: I am a big artist. I read a lot. I’m trying to re-read Heartstopper because of the show that came out. I like to dip my toes in the waters of different activities to see what sticks.
I have three siblings and lots of pets, so trying to find any free time between that and then traveling, and then school, and then working, is a little tricky. But again, it’s another adventure.
Why should viewers take the plunge and watch Season 1 of Surfside Girls?
Miya Cech: Surfside Girls is a funny and heartwarming show about two best friends who go on a paranormal adventure. I think that you should watch it because if you’re looking for laughs if you’re looking for maybe some inspiration, some girl power, I think you should watch it. Also, you will like it if you’re into a little bit of the spooky paranormal side.
Season 1 of Surfside Girls is currently streaming on Apple TV+