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San Diego’s Shay Rudolph makes her Netflix debut in ‘The Baby-Sitters Club’

The cast of Netflix's "The Baby-Sitters Club," featuring San Diego-based Shay Rudolph (far left).
The cast of Netflix’s “The Baby-Sitters Club,” featuring San Diego-based Shay Rudolph (far left).
(Kailey Schwerman/Netflix)

Kristy Thomas. Claudia Kishi. Stacey McGill. Mary Anne Spier. Dawn Schafer.

If you recognize these names, it’s likely that you’re eagerly anticipating the July 3 premiere of “The Baby-Sitters Club,” a new Netflix series based on the beloved books by Ann M. Martin.

Those stories follow a group of young East Coast teens as they start their own babysitting business, but also navigate issues like divorce, independence, identity and, yes, boys.

Still, even if you’re too old — or too young — to know the babysitters, you’ll likely get to know them before summer is through. For one thing, “The Baby-Sitters Club” is family-friendly, perfect for young viewers suffering from quarantine and summer break boredom. It also has a core (and almost cultlike) fan base of people in their 30s and 40s who grew up reading the books, which were published from 1986 to 2000.

Plus, the show stars 1990s icon, Alicia Silverstone as Kristy’s mom, and comedy favorite Marc Evan Jackson (“The Good Place,” “Parks and Recreation”) as Mary Anne’s dad.

But San Diego viewers, particularly, will want to tune in to watch local actress Shay Rudolph as sophisticated babysitter, Stacey McGill.

Over the last few years, Rudolph has been working steadily in Hollywood, most notably as recurring character Maya Flynn on Fox’s “Lethal Weapon” TV series.

Before the highly-anticipated release of “The Baby-Sitters Club,” Rudolph filled us in on the series, what it’s like to go to school on a TV set, and her favorite things to do when she’s in town.

Did you have a connection to “The Baby-Sitters Club” before you got the show?

Yes, I was definitely aware of the books because the Scholastic Book Fairs at my elementary school always carried some of the graphic novels! All of my friends read them, and I was constantly asking if I could borrow one of their copies since I thought the books were so cool.

Tell us who you play and a bit about your character …

I play Stacey McGill. Stacey is a chic, savvy and incredibly smart New York City girl. She is the Baby-Sitters Club’s treasurer due to her incredible math skills. Although she really loves boys and fashion, her friendships always come first.

Shay Rudolph makes her Netflix debut in "The Baby-Sitters Club."
(Alex Kruk)

How did you become Stacey? Did you ever find yourself taking on some of her characteristics in your personal life?

The main way that I felt like I had transformed into Stacey was through her sophisticated style. Whenever I got into my costume for the day on set, I immediately felt like I was in character. I definitely found myself taking some inspo from her outfits in my day-to-day life.

Stacey is very fashionable. Did you have any say in your outfits?

The costume designer, Cynthia Summers, always asked for my opinion on what felt most natural. She was so fabulous to work with, and I learned so much about styling from her. It would be so hard to pick one favorite outfit, but I can say that Stacey’s platform black boots were some of my all-time favorite things to wear. I actually loved them so much that I bought myself a pair while we were filming!

When you were little, was there a TV show or movie you saw that made you think “I want to do this?”

Well, there was never something specific that I watched that made me feel super inspired to try acting. Whenever I watched a TV show or movie it felt like an unachievable goal, and I never realized that acting was something I could do as a career. I did do musical theater in elementary school — in fifth grade, I played Glinda in our production of “The Wizard of Oz.” I had been doing musical theater since first grade, so it didn’t feel pivotal at first. But as I was performing, I realized how much I had connected with my character and transformed into her. That was a moment that I really fell in love with acting, and I’m sure is part of what led me to where I am today.

Even though you work on TV and movie sets, you still also have to go to school. How does that work?

While filming, there is a set teacher — even if it’s summer and you aren’t doing school! — and the set teacher acts as a tutor for all of the kids on set. They proctor any exams you have to take, answer your questions, etc. It is drastically different than going to regular school since you’re always being stopped in the middle of an assignment to go back to filming a scene (although I don’t mind that part very much). I’ve had to work really hard to learn how to stay focused in the short amounts of time that I get to complete my assignments (sometimes you only get 20 minute periods). Noise cancelling headphones were my best friend while doing school on set.

What do you think a show like “The Baby-Sitters Club” can teach young girls?

“The Baby-Sitters Club” can teach young girls how meaningful friendships are. It can also teach them about the importance of being a young entrepreneur, and how you shouldn’t be afraid to conquer something that you’re passionate about! These girls are incredibly independent and I think that’s something that every kid should grow up seeing.

If you could play another character from the show, who would it be?

I would 100% want to be Claudia Kishi - I mean, who doesn’t want to be her? I feel like I relate to Claudia most because of how creative she is. She’s super talented at all forms of art, and just like Stacey, has a really awesome fashion sense!

A scene from "The Baby-Sitters Club" featuring Shay Rudolph and Momona Tamada.
A scene from “The Baby-Sitters Club” featuring Shay Rudolph (center) and Momona Tamada (right).
(Kailey Schwerman/Netflix)

“The Baby-Sitters Club” is adapted from a book series – do you have a favorite book or literary character that you’d one day like to play on screen?

There was a book I read in 6th grade that deeply impacted me called “A Mango-Shaped Space” by Wendy Mass. It was the first book that ever made me cry, not because I wanted to or because my friends told me it was sad, but because I felt so connected to the character and her story. Now, years after reading it, it’s still always on my mind and will forever be on my list of favorite books. I would love to see it made into a film and I’d love to have a hand in making it.

What advice do you have for young people hoping to pursue acting?

The number one thing that I can tell you is don’t take it personally if you don’t book a role! Especially as a young actor, there are so many different things that go into booking a role beyond just your talent and capabilities. You may have to look like the parents they’re casting or look like someone who’s playing your sibling. Just because you don’t book a role, doesn’t mean you’re a bad actor!

Being in San Diego County, you regularly drive to L.A. for auditions and shoots. What’s that like? How do you pass time in the car?

I’ve definitely gotten used to spending my time wisely in the car and having fun. If I have tons of homework to get through, I focus on that, but driving to L.A. has turned into great bonding time with my mom. If we’re driving home really late at night, sometimes even 2 a.m., we like to listen to scary story podcasts and freak ourselves out a bit! I know I’ll look back on all of this time I’ve gotten to spend with her and be so grateful for all of our long conversations and how much our relationship has positively grown after spending time together.

Describe your perfect San Diego day.

Well, every good day starts off with great food. One of my favorite restaurants in San Diego is Plant Power —they have an amazing vegan menu. After that, I like to go walking around with my friends and go into some local bookstores to look at poetry books, go to The San Diego Vintage Flea Market, and maybe even the beach to watch a beautiful, peachy sunset! And who doesn’t love a good hand-dipped ice cream cone from Mr. Frostie to end your day?

“The Baby-Sitters Club” also stars Sophie Grace (Kristy); Malia Baker (Mary Anne); Momona Tamada (Claudia); and Xochitl Gomez (Dawn). All 10 episodes will be available to stream on Netflix on July 3.


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