"...I’m very very inspired by the people around me. I write with the thought of my friends in the roles and I hear their voices and I will write a character that’s kind of a blend from my three favorite people...”
By Jacqueline Shamie
Nineteen-year-old Lilia Buckingham steps into the acting scene with force as she takes on the role of Cassie Traske in Disney’s Hocus Pocus 2, (September 30th 2022) Lilia started dancing and acting from a young age but took a step back from showbiz when she entered her teen school years. She only tried to get back into it recently but after finding difficulty in booking roles after the long layoff. She says, “[I] didn’t really book anything, anything crazy, but I was starting college anyway…” However one of her last auditions in June of 2021 was for Hocus Pocus 2… and she landed the part! Now with seemingly the best of both worlds she has her acting career taking off and her academic future assured as she studies at Boston University.
She explains, “I spent the entirety of last summer…auditioning and I ended up booking it two weeks before I was supposed to move in for my freshman year of college…I went to Rhode Island, I filmed for 5 months and then I went straight from a night shoot into my first day of classes.”
Lilia’s journey to the big screen was not easy and she broke down how Hocus Pocus was a huge turning point in her career and her life: “It really feels like it opened this whole new possibility of life for me, because I was very sure of what I was going to be doing… there were other things I want to do in the industry: I want to produce, I want to write, and I was like, you know, maybe I should be focusing on that, and I kind of saw my life after school doing jobs that would come from getting a college degree. [Then], Hocus Pocus kind of changed everything, and made it so I [could] keep pursuing the thing that I love most in the world…”
Despite Lilia’s path to success in the acting realm, she hasn’t lost interest in her other passions, such as writing. She explains: “I grew up writing–I was a big reader as a kid, so, eventually, in middle school, I wanted to take a class where I could start writing my own stuff because I loved reading so much, so I like took a creative writing class and I ended up finishing a novel when I was fourteen. [Then], I was alright for some reason; I have a knack for this and I love doing it. It doesn’t feel like I’m ever working when I’m writing and, you know, that’s why I’m going to school for it because it doesn’t
feel like work…I just love doing it.” Lilia even went on to note that “[she] started writing when [she] was becoming a real human…those teenage years,” which we all know are transformative years in everyone’s lives.
One may not think someone as young as Lilia has much life experience, but she tells us that her writing is often inspired by her own life, even describing how her life feels “cinematic” and getting the role in Hocus Pocus seems too good to be true. But Lilia’s journey certainly comes through in her writing: “[Now] I’m…very very inspired by the people around me. I write with the thought of my friends in the roles and I hear their voices and… I will write a character that’s kind of a blend from my three favorite people. I take a lot of inspiration from the people that I love the most, or the people I spend the most time with–it’s a nice feeling, like you’re with your friends when you’re writing about them.”
Writing is just the tip of the iceberg for young Lilia. Lillia is still an avid reader and even started a small book club between her and her best friend. They are currently reading The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo (with Lilia taking thorough notes) saying that this is her latest favorite book “because it makes you feel like…you want to just dive into it, and become a part of this world.”
“That is what I hope to one day achieve with writing because there’s no better feeling than…falling into a book.”
"...expecting us to be aware of everything that’s going on... and all of the issues... we ’re just kids... we are young... we’re doing the best we can..."
The arts are clearly a massive part of Lilia’s life and her identity, but social media also plays a significant role as she has accumulated 1.5 million Instagram followers.
As a young teenager, Lilia came out as bisexual on social media and she said, “I really realized I can make a difference…I had a lot of people reaching out to me, being like, you know what, you really inspired me, and that was the first time I was , ‘Okay, I can do something really positive with this.’ I can try my best to be authentic and real and promote the things I really care about and help educate people about important issues. I want to be able to use my platform for something that matters…I think we will always be learning and figuring out new ways to be better on social media, but I think…when you have this platform, or at least for me, it feels like a waste to not doing something positive with it.”
Lilia went on to explain that it is important to her to not “succumb to the pressures of people [saying], ‘you should be talking about this,’ ‘‘you need to be talking about that,’ ‘you’re wrong about this,’ ‘you’re promoting the wrong thing,’ ‘you aren’t educated enough’” She dives deeper into this topic when she discussed the pressure she feels and the standard that people with big platforms are held to, “expecting us to be aware of everything that’s going on and all of these issues…we’re just kids…we are young, we’re doing the best we can.” She says sometimes it’s even necessary for her to “take a step back” and turn off her phone to remind herself that “it’s not all bad.” Ultimately, taking care of your mental health is a priority for the young actress, as it should be for all of us. Hocus Pocus 2 comes out in September, but that will not be the last you see of Lilia! She is currently working on several scripts and projects; one of them is about her friends and it has really= become a passion project for the young actress. Although it is still early on in development, Lilia hopes to transfer her words onto the screen very soon. Lilia went on to mention that her overall goal is to own a production company that develops books into films. In this realm she draws a lot of her inspiration from fellow actress, Reese Witherspoon. And, although Lilia does not study acting at Boston University, she is focusing on writing and producing, so we hope to one day see what she can do behind the camera as well as on-screen!
Photography by Petros Koy
Stylist – Mickey Freeman
Makeup – Ammara Rana
Hair – Denis Perani