Chrissie Fit – Pitch Perfect 3
By: Arlene Allen
Q) How has this tour been for you so far?
A) It’s been a whirlwind. We are all going to see each other really soon, we love each other. It’s the whole cast. It’s very rare that we get together because of everybody’s schedules, but we’re all going to be at the premiere so our group text is blowing up. We’re talking about plans and we’re going to meet before and where we’re going to meet after, what are we wearing…
Q) You’re from Hialeah, right?
A) Yes, Hialeah born and raised! My parents are Cuban.
Q) So, tell us a bit about the journey from Hialeah to the big screen?
A) Well, it was a journey…I started singing and dancing when I was very young, but at family parties. My grandfather played the guitar in Cuba and my mom and her sisters sang together and did harmonies. And I wanted to do that. Everyone would stop and listen to them sing. I wanted to get attention! And so I started singing and dancing with my family and studied it in school. I went to Ben Sheppard Elementary, Barbara Goleman High and went to FIU for theater.
A funny weird fact – I don’t know if they still do this, but they had a like “American Idol” type of competition; “Golden Idol” it was called. And I won the first one! I remember it was at the there was the first round and there were three judges, kind of like “American Idol.” There was a next step and the last show was held in the arena. I sang “I Will Always Love You.” I was wearing this really dramatic black dress and I was singing like I was on “American Idol.” But I’m very proud I’m a Panther.
I left and I went to L.A. and got into an acting class. It was crazy. I left with like nine hundred dollars in my bank account. I had no money, no plan. A friend rented a room in her house to me for three hundred dollars. And at the time I was like, “Oh my God, this is so expensive!” I didn’t know any better. I wish that was my rent now! So, I got into the acting class and the coach was, “Do you have an agent?” I said, “No, I just moved here this month.” And he said, “I’ll set you up with my agent,” which is unheard of! I was so fortunate that way. It’s one of those things where like preparation meets opportunity and you just go with it and take it.
Then, I got on “General Hospital” and it was really fun. It was great because I came in and I wasn’t there all the time so I would get as much from it and then be able to audition for other things too. That’s when I did the Teen Beach Movie for the Disney Channel and that was really fun. We shot in Puerto Rico. We actually did both movies there. We just created these shirts to help benefit Puerto Rico and you can go to teenbeach.com (http://disneychannel.disney.com/teen-beach-movie) where you can buy the shirts. It’s such a magical place and we had the best time filming there. Oh my God, I’m talking about my journey like I’m frigging Meryl Streep over here! Then, Pitch Perfect came along and it’s been the greatest joy of my life. These girls are my friends forever and we are so supportive of each other. My friendship and the mentorship of Elizabeth Banks has been invaluable, too.
Q) The greatest part about these movies is your chemistry with the entire group. You can tell you are all great friends. How do you translate that from the screen to the audience?
A) I think we got really lucky that we got so many wonderful and professional people working together, but we make conscious decisions to do things together, because we wanted to make sure that the chemistry was seen on screen. Even in this third one when we thought – we’re already pretty good friends by then – but in sharing experiences together is where you build friendships and trust. Bella Boot Camp really helps a lot. That’s a thing now, Bella Boot Camp. We have to spend a month together rehearsing these songs, these dances. We talk about jokes and figure out different ways to play scenes and that builds relationships. We have so much respect for each other and I think that is key in having a really good friendship and communication is really good, too. And if there’s any problem, any kind of something, we all talk about it, which is really helpful.
Q) What are your fondest memories of being on set with the cast?
A) There are so many, honestly. Especially in this last time, because we knew this might be the last one we were like, “All right, we’re going to have fun on set, but we’re also going to try to create memories outside”. So, on the weekends we would go bowling, we would go the movies. I had my birthday at the Atlanta Zoo, a party animal theme. I invited everyone and we did that whole thing and for everyone’s birthday – Rebel [Wilson] had a birthday and Brittany Snow had a birthday while we were filming. I would decorate their trailers with Happy Birthday stuff so when they got there, there was a celebration. It was really fun. We want to do that for each other.
Here’s a funny story. We had a group message and Brittany was, “Does anyone want to have dinner?” It was a Sunday night. And then all of a sudden Ester Dean writes back on the text, “I’m going to Usher’s skate party. Wanna come?” And all of us were, “Me!” You know that emoji with the hands up? A hundred of those. A hundred? [laughs] More like nine of those went up and we were like, “Let’s go!” And we went skating in Atlanta with Usher Raymond III and I can’t believe this was happening right now. It was the best time ever! So, we have all of these memories and that’s what makes this bond so great.
Q) So, coming back to South Florida, what are some local spots you like to try to get to, given your time?
A) Yesterday we had like a little bit of a break, and I was like do you think we can go to La Carreta? I want some some frijoles…I want all of those foods! So, we did that. Yay! There’s this little pizza shop in Hialeah called Di Piazza. It’s so good, like the garlic bread is so good – it’s on 49th Street – and the pizza is delicious. I just remember going there after the movies with my family, like on Sundays. So, it’s like sentimental, too. Then, I go to Ma Dia’s Kitchen and let me tell you that woman throws down. I ask her can you make me my favorite dish and she always does. Favorite places to eat or just in general? Of course, my brain went to food right away. Wow!
Q) So, is this Pitch Perfect movie really the last movie?
A) I don’t know you know. It seems like it might be.
Q) You know that final scene, it wasn’t recording. So, you know that might be a hint.
A) Oh, with John and Gail? That’s a good catch! I don’t know. I mean it all depends on if people want to still see us singing and dancing acapella music, which I feel like these are not very typical movies In Hollywood where you have ten women at the center, we’re all strong and independent and have a diverse cast with a lot of different personalities and opinions. Somehow, we make it work every time, you know? So, I’m very proud to be a part of it and I would do these movies until I’m like a Bella in a nursing home. I think I would Fast and the Furious this for sure!
Q) How are the film locations? Did you guys go throughout Europe?
A) Girl, let me tell you. That was ALL in Atlanta! I know, movie magic! We were filming this and we were like, “Good luck getting this across,” but it looks amazing. They did a really good job of scouting places in Atlanta that look like a little more European and then green screeened all the way. The yacht? There’s something messed up about that. They took a second team to Nice, France and they shot like a lot of B-footage and exteriors. And then there was a moment where they need to see them (the girls) walking into places and out of places and we were like, “Oh my God! We’re going to go to France!” So, we were so excited, so excited! And then they cast doubles over there that looked like us so the back of our heads walking into places – try to catch it – it’s not us. You know Rebel – Rebel being Rebel, we do cast gifts at the end of the movie and I made a scrapbook of all of the pictures and memories and inside jokes. It’s like our Bella book. And then everybody had different things. And Rebel gives us all a trip to Cabo. So, we didn’t go to France, but we did go to Cabo after the movie together. It was five days together and it was crazy, like, “Aren’t you tired of seeing each other? You spend four months making a movie and like immediately go on vacation together?” But that just shows you how much we love each other.
Q) After this, like cast members Ester Dean and Hailee Steinfeld have careers in singing, in music. Do you have plans to do that as well? Have you looked into that?
A) I mean you know, I did. I put out like a couple of Christmas songs about two years ago, independently, just for fun. Because I’d like to focus on acting. But I’ve got say, I went to the Grammy Awards for the first time this year and I was so inspired. I was like, it’s so…I never have felt that with other awards because I’ve gone to like the AMA’s and TV and video awards and whatever, but maybe I need to do Spanish music so that’s kinda like in the back of mind. But right now I’m primarily focusing on acting stuff.
Q) Who are some of your favorite artists to listen to?
A) As far as Latino artists? In general, oh my gosh, I love Rihanna and Beyoncé…who doesn’t love Beyoncé? But I also really like my kind, of what my style would be, Amy Winehouse, more like jazz and kind of like old school vibe. I’m the kind of girl who puts Ella Fitzgerald as my Pandora station and I jam to that. I like storytelling in music and kind of a retro feel, I think.
Q) How do you guys choose what songs to sing in the movie?
A) I wish we could choose! Not really, they do a really good job of picking the music. They come up to us with music and we just sing it and that’s basically how it works. But there is like an extensive process they go through because once you pick a song you’ve got to do it because they’ve got to break it up into so many different acapella parts. That takes a lot of work and us recording it and stuff.
Q) The George Michael covers are really good, especially with what transpired around that.
A) Yeah cool, thank you!
Q) What was the most challenging routine to do?
A) I think that probably the most challenging one was the “Toxic” one. No, it was “I Don’t Like It, I Love It.” It was like a lot of precision. We were filming on an army base and there were like a lot of stiff movements and sharp movements, too. So, I think that was the hardest one for us.
Q) What did you enjoy the most?
A) Just spending time with the girls and riffing off each other. We had a lot more freedom this time to improv and that was kind of really fun and cool. It was a lot of collaboration on this one, which I was very grateful for. You know, this time around, given like the climate now, I didn’t want to make like that many “in my country” jokes and deportation jokes. So, I was able to sit with the director and some of the producers and the writers and like talk to them about it and tell them how I felt and that was always risky because you never know how they’re going to take it, if that’s going to result in less jokes or less screen time. And they were like, “Absolutely, we totally get it. We understand you and we wouldn’t want that anyway.” So, we want to make sure everything is cool and so I was really, really grateful to be able do that and I’m very proud to be Latina. So, whatever steps we needed to take to make to put out more positive images and it’s like Flo is the only one who really has her shit together in the movie. Everybody else is like, “What am I doing?” And she is making things happen.
Q) You have a friendship now with Elizabeth Banks and you have a project together. Using this platform that you have, what kind of stories do you want to tell that are not typical Hollywood stories, being a Latina in Hollywood?
A) Yeah, you know we definitely want to make things with Latinos in the center. I’m working on developing different projects and a lot of them because I’m Cuban, a lot has been focused on that. I don’t kind of want to say anything because it’s kind of secret, but I pretty much know the whole history of Cuba. I’m really excited to tell those stories because I don’t think it’s been mainstream because the culture has been so closed off, the island has been so closed off for so long. I’m kind of focused on that and also on my experience. Like I’m a Latina from Miami, where I didn’t see that much different from who I am until I went to Hollywood. I auditioned for a role and they were like, “Well, you don’t look the part.” But I can do the part. And that was a mind trip because in school I was playing Juliet and I was playing Serena in “Fame” because I could do it. So, also there were predominantly Latino kids in the school you don’t have that luxury to say you can’t be Juliet because you’re Latina because everyone else is. So, I laughed. So, I had the experience here so that I could play a different bunch of roles and prepare myself for it. That’s also something that I want to tap into, too.
Q) So are John Michael Higgins and Elizabeth Banks as funny in person as they are on the screen?
A) Oh, they’re insane. They’re insane. There are times when we didn’t have to be on set and I would stay just to see them go and riff off each other. They sent us for approval, they sent us a gag reel to watch and I was just cracking up at all they said that didn’t make it into the movie because they were so, so funny. They just play off each other really well.
Q) He has some of the best lines in the movie.
A) I know, he’s just so… the things that come out of his mouth, I can’t even believe it. I feel guilty for laughing. He’s so funny.
Q) How was it like filming that last scene? I know it was probably the most emotional part in the movie.
A) It was so, so emotional. We never usually do film things in order and I don’t know if they did it on purpose or not, but it was one of the last things we filmed. So, the emotions, the emotion of the movie…That this might be the last one. This is the last day and there wasn’t really any acting going on…We were legitimately crying. I think I talked about this on Tuesday. there was like one point where the director came up to me after one of the takes and was like, “Are you okay?” And I was like, “Yeah, why?” And she said, “It looks like your puppy just died.” I was like, “What?!” So, she showed me on the monitor and I was like legitimately like horrible, ugly face, ugly crying. [fake cries] So, it’s was like let’s rein this in a little bit. Let’s rein in your emotions. It’s such a good group of girls so there was really no acting going on.
Q) So, the Riff Off is one of the biggest draws of these movies. I think it’s my favorite part of each movie. Do you ever on set do riff offs with each other or just like split up into groups where it’s like “Let’s go! Let’s sing these songs,”?
A) No, I wish we did. We do sometimes sing with each other, Ester especially and Hailee. But what we did do this time around, which was really awesome was that we had a jam night at one of the bars in Atlanta. They rented it out for us. Because we had Saddle Up, which is Whisky Shivers, and they performed too and some of the girls in Evermoist were there too, and Brittany Snow, Kelley Jakle – They went as well and I think some of the other girls were there too. Anyway, we all went to the jam session and just jammed with each other for a couple of hours. I think we just sang “Waterfalls” by TLC. I did the rap part in it and I’m like not going to remember the words and then…[raps “Waterfalls]. And I was fine. But, yeah, we did have a jam session this time around and that was really cool.
Q) How is Princess Valentina doing these days?
A) Oh yay! Good. I just did another episode for “Elena of Avalor” and so I’m really excited. And they’re excited too so we’ll see more of her. I don’t know how much or in what capacity, but it’s super cool to have not only one Latina Disney princess with Elena, now but now they’re branching out to other Latina princesses. This is so cool because Latinas come in all different shapes and sizes and colors and we like to see a different Latina, even on that show. Princess Valentina is darker skinned, like me, with darker hair. So, it’s really nice that little girls get to have that, because I didn’t have that. I had Princess Jasmine and that was the closest one that looked like me. So, it’s really kind of like a dream come true to be able to voice a Latina Disney Princess.