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Miya Cech Interview: Sammy in ‘Marvelous and the Black Hole’

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Rising star Miya Cech spoke to The Natural Aristocrat about playing Sammy alongside Rhea Perlman (Margot) in ‘Marvelous and the Black Hole’. The pure joy of learning card tricks and taking magic lessons from LA magician Kayla Drescher for the role.

Cech also discussed the film’s dark overtones on losing a parent and a step-parent invading your grief space. How life goes on… Even when you’re nowhere ready for it.

This Miya Cech interview contains spoilers for the film Marvelous and the Black Hole.

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT (NIR REGEV): Sammy is dedicated to getting validation from Margot’s rabbit early in Marvelous and the Black Hole. I feel it’s because animals are ‘arbiters of truth’ in a way, they don’t judge like humans do, they’re merit based. How do you feel about that?

MIYA CECH: Gosh, that’s such an astute observation! Sebastian was supposed to be an emotional support animal in a way. When Margo first started magic, I believe that Sebastian was one of the first ‘props’ she ever got and was sort of a real partner.

So when she left him for Sammy, she was kind of passing the Baton in a way. Giving Sammy a piece of Margo to take with her and help her on her journey and whatever adventures she might get up to.

Miya Cech as Sammy and Rhea Perlman as Margot in 'Marvelous and the Black Hole'. Photo Credit: Nanu Segal

Miya Cech as Sammy and Rhea Perlman as Margot in ‘Marvelous and the Black Hole’. Photo Credit: Nanu Segal

Sammy feels that the connection with her family has been somewhat suspended in time because of the loss of her mother. She doesn’t feel that she connects with her father really at all. And Sammy doesn’t see that the rest of her family is dealing with the same loss as she is.

They channel it in different ways as most people do. All people channel their grief in differently, but Sammy just doesn’t see it at all. She doesn’t see how they’re doing it.

So when she meets Margo, she’s still dealing with that grief. And Margo kind of teaches her how to deal with it in a way that is not vandalism and not smashing things… But in a way that is beautiful and sort of changing the way that Sammy channels her grief.

She channels it into magic and storytelling. It’s visually a really beautiful thing.

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: I thought Sammy’s feelings about her stepmom-to-be were pretty natural. It’s practically instinctive to resent this person invading your sacred space at home without permission.

Not to mention taking your mother’s place and your father’s attention from you. I was wondering your feelings about that?

MIYA CECH: Yeah, I mean, I definitely see a lot of the rage that Sammy feels or that Sammy is putting out there is grief based.

It is based off the loss of her mother, a person, Sammy felt really understood her and having someone come in and just be so easily a part of her family… She doesn’t want that.

I think that what I was trying to portray is she feels that her mother’s being too easily replaced. Sammy doesn’t want to let Marianne in because she’s still not over losing her mother.

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: How long did it take you to figure out all those card tricks?

MIYA CECH: Oh, goodness! Well, thankfully for me, Sammy didn’t have to be the pro. A couple of those shuffles were really hard and because I was only 12 at the time, I didn’t have like super big hands!

So holding a whole deck of cards sideways and a bridge was really hard for me… But Kate (Tsang – Director) was like ‘Even kind of fling them around. It doesn’t have to look perfect.’ So that was the nice thing.

I’d kind of be messy and a little bit of an amateur, but Rhea (Perlman) the definitely had to learn the brunt of it. She had to do so much and she was like, ‘Hmm, I’m unsure’. But she is such a natural. We helped each other.

In the end, we sort of had to just learn off each other. And we actually had a magic lesson as one of the first bonding moments for us as the actors in the film. That was just super wonderful!

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: What happened during the lesson?

MIYA CECH: Well, our magic instructor, Kayla Drescher, who is this amazing magician taught us how to do a lot of card tricks like the Palm. So the main palming move is called a Tenkai Palm. That’s the one that we see in almost every magic scene. That palming move is always making an appearance, because it really is the baseline for building up card tricks.

And so Kayla taught us how to do that one, which took a long time because you have to work on making it look good… But also making the card disappear.

Rhea Perlman as Margot and Miya Cech as Sammy in 'Marvelous and the Black Hole'. Photo Credit: Nanu Segal

Rhea Perlman as Margot and Miya Cech as Sammy in ‘Marvelous and the Black Hole’. Photo Credit: Nanu Segal

We had a lot of fun just kind of messing around and there was another one called we call it Zombie Balls. And they’re basically like these big silver metal balls under those satin towels. You kind of make it float on the top of them.

It was fun to dance around with these ghost-like objects and work it out and make it look like it was floating. Which is really fun!

We got to dance through the colored smoke, jump through it. It was just so much fun! We had our basics and our general stuff that we had to learn. And then once we were on set, we just got to have fun with it.

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Sammy refers early on to Margo stealing all the school’s toilet paper. It was never quite explained why, was it for the Papier-mâché flowers?

MIYA CECH: I think that was more for comedic effect. Our director and writer Kate Tsang saying she has a very unique and really incredible vision of what she wants her films to be.

That’s the wonderful thing because the film has heavy undertones… But then there are things like that make the audience laugh and they make you smile. And they’re just really silly things in general.

I don’t think that was ever explained, but I remember getting into that set and being like, ‘Interesting. I wonder why that’s there.’ Because we filmed the school stuff later on.

I believe we Rhea actually was like, ‘Why am I stealing this? Is this symbolic?’ And Kate was like, ‘No, it just really gives you a reason to be in the bathroom and meet Sammy.’ But yeah, it was just kind of a goofy, silly comedic event in a film that was really about coming of age and transformation.

It was just a little bit that was kind of fun and silly.

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: You look like you were having so much fun in those school scenes. Were those your favorite scenes to film?

MIYA CECH: Goodness! I loved being in that classroom set because I have a very dry sense of humor. When I do a lot of comedy acting, I have a little bit of sass & sarcasm.

I was really able to bring that into the scenes. I mean the guy who plays Leo, Keith Powell, the teacher, he is incredible. He’s hilarious! We had so much fun in any scenes that we were with him.

Dave (Raymond McAnally) and all of those people who were part of that scene, like I could not keep a straight face!

There were so many times where I just found myself wanting to smile so bad, but I had to keep my composure… Because Sammy doesn’t smile in those scenes yet.

I had to make sure to keep a straight face. But those scenes are definitely the more obvious comedic moments. But I think my favorite were probably lot of the magic scenes and riding the giant rabbit, definitely on top of my list.

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: Do you think Sammy regrets telling Margo to find her family in a way because this leads to Margot kind of leaving her?

MIYA CECH: I think that it’s bittersweet because at the same time Sammy’s happy that Margot went back to look for her family.

I think that one of the things that Sammy realizes is Margot has also not fully accepted the loss of her family. She’s moved on and found ways to channel her grief into magic. But Margot hasn’t really accepted what happened and she hasn’t gotten her closure, which is important for her.

And so I think that Sammy hopes that Margot finds her family. But I think that she also hopes that Margot comes back and sees her again some day.

Sammy wants Margot to know how much she helped her, how much she helped change her view on the world. I mean, even in that last scene, that was the symbolism of her wearing more than just a plain black top.

I don’t know if this is like super obvious, but when Sammy’s first dusting off the photo, there’s a photo of her and her whole family, including her mother. And she’s wearing like this bright yellow top, her hair is down.

She looks happy and that’s kind of such a severe contrast to what she is like at least in that beginning portion of the film. And that sort of the symbolism, when she’s writing that letter to Margot is she’s wearing a striped black and white top.

It’s not going back to immediately being happy and joyful all the time… But it is an improvement. And I think that she hopes that Margot comes back and sees that she helped Sammy and that Sammy was able to change.

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: If Margot had accepted Sammy’s emancipation request, do you think that would’ve changed everything? Would Sammy still have gone back to her father or stayed with Margot?

MIYA CECH: I’m not entirely sure. I think that Sammy was caught up in her own feelings at that moment. That was her snapping point. It was interesting because that was a level of rage that as an actor I had never had to tap into before.

That was within the last few nights of our filming… I really had to dig for that amount of anger and that amount of frustration for the situation Sammy was in.

Paulina Lule, Leonardo Nam as Angus, and Kannon as Patricia in 'Marvelous and the Black Hole'. Photo Credit: Nanu Segal

Paulina Lule, Leonardo Nam as Angus, and Kannon as Patricia in ‘Marvelous and the Black Hole’. Photo Credit: Nanu Segal

But I think that Sammy was so caught up that she wouldn’t have the needed time to heal. I think that was the significance of the last actual healing of her physical injuries. But it also was a moment of resolve. She needed time to register what had happened to her within the past.

Miya Cech as Sammy in 'Marvelous and the Black Hole'. Photo Credit: Nanu Segal

Miya Cech as Sammy in ‘Marvelous and the Black Hole’. Photo Credit: Nanu Segal

She had to register the journey she had taken since losing her mom to meeting Margot, to developing a relationship with Margot, to have her leave…

It was just a wild ride and a roller coaster in a way. And that last magic show was kind of Sammy’s closure. That was her way of accepting that the journey was important and she figured out that she could heal and change.

That was one of the things that was important for me as an actor to put onto the screen. I really hope that audiences and the viewers picked up on that and noticed that story arc.

THE NATURAL ARISTOCRAT: That last scene on the stage was great, I feel audiences will give you a great response for it. I also enjoyed your contrasting anger at the beginning of the film when you talked back to everybody.

MIYA CECH: Thanks! It was definitely a different side of acting. I never actually had to be so angsty before, I was only 12 at the time of filming that.

I was really worried that I wasn’t gonna be able to carry the weight of a teenager and show that in an accurate way. Because when you’re 12, being a teenager, seems like such a big thing and such a big difference.


MIYA CECH: Thank you! I really hope that people enjoy our film! It looks beautiful and everybody was super nice and amazing to work with.


MIYA CECH: Thank you so much!

‘Marvelous and the Black Hole’ Film Trailer:

Marvelous and the Black Hole is Director Kate Tsang’s debut feature film.

'Marvelous and the Black Hole' Director Kate Tsang Hheadshot

‘Marvelous and the Black Hole’ Director Kate Tsang Hheadshot

‘Marvelous and the Black Hole’ Film Synopsis:

'Marvelous and the Black Hole Film' Poster - Provided by FilmRise

‘Marvelous and the Black Hole Film’ Poster – Provided by FilmRise

A teenage delinquent (Miya Cech, “Surfside Girls,” ALWAYS BE MY MAYBE) befriends a surly magician (Rhea Perlman, “Cheers,” MATILDA) who helps her navigate her inner demons and dysfunctional family with sleight of hand magic.
A coming-of-age comedy that touches on unlikely friendships, grief, and finding hope in the darkest moments.

Follow Miya Cech on Social Media:

– Be sure to follow rising star Miya Cech on Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, and Twitter!

Miya Cech is known for Nickelodeon’s 2019 reboot of Are You Afraid of the Dark? where she played Akiko Yamato. Cech also played Samantha ‘Samy’ Sawyer-Wei in Nickelodeon series The Astronauts. She’s slated to play ‘Jade’ in upcoming series .

Are You Afraid of the Dark? (2019)
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– Watch Marvelous and The Black Hole in theaters nation-wide Friday, April 21, 2022. Check FilmRise for local cinema screenings & showtimes.

– Follow the film’s latest updates on Twitter.

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Marvelous and the Black Hole was an official selection at the Sundance Film Festival and Tribeca Film Festival.

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