When I first stumbled across “Sunset Drive Podcast” hosted by actor and creative director Anthony Smith, I had no idea what to expect. As soon as I watched one of the episodes on YouTube, I knew I was onto something special. Smith’s podcast airs frequently on its YouTube channel, Sunset Drive Podcast, but is also accessible in audio format on Spotify.
“Sunset Drive Podcast” has a different actor on each episode. Smith interviews the guest in a way that makes it feel as if you’re listening to a conversation between two friends, rather than a professional interview. The chill vibes create an atmosphere that feels safe and welcoming.
The podcast has guested many of the “Julie and the Phantoms” cast members. Admittedly, this is what drew me into the podcast in the first place, as I am a huge fan of the show. However, Smith is just starting his “High School Musical: The Musical: The Series” leg of the podcast. Guests such as Julia Lester (Ashlyn Caswell), Dara Renee (Kourtney Greene) and Frankie Rodriguez (Carlos Rodriguez) will be joining Smith very soon. Fans of the show should be on the lookout! The best way to stay updated would be to follow @sunsetdrivepod on Instagram.
One of the things I love about the podcast is that, as a host, Smith isn’t afraid to broach difficult topics. During the episode with Owen Joyner (Alex Mercer in “Julie and the Phantoms”), Smith and Joyner talked about Joyner’s struggle with anxiety over the years. The conversation eventually led to the fact that none of us have any idea what we’re doing in life and we should take comfort in that shared experience. As someone who struggles with anxiety and trying to figure out where I want to go in life, this was a relatable discussion for me.
Another episode I really enjoyed was the one with Madison Reyes (Julie Molina in “Julie and the Phantoms”). Reyes, at just 15 years old, landed the lead role in a Netflix show — a Kenny Ortega production, no less. She and Smith talk about how her school teachers and classmates didn’t give her the support she needed in terms of acting, yet she still pulled through and landed the role. Reyes explained that she had to find that support within herself and her family.
One of the best podcast episodes, in my opinion, was when filmmaker Kenny Ortega was guested. Ortega has held the key to our childhoods, directing the “High School Musical” series, “Hocus Pocus,” the “Descendants” series and so much more. Ortega is a dream-chaser who sees the raw potential in everyone, so if you’re looking for a little inspiration, you’ll find it here. However, it wasn’t all warm and fuzzy. Smith and Ortega spoke of problems within the film industry, such as racism and lack of LGBTQIA+ representation. It’s an important episode to watch.
If you’re someone who likes hearing about behind-the-scenes fun stories of filming, but also some of the hard-hitting truths of the film industry, I would definitely recommend this podcast. There are light-hearted games alongside deep connection moments, and it’s a good time overall. If you’re interested, check out https://www.sunsetdrivepodcast.com/ for the podcast team, episodes, socials, merch and more!