It’s Matilda Lawler’s world, and we’re just living in it. Matilda Lawler is the main character of Disney+’s Flora & Ulysses. This talented, intelligent actress has impressed coworkers and audiences alike. When meeting her on the set in Vancouver, I was instantly taken in by her energy and charisma. With a female lead and a female director, Flora & Ulysses is proving to break down barriers.
In Flora & Ulysses, based on the book by Kate DiCamillo, Flora is a comic-reading, snarky, empathetic, and brave girl who is a self-proclaimed cynic. However, when she helps save Ulysses (a squirrel with superpowers) from a vacuum cleaner, she’s one of the first to believe in him.
According to Ben Schwartz, who plays her father, George Buckman, in the film, “Matilda is so special, truly a special actress and the fact that this is her first one is really fun to watch.” Although this may be Matilda’s first big film, she did get the phone call that she got the role while she was on Broadway, so she’s no newbie.
When talking with Matilda she mentioned characteristics she loved about Flora. “Flora is very kind and loyal and she tries to help everyone around her.” Plus she’s funny and does have some snark!
Flora and Matilda are role models for my girls. Director Lena Khan said that with Flora she was “subverting stereotypes without giving into them.” Flora is funny, cool, and reads comic books. Khan made intentional choices to not make her a Tomboy and give her femininity. You’ll notice in her costuming she wears floral shirts but with Converse shoes. I love it!
Matilda noticed, too, and commented, “Girls can be as funny and rude and crazy as the boys.” When we talk about representation and diversity, it doesn’t just mean race and gender. As the mother of 5 girls, seeing some stereotypes get the boot is refreshing. One of my daughters likes to rock Spider-Man shoes with JoJo Siwa bows. And I’m tired of seeing her get some side-eye for it.
It’s not something that needs to be preached or shoved in your face all the time, but just seeing yourself on-screen as “normal” helps. Hopefully films like this will fix those attitudes and let kids be who they want to be.
Matilda Lawler is a gem and brings Flora to life. You can’t help but smile when she comes on screen.
Flora & Ulysses streams on Disney+ February 19, 2021!