'Teen Beach Movie's' Maia Mitchell on Surfing, Filming in Puerto Rico

The "Fosters" actress stars in her first leading role on the Disney Channel movie airing July 18.
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Maia Mitchell

Maia Mitchell is ready to go surfing—on the TV screen, that is.

The young Australian actress is making her debut in a lead role in Disney Channel’s Teen Beach Movie, which premieres on Friday at 8 p.m. Mitchell stars alongside Ross Lynch as McKenzie and Brady, teen surfers who somehow end up in a ‘60s beach-party musical movie called Wet Side Story, where they join in on the film’s song and dance numbers.

While the role required a lot of surfing, Mitchell tells The Hollywood Reporter that she didn’t know how prior to the role. To prepare for the part, she says, “They told me I had the role and the next day, they had me everyday with a surf trainer.”

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Mitchell adds, “Then [I had] a personal trainer for body strength because I couldn’t even do a push-up. I couldn’t even get up on the board.”

The Fosters star, who grew up listening to singer-songwriters and playing acoustic guitar, says it was a learning experience to record a different kind of musical genre.

“I never thought I would be recording on any professional level so to be doing a rockabilly, Motown, pop soundtrack in a L.A. studio was completely bizarre and amazing,” Mitchell says about recording songs for the Disney Channel TV musical.

The movie’s soundtrack, which was released Tuesday, features 12 songs inspired by surf rock, pop, rockabilly and Motown R&B.

STORY: 'Teen Beach Movie' Director on 'High School Musical' Comparisons and Big Expectations

With the film set in Puerto Rico, Mitchell says the scenic environment made her experience of filming on the island all the more memorable.

“We shot so much of the film outside so what you see is what you get,” says the actress. “We were by the beach everyday. It looks like a green screen because it’s ridiculously stunning. We were always saying that, ‘This is not real. This is a backdrop.’ ”

Teen Beach Movie is directed by Jeffrey Hornaday (Disney’s Geek Charming) and also stars Grace Phipps, Garrett Clayton, John DeLuca, Chrissie Fit, Jordan Fisher, Mollee Gray and Kent Boyd.

Teen Beach Movie airs Friday at 8 p.m. on Disney Channel.