'Rise' Stars Auli'i Cravalho and Damon J. Gillespie Talk Bullying, Onscreen Chemistry | In Studio

The show, which debuts Tuesday, centers on a normal working-class town whose students show their talents and find their way under a passionate drama teacher.

NBC’s new musical drama Rise makes its debut Tuesday night, and two of the show’s stars, Auli’i Cravalho and Damon J. Gillespie, sat down with The Hollywood Reporter In Studio to discuss the magic of the show.

Inspired by the nonfiction book Drama High, written by Michael Sokolove, Rise centers on a normal working-class town whose students show their talents and find their way under a passionate drama teacher who ends up galvanizing the entire town.

Cravalho, who first made a splash as the voice of Moana in the eponymous Disney hit, describes her character of Lilette Suarez as an “underdog," something viewers of Rise will be able to relate to, the actor says.

“Individuality is something that really shines through, and sometimes you need a guiding hand, like the teacher in our show,” she tells THR. “Just someone who will kind of pluck you from whatever circumstances it is and really encourage you to just be whoever that person really is. And only you can really figure that out, and it takes time and it takes perseverance and it takes that one individual, but when you get it and you have the time and when you put in the effort, it’s all worth it.”

Gillespie and Cravalho share screentime together throughout the series, and the duo say their onscreen chemistry comes from plenty of bonding time.

“He’s fantastic,” Cravalho says. “I’m really grateful to have a co-star that I trust in the sense where I’ve never played a character in this particular field.”

Gillespie adds that the more shooting they’ve done, the closer they’ve gotten. “Now that we’ve done more of the show, we’ve gotten to have a lot more encounters just she and I, so we have more time to talk, and we have more time to really form a really close friendship,” he tells THR. “Now that the show is moving along and we’re kind of staying with it, it’s really blossoming into a really pleasant friendship, I would say.”

Rise premieres tonight on NBC.