Maria Canals-Barrera became a household name after playing Theresa Russo, the mother of 3 young wizards, in Disney Channel’s Emmy-winning series “Wizards of Waverly Place.” We were able to catch a few minutes in her busy life to talk food, family and of course, the Disney Channel’s upcoming television event “The Wizards Return: Alex vs Alex” that premieres Friday, March 15 (8:00 p.m., ET/PT) on the Disney Channel.
How was it to reunite with the cast of “Wizards of Waverly Place”? “It was so great, we felt we hadn’t skipped a beat because we have really grown up together in so many ways,” said Maria Canals-Barrera. “I always say I grew up as a mom with them.” She also credits her role as Theresa for teaching her to “lighten up, have more fun, to roll with the punches, to be okay with the craziness.”
On the flip side, Maria’s real life also translated into her character’s personality. She confessed she battles against being an overprotective mom, wanting to hold on too tight. “I think my devotion to my kids, holding on to them and wanting to be very connected to them is what I infused Theresa with,” explained Canals-Barrera.
What to expect in “The Wizards Return: Alex vs Alex”
The much-awaited Wizards television event will show how the Russo family and friends travel to Tuscany, Italy, to meet their long lost relatives… but when Alex (Selena Gomez) tries to prove she’s more than a seemingly carefree young Wizard, she inadvertently conjures a spell that creates a Good Alex and an Evil Alex. When Evil Alex gets roped into a charming young wizard’s foreboding plan to take over the world, Good Alex must find a way to save her family and humankind, which leads to a monumental battle between the two versions of herself – all atop the Tower of Pisa. “Alex has always been bratty sometimes and irresponsible and that’s part of her charm. But this time she’s really evil, which is kind of scary because she does this spell to take the evil out of herself and she ends creating a completely evil self,” said Maria.
According to Maria, fans can expect “really top notch special effects; this time it’s taken up a notch.”
She will also be appearing in 2 new episodes of Disney Junior’s popular short-form series “That’s Fresh,” a cooking show hosted by chef (and Babble blogger) Helen Cavallo that presents simple, healthy recipe ideas for kids and families. In the episodes premiering Wednesday, March 13 and Thursday, March 14 (both at 9:25 p.m., ET/PT on the 24-hour Disney Junior channel), Maria will be helping Chef Cavallo prepare a delicious roasted chicken and banana tostones, a traditional Latin American dish. She also confessed to loving plantains mushed up in the traditional Puerto Rican dish mofongo.
“I discovered a deeper appreciation for the plantain when I was in Puerto Rico shooting the first Wizard movie, drizzled with olive oil and garlic,” remembers this busy mom of 2 girls. “It has become my favorite side dish, along with mariquitas, which is fried plantain chips, or the tostones,” mentions Maria, who is of Cuban descent. ” It’s something I grew up with and ate often. And now I love it.” You can see why when you tune into her “That’s Fresh” episode.
Easy Roasted Chicken on “That’s Fresh”
Hungry? Learn how to make an easy roasted chicken by watching this video with Maria Canals-Barrera and Helen Cavallo.
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