Shaina Freeman interview

Gullah Gullah Island was the musical show that ran on Nick Jr. for preschoolers from 1994-99. It showcased a family residing in South Carolina on a secluded area called “Gullah Gullah Island” (though actually the show filmed in Orlando,FL) and they would sing,dance,and rap in musical acts while teaching educational stuff to kids. I got the chance to interview Shaina Freeman who starred on the show(she left before the final season) to discuss her time at Nickelodeon Studios all part of the project!

1. How did you get the role in Gullah Gullah Island?
It was the usual way anyone gets a role, a casting call, several auditions and being selected. I already did commercials and print modeling, but this was my first television role. I will say that I had a competitive edge because at age 4 I could read and memorize my lines a lot better than most girls my age.

2. What was a typical day like at Nick Studios?
Depending on whether we were filming or rehearsing, sometimes we’d get there in the morning and do table reads and walk throughs of the stage or Get there in the morning, hair/makeup and wardrobe, and filming. Between scenes I could go to the green room and hang out and eat or sometimes have a little while to play in the theme park. Sometimes I was doing voice-overs for the songs

3. What was one of the good things about living and working in Orlando?
There was nothing in particular I liked about living in Orlando more than any other city. I did however particularly enjoy the location filming in South Carolina, it was beautiful.
4. Do you remember any other shows being filmed where you were at?
I remember all that, Kenan and Kel, Legends of the hidden temple and Clarissa explains it all was actually the exact same set as Gullah Gullah, only decorated differently. (You’ll notice the position of the front door, stairs, kitchen door, etc.) Also, all the animators and voice actors of some of the nicktoons were at the studios, as well as the offices of Nickelodeon Magazine
5. What was Phillip Garcia, who played Binyah Binyah, like when not in costume?
He was really funny. He liked playing pranks and was always smiling and telling jokes.
6. Is it true that you moved out of Florida and that’s why you weren’t back for the third season?
I did three seasons, including the pilot season. My family moved to California shortly before the last season started filming where I started school, joined a girl scout troop and started dance lessons. I chose not to return because I preferred being a normal kid over acting and wanted to stay in California.
7. Did you get a chance to meet Tristan Mays, who replaced you on the show?
No, but we talk online sometimes
8. Do you still keep in touch with former cast mates?
I’m facebook friends with most of the cast and a few crew members
9. Have you ever gotten slimed?
10. Did you have a favorite ride at Universal Studios Florida?
I really used to enjoy Fieval’s playland and the Barney attraction ( I was very young, and a lot of the attractions were very scary for me: Jaws, ET, Alfred Hitchcock, Back to the future, etc.)
11. Gullah Gullah Island has since become a cult favorite and very loved show among adults who watched Nick Jr when they were younger. How do you feel knowing that your show and the rest of the 80s and 90s Nickelodeon shows made an impact on fans?
It’s always nice to hear that it had such a positive impact on anyone of any age. I take it as a compliment and am just grateful for the happiness it brings them

12. What have you been up to these days?
I graduated from Auburn University in 2010 and have since been working in marketing and sales

13. Can you describe any behind the scenes or fan moments that happened at the studio?
I remember hanging out with the older kids from All That in the green room between scenes and they were so nice and cool.
14. I think that Nickelodeon Studios was a special place for kids and adults to interact with actors and TV shows and just have a lot of fun especially somewhere like Orlando. Would you agree with that?
15. Would you like to see Nick Studios be re-opened?
Yes. I think kids deserve the rare opportunity to get a behind the scenes view of their favorite tv shows and have something to do at Universal Studios besides waiting in hour-long lines for 3 minute rides