Meet the girl who plays Smackle on Disney Channel’s Girl Meets World. Ceci Balagot is a 9th grader at the Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) in the Musical Theatre Conservatory.
When she got the call that she was to guest star as the quirky, intelligent, confident Smackle on the Boy Meets World spin-off, she was thrilled beyond words and repressed the urge to cheer loudly (she was standing outside of math class when she heard the news). Though she said she always gets excited no matter what job it is, this particular opportunity held special meaning for her.
“My life goal was to be on Disney Channel,” she said. “I was shocked and so excited.”
Two days later, Ceci found herself on the set of GMW. Originally, Smackle was only supposed to appear in one episode, but the writers decided to continue her character arc and wrote her into the next episode. Ceci missed two consecutive weeks of school. When she returned, she noticed that people’s perceptive of her definitely changed in both positive and negative ways.
“I’m a very people person. I love meeting new people and I made a lot of friends when I came to OCSA but I feel like I made a lot more new friends after,” she observed. “It’s a great conversation starter. I got the chance to talk to people more… [however] I’m very cautious of people who try to use me. There are people who just want to be friends with you because you’re on TV—I’ve met those people. So when people come up to me for that, I’m wary, but I don’t think I’ve come across that too much.”
Ceci is no stranger to the business—she has been in the industry for as long as she can remember. It was her family that instilled a love for all things acting and musical theater.
“My love for musical theater started at an early age—my mom was a musical theater geek and my dad got into it because of her. My grandpa was into it. I was surrounded by musical theater all the time,” she explained.
One musical in particular sparked a flame that would never go out—Ceci and her two brothers were obsessed with Peter Pan. They would build their own sets and don costumes, playing pretend in the living room. To this day Ceci’s love for the imaginative musical remains—her room is Peter Pan-themed.
Her love for Peter Pan explains why she’s excited to see Pasadena Playhouse’s upcoming production of Peter Pan and Tinker Bell: A Pirate Christmas—not to mention that it stars three of her GMW costars—Sabrina Carpenter, Corey Fogelmanis, and August Maturo. From the moment she filmed her first episode with the cast in 7th grade, she immediately felt the studio’s positive energy.
“The cast and crew is amazing. They’re all sweet, great people,” she said, and added that she was happy to hang out with a cast around her age. “We’re really good friends. They were really welcoming as soon as I got there.”
Ceci became particularly close with Corey Fogelmanis, who plays Farkle, Smackle’s love interest.
“We’re really good friends—he came to see some of my shows and we hung out,” she reflected. “He really, really loves musical theater. He’s a super musical theater nerd. That’s what we usually talk about because I love musical theater too. His favorite show is Matilda and he lives for Broadway.”
Her dream role for musical theater is Maureen from Rent as well as Peter Pan. Her time at OCSA impacted her musical theater goals and opened her eyes to the intricacies of the world she lives and breathes. With a busy schedule, parents’ sacrifice, and huge time commitments, Ceci taught herself how to juggle schoolwork with acting, but the OCSA experience has been completely worth it.
“OCSA has one hundred percent made me a better actor. I’ve never benefitted from anything more than going to school here,” she said. “I’ve learned all these terms and that my objective is the most important thing, how to analyze a script, how the business works, how to act in auditions and what songs to sing and all these technical terms I didn’t know. I grew up with it but I didn’t know all this technique went into it. I’m living the dream here, absolutely loving all the different points of views I can get.”
Besides her intense love for acting, Ceci enjoys arts and crafts, making jewelry for her friends. She also plays the guitar and performs at gigs in Orange County. Her ultimate dream, though, lies in the adrenaline rush she gets from acting and putting herself into a character’s shoes. Her advice to aspiring actors? To be fearless and tenacious.
“You have to be really committed and really love it. There are so many things you miss out on—I missed my best friend’s birthday two years in a row,” she said. “You have to love it so much to be in the business. This is what I want to do the rest of my life—I love it so much. Remember you can always improve… If you really want to do it, really go do it. Find a way. I want people to love it as much as I do.”
Smackle will return to Girl Meets World in a two-part arc that will air before the Season two finale around the New Year.