Traveling to a new country to perform in your first series regular role would be a complicated experience for any actor. But for Brisbane, Australia native Oliver De Los Santos, it’s even more so, only being eleven years old. On top of that, De Los Santos plays on a revival of an 80s classic with a legacy.
Oliver De Los Santos portrays Daniel, the adopted son of now-grow Punky Brewster (Soleil Moon Frye) in the ten-episode follow-up series. Punky Brewster, not to be confused with Punky Brewster (1984), shows the title’s namesake adding another adopted child into her already chaotic home of three children as she experiences single motherhood.
In De Los Santos’s own words, Daniel is “smart, tidy, and strong.” One of Daniel’s stand-out traits is his courage to be who he is without caring what others think—a true role-model for children in this day and age, as Punky was decades ago.
We spoke to Oliver De Los Santos about his experience filming in California as an Australian, what he wants his audience to take from Punky Brewster, and the challenges of working on an American production from across the globe.
What was it like being in Los Angeles while filming Punky Brewster compared to acting when you’re at home in Australia?
Well, it’s pretty similar, but Universal Studios is so huge compared to the studios I’ve worked in here in Australia. It was pretty exciting getting to work there and going through the Gates to the lot never got old. It was exciting every day.
And what’s it like filming your first big TV show?
This is definitely the biggest TV role I’ve had so far, and it was an awesome experience. I had so much fun and our cast and crew were amazing to work with. I couldn’t have asked for a better bunch of people and I feel so great to have been able to be part of the show.
What was the most unexpected thing about filming Punky Brewster?
Well, I’ve never done a multi-cam show before, so it was really cool seeing how much equipment they use when they’re filming—so many cameras, sound people, monitors, and stuff. I love all the tech stuff too, so it made it pretty exciting.
How did you prepare to be a part of a show that was a reboot? Did you binge the original or anything else?
I actually couldn’t binge the original, even though I wanted to, because it’s not available here, in Australia. But when I got back to America to do the rest of season one, I did binge it straight away on Peacock.
My Mom told me what the original was like, but the new Punky is a show all of its own. It’s similar, though, so it wasn’t hard to make the show, even though I hadn’t seen the original before that.
If you could describe Daniel, your character, using three words, what would they be?
Smart, tidy, and strong.
He’s also a very unique character. He’s not only adopted, but he is very open and fluid in the way he expresses himself. What did it feel like to get to play a character as unique and open as Daniel?
I think he’s a really cool character and I also love that he doesn’t care what people think and he’s just true to himself, which I think is really important.
I enjoyed playing him because he’s really smart. When Diego did or said silly things, Daniel had some great lines. Um, Diego is older, but Daniel is way smarter. I like that he is different from most people, but he totally owns it instead of being worried about it.
Do you have a favorite memory from filming?
There were so many fun things that happened, great scenes and stuff, but I think my favorite memory is just hanging out with everyone—the whole cast, even just the guest cast. It was so amazing and awesome. We were just one big family and I loved that.
And what did you learn from your time working on Punky Brewster?
Well, there was a lot to learn because it was a totally different style of filming for me, but everyone was so kind and supportive. I got used to it pretty quickly.
I also learned a lot from watching the other cast. They’re all so talented and it was an awesome experience getting to see how they do everything.
Well, I guess I learned to just be prepared and relaxed, and have fun.
It seems like you had a great time. What is it like promoting the series from Australia and is it hard balancing your acting duties and school?
It’s really fun. Although the time differences have made it tricky with some things—the show comes out on a different network here because we don’t have Peacock in Australia, so I just make sure to make both of my posts [Australia and America].
I’m homeschooled, so it’s not really hard balancing school and acting. We just work around whatever I’ve got going on. It works really well and I love it.
And for my last question, I just want to know, is there anything that you hope people will take away when they watch Punky Brewster?
I hope that people can relate to a not-perfect family and realize that there’s always going to be things that happen, but what matters most is that you love each other and support each other.
And for Daniel, I hope that he encourages people to just be themselves and not change what feels right for them just because some people have an issue with what they’re doing.
I think it’s a great show for the whole family and I just hope everyone loves it as much as I do.
All episodes of Punky Brewster are streaming exclusively on Peacock.