Actor Sophia Mitri Schloss, an 18-year-old Seattle native and a senior at Seattle Academy, isn’t the “Big Shot” referenced in the title of the new Disney+ dramedy series (that’s co-star John Stamos), but the show represents Schloss’ biggest shot yet on a streaming service that wildly outpaced early projections.
Stamos plays basketball coach Marvyn Korn, who’s ousted from leading a college men’s team due to bad behavior, and winds up coaching at an all-girls private high school. Schloss plays his daughter, a small part of the April 16 series premiere, but her role expands substantially in subsequent episodes.
The Phinney Ridge teen has been honing her acting chops since age 6. Early roles included children’s theater at Book-It Rep (“Red Ranger Came Calling” in 2010) and Stone Soup Theatre (“A Child’s Christmas in Wales” in 2011).
Schloss, an only child, credits her parents — violinist and teacher Irene Mitri and percussionist and electronic music professor Andrew Schloss — with supporting her interest in acting.
“A lot of the time when people hear the words ‘child actor,’ they kind of jump to the assumption that a kid’s parents are behind that career, and that’s really not the case,” she says. “Acting just felt like the most natural thing in the world. And my parents always embraced that without pushing anything.”
Schloss got early on-camera experience performing in local student films, landed an agent at age 7 — Los Angeles-based Trice Koopman — and, at age 8, was cast as the title character opposite Marcia Gay Harden in the 2012 NBC comedy pilot “Isabel.” NBC passed on “Isabel,” but more roles followed, including a series regular gig on Amazon Prime Video’s one-season family soccer comedy “The Kicks” (2015-16) and leading roles in films from two Seattle-based directors — S.J. Chiro’s “Lane 1974” (2017) and Megan Griffiths’ “Sadie” (2018). Schloss also landed a role in the indie “Potato Dreams of America,” which filmed locally and is playing at this year’s Seattle International Film Festival through April 18.
“I always love filming close to home,” Schloss says, “And because that film world is pretty intimate, a lot of the crew overlaps for different projects, so it’s fun getting to see everybody again on different projects.”
Schloss says juggling school and acting has been a challenge, and credits the Evergreen School and Seattle Academy for embracing her acting career. The pandemic made her studies easier as she, like her fellow students, Zoomed into classes remotely, only she was doing it from Los Angeles while filming “Big Shot.”
Stamos says the opportunity to play the father-daughter relationship sold him on “Big Shot,” the latest original series on Disney+, which has more than 100 million subscribers a year and a half after it debuted as a rival to Netflix.
“As soon as [the producers] said the daughter’s going to move in with me and I have to learn how to be a parent and reevaluate all that, then I go, that’s the missing link for me,” Stamos says. “And it’s really been beautiful with Sophia. She’s something else.”
The feeling is mutual — even if Schloss is too young to have watched Stamos on “Full House” in ABC’s TGIF lineup in the ’90s.
“He’s so unbelievably experienced and good at what he does, and that really makes him the ultimate scene partner,” she says. “Every take will have something different or something a little improvised, just something fun in a new way. … I don’t like it when scenes get stale, and he never let them get stale.”
“Big Shot” executive producer and director Bill D’Elia says Schloss’ performance gave the role depth.
“We understood we could go anywhere with her,” he says. “She was gifted comedically, gifted emotionally. We will see a lot more of her as the season progresses and the relationship between her and her dad is very important and Sophia just knocked it out of the park.”
Schloss says she feels lucky as a child actor that her experiences — on “Lane 1974,” “Sadie” and now “Big Shot” — gave her a feeling of partnership with others on set.
“I’m treated as an adult, as someone who knows her character and has ideas that are valuable,” she says, noting she was nervous going into “Big Shot.” “John really helped me ease out of that feeling of a little bit of intimidation. … And I was kind of floored that I could still have that sort of creative impact on this larger scale — it wasn’t just allowed, but really welcome. It’s so cool to trust yourself around people who are so experienced. It’s awesome to feel like you belong in front of the same camera as John Stamos.”