Malia Baker Talks Caught In His Web, The Baby-Sitters Club, And Her Future - Exclusive Interview

Rarely does a young talent grip audiences like Malia Baker has over the last few years. The 15-year-old star has made a sizable impact with her role on Netflix's "The Baby-Sitters Club," which has allowed her to branch outward and land roles in a variety of genres. Among these exciting projects is the upcoming "Harvest Moon," the tantalizing "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" and Lifetime's latest original movie, "Caught in His Web" (via IMDb).

"Caught in His Web" premieres on Lifetime on February 19 and follows Baker, as well as two other high school protagonists, who team up with a detective to uncover who is virtually harassing them under the name "Blake." Baker stars opposite Alison Thornton and Emma Tremblay, while Detective Holland is played by Garcelle Beauvais. 

Recently, we at The List sat down to talk with Baker, who spilled new details not only about "Caught in His Web" but also about what she ideally wants for the future of "The Baby-Sitters Club," why activism is so important to her, her love for writing, and much more (Hint: Baker is a big Marvel fan, and one of her upcoming films also stars a Marvel Cinematic Universe icon.)

Malia Baker on how she prepared for "Caught in His Web"

What can you tell us and tease about "Caught in His Web"?

Oh my gosh. "Caught in His Web" — it follows a story of three young girls who are dealing with this anonymous guy, Blake, who is doing some terrible things to them online. We see what it's like as a teenage girl in today's society, as young girls with phones and in high school, and I think it's going to be really impactful for the viewers to see. It's a true story, which is, on top of that, even more powerful.

As the film is based on real life events, did you do any research or anything special to prepare for the role in that way?

Yeah, for sure. I remember when I first got the audition, I had to search what exactly this story was, who this girl was who was experiencing all these things. I feel like it's super important to have your research behind everything and have your information, so when you're in the scenes, you can do it to the best of your authenticity. A lot of research was required for this role and I can't imagine what I'd be like without it.

In the film, you star opposite Alison Thornton and Emma Tremblay. What was it like working with them and building this core group of protagonists?

Oh my God, those girls. We have a group chat that we [use] on a regular basis. I feel like after that film, we definitely have gotten close. We all live in the same area as well so it's always nice to reach out to see the fellow people who are in the same passions that you are. The first day, [we were filming] a scene that's in the middle of the movie, and we're supposed to be close and we're supposed to be tight, but we didn't have that chemistry. That was our first day meeting. That was our first introduction and we were being thrown into the scene. After that one, I remember the producer saying, "You guys are good at this," because it was an instant connection. I feel like we all grew and we all got the experience that we needed to perform this in a really authentic and genuine way.

How she's connected with her costars from various projects

Have you felt that instant connection with your other projects, too?

I have, yeah. It's funny. The casting directors do such an amazing job, to the point where you're almost similar to your characters, so the dynamic that you have on screen is the exact same that you have off of it, and vice versa. It's a really cool thing to be able to have those connections from doing what you love.

There's other films that have similar things with this one, but are completely different. Like Emily Osment, Cyber Bully comes to mind. How do you think that "Caught in His Web" stands out and really creates its own identity from those other films?

For sure, yeah. I remember, when I first searched, the original title was actually "Cyberbully," so I remember searching it and I was like, "Oh, there's a lot of other things named this that have the same gist of it, isn't it?" I understood when they changed the name for sure. I feel like this one differs in such a complete and drastic way because these are three girls. You don't see the perspective of this one teenager going through this trial alone.

We have our main protagonist, which is mostly Emma, and we see her going through the tough times, but alongside that, we see the friendship that builds and remains while having that trauma bond on all of this, and it's really powerful. There's moments in the film where we see other girls come forward and it's this big, "Hey, that happened to me too," kind of thing, because it's true. A lot of young girls are facing this nowadays. I used to go to public school. It wasn't super insane to think that would happen, so I think it's going to be really impactful for viewers to see that connection that forms all of this.

Malia Baker on how her Caught in His Web character is unique

Have you seen a lot of those other similar things? Did those help you prepare for this?

Honestly, yeah. Those helped me prepare. I feel like it was a different thing because this one is based off of a true story, and we had those little excerpts of real life that we you're able to pull from, even down to the wardrobe. I remember going into my first fitting and I was like, "Oh, this is not 'Pretty Little Liars.' This is a real 2012 high schooler girl talking, okay." They would not conceal anything, down to the low rise jeans, and I was terrified of that, but here we are. Like you said, I definitely watched some of those ones, just to get me in the mindset of it all.

Also recently, you've been starring in "The Baby-Sitter's Club," which I wanted to talk a little bit about as well. "The Baby-Sitters Club" is, tonally, a little different from this film.

[Laughs] Yeah. Just a little bit.

So I wanted to ask how you switched that in your brain and approached acting in more of a thriller?

Yeah, it was definitely a change. I hadn't really worked on this environment before. I did "Are You Afraid of the Dark?" on Nickelodeon once, and that was a blast, and I got some of my thriller tease from that, but this one is different in such a documentary type of way, that it really did follow these young girls and it was real life, compared to that show where it was all mythical and very, "Oh, now there's the shadow man," type of thing. As fun as those projects were, it's such different things and such different arts that you need to master. 

I feel like with this one, and with "The Baby-Sitters Club," there are those relatability aspects where, in very, very separate ways... with "The Baby-Sitters Club," you could relate because you're a babysitter or you're going through the same things as the young girls and it's even a different age range as well. I feel like flipping between the two — it was back to back, the filming process of these two — and I feel like it was another challenge that I was ready to face. Definitely preparing me for the future.

On taking on projects of different genres

You're taking on these really interesting, contrasting genres and everything. Are you really finding the things that you're interested in and maybe the genres you want to pursue more in the future?

100%. I feel like when I first got into the acting realm ... my first bigger thing was "BSC" and I was always so scared of being type casted in a way that would be, "You're going to be Mary Anne for the rest of your life and prepare for that to be the only thing that you get and those roles are going to be similar because they show you, the shy girl." But while I explore these new things, it gives me, like I said before, more of a challenge, more of a thing that I can work my way up to, more of a, "Oh, this doesn't come so easily to me, but hey, I really want to do it, so I'm going to work for it."

I feel like with, like you said, all the contrasting roles, it's a different challenge and that's one of the amazing things about being in this industry. It's the fun and the love for it, but also, the passion that [comes out] from it.

How have you gone about getting all of these really interesting roles, especially since they are in such different genres?

Yeah, it's interesting, actually. From "BSC," where I was doing my first Pinterest board, I was trying to understand Mary Anne as a whole. I remember creating a whole different profile for her and it would be full of things like cats in New York City, Broadway shows, Stony Brooks, suburban, those type of things, and then you go to things like this, where I remember ... I love writing, so I would write little passages or little entries as my character, to see how she would be feeling of this. What was her exact thoughts on this moment, [etc.], trying to get the whole diary of a teenage girl, whimsical type of feeling, but make it real life.

Throughout all these roles, I feel like it's something that's greatly helped me, but at the end of the day, when you have the momentum of your co-stars and the momentum of people behind the camera as well, it all aligns into place.

On why she uses her platform to support her favorite causes

I saw that you are taking part in Canada Reads 2022. Why this cause specifically is important to you, and maybe what other causes you want to get behind in your career?

100%. I feel like that question is endless and I can go off that for a hundred, thousand times. I know my publicist hears this so many times, "Here's what I want to do with my future. Can you help me with that?" With Canada Reads, I've always been a huge book nerd. BSC was, at first, a first book series and I was a fan of it, and then we go to all these other projects that I've been a part of and they're book series and I've been fangirling over it, because I get to be a little small ounce of it in the real world.

I've been a book nerd, and so when Canada Reads came along, it was a dream come true. I'd watched the show previously as well, so it was a family, [like] "This is your fate." I loved it and I can't wait to actually go and do the things that I get to do with it. It's definitely a new realm. It's terrifying, but it's exciting at the same time.

In the future ... I've been working with Girl Up and I've absolutely loved them. Girl Up, she's the first. Those two are really close to my heart right now. Murdered and missing Indigenous woman as well, being a Canadian and coming from this land, it's something super important to me. Being, also, a multiracial girl in today isn't everything. There's going to be endless amount of supplies of things I could speak to, and I really hope to, someday in the future, eventually, gradually over time.

Malia Baker on how acting is an internship for screenwriting

You also mentioned that you are into writing. Is that also something you want to pursue in your career? Do you write scripts?

Yeah. I've written little excerpts of scenes, [but] I wouldn't say [this] to keep viewers on their toes of Malia Baker's new script. I would not say that, by any means — do not be waiting on that, but I think it'd be fun to delve into. All the writers that I've worked with have been so incredibly talented and I've formed amazing bonds with, and almost [getting mentored by them] on set and being able to ask questions and being able to see what it's like behind the camera as well. Have those all different perspectives. Once you're in the industry as an actor, there's so many different parts that you can go into. I feel like that's one of the great things about it, so either filmmaking or writing, whatever it is in the future, I can't wait for it to start.

Yeah, I was just thinking as you were talking, it seems like acting in the industry, and then getting that writing experience behind the scenes, that almost feels like the best sort of internship, if you will, right?

It really is, now that you put it that way. It's like being a small director from a two-minute play, to being in the Netflix show. It's definitely an internship of all sorts.

Well, speaking of Netflix, how has your experience [with Netflix differed from releasing on another] streaming service or network? How has that been different for you?

Yeah, it's definitely different. With Netflix, everything releases right then and there. I feel like as a collective, people like to have things that we can chew up right away, and with that, "BSC" was right there and then everything dropped at a certain moment, including press and it all exploded and that was so cool.

With [traditional networks], they gradually build up. We already have this fan base that will watch the same channels over time. In three years, they're always going to be there, and I think that's so cool, and so, almost interesting and intriguing, because they're going to watch it just because it's on. I haven't really seen myself on [broadcast/cable] television, compared to when you go to Netflix television. I feel like it's almost such different things that you can fan girl about yourself in a different way. It's really exciting. I can't wait for what it'll be like when it actually releases.

Why her Baby-Sitters Club role is so beloved

The website Girlfriend that you did an interview with called you the "Gen Z hero we need" due to your "Baby-Sitters Club" role. What does that role on "Baby-Sitters Club" mean to you, and why do you think it's resonated with so many people?

Yeah, I feel like that role, it's always such a passion project, because like I said, I was a fan of the series beforehand and while getting the role, my whole family was a fan of the series. They told us in person, it was my biggest thing, and it makes me so happy to even think about and to go into the future, knowing about it and honoring it in all the things that I do. It's impacted so many people, because of Mary Anne's relatability.

She is this youth who doesn't know anything about herself, because her dad's almost always told her what she is. With her friends, even, they've always almost typecast her in a way that she's the shy, vulnerable, innocent character. She goes out of her way to find her style, and even though that style might not be the same as Christie, she's a boss in her own way. She's a boss as Mary Anne, and like I said previously, being a multiracial girl in this day and age, I feel like Mary Anne having not a sob story behind her, and her living and breathing and growing in her own [authenticity] is really impactful. We don't see that a lot in mainstream media these days and I feel like growing up, all we really saw was, "Oh, this is not accurate of a representation," and I feel like representation as a whole is what "BSC" can offer.

Working with Alicia Silverstone

We recently did an interview covering Alicia Silverstone's latest film "The Requin." And I saw it, and I know you worked with her on "The Baby-Sitters Club," so I wanted to ask you, what is it like working with her?

Oh my god, Alicia, she's hilarious. We would go to set and every day she would be bringing her kid Bear, and they would bear hug you straight away. It was a really cute introduction to everything. I remember on the first season, we were all freaking out, "This is the girl from 'Clueless.'" I remember I was in the bathroom when my mom told me and at first I was like, "Who's Alicia Silverstone?" I searched and I knew her face immediately and I called the "BSC" girls and it was this big, exciting moment and she was lovely on the first season.

Like I said, almost like an internship, especially with people that have been in the industry for a really long time, you can learn things and ... hopefully one day, being a mentor to other people as well. It's really powerful and it's really cool, and I feel like Alicia was that for all of us.

Malia Baker reveals what she'd like Baby-Sitters Club explore next

We've talked about the causes you're passionate about and how you want to use your career for a ton of causes and how "The Baby-Sitters Club" also reflects this progress. Why is reflecting these causes and progress on screen important to you?

I feel like it's important to be in a way, that it's the truth. I remember first getting into the industry. My first publicist, all she wanted to do was make me post, post, post all the time and that was the normal thing, being a[n] influencer/actress. That's such a different thing, because I want to be actor/Malia. It's definitely a different thing.

I'm not a very social person when it comes to social media. I won't post all the time and that's something that I've accepted about myself and the team that I have now accepts about me. When coming to the things that I really am passionate about like acting, or using my platform, or even showing my dogs, I'll show up and I'll be able to have that representation and the truth that comes behind that representation is incredible. Being able to be involved with that, with shows and movies and the things that I love doing as my day to day, it's powerful and it's important to me because half the things I've lived, and I have a little sister. I want her to either be in the know of everything or never have to experience it and that's something that a lot of the viewers can relate to.

Speaking of "Baby-Sitters Club," Netflix has yet to officially renew it to the public. If it does get picked up, what are some things you would want to see for your character or otherwise in the potential third season?

Oh my gosh, everything. I want them to do the hundreds of books that they're there. All I can say is just keep watching so we can do it. With "The Baby-Sitters Club," I think it would be ... I'm a cat person, I got to be honest. Mary Anne has a cat in the books. That's my only dying wish. I would love to have a kitten on set to play with. For the rest of the girls, I think, forming these stories again and again. They're all so timeless that, whatever you do with them, people are going to be able to resonate and to relive in a nostalgic, yet empowering and awakening way. That's part of the magic of "BSC" for sure.

On wanting to be in a Marvel project

Outside of "Baby-Sitters Club," what is a dream role for you and what are some of your career goals?

That's a really good question. I'm a Marvel fan, so anything in that universe would be so cool. I have a few friends in it now and I've been fangirling and not asking too many questions because I want to be surprised. I love Greta Gerwig, Wes Anderson. Those two have been top on my list for a really long time, but also, I think it would be really interesting to do a biopic of someone. I don't know who. Alicia Keys would be really cool. I've gotten that a few times, a little fan pages petition to start that up, but whoever it is, I think it would be really interesting.

Are there any Marvel characters not yet in the MCU that you think you would want to play?

Oh, that's a good question. There's this one old comic. I think it's called "Blade" and there's one girl in there that I think I would be good for. I forgot her name, but whoever it is, I could really be grateful either way. I could be a hot dog grinder for all I care.

Malia Baker reveals what's next for her after Caught in His Web

What can you tell us about what's next for you in 2022 after "Caught in His Web"?

Yeah, for 2022, a lot of things are coming. A lot of things are in the works, so definitely keep your eyes peeled. From what's announced, we have, what... Oh my God. From what's announced, we have "Harvest Moon," which will hopefully be coming out in 2022. There's amazing people in it, like Paul Bettany, Carmen Ejoga, Dana Brown and countless others, and I'm so grateful to work alongside. That one, it was a passion project, all the things I work on have been so incredible and I would definitely include this one in the ranks. That one's coming up.

That one sounds really exciting. I know, I had looked up that movie, and I saw that Paul Bettany is in it, [who is] also a Marvel icon.

I was so excited for a really long time!

You must have worked with him right on the heels of "WandaVision," right?

Yeah, it was right afterwards, and he was name dropping all these people and he said it so naturally, and I was there like, "Oh my God." It's an incredible experience, and working alongside those people, like we said previously, it humanizes them and lets them drop from that pedestal a little bit, in a way that we can all be one alike.

Is there anything else you could tease about what's next for you?

I wish I could. I wish I could even say that there's anything big next for me. Who knows? Whatever the world has to offer, I'm grateful for, but for right now, I'm going to keep my mouth shut to not jinx anything.

You can catch Malia Baker in Lifetime's "Caught in His Web" on Saturday, February 19, at 8 p.m. ET.