Ruby Jay is only 16 years old, but has already accomplished what many can only dream of. Getting her start doing musical theater at age 5, the singer, songwriter, and actress spends the majority of her time working on set or in the studio—embodying the definition of girl power and inspiring the masses all over the world. And still, the teenage superstar finds time for the important things in life, such as family, friends, and crocheting.
You may recognize Ruby as the lead of CBS original, The Unicorn, or maybe it’s Grey’s Anatomy, Modern Family, or even her voice in Disney’s Rapunzel’s Tangled Adventure. In fact, her Hulu show Holly Hobbie, in which she plays the title role, was even nominated for an Emmy. When she’s not filming, she’s singing her heart out. From posting cover videos on her Youtube channel to now putting out original music, Ruby proves the sky’s the limit when it comes to doing what you love.
In perfect timing for the holidays, Ruby unleashes her new single titled “My Favorite Christmas.” The record aligns perfectly with her mission in spreading love and kindness in every facet of her life, especially during a time the world needs it most. Flaunt caught up with Ruby via Zoom, who was located in Los Angeles. Read below as we discuss her ability to juggle work and school, new single “My Favorite Christmas,” love for crocheting, dreams of Broadway, and a sneak peek of this season’s The Unicorn!
Doing theater at age 5, what were your dreams and aspirations then?
They were and still are to be in Broadway one day. It’s so crazy and so cool to think about my 5-year-old self looking at me now in the industry.
You’re still such a baby, do you feel 16?
Very much so. I know that I’m 16, but I still feel like I’m 7 because I still act like I’m 7. For example last night, my sister, me, and my mom ran around the house with tissue boxes in our hand, throwing the tissues going “happy! Happy!” [laughs] It’s so entertaining.
At what point you realize you wanted to do music?
I’ve known since I was 3. My mom always tells me these stories about how at 3 or 4, I’d point out the TV and say “I want to do that.” She’d say “oh what, bake cookies?” Or do whatever they’re doing on TV. I said “no, I want to be on the TV.” I’ve known for so long that this is what I want to do. It took me a year to convince my parents.
Why a year?
My parents used to always say “that’s so high in the sky, people don’t actually do that.” We posted a video of me singing at my school talent show on YouTube so we wouldn’t lose it, not to have other people see. Other people started viewing it and my manager reached out to me. She said “hey you seem cool, you want to be in the industry?” I said “yeah!” But it took me almost a year to convince my parents.
It’s been a crazy year, why is this your “Favorite Christmas”?
This is my favorite Christmas because you really have to focus on the whole reason why we celebrate Christmas. You have no other option but to focus on being with family and spending time at home, baking cookies with each other.
How was it recording that record? It’s so nostalgic.
I recorded it earlier this year and it was so much fun I worked with amazing singer-songwriter, Lynniah Herron. She’s an amazing writer, I loved working with her so much. I went out to where their studio is, we recorded the song and had a ton of fun. We were super safe, it was during Covid so we wore masks. We both were tested. It was so much fun, I got to enjoy the lyric side of singing.
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How do you balance the acting, music, and all that you do?
Right now, I’m focusing more on acting because I can lean more into right now due to the circumstances. I’d love to do music in the future. Broadway’s always been a goal so that’s acting, music, and dancing. I usually film during the day. I obviously have to keep up with school and I have other stuff I want to do. I love crocheting. Usually I’ll go to work, I have to do school on set so I do my schoolwork there. I’ll get as much as I possibly can. I’ll come home, I’ll usually have two hours before I have to go to sleep to wake up for the next morning. I’ll eat dinner, then go and watch a YouTube video while I crochet. [laughs] It’s this amazing routine I’ve gotten into.
So you do crocheting for fun?
Yes, I love crocheting so much. I’m like a little grandma but that’s fine.
How did you learn?
I taught myself actually. I remember I was doing The Wizard of Oz, one of the girls backstage I saw her crocheting. I asked her “what is that?” She said “I’m learning how to crochet for this class at school.” I’m like “what?!” I fell in love with the idea of crocheting. Her and I would sit during rehearsals and crochet with each other. She’s learning how to knit and crochet. When she transferred over to knitting in her class, I also learned how to knit so I know how to knit and crochet. I stuck to crocheting, I’d watch YouTube videos and try to figure it out.
That’s so cute! What do you make?
Today, I’m planning on finishing a cardigan I’m making.
How was turning 16 on set? You were working obviously.
Obviously due to the circumstances, I was sad I couldn’t see my friends or family. But the people on set did everything they could to make it the most amazing day ever. It was so sweet and so nice. They had this huge cake with a baby picture of me on it. [laughs] The cake was delicious. They decorated the front of my trailer. You know how you can get those backdrops that say Sweet 16? They put that on the front door on my trailer. It’s two pieces you have to hang up next to each other, but only one of them can fit on the door. The base camp AD wore the other one as a cape all day, so funny. They’re so sweet and so amazing, I’m really happy I got to celebrate on set.
What’s the highlight from shooting The Unicorn?
The fact that we’re all so close. We got super lucky to be on set where everyone loves each other. We have so much fun, we’re so comfortable around each other. That goes for cast and crew, we all love being around each other. I’m super lucky I get to wake up every morning and go to a job or work environment that doesn’t feel like work.
Talk about merging your love for acting and music on Hulu’s Hollie Hobby.
It was a super fun experience, we filmed season one and two. I love the fact I get to incorporate both things. Hollie’s music is her voice in a way, she uses her music to speak out about things she wants to talk about. Throughout the show, you see her writing all the songs. Being able to see her process, portraying that process, then being able to sing her songs is so cool.
What do you feel when you’re acting?
I feel whatever the character’s feeling. [laughs] I try to let whatever the character’s feeling and thinking about take over. It’s stepping out of this reality and inserting myself into this character I’m creating.
How was it being nominated for an Emmy so early in your career?
That’s so crazy the show was nominated. It’s such a cool experience, it still feels surreal sometimes.
What’s the inspiration behind your last single, “Sike”?
That’s a true story on my part, I wrote it two years ago. I was working with this amazing songwriter Finn Matthews. You should check out some of his music, it’s really good. We met up, he’s in the industry too. He lives down the street, we vibed and wrote this song. I’d written the chorus and a good chunk of it, but he helped me finesse it. [laughs]
3 things you need in the studio?
Medicine Balls from Starbucks, it’s peach tea lemonade, mint tea, and honey. Oh my gosh! I’ve been getting them since I could remember from doing musical theater. Everyone in musical theater knows about this Medicine Ball, they’re a lifesaver for your voice. When I’m recording, another is Panera. There’s a Panera down the street so I always get Panera for lunch. I order the barbecue chicken mac and cheese, it’s so good. The third thing will be my phone because I hold the lyrics on it.
Being so young, what do you like to do for fun? Besides crocheting.
During quarantine, I’ve gotten a lot of opportunity to do the things I love to do: off screen, when I’m not at work. I learned a dance with my sister the other day. You know the Barbie song? “I’m just like you you’re just like me.” [sings] We’re on Instagram, I’m scrolling through. A post came up, it was a clip of the Barbie movie. My sister looked at me and asked “do you want to learn the dance? Yes. We came into the living room and learned that dance. I’ve obviously been crocheting a lot, I actually like doing school in my free time.
Wow, you’re amazing.
[laughs] I genuinely do enjoy doing school. I like playing video games.
Favorite subject in school?
Any goals for yourself?
I have two goals in life. One’s a deadset goal, the other one’s a general goal in life. A big goal for me is to be on Broadway at some point, I’d die if I ever had the opportunity to be on Broadway. The second one is being successful and happy in life, generally doing good.
I love that your mission is to spread kindness and confidence, where do you get that drive from?
It never hurts to be kind and choose the positive side of things, and to be confident in your skin. I’ve been told throughout my life that I’m a very optimistic person so I like to use that to my advantage. Help people out when maybe they’re only seeing one side of the story, helping them to see the bright side.
What can we look forward to next?
New music, new episodes of The Unicorn are coming out every Thursday on CBS.
Can we get a sneak peek from this season of The Unicorn?
There’s an episode that’s very Grace-heavy and applies to my life right now in a really good way, just because of the age and the things I’m learning. I don’t want to spoil it, the episode’s so funny.