Hocus Pocus 2’s Belissa Escobedo Also Practices Brujeria Off The Screen

Photo: Timothy Fernandez.
Belissa Escobedo is a Los Angeles-raised Chicana, the biggest cat mum ever (self-proclaimed), a former theatre kid, possibly America Ferrera’s long-lost baby sister (Just kidding. More on that later), and Izzy in the highly anticipated Disney+ Original movie Hocus Pocus 2.
You may recognise Escobedo from her time as Natalie Garcia in The Baker and the Beauty, but on 30th September, she is making her way to Salem alongside the Sanderson Sisters. Lover of all things spooky season, Escobedo spent many Halloweens as a child watching films like Hocus Pocus, which she deems “superior” to many others on her movie marathon list. 
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“Halloween has always been my and my mom’s favorite holiday — and most of my family,” she says. “We’d always host these Halloween parties and [Hocus Pocus] would be what we’d always watch, especially growing up. That was my favourite one.” 
While she never dressed up as a Sanderson sister — "I didn’t have the confidence to pull that off yet" — the 24-year-old actor recalls wearing a witch costume quite a few times, being inspired by Hocus Pocus, of course.

"Izzy is loyal and has this confidence to just go out and do whatever she can to help her friends and save the town, save Salem.”

Belissa Escobedo
Now Escobedo stars as Izzy, alongside Sarah Jessica Parker, Bette Midler, and Kathy Najimy who are reprising their roles as the 17th-century Sanderson sisters, in the haunting sequel that takes place nearly 30 years after the Sanderson sisters wreaked havoc on a new generation in Salem. “Izzy is super cute,” says Escobedo of the Latina character. “She’s different from Natalie from The Baker and the Beauty. She’s so much more free-spirited and very, very happy-go-lucky. She just wants everyone to be happy and loves her friends so much. Izzy is loyal and has this confidence to just go out and do whatever she can to help her friends and save the town, save Salem.”
Photo: courtesy of Disney+.
Kathy Najimy as Mary Sanderson, Bette Midler as Winifred Sanderson, and Sarah Jessica Parker as Sarah Sanderson
A very positive, optimistic, and funny character, Escobedo shares that she was personally able to relate to Izzy, and thinks we should all carry a little bit of Izzy with us. “She’s very lighthearted, and I think for me, it’s the loyalty. She truly loves her friends so much and would totally be putting herself in the face of three evil witches just to stay by her sisters' side. That, I think, is always commendable. I love her for that.”
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But Escobedo also has a deeper connection to Izzy. Like her character, Escobedo can remember times when her own friends introduced her to the world of brujeria and spirituality by including her in manifestation circles that included crystals and spells. “In a lot of Latino households, you’re either fully practicing it or your family’s like, ‘Don’t go near that.’ My family was more of the latter, but my friends growing up were more in tune with all of it. But as Latinos, it really is part of our culture. We definitely have a long, long tradition of practicing. It’s really about us just getting back in touch with those roots.”

As Latinos, [brujeria] really is part of our culture. We definitely have a long, long tradition of practicing. It’s really about us just getting back in touch with those roots.”

BELISSA ESCOBEDO
When it came to connecting with her cultural roots, the Mexican American says she has her friends and America Ferrera to credit for that. “Real Women Have Curves is the first time I ever saw myself on screen,” she says. “To this day, people are like, ‘you remind me so much of young America Ferrera,’ and that’s such a compliment to me because she’s literally one of the people that made me see that I could do this, that we could be on screen. And she’s so good in that movie.” Escobedo says that she has dreams of one day working alongside Ferrera. In fact, she has a message for the Ugly Betty star: “I could play your daughter! But no, that’s definitely a dream.”
Photo: courtesy of Disney+.
Belissa Escobedo as Izzy, Whitney Peak as Becca, and Lilia Buckingham as Cassie
Following Hocus Pocus 2, Escobedo is gearing up to make her first foray into the world of DC Comics. “I actually just finished filming DC’s new superhero movie, Blue Beetle. It’s the first Latino superhero who’s being played by the amazing Xolo Maridueña. I’m playing his little sister,” she says. 
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In Escobedo’s own words, the film has “a killer Latino cast,” which includes George Lopez, Adriana Barraza, and Harvey Guillen.
“Similar to The Baker and the Beauty, it was one of those things where you're like, ‘this shouldn’t be that rare, but it feels so rare and so special to be a part of this.’”
Watch Hocus Pocus 2 on Disney+ now.

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