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Whatever Happened To Ally From Austin & Ally

From 2011 to 2016, Disney Channel's "Austin and Ally" tracked the fortunes of four teenaged friends trying to make it in the music industry, with a rather sweet yet trouble-laden romance brewing between the more outgoing dancer and singer Austin (Ross Lynch) and the shy singer-songwriter who became his partner in the pilot episode. Bookish Ally, who eventually overcame her stage fright to become a star in her own right, was played by Laura Marano, who had previously had roles on "Ni-Hao, Kai Lan," "The Sarah Silverman Show" (as young Sarah), "Back to You," and "Without a Trace."

That show ended five years ago, though. And while her titular co-star Lynch became higher-profile with the band he and his brothers formed, R5, as well as roles in movies like "Status Update," "My Friend Dahmer" (in which he played the serial killer) and then a starring turn in Netflix's "The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina," Marano has been a little less prevalent on the celebrity radar, even though she's very active on social media and has held frequent long-form interview sessions over Instagram and other sites in the past.

So, what happened to her, anyway, and what is she up to now? 

Laura Marano's music career suffered some ups and downs after the show ended

Very soon after "Austin and Ally" aired its last episode, Marano released a music video for her single "Boombox," which was "directed" (on-screen and hilariously) by Ken Jeong. This, and her second single, "La La," were meant to be singles from her first album with Big Machine Records, the label that launched Taylor Swift. However, Big Machine decided to drop a number of its pop acts in 2017 (via Billboard), including Marano. Later that year, she signed with Warner Bros. Records (via Billboard), but that relationship didn't last, either. 

About that time, Marano said, "It's hard, trying to balance the acting and music worlds. Wanting to release music and be seen as an artist is so, so insanely important to me, but completely turning off my acting side — which I've been doing since I'm five — also doesn't make sense. I tried my best to balance both, but a ton of changes happened at the record label while I was filming, and it ended up not working out." Noting that she was going through many personal and professional changes at the time, she told InStyle that she started producing much more personal music than before, which she felt "much more connected" to. She wanted it to see the light of day, and knew a new label probably would only want new material from her.

So, she decided to go independent, releasing music on her own terms through her label Flip Phone Records. While this hasn't brought her as much success as signing with a larger label might've, her 2019 music video "Let Me Cry" has 1.5 million views on YouTube, so she's still getting some play. She released the "Me" Ep in 2019 with six songs. 

Laura Marano made a notable appearance in a certain Oscar-nominated film

Laura Marano's next major acting project after "Austin & Ally," other than a few videos and shorts (like one she did for the "Miraculous Ladybug" theme song), was in the sleeper indie hit "Lady Bird," the coming of age comedy drama from Greta Gerwig and A24 that was nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award in 2018, as well as directing, screenplay, and acting awards. Interviewed on the red carpet at Global Green's pre-Oscar gala that year, she clarified to the reporter that she wasn't up for an Oscar, but this film she was part of was —  "which is like the craziest thing ever. I have a pretty small part but I can't believe I'm a part of it at all," she said. "I feel like I learned a lot and was able to have the best time on that set."

Marano's role in "Lady Bird" was small — she played Diana Greenway — but she went on to have some starring turns, including one deeply personal project in 2019.

Laura Marano embarked on a family passion project

In 2019, Laura Marano and her actress sister, Vanessa Marano, put out a family passion project called "Saving Zoë," based on a novel by Alyson Noël. It's about a girl, Echo (Laura Marano), whose sister Zoë (Vanessa Marano) has died. She deals with normal high school dramas while trying to untangle the secret life of her murdered sibling. it was produced by Ellen Marano, Laura and Vanessa's mother (via Entertainment Tonight). The movie's bleak subject matter, focusing on sexual assault, made it difficult to sell. "Studios and production companies told us, 'Teenagers don't want this. They want lighter and happier stuff,'" Laura Marano told Distractify.

Marano has acted in other indie flicks since then. In 2020, she was a supporting cast member in "The War with Grandpa,", an indie from 101 Studios Brookdale Studios, which also featured Robert De Niro and allowed her to sing a song called "Point of War." Meanwhile, she's taken bigger roles in more mainstream fare, as well. 

Laura Marano reunited with another former Disney star

"Saving Zoë" wasn't the only project that Laura Marano was involved with in 2019. That same year, in fact, she starred in two different movies. One of them, "The Perfect Date," was a Netflix romantic comedy starring up-and-coming Noah Centineo. This marked a surprising reunion for both actors, as Centineo had actually played Ally's crush, Dallas, in three episodes of the first season of "Austin and Ally." 

In "The Perfect Date," Marano played Celia Lieberman, a sarcastic and slightly acerbic heroine to Centineo's Brooks Rattigan, who is funding his dreams of going to Yale via his stand-in date business. She told ET Live about the reunion, "It was so much fun — and it was so funny because one of the things we did on 'Austin and Ally' was awkwardly dance together, which — not planned at all and very coincidental — but we do in 'The Perfect Date.' So it was really fun making that come alive again."

Laura Marano was the lead in her own Cinderella Story

The second movie that Laura Marano starred in during 2019 was another romantic comedy in the "A Cinderella Story" series, which went straight to video but debuted on Netflix soon after. "A Cinderella Story: Christmas Wish" put her in the leading role opposite another Disney Channel alum, Gregg Sulkin, who was Selena Gomez's vampire love interest in "Wizards of Waverly Place." By the way, she contributed music for both these movies (via Elle), doing a duet with Sulkin ("Santa Brought Me You") in the fifth installment of the "Cinderella Story" franchise. And of course, she followed the footsteps of other Disney actors by taking on the Cinderella-style role, including Hilary Duff, Gomez, and Sofia Carson (Lucy Hale, of 2011's "A Cinderella Story: Once Upon a Song" was the only star in the lineup not to be associated with Disney stardom). Asked about her feelings in following their footsteps, Marano told Yahoo! Entertainment's Build Series, "It was definitely exciting. I mean, of course there's like a level of intimidation. I grew up with the franchise."

It looks like Marano's next project is also a romance for Netflix. It's called "The Royal Treatment," in which she stars as salon owner Isabella opposite yet another Disney leading man: Mena Massoud ("Aladdin"), who plays Prince Thomas, who is about to marry for duty when he meets her (via Deadline).