What happens happens when the Stanton High drama kids crash QB1 Robbie Thorne's football party? According to star Damon J. Gillespie, things get "very awkward" when his two worlds — theater and football — collide on this week's intense new episode of Rise ("Victory Party"). For Robbie, it truly is the bitch of living.
"The theater kids have grown to learn to accept everyone for their weirdness and for their quirks," Gillespie told MTV News. "For the guys on the football team, it's the opposite, so when someone starts strumming a guitar for no reason — it's a drinking party — it's one of those things where it's like, 'Yo, what's this dude doing? Why are they singing?' It's very awkward, very funny at times, and also very cringe-worthy."
Robbie ultimately finds himself torn between his troupe and his teammates; although the latter have been there for the star quarterback from day one on the field, his newfound drama friends, and his burgeoning romance with his scene partner Lilette (Auli'i Cravalho), are making things especially difficult for him to process. Moving forward, expect to "see a more vulnerable side of Robbie," especially now that he's opened up to Lilette about his mother's illness.
As for Lilette, she just wants what's best for Robbie — and if that's football, well, so be it. "Lilette wants to be important in his life, but she also wants him to succeed," Cravalho said. "Anyone who sees Robbie Thorne play knows that he has a great trajectory in sports, and she wonders if this relationship that she wants to start will actually benefit him."
"That says a lot to her character," she added, "of wanting the best for people who have a chance to get out of this small town."
However, the biggest obstacle standing in Robbie and Lilette's way is his dad. With a surefire football scholarship on the line — and not to mention, Vanessa Suarez's reputation around town — Mr. Thorne might not agree with how his son has decided to spend his free time. But according to Cravalho, that divide will only bring Robbie and Lilette closer together.
"What she finds in her relationship with Robbie is not that she needs to take care of him and not that he needs to take care of her, necessarily, but that they truly do compliment each other," she said. "They're both looking for something they can truly talk to on a level that doesn't include parents or school — that is just heart to heart."
Of course, Lilette also isn't going to let a boy deter her from her own dreams. And right now, graduating and getting the hell out of Stanton is still paramount.
"She does have a lot going on — school, the play, Robbie Thorne, work, and a homelife that is truly falling apart," Cravalho said. "But Lilette is staying grounded in the belief that everything will get better and that she will rise above her circumstances."