Shazam! arrived in theaters on April 5 and spent the following two weeks at No. 1 in the box office. In the movie, 14-year-old Billy Batson is a flight-risk foster child who has just moved into his latest foster home where he befriends another boy named Freddy. Shortly afterward, Billy is chosen by the Wizard Shazam to carry his powers. When Billy utters the word, “Shazam,” he transforms into an adult superhero.
Like Billy, Angel has been matured by Shazam! At 11 years old going on 12, Angel arrived at Disney Channel during his first pilot season. Since 2017, he has starred as Jonah Beck on Disney’s television series Andi Mack. It’s a rite of passage: once you are welcomed into the Disney bubble, you eventually have to figure out a way to pop out. Angel isn’t just popping out; he’s bursting.
“A lot of people aren’t able to break out of that,” he acknowledges. “They’re not able to break out of that shell. It’s really something—I felt it coming. I really felt there was gonna be this big opportunity that was gonna come out, and I was gonna be able to do it. … It’s so cool. It’s so cool.
I was definitely seeking to do that. … It’s a huge opportunity for me. It allows me to continue to work, and that’s all I wanna do. I just want to work as much as possible because it’s my passion. When I do it, it makes me happy. I tried sports when I was younger; it was fun, but this—it just made me feel something really special. Getting that opportunity to keep working, it’s just, I’m really thankful for it. Hopefully, it continues. Hopefully, I catch a good rhythm after this movie.”
Angel is carrying this rhythm through into his music. One week after Shazam! hit theaters, he released a single titled “One Thought Away” featuring Wiz Khalifa. Angel wants to comfort people by reminding them that anybody you love, no matter what, is always just one thought away; in another perfect twist of fate, the song organically came together in line with the song’s message.
One night, around midnight, Angel was in the studio with producer Christian Ward—best known as Hitmaka—and recorded “One Thought Away” in 45 minutes. Hitmaka asked Angel who he would want to be featured on the song. Immediately, Angel thought of Wiz Khalifa.
“(Hitmaka) walks out the studio, comes back, he’s got Wiz on the phone,” Angel continues. “I hear Wiz talking. I’m freaking out. Like, what? I just recorded a song. It’s been a long day. Now I’m talking to Wiz? He’s like, ‘Yo, I gotta send you this song. I think it’s perfect for you, and I think you’d kill it.’ And Wiz is like, ‘Yeah, let me hear it.’ He’s listening to it and like, ‘Yo, I gotta record this. I’m gonna record it right now.’ And he records it, then two days later I get the song back, and a week later we released it. It was really fast. It all happened super fast.”
Angel’s trajectory as a whole has been fast-tracked, considering where he has arrived around the time most teenagers’ grandest feat is securing their driver’s license.
He started as a young boy doing musical theater, where he was introduced to his love of acting and music all at once. He remembers insisting to his parents, “Mom and Dad, I just wanna go to the studio. I wanna record. I wanna do this!” He has always had the seed, but it was firmly planted when he traveled to see Justin Bieber at an Arizona concert and turned to his mother and said, “Mom, I wanna do that.”
He knew he had found what made him happy, and he wanted nothing more than—like he saw Bieber doing—to make other people happy while doing it.
“For acting, those kids and those families and those people out there actually get to relate to our characters and get to see themselves and make them feel they’re not alone and that there are other people like them in the world,” Angel says. “For music, it’s making songs and putting lyrics into stuff. You know, when I write down song lyrics, I’m usually putting lyrics into things that have actually happened in my life and incorporate those things. Being able to go up on stage and performing in front of everyone, like 5,000 people, it’s just incredible to see their faces and how music is the universal language.
People will be able to put on plenty of new Asher Angel music later this year, as he’s gearing up to release his first solo project. In the meantime, he hopes “One Thought Away” shows his fans how dedicated he is to grow as an artist and a person.
“I just want them to see the growth,” he reiterates. “Hopefully they can really connect to the new music that comes out. Hopefully, it just speaks to them—that’s my biggest thing.
“My biggest motive be courageous, be kind, be you. That’s my biggest thing, and I want the whole world just to know that. Don’t try to be someone you’re not. People tell you-you’re different, that should never be a bad thing. You’re different in a good way. You’re different in a better way. Just be yourself. That’s the only thing I can tell my fans and just anyone out there. You’re beautiful, and everyone’s beautiful.”
Stream ‘One Thought Away’, below.