Shimmering Star Spotlight: Merit Leighton

Each month YAYOMG! chooses a Shimmering Star to spotlight. Follow along as we shine a light on girls who represent kindness, positivity, empowerment, philanthropy, drive, and confidence. They’re sure to inspire you!

Merit Leighton is our Shimmering Star for August, and we couldn’t be more excited! At just 17 years old, Merit is living her dreams and achieving some of her biggest goals, turning her passions and interests into a thriving career.

You know her best as Hannah on the heartwarming Netflix series Alexa & Katie and the voice of Frosta on the empowering animated series, DreamWorks She-Ra and the Princesses of Power. She was recently able to cross one of her biggest dreams off her list – attending San Diego Comic-Con! She got to attend along with the cast of She-Ra, signed autographs at the Mattel booth, and even got to guest judge the Her Universe fashion show!

If you know anything about Merit Leighton, you know that she has a unique sense of style, inspired by her love of Harajuku fashion and Japanese culture. If you think Merit looks sweet in her pastel petticoats and colorful accessories, you’ll be excited to know she’s just as lovely on the inside! Merit is an advocate for kindness and always does her best to spread smiles and joy wherever she goes. She also works alongside her family to support The Jonathan Foundation, an organization that helps kids with social needs get the education they deserve.

Get to know Merit Leighton as she dishes on Season 3 of She-Ra, finding her confidence through fashion, and her biggest female heroes!

Get to Know Merit Leighton:

Shimmering Star Spotlight: Merit Leighton
(Image via Merit Leighton, Graphic by YAYOMG!)
Tell us a little bit about YOU!

MERIT LEIGHTON: I’m a nerdy girl who’s really inspired by kawaii/Harajuku J-fashion. I’ve watched anime since I was a kid, and it has sparked my love for learning languages!

I’m currently in my third year of Japanese, and I plan on also studying Korean! Music is very important to me, it helps me literally get through the day, and my number one is EXO, someday I hope to travel to Korea and see one of their concerts with EXO-L.

Season 3 of DreamWorks She-Ra and the Princesses of Power is releasing on Netflix this month! What can fans look forward to in the new season?

MERIT: Everyone’s world gets flipped upside down! Season three is just all spoilers, but it’s SO good! Crazy stuff happens and Frosta gets to bring out her ice fists! Get ready for a wild ride!

Which She-Ra character do you relate to most?

MERIT: I relate to Frosta because I am the baby, the youngest voice-over actor of the princess cast! Also, like her, I’d rather be cold than hot any day!

Frosta is also relatable because she has trouble socially. Those issues resonate with me too, because I sometimes find it hard to fit in and make friends.

Shimmering Star Spotlight: Merit Leighton
(Photo Credit: Suzette Troche Stapp, Makeup: Jami Cox, Graphic by YAYOMG!)
You’ve also been busy filming Season 3 of Alexa & Katie. What’s different about the new season?

MERIT: Yes, it’s fantastic to be able to work on this show for another season, it’s such a wonderful cast and crew! We are all heading into junior year. I have literally grown up with the show, I started at fourteen, and now I’m seventeen, so I feel so close to Hannah because we are growing up together. You are going to love Season 3, it just keeps getting better!

How do you shine bright?

MERIT: I try to bring light, smiles, and happiness wherever I go no matter what! Making people smile is what makes me feel happy. You never know what someone is really going through, social media makes it seem like everyone’s life is perfect, and honestly, no one’s is. So, just a simple smile might just make someone’s day a little brighter.

I’ve also learned to be myself! Being genuinely who I am even though other people often think I’m weird or odd took a while to get used to. Not fitting in, wearing pastel colors, and petticoats are not “trendy,” but they make me overwhelmingly happy!

There were periods in my life where people tried to make me be something different than what I am on the inside, and to this day, that feeling was way worse than people thinking I’m weird! So be YOU, smile and have a happy heart and you will shine. 😀

The women who inspire me are…

MERIT: First off, Tara Strong is someone I have always looked up to! Her career is so incredible voicing over 100 different characters, some of them in the same show in the same scenes! She’s truly my V.O. idol!

I.U. is someone else I look up to. She’s an amazing singer/songwriter that is very cool, quirky, different and talented. If I ever decide to start singing, I would use her for inspiration as well!

Kyary Pamyu Pamyu is a kawaii fashion ICON, she was the first person in Harajuku fashion I ever saw, and she inspired me to try to find my own fashion style!

Finally, Ashley Eckstein, the founder, and creator of Her Universe. She inspires me because she’s a great V.O. actress and Geek fashion queen who has created an uplifting nerd community that gives back! I have some ideas that I hope one day she will collaborate on with me.

I am most passionate about…

MERIT: Voice-over is something I spend a lot of time researching and trying to improve my skills on. The idea of being something you can never be in real life is a goal. I want to play a tree or a fish or a tree talking to a fish – you get the idea. I love that there is nothing you can’t do in voice-over and that the impossible is totally possible!

Shimmering Star Spotlight: Merit Leighton
(Image via Merit Leighton, Graphic by YAYOMG!)
I feel most confident when…

MERIT: I’m wearing a Petticoat and my funky bracelets! I love them!

Petticoats make me feel like I’m walking in a fluffy marshmallow cloud, and nothing bad can happen when you’re in a fluffy marshmallow cloud! Bracelets feel like pastel candy-themed armor for me, and I wear a lot of them! I never feel quite right without them.

My biggest dream is…

MERIT: Well, my biggest goal was to go to San Diego ComicCon as a voice actor, and I just did that with She-Ra and The Princesses of Power!

I am currently making a new vision board for my future goals. Going to ComicCon again will be near the top of that list! It was one of the best weeks of my life!

The advice I want to share with other girls…

MERIT: Enjoy the little things. Health is more important than anything, so take care of yourself. If you’re struggling with something, reach out to people who care about you, because they want to help.

Inspired by Merit? Get to know our previous Shimmering Stars by clicking here!

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