Interviews

Jillian Rose Reed – Awkward

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Q) What are the recent projects that you are working on?

A) “Awkward” has been the main project I have been acting in, but I’ve started meddling behind the scenes in different areas of the industry. I’ve been doing a little bit of writing and producing. I actually have a  film that I am producing right now with my costar Nikki DeLoach who plays Lacey. We are doing re-writes right now and it is completely different from “Awkward.” It is a heavy drama called Chained and Bound. It’s been really fun and I’m enjoying doing different stuff.

Q) What is Chained and Bound about and how did you come up with the concept?

A) Breaking The Chains is a foundation that I am the spokesperson for and it focuses on how to change the face of eating disorder. A good friend of mine, Debra Hopkins, is the Executive Producer and this is her cause. She asked me to jump on board years ago with the whole campaign. Over the course of a few years, it’s really taken over and through that we decided to do this screenplay. The foundation is called Breaking The Chains and the screenplay is called Chained and Bound. She asked me to get involved and I was originally involved as just one of the actors. I became so involved with it that she said she really wanted to me to help write and produce. It has been extremely different than anything I’ve ever done but it has been really fun. 

Q) What have been some of the challenges you have faced and the benefits from taking on this new project?

A) It’s been interesting because being on “Awkward” for so many years I have seen what the producers have had to take on. Throwing myself in there is a world that I don’t know much about. The challenge has been facing new obstacles that I have never had to face before and I’m on the other side. I’m setting up the photo shoots and setting up the writing sessions. So, it’s kind of been crazy and everything has been a little pressed for time lately. It’s stressful, but it’s a different kind of stress. It’s a stress that I do well with because I enjoy learning new things about the industry.

Q) You certainly have had this wonderful and realistic evolution with your “Awkward” character Tamara. Talk about that evolution as an actor and individual.

A) Playing Tamara has been just such a journey because obviously I’m a girl who has already been through high school. So, I had a little bit of insight on what happens in high school before I started playing Tamara, but it was a different experience throwing myself back into it and having to muster up all of those emotions that I once felt as a sixteen year old girl. As an actor, it’s been a fun journey to put myself back in those situations and see them from a different pair of eyes. It’s been fun developing her as a person. I feel like now, after four years, she is pretty much a part of me. She is second nature to me. I know what she is thinking all the time. For an actor, it’s been incredible because this is the first show I have been lucky enough to be a series regular on. So, I’m in every single episode and I have an opportunity to build this character’s life. It has taught me a lot about character work and a lot of things I can hopefully carry over into my next job.

Q) Was there anything you added to the role that wasn’t originally scripted for you?

A) I think the biggest thing I added to the role was Tamara’s fast paced energy and her fast paced talking. That is something I brought to the character almost accidentally. I talk very fast anyway and it just kind of became this character trait that the writers started using. In the first season, I would have some funny one-liners. Now, in Season Four, I’ll have entire paragraphs that they write for me because they know I talk really fast and can make it happen in the episode.

Q) You have great comedic timing. Is it something that was a natural ability or has it developed as the show has gone on?

A) It’s been a little bit of both. I’ve always really, really loved comedy so I think just doing it for so many years and being so in love with it the whole timing came natural because I enjoy it. I also grew up watching the show “Friends” and I learned a lot about comedy through all of the characters. I would really pay attention to the way the scripts were written and the way the actors spoke. I owe a lot of comedic beats and what makes a scene funny from studying that show.

Q) Tamara is great at coining a phrase. What have been some of your favorite “Tamara-isms?”

A) My favorite one hands down is still from Season One. I believe I said it in the very second episode and I used the term “big fail Mary” to describe a situation that had gone terribly wrong. I don’t know why for some reason I still find that to be so funny. Then, I had a really good one in Season Three when I used the term “Frasian,” which are friends who are Asian. For some reason, that just always makes me giggle as well.

Q) As we get closer towards the season finale, will there be any new developments between Tamara and Jake?

A) Their relationship has always been a great thing to play, in my opinion. Tamara went from having this awful relationship with Ricky Schwartz (Matthew Fahey) the first couple of seasons to how she had this true love. I think the writers do a great job of making it very true to high school with the way that it is always so back and forth. In my opinion, I don’t think there will ever be an end to Jake (Brett Davern) and Tamara. I think that as much as they know that they should move on I think they will always love each other. In my opinion, there will always be that push and pull. I don’t know where the storylines are going to go for Season Five, but I think they are always going to have that thing for each other. I think there is something special he saw in Tamara so I think there will always be a special place in his heart for her.

Q) Tamara and Sadie have always seemed to have a back and forth frenemy relationship as well. Talk about how their friendship has evolved.

A) That has actually been one of my favorite relationships to explore. Not just because I am such good friends with Molly [Tarlov] who plays Sadie, but because I love seeing the two of them on screen together. I think it’s so funny. I think that also stays true to high school. You have that frenemy or even that enemy, but if you really dig deep inside you probably have a lot more similarities than you realize. I think that as much as Sadie puts on that mean front there is a lot going on inside of her. It’s been really, really fun to play that out. Obviously, we have these moments where we just attack each other. But I think deep down there is a love for each other that I would love to explore more. Last week, we got to seem them bond over the sake of Matty (really) and I think that there is more to explore there. I think they have more in common than we know about.

Q) What do you think it is about the show that continues to make it a must-watch TV show?

A) I really owe it all to the fact that our original creator Lauren Iungerich and our current staff or writers and producers really make everything true to life. We are dealing with things that people really did go through in high school. High school never changes and I think that is what led us to so much success. The people who are in high school now are dealing with the same kind of drama if you are thirty-five and graduated from high school years ago. And that’s the response that we get from a lot of people. We hear from parents who say, “I had the same situation as Jenna and Tamara in high school.” I think that’s what has been keeping us alive. It’s this throw back to high school that everyone can enjoy.

Q) Is there anyone you haven’t worked with or would like to have more scenes with in Season Five?

A) I would love to have more scenes with Valerie (Desi Lydic). Tamara has had a few scenes where she has been in Val’s office and I just think their characters are so dynamic and so funny in such different ways. We kind of explored that in Season Three when we said Tamara and Val were new BFF’s, but I would like to see what happened there.

Q) What else can you tease is in store for the remainder of Season Four and as we get towards graduation?

A) The gang goes on Spring Break. That’s how we will end the season with them being on Spring Break. So, as you can imagine there will be lots of awkward drama happening over Spring Break because we are outside of school and we take all of those relationships to a whole new place. There is a lot of relationship drama coming up for Matty (Beau Mirchoff) and Jenna (Ashley Rickards) because he finds out who his birth parents are and he has been relying on Jenna to kind of comfort him. You’ll see what happens with that. Also, there are a few new boys that are introduced on Spring Break that are definitely going to shake things up for the other characters.

Q) Are there any new love interests on the horizon for Tamara?

A) Tamara had that brief stint with Pete the wrestler over New Year’s Eve that was just a fun thing for her. I still think she lives in this constant state of wanting to make Jake jealous no matter what. There are some new boys on Spring Break and one of them is going to be introduced for Tamara. I don’t know how long it will last. It could be a fun Spring Break thing, but we’ll see. I know as much as the viewers know.

Q) What would you like to say to fans and share where they can keep up with your upcoming projects?

A) The biggest and best thing I can say to the fans is thank you because our show really lives because of them. Like I said earlier, even when we were this tiny little show it is because of the fans that we have been able to last this long. I just want to say thank you them. Also, to keep up with other projects that I am working on you can follow me on Twitter @JillianRoseReed and the same on Facebook. It’s usually where I post my new stuff. 

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