Ashley Rickards: Far From “Awkward”
We’re talking with the star of the great new teen-centric MTV series
While visiting with the stars of MTV, Kidzworld cornered pretty petite brunette Ashley Rickards who plays the relatable Jenna on MTV’s smart new high school series “Awkward”. 19-year-old Ashley is poised and far from teen angsty. She’s smart (graduated from high school at age 15) and fun “I want to wear a leather catsuit and have a shirtless male co-star at some point in my career”. Sounds good to us.
Check out what is coming up on the series and all about Ashley’s struggles with that full arm cast she wore in the pilot episode. Picture a glammed-up “Jenna” in silver gladiator heels, cute turquoise dress and white jacket by BCBG.
Kidzworld: How are you like Jenna and how different?
- Ashley Rickards: As an actor I don’t want to bring too much of myself to any character because I don’t have the right to do that. Jenna didn’t experience what I did growing up so I don’t want to take those liberties. Jenna’s pretty different than me but I’ve sat in her skin for so long that I know who she is. It’s weird because I don’t relate to her but I am her if that makes sense.
Kidzworld: Did you go to a regular high school? And what clique were you in?
- Ashley: I did and I graduated at 15. I fluctuated. In elementary school I was incredibly unpopular and picked on brutally so I can relate to any of that stuff that happens on our show. In middle school I was popular and then in high school I was so focused on academics that I didn’t have time for anything.
Kidzworld: Are you a klutz at all? Jenna seems to be.
- Ashley: I think everyone has their klutzy moments. Any time I’m putting on heels! I was at a photo shoot and I’m in this fantastic outfit and heels and the photographer says “Can you squat?” so I do this thing and it totally works. It’s this weird position and she asked me to do it again and I had no idea what I did and I couldn’t get down and work with the skirt so I wasn’t exposing anything and not falling on my face. I almost fell over.
Kidzworld: Are you a romantic optimist like Jenna?
- Ashley: Oh yeah. She’s a teenaged girl and a human first of all. I think deep down everyone is a romantic optimist but it depends on how much that’s been pushed down and subdued. It’s definitely a factor of your past. But everybody wants a happy ending.
Kidzworld: In the first episode, was that a real cast they put on you? Wasn’t it heavy?
- Ashley: For that, I like to credit the amazing prop department; Max and Scotty, little shout-out. They had that thing down. It was a real cast, fully plastered. I can’t do anything in that. I can’t function. I can’t get a drink. I can’t pee. They did pour a cast on my arm. There was a little slice in it that I could pull my arm through but while we were shooting, they wrap it with the plaster. I’m plastered in there. They could put it on and off within three minutes.
Kidzworld: How is this TV acting experience different that your work as Samantha in “One Tree Hill”?
- Ashley: It’s very different. On “One Tree Hill” we were shooting in Wilmington, North Carolina and there’s a lot of actors. On this we have a smaller cast and we’re filming here in L.A. It’s very local. We definitely have a playful set.
Kidzworld: You are a big Sci Fi fan or at least have said that Contact is your favorite movie.
- Ashley: I am a Carl Sagan fanatic. I am actually re-reading his book “The Varieties of Scientific Experience” so that’s why I loved that movie but just the visuals in that movie were groundbreaking. (Director) Robert Zemeckis (is great). There is this one shot that I think is phenomenal. It’s this separatist view that keeps us removed but completely enraptured.
Kidzworld: Would you like to play a female superhero?
- Ashley: Totally. I want to be in a leather catsuit at some point in my career. Who doesn’t? With a shirtless male co-star. I’m just saying.
Kidzworld: Do you want to direct some day?
Ashley: I write and I want to produce. I can come up with a few shots but the directors on our show come up with really cool shots. (Show creator) Lauren (Iungerich) directed episodes as well and came up with cool shots as well. So there is me, who can come up with five or six cool shots and somebody who has to film 30 pages. I’ll be like the writer who contributes.
Kidzworld: Talk about the tone of the show. The writers come up with some great humorous dialogue but in dramatic situations.
- Ashley: I think it’s an interesting new genre coming up; dramady or the really dark comedy. What I found so remarkable about the script when I first read it, is that every single joke comes from an emotional truth, whether it’s a happy emotional truth or a very dark one, i.e. the deepest form of humiliation that Jenna has to endure. That’s Jenna’s character. She overcomes things. She has a consistently positive outlook.
- In her blog, she makes fun of herself a bit. In some future episodes, you think that Jenna is the good girl and the heroine but we definitely see all sides of her. There are things that people might not have thought she was capable of or that Jenna didn’t think she was capable of. We test the limits of friendship and we investigate the depth of Sadie’s character (the mean girl at school). There are a lot of layers to her character which is very interesting. There is no stereotyping on our show.
Kidzworld: Who is the big prankster on set and what have they done?
- Ashley: We had a prank war going on. I started it. I thought I was going to be so clever. I told the entire camera department to keep rolling when one of the directors David was directing. I had a cupcake in my hand for the scene and I was like “David I have a question about this scene”. I shove the cupcake in his face. He doesn’t see it coming. It’s the best blooper ever and he keeps telling me “I’m gonna get you back when you least expect it”. So the last day of his shoot, I’m outside doing a scene and I feel ice cold water dripping all over my body from an entire bucket dropped on me by David so he won the prank war but it’s still on.
- Then Brett (Davern) and Beau (Mirchoff) locked Jillian (Reed who plays Jenna’s BFF Tamara) in her trailer. She was under the impression that she had a faulty trailer lock that would lock her inside. She would only call Bret or Beau to help her out so no one knew that she was being locked in…. by them. Oh those two.
Kidzworld: Do any of you hang out together off set?
- Ashley: Oh yeah. It’s a big group. We all hang out. Maybe we’ll try bowling. We have dinner together.
Kidzworld: The “Pretty Little Liars” girls are always on their laptops cyber-shopping between scenes. What do you do while waiting for the next scene to be set up?
- Ashley: I’m usually near the donuts. I’m either eating a donut or reading something.
Kidzworld: Will Jake become more than a friend? He’s really the only guy at school who is totally nice to Jenna.
Ashley: Well, we’ll see. I definitely think there are some traits in Jake that make him better for Jenna but there’s also that connection she has with Matty. We definitely investigate, further on in the series, the difference between a physical relationship and an emotional one. Is there such a thing as both? Can you have one without the other? Which should come first?
Kidzworld: Important questions. Jenna’s mom is very young and is more like a confrontational friend than a mom. Is your mom like that or more a mentor?
- Ashley: My parents are very different than these parents. I think, deep down, Jenna’s mom loves her daughter but Jenna took so many years away from her life. While she’s grateful for Jenna, there’s a little bit of her wanting to live through Jenna. She also wants to help her because she was the opposite of Jenna in high school and there’s resentment in there as well. That is real and we’re not going to sugarcoat that.
Kidzworld: Who is your favorite band or music artist?
- Ashley: My favorite song in the world is “A Message to Pretty” by The Duke Spirit. It’s one of the most fantastic songs. It’s a really dark truth; great lyrics and a haunting melody.
Kidzworld: What must a guy never do on a first date with you or he’ll never get a second one?
- Ashley: I would say the texting. If they’re texting while they are talking to you. There is a fun thing you do. Just start texting on your phone to somebody else and they won’t even know.
Kidzworld: What would you like to say to teens who should be watching the show?
- Ashley: I think they’ll really enjoy it. There’s a lot of laughs. It’s heartwarming. It’s intelligent. It’s an empowering message but it’s also got some dark truths to it. It’s very relatable.
By: Lynn Barker