We had the pleasure of talking with Megan Park from The Secret Life of the American Teenager about her character Grace, the evolution of the show, and what’s coming up in the new season!
I was wondering, Twitter is such a big fad these days, and a lot of celebrities are actually using it to stay in touch with their fans. Why is that such an important medium to you?
Megan Park: I like it. I mean, originally I got it just because it was fun and people were telling me about it. I didn’t necessarily get it for fan interaction, but then a lot of fans of the show ended up adding me, and it is really cool to hear what they think. Originally, I would write things that I would be doing, or things that I was up to and they would respond to it. Recently, I’ve gotten into asking them questions like, “What did you guys think of last night’s episode,” or, “how are you feeling about the Adrian and Grace drama?” It’s really cool to hear feedback. It’s usually pretty positive and interesting.
Actually, I was just in New York for a week with Shailene Woodley from the show; we were hanging out there. We’d be in SoHo or something, and we’d say [on Twitter], “Does anyone know of any good sushi places in SoHo?” And then we’d get a million responses. So, it kind of benefits us in the end, too, which is really cool. Sometimes they’d let us know about cool Secret Life things they found on YouTube, or on the internet and it’s just been really neat to get that one-on-one interaction, in a sense, with people. It’s pretty cool.
What have been your most memorable moments from filming this particular season of the show?
Megan Park: My most memorable moment, that’s so hard! The most memorable episode to film was “Just Say Me,” which actually just aired, because the cast obviously had a lot of fun joking about it, and lots of inside jokes happened. We still always joke about it, so that one was pretty memorable. In terms, of specific moments, there are just so many fun things that happen on set. A lot of them probably happen off-camera and just in our trailers, hanging out. We have a lot of good times.
Why do you think people continue to tune in and watch the show?
Megan Park: I think it’s really entertaining because there is so much drama going on and people get hooked into the characters and the love stories. I think people are really invested in what’s happening between all of us. Also, I think that everybody can relate to somebody on the show, or a storyline that’s happening, and even the parents can relate to it. Lots of parents like to watch it. I think the storylines are things that kids are actually thinking about, and talking about, and going through. The characters are pretty dead-on portrayals of kids in high school today, and so people can find it relatable. It’s also informative, for parents.
touches on some serious and controversial subjects. Do you think those are important issues, because I think a lot of TV shows shy away from addressing those topics?
Megan Park: Yes, I think that’s the appeal of the show. There are so many shows that glamorize high school life, or teenagers, or are really far-fetched from real life, which can also be entertaining, but I think that people get so invested in our show because it is really realistic and that they can relate to the characters. They are controversial storylines, but I think we deal with them in a realistic way and we show the consequences of things. It’s not just showing the fun side of it. It also shows the dramatic side of things. I think kids are actually talking and thinking the things that we’re talking about even if they are a little risque. Kids are so smart these days and they mature so quickly, and I think it’s realistic.
How are you able to relate to Grace? Are you anything like her at all?
Megan Park: I definitely am, and it’s kind of interesting because I think all of the actors have a lot of similarities to the characters they play, within reason of course. I think that I’ve really connected with Grace and probably the reason I was cast as her is because I am very similar to her in a lot of ways. I was definitely the most like Grace in high school out of any of the other characters. I’m not as hard on myself as Grace is, and I’m not quite as uptight as she can be sometimes. She is very outgoing and bubbly and the good girl, and I guess I’m like that most of the time.
Can you give us a little teaser, I know you can’t spoil too much, of what’s coming up for the rest of the season?
Megan Park: Next episode, I think, there are some sort-of happenings between Grace and Ben, which I think people will be very shocked by, and that kind of unfolds throughout the season. There is some really dramatic stuff with Ricky, Amy, and John. They start to struggle with who gets John when and how they can share him and how they can both have their own relationships, and be with John at the same time, which is really interesting. Everybody gets involved with it and it just gets more dramatic as we get older. Every episode, it seems like, it takes it to a more mature place than it was before.
It’s funny you just mentioned you guys maturing, as I feel as though your character has arguably evolved the most out of any of them since the show premiered. So, I was curious if when you signed up for the role originally if you knew how much Grace was going to change, and if that has been a challenge?
Megan Park: It’s interesting because when we all signed onto the show we had only read the pilot episode. I think that is usually the case when you do a show you kind of just sign on with faith and hope that it continues to be as great as the pilot. Luckily for us, I think it’s only gotten better, which has been really cool, but I had no idea where my character was going. Brenda Hampton told me that when she was casting the show she kind of knew where the characters were going in her mind for ten seasons. She has that basic idea of where she wants everyone to end up and everyone to go. So, I’m sure she probably casts with that in mind too. Grace has changed, I think, the most out of any of the other characters, because she was so naïve in the beginning and so innocent. In the first episode her boyfriend cheats on her, and then in the second season her father passes away, and those are huge life-changing events. She has changed a lot, but I wasn’t expecting it. If anything, it’s more fun for me because it’s not like a one-note character. She is always changing. Sometimes, in episode one she’ll be dating one person and by episode three she’s on to somebody else, but there is a certain reason for it. It makes it really interesting as an actress to play.
You were talking earlier about how everyone in the cast is similar to their characters, but within reason. Now that everyone has been playing their character for a couple of years now, are you finding that everyone is kind of taking on their character traits within their personal life, or vice versa?
Megan Park: That’s a good question. Knowing everybody so well off-set in their own lives, it’s kind of funny because sometimes I feel like it’s such an accurate portrayal of what’s going on, not like these certain events, but just the growth of people. For instance, Shailene was 16 when she started doing the show – she was living at home and in high school. Now she is 18, graduated and living on her own. It’s just interesting to see us all growing up and having grown up doing the show. Our lives have changed a lot since the beginning. I think, if anything, the writers probably take notice of it and they start adjusting our characters as we’re growing up a little bit, which is really neat for them because they’ve gotten to know us so well over the past couple of years. It’s really interesting to see because we don’t necessarily take our characters and put them into our real life, but I think it’s more the other way around where the writers see our real lives and our personalities and add those layers to our characters, probably.
That’s really interesting because that would make sense watching the evolution of the show. You can kind of see that going on.
Megan Park: I know. It’s kind of cool because I wasn’t even from Los Angeles when I first did the show. So, I went from living at home in a small town in Canada to moving out here to Los Angeles. A lot of us have moved out on our own, or had life changes like getting new cars, or meeting new people, being in different relationships over the past two years and all these different things. It’s really cool to see everybody and everybody is at this very life-changing age, so it’s cool to see us all growing up and having it reflected in the show, too.
It really helps with the quality of it. Another question: What has been your best, or most memorable experience you’ve had meeting a fan of the Secret Life?
Megan Park: Oh my goodness. That’s a good question. The most memorable is the first time I ever got recognized anywhere because I was so shocked. I remember it was probably only a few days after the pilot episode had aired. I went to the mall and I was just by myself to pick up something. I was walking through the mall and people were staring at me, and pointing, and I didn’t know if I had something on my face or what! Then a group of people came up to me and they were like, “Are you Grace from Secret Life?” and I was like, “Oh my gosh, yes!” They wanted photos and it was pretty shocking. From then, it’s gotten more and more crazy, in a sense. I’ve literally never had a negative encounter with anybody. People always come up and say how much they like the show. People used to say, “Are you Grace?” and now people they are like, “Are you Megan?” That’s cool that people actually know my real name now. It’s been a really cool thing.
Could tell us a little bit about how the relationship with Grace and her mom will continue to evolve, and also a little bit about your relationship with Josie Bissett?
Megan Park: My relationship with Josie is amazing. I love working with her because it’s always a group of kids hanging out and working on set, so it’s kind of fun when I get to work withher. I mean, I love working with the rest of the cast, but she’s been around for so long and has such great knowledge of the industry and obviously having worked on such a successful, Melrose Place, show for so long. She brings a lot of knowledge and experience to the scenes. Just working with her, I feel like I always learn something, which is cool.
We don’t really have a mother/daughter relationship off-set. We’re like good friends. We both really like to shop and love fashion so we end up pulling out our laptops and she’ll be like, “Oh my gosh, go to this website and look at these boots. Do you think I should get them?” We’re always emailing each other back and forth about funny stories. She is really cool, and doesn’t act like a mom at all. She is really fun. We just have a really good friendship off-set and she gives me great guy advice and we’re always talking about relationships.
In terms of our relationship on camera, it’s not that different. I think Grace is very open with her mom, but this season they go through a rough patch because her mom starts dating this new guy and it’s pretty serious. He moves into the house and that is a huge thing for her because it’s pretty soon after her dad passes away. That obviously creates a lot of tension and because Grace is Christian she thinks that the guy shouldn’t be living at the house if they’re not married and all this stuff. There is a lot of tension there, just like normal teenage girls and their mothers, but they go through a turbulent patch this season.
As far as guest stars go, you guys have had some pretty neat people come through. Is there anybody that you would like to see in the future appear on the show with you guys?
Megan Park: Gosh, I don’t even know. It would be cool to have a musician on the show. I feel like it would be cool to have somebody, maybe a hot musician guy come through and be the object of all the girls’ affection. I don’t even know who though. Who’s a hot musician? I’m asking my roommate. She says there’s so many. But yes, a hot young musician would be cool.
Official The Secret Life of the American Teenager Site: http://abcfamily.go.com/abcfamily/path/section_Shows+Secret-Life-Of-The-American-Teenager/page_Detail