-We’re back with another interview from SO-M’s set visit to ABC Family’s “Ruby & the Rockits.” This time star Alexa Vega sits down to chat with the online media about the new show, singing and more. If you missed the interview with Austin Butler, you can check that out HERE.
How did you get into acting? My mom used to be a model, and our closest friend, her—she’s my godmother, and her daughter was on Models Inc. at the time. So we were in California while she was shooting here, and my mom had a photo shoot here, too—I grew up in Florida—and her best friend snuck me to an audition. And I just so happened to get the job, and she was just like, “Oh no. I didn’t think you were going to get the job. Now what are we going to do?” And it was on this lot for a television series called Evening Shade. And we convinced my mom to let me do it, and I was on that show for a couple years. And that’s kind of where it started, and I’ve been really blessed ever since.
What was the casting process like for the show? I didn’t want to do TV for a while. I had done it when I was younger, and then after Spy Kids I just kind of decided I wanted to stick to either film or TV film, but not a series. And I kind of did that for a while. And I went and visited my friend’s series last year, and during that time I was just kind of like, “You know what? I really miss being on a sitcom. I haven’t done this in years.” And I felt what the audience felt like, and I was watching her and she was having such a good time, I’m like, “I’ve got to get back on a show.”
And I told my agent, I’m like, “If you guys see a good script coming along, will you please send it my way? But it has to be special or else we’ll pass it up.” And six months later Ruby, the Ruby script was sent to me, and it was completely different than what the pilot ended up turning out to be. There were so many rewrites. But it was such a special kind of thing and idea that I was like, “You know what? I really want to go in on this. I will totally do it.”
And I went on the first audition, and I forgot how hard it was to land a TV show because the process is, like, eight auditions. You have to screen test. You have to meet with the producers, the executive producers. And then you have the whole network that you have to go through. It’s just such a process that I really felt like I worked so hard to get this job. Whereas, you know, for a while it was really nice that you didn’t really have to audition to get certain jobs. They were kind of offering you roles. But this is something I had to work hard for, and it made me appreciate it a lot more.
But it was definitely a hard process. I mean, we had to sing, and there were a lot of lines. I don’t think I’ve ever had that many lines in an audition. But yeah, it was really great. It was a good thing that I went through.
Do you know how many girls were up for the role? You know, I don’t. But I think they were definitely auditioning girls from ages 15 to probably about 20, and I felt really bad because in the end I ended up being up against three other 15- to 17-year-old girls, and I felt like some of them actually maybe looked older than me, even though—because I’ll be 21 in August, but everybody thinks I’m 15, so I was like, “Oh, good. I can get away with it.” But I kind of felt bad because they were like, “You’re not 15.” I’m sorry. But it was a good process, and all the girls were really, really nice.
And, you know, you kind of make friends with all the people you audition with because you just see them over and over and over again. But it was really interesting being back in that 15-year-old group. After Spy Kids, I just wanted so bad to be in more grown-up films and kind of play in adult movies and stuff like that. I was just like, “I need to be a little edgier.” So it became about doing edgier films and edgier roles instead of, “You know what? If I could still play younger roles, why not?” I mean, it’s so rare for people to still, you know, be 21, almost 21, and playing 15, so I better scoop that up while I can instead of trying to get away from it.
The show is on ABC Family, how would you describe that network compared to it’s counterparts? It’s a great mix between ABC and the Disney Channel. You have enough edge that ABC has, but you have enough fun, family friendly stuff that the Disney Channel has. So like, you combine them, you have a cute, kind of sometimes edgy show. And I think that makes it a little bit more believable because if you walk into anybody’s house, the family’s not going to be perfect and they’re not just going to be like, “Well, Son, it’s time for you to take a bath,” or whatever like that.
Music seems to be a big part of the show. Can you tell us about that? There’s a lot of music involved. I’m actually a little disappointed because this week we only have kind of a little bit of a song, not really a full song. But normally every week you get a song from The Rockits and you get a song from Ruby or Jordan, and they usually combine a song together. But we sing it live. We don’t—I mean, we pre-record it just to have an idea of what we’re supposed to be singing, but we sing everything live in front of the audience because we want people to be able to relate to these characters. When you watch the show, you don’t want to feel like you’re watching that perfect, cookie-cutter routine where these kids are just singing and dancing and they’re happy and smiling. You want it to feel like they’re really writing a song. I’ve cracked so many times in front of the audience, but suddenly that raw, cool feeling, it feels relatable. It’s like, “Oh, she’s a normal person, you know. She does mess up sometimes.” So they’re keeping that kind of stuff in the show so kids out there who are writing music and who do want to be musicians kind of get inspired by my mess-ups. Like, it’s like, “Hey, you know, she’s not perfect. That doesn’t mean I have to be, so I can actually do this.” But yeah, the music’s been fun. But because I grew up acting, it’s definitely a little nerve-wracking. I’ve always felt really comfortable on a set. When people are like, “Oh, is it nervous sometimes being in front of a big crowd of people?” No, not at all. Because this is where I feel like I’m at home, you know, and being in front of a camera just feels right to me.
It was when I was going to high school and stuff, that was just awkward and weird and it didn’t feel right. And I feel like with music, because that’s something new, even though we kind of dabbled in it when I was younger, just we did one song for Spy Kids and that was a lot of fun, but I wasn’t trying to make a career out of it. And all of a sudden, this happened and there’s so much music involved that it’s a little bit intimidating, because it’s not really what I feel like I’m great at. But I’m learning, and it’s been a really cool process so far. But hopefully I can continue to grow in that area, because I really like it.
What’s it like working opposite David Cassidy? Mr. David Cassidy. Oh my gosh, he is—when we first started—I met them all during the pilot the first day, and you know, when you work with a family, you can have two things happen. You can either go in there and they have their kind of group and they kind of keep everybody out, or you go in and you suddenly become a family member right away. And that’s kind of what happened, which was great. Because I hadn’t been on a sitcom, it was again a little bit intimidating just because I hadn’t done it since I was about nine, so ten years later I’m like, “Okay, here we go. We’re going to jump back into this.”
And everybody was so friendly. We have a really great crew. Our producers are just wonderful. And the fact that there is already a family dynamic, I think that’s what makes this show work. It makes it special because there’s this little bickering and these looks that Patrick and David can give to each other back and forth that you can’t really create that if you just meet the person on the spot. I mean, you can try, but what they have is years of tension, and it works. It works great on camera. So it was really nice to feel very welcomed into the Cassidy family.
And working with Mr. David is so fun. He’s nothing but complimentary. He’s just constantly like, “You look so beautiful. Your hair is so nice. I love your wardrobe.” I’m like, “I love this guy. He can hang around whenever he wants.” But he’s a great, great guy.
And what’s nice about being around the Cassidys is they have a feeling. They keep saying, “I have a feeling this show is going to do well.” And I think they probably sat me down about eight times, and they just kept saying, “Now, if the show does well, I really want to chat with you, because there are so many roads that you can go down.” So I’ve gotten that talk a lot. But it’s good. It’s nice to have a really good base and foundation to lean on.
Do you have a favorite Cassidy brother? Favorite Cassidy brother? Oh. Uh oh. I’m going to get myself into trouble here, aren’t I? They all have—this is a good answer. They all have different really great things that kind of separates them all. And, like, Patrick has this really, really fun athletic quality, that we always go to the gym together. There’s a gym here. And then he’s also taken us to Crunch. I don’t know if Austin said this to you, but he’s like a workout fiend, so we always do that together. And then Ryan’s really into old cars, and he’s a little bit more reserved and quiet. I really value that because the rest of the Cassidys aren’t that way at all, so it’s really nice to kind of see that brother and wonder how he survived in that family, being so quiet. But my boyfriend’s really into old cars, so that kind of brought the three of us together.
And then Mr. Shaun is really fathering and really nurturing, and it’s nice because he’s kind of like very—he’s very—how would you say it? He’s definitely the authority figure on set, and he kind of sets the tone. And it’s always nice, it comes—no matter what set you’re on, it’s always the producers and directors who set the tone. If you’re working with difficult producers or directors, you’re going to have a hard shoot. But we’re working with great people.
And then we have crazy, wild David who just makes everything really exciting and fun. When he’s talking—first off, we all laugh because nobody loves hearing himself talk more than David. But I have never been more entertained by somebody that I’ve worked with, because he sits and he has more stories than you could possibly imagine. Like, the stuff that he tells from when he was younger when he went on tour, you’re just like, “There’s no way that happened.” And Shaun’s like, “Oh, yeah, that happened.” And you’re like, “Oh my gosh.” Like, half the time I’m trying to cover her ears or take her to another room so she doesn’t hear what comes out of his mouth.
But it’s such a great, wonderful group of people that you couldn’t have asked for anything better. And they’re such—we have such kind of a diverse set. Just talking about the four different brothers, that’s kind of how our set is. You have all sorts of cool, different people, and it’s nice. It’s really nice.
Did you know who they [Cassidy’s] were before the show? I feel like it’s weird when people don’t know who the Cassidys are, just because The Partridge Family was so huge. I mean, I guess that wasn’t—I didn’t know what Shaun Cassidy had done other than some of his music stuff because my mom liked him, but I didn’t know about the show that he did.
But my mom was obsessed with him, and I had heard some of Mr. David’s music. But I didn’t want—I watched The Partridge Family, but I didn’t watch—what was the–? The Hardy Boys, I think it was. I’ve never seen that.
Is your mom or your grandmother a fan of David and Shaun? Yes. My grandma loved David Cassidy, but my mom was obsessed with Shaun Cassidy. He was more her generation. And she never let me have posters up on my wall. I always wanted ‘N Sync up there. I wanted Backstreet Boys, Justin Timberlake, all that stuff, and she was like, “No. I never had posters on my wall growing up.” I remember, like, a year after we had that argument, I was talking to my grandma, and I was like, “Yeah, and she didn’t let me put posters up on my wall because she said she didn’t have any when she was little.” And my grandma goes, “That’s not true. She had a huge poster of Shaun Cassidy up on her wall.”
And my grandma just came to this show last week and brought the picture of my mom’s room with the big, blow-up size, like, huge face of Shaun Cassidy right next to her bed. And I was just like, “You see that, Mom? Proof.” So yeah.
What was your mom’s reaction when she met him? My mom is a really kind of low-key person, and she doesn’t get star struck. She never goes to the movies. She doesn’t really watch television. So she was kind of like, “Cool.” I think if she was younger, like when she was back in those days, way back when, I think she would have loved it. But now she’s kind of like, “Oh, nice to meet you.” She’s really not jaded by this business at all.
Have any of the Cassidy’s given you any advice? Yeah. It’s really nice to have people who actually care about the wellbeing, because you have so many people who are like, “Hey, don’t go down that route,” and that’s it. They don’t go any further. They don’t say anything else. But they truly care about what happens to us. They always sit Austin and I down and they’re just like, “How are you guys doing? Are you guys having fun on set? Is there anything else that we could do?” And it’s just a really loving, kind of parental feeling.
And I feel like the biggest thing that they’ve told me is you can’t give away too much of yourself. You have to be willing to say no, you don’t want to do something and just enjoy every moment. Because there are only so many moments like this that will happen in your life. And I feel like a lot of times people are trying to rush you through each one instead of really taking the time to enjoy it.
And actually one of the questions that I got a lot was, “Are you going to make an album now? Are you making your own album?” And it was really nice. I was offered to make an album recently, to do my own thing aside from Ruby, and that was really exciting. But I feel like I just started with this whole music stuff and I have this really great opportunity with Ruby that I don’t want to rush through it. I really want to enjoy every second of it. And then when it’s time for me to move on and kind of do my own thing, then I’ll do that. But I feel like I’m just grasping this. I don’t want to jump into the next thing before I’m ready for it.
What’s it like working with Austin Butler and Kurt Doss? Oh, such sweethearts. Such sweethearts. You know, Austin is such a cutie. Adorable. All my sisters have huge crushes on him. And I was really—I’m like, “Boy, you better not change. You are so adorable.” And we’ve actually become really, really close. He’s kind of become part of my family. We even go to church on Sundays together. We go eat sushi together. He’s just a real sweetheart, and I feel like if things really do go well, he will handle it well.
But I feel like he’s somebody who just recently got into the business, and he’s already handling it really, really well. So it’s nice. It’s good to see how professional he is, and for only being 17. Seventeen-year-old boys are usually crazy and wild, and he’s really put together, so it’s nice.
Any practical jokes on set? Oh. Okay, Kurt is my little buddy. I love him to death. I mean, if I could have had Kurt on every movie that I’ve ever been on, that would have been my goal. I mean, such a sweetheart. He is really—he comes from—his mom is so good with him. She really taught him well. And it’s—I mean, you get so many crazy stage parents that you work with, and it’s so nice to have Ms. Ashley here on set. So the fact that Kurt comes in here and he’s pretty professional.
I totally get us into trouble, though, because we were shooting a scene—I don’t know if they told you this yet or not, but we were in the middle of shooting a scene a couple weeks ago, and we’re supposed to be eating breakfast at the table, and I was like, “Hey, Kurt, watch this.” And I totally unscrewed the salt lid, and I’m like pouring salt all over Austin’s cereal. And that was probably a bad idea because it suddenly unlocked this thing in his mind that that’s okay. “I didn’t know we could do that.” I was like, “Oh shoot, I probably shouldn’t have done that because we’re going to get in trouble now.”
And my boyfriend shows up on set the next Friday after he heard about all these jokes going on, and Kurt was planning on playing another joke on Austin. And my boyfriend walks up to him, and he’s a producer, and he goes, “Listen, Kurt, I’m going to say this once. I know where to find 300 live tarantulas. Don’t think about messing with Alexa’s room. That’s all I’m saying.” And Kurt’s just like, “Yes sir,” and walk away.
But yeah, I was just like what if he gets me? I don’t want to get messed with. I just want to be the one that helps him out. So we have a couple cool ideas that we’re going to try on poor Austin. He’s like the poor guy that gets picked on. But I’m sure I’ll end up getting hit one of these days.
“Ruby & the Rockits” airs on ABC Family Tuesday nights at 8pm EST.