-We had the chance to chat with “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” star Megan Park earlier this week, along with some other journalists. Megan plays “Grace,” the resident “good girl” on the show, who is just now coming into her own. Find out what’s in store for “Grace” in our interview below.
What have been your most memorable moments from filming this particular season of the show?
Megan: 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.
How are you able to relate to Grace? Are you anything like her at all?
Megan: 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 of what’s coming up for the rest of the season?
Megan: Next episode, I think, there are some sort-of happenings between Grace and Ben (Ken Baumann), 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 (Daren Kagasoff), Amy (Shailene Woodley), 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.
You just mentioned you guys maturing and your character has arguably evolved the most out of any of them since the show premiered. When you signed up for the role originally, did you knew how much Grace was going to change, and if that has been a challenge?
Megan: 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.
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: 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.
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.
How will the relationship with Grace and her mom continue to evolve, and also, what is your relationship with Josie Bissett like?
Megan: 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 with her. 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.
Is there anybody that you would like to see in the future appear on the show with you guys?
Megan: 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.
Why do you think people continue to tune in and watch the show?
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.
“Secret Life” 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: 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 risqué. Kids are so smart these days and they mature so quickly, and I think it’s realistic.
What has been your best, or most memorable experience you’ve had meeting a fan of the Secret Life?
Megan: 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.
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: 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.
Be sure to tune into “The Secret Life” Mondays on ABC Family at 8pm EST.