–SO-M had the chance to participate in a panel interview with Cassie Scerbo & Josie Loren from ABC Family’s new show, “Make It or Break It.” The show focuses on a group of young gymnasts who have their eyes set on the Olympics. Earlier, we chatted with Chelsea Hobbs & Ayla Kell about the show. You can read that HERE.
Check out the interview below to find out how Cassie & Josie trained for their roles, what to expect from their characters as the season progresses, what it was like to work with Candace Cameron Bure and more.
How did you both get started in acting?
Josie Loren: I started acting when I was like five in monologue competitions at this private elementary school. Ever since then, it’s kind of progressed. From there, I went to magnet art schools for middle school and for high school, but I was always involved in musical theater, and I went to one summer camp for TV and film, and that kind of sparked the other direction, I guess, for acting in the TV and film world, and so I’ve just kind of been doing it every since I was little.
Cassie Scerbo: I really couldn’t tell you when that interest sparked for me because it’s just been something that I’ve wanted to do forever. Like I literally came out of my mother’s stomach singing before I can talk, and dancing before I can walk, and just, ever since I was little, I’ve always wanted to be a performer. I started in charm schools, I mean, at the age of four or five, dancing, singing, and acting. And I just, I like telling the story, no matter what it is. Singing, acting, or dancing, I’ve just, I’ve kind of always been a performer.
And my parents have always said, well, don’t you have a Plan B? You have to have something to back it up in case it doesn’t happen, and I was just always like no. I don’t have a Plan B. I’m not setting myself up for failure, and I just kind of always stuck with that, and I’ve always just been really driven, and I guess I kind of was just born wanting to be in this industry and tell a story, do what I do, and if I could and can change lives while I’m doing it and throughout the course of everything. Yes.
What appealed to you about this show?
Cassie: I think what’s so great about it is that we just got off the Olympics and it’s got a lot of female power to it. A lot of, you know, I mean, it’s such a great sport for males and females, but I think it really let’s women take a stand, and I think it’s just – I don’t know – it’s such a great script for girls, and, you know, it’s athletic, and I love athletic scripts. I’ve done two before this, and it’s just really fun to be able to basically work out and act at the same time, and just like all the athletic involvement is really fun. And, like I said, just coming off the Olympics with Nastia [Lukin] and Shawn [Johnson] being such idols to young teenage girls and to many people around the world right now is just, I think it’s just really fun, I mean, because it’s really cool coming right off the Olympics and being able to do a gymnastics show right after that.
And actually, Nastia did stop by the set, so we’re hoping she wants to do a cameo or something in our show, one of the upcoming episodes, but she did stop by the set, which is really cool, and she was a big sweetheart, so hopefully we can see more of her in the future on the show.
In what ways are you similar to your characters?
Josie: I feel I have a lot of differences from Kaylie, but also a couple of similarities. I think Kaylie deals a lot with the internal conflict of wanting to be this amazing Olympic gymnast, and also just wanting to be a regular teenager, and I feel that sometimes, actually a lot of times. You know, at being a young girl, sometimes I wish I just had the regular college life that doesn’t have a care in the world really, can be a little reckless, and not have as many responsibilities. But then again, I want to be the absolute best actress I can be and do these wonderful projects.
So I feel that a lot, so I completely feel for Kaylie and understand where she’s coming from when she’s having this relationship with Carter behind her father’s back because another element of Kaylie, she’s a people pleaser. She wants everyone to be happy, whether it’s her dad, her boyfriend, her coach, her friends. She literally bends over backwards to please people, and in a lot of ways I can relate to that. I do have a breaking point that comes a lot quicker than Kaylie’s but I do try to make everyone around me happy with my performance, with my performance, whether it be as a student or as an actress. I’m 3,000 miles away from my family, but I try to be the best daughter, sister, aunt I can be. So I feel for Kaylie a lot because I feel like she’s just torn in so many different directions. That’s how, I mean, that’s how mostly I relate to her with that internal struggle and just kind of being pulled, and not knowing what she wants a lot of the time.
Cassie: I really don’t have many similarities with Lauren. I mean, it’s so completely different from my life. In the show, Lauren plays basically an only child. She lives with her dad. She’s daddy’s little girl. Her mom is out of the picture, and you guys, everyone, all the viewers will come to see why, as the show progresses, but her mom is out of the picture. And in my real life, I come from a very large family. I’m a mommy and a daddy’s girl, and it’s just my living situation is so different from the show’s living situation.
And also, you know, obviously Lauren is this huge brat, and I think it really just comes from holding so much inside that when it comes out, she just acts out on impulse, and she doesn’t really – she doesn’t even realize a lot of the times that she’s hurting people. She just is so determined to hide her pain and her anger that she just acts out on these impulses.
I would say the one thing that’s similar between Lauren and I is that we’re very, very driven. There’s never – I can’t really think of one thing that I’ve pursued in my life that I haven’t given literally like my blood, sweat, and tears. Everything I do, I become a perfectionist, and I think Lauren is the same way, although she tends to go to the limit and actually hurt people, and I would never do that. But, yes, there are not many similarities between her and I.
SO-M: What kind of training did you have to do to prepare for the show?
Josie: We started working out with a personal trainer about a month before the show, and we did – I think we worked out like every other day, and we did different workouts. A lot of the times we would work out on the beach, in the sand, on Muscle Beach in Santa Monica. Other days we would work out in the gym where we did a lot more gymnastics training, so we would be – we would get a lot more comfortable on the apparatuses. Other times we did workouts in a dance studio, and our trainer would, you know, put up different sections that each of us kind of rotated through, so it was just a series of workouts that were strength workouts, and also workouts that just gave us a lot more knowledge about the gym in general.
Cassie, is it fun playing a character who is so driven to win that they would go to any lengths to do so?
Cassie: Oh my, God. Honestly, I wouldn’t pick any other character to play. I love playing Lauren. She’s got a ton of spice, and I mean it’s really fun just stepping out of the box every day and being able to come to work and be someone completely different. And, I mean, obviously when we’re off set, all the girls know that I love them and that I’m really not that mean, but I mean I love it, and that’s what it’s all about. And it’s really fun, and sadly enough, there are people out there that really will take it to that level. So, I mean, it’s somewhat realistic, and it’s really fun to just step out of the box and become this really mean character
Are there any plans for cameos by big name gymnasts like Shawn or Nastia in the future?
Josie: I think, well, so far in this series, we haven’t had any cameos. We hope to have some for the last episode when we actually get to nationals, but nothing has been said and done yet.
The show takes place in Boulder, CO. Is any of the show filmed there?
Josie: Absolutely none of it is filmed in Boulder, Colorado. We film in Santa Clarita so actually in the middle of the desert, which could not be more different than Boulder, Colorado, but some of it, obviously like the external shots, they get that footage from Boulder, Colorado, but it’s not filmed there.
What do you enjoy most about working on the show?
Josie: I think what I enjoy the most about it is the fact that I get to play a gymnast on TV and be passionate about something on television. I think a lot of the shows right now are a lot of just pretty much revolve only around relationships and drugs and alcohol and sex. And what I love about it is that we get to show a different aspect of teenage lives and show teenagers who are passionate about something, who are driven about something, and that’s my favorite part of just being on the show, being able to bring a different element to the stereotypical teenager.
Cassie: I used to say one of my favorite things about being on the show obviously is that I get to play the mean girl once again. It’s really fun. Like I said, it’s really stepping outside the box, and the cool thing about my character is that when you watch that person for the first, about two to three episodes, you’re just going to think, oh, this girl. She’s such a big brat, but it’s really cool because you see where it comes from, and a lot of her anger and a lot of her impulses and the way she acts towards people, all her bratty moments comes from a place of pain, which is really interesting. And, as the show progresses, I think the viewers are going to find it really interesting what’s really going on in Lauren’s life and why she has so many issues. And I think that really she just masks everything with this huge attitude. It’s just basically one big façade because she has had so many issues in her life, as all the girls are having issues going on in their lives.
And it’s so cool because it’s like watching the Olympics, yet a really cool teen drama at the same time. And I think it just has something for everyone, and I love being able to be a part of something that teens can watch with their friends, and boyfriends can watch with their girlfriends, and mothers can watch with their daughters, and it’s just really got something for everyone. It’s just, there are so many different life situations going on and different love triangles and relationship drama. And yet, you still have, like Josie said, a really awesome sport that these four girls are so passionate about that they basically give their lives up for, and it’s just really interesting.
It’s cool that it has all the gymnastics along with all the drama. It gives it something different and a whole new dimension. And, like I said, it’s really cool that we have a broad casting of adults. We have kids, teenagers, and there’s basically just something for everyone, and I like being a part of that.
The show has aired its first episode. What reactions have you both experienced so far?
Josie: I think we were all very shocked with the exceptional ratings that we got, so just, I mean, a lot of praise and surprise and pleasant surprise, obviously. So just, I guess, the message that I’ve got in this past week is just keep doing what you’re doing because what you’re doing works. Basically what my dad says is that the formula that you’re using, you know, it works, so keep doing it and finish off the season with a bang so that you can start – so you can finish just as well as you started.
Cassie: I was really, really excited about the ratings. I think it’s really cool that we got the second highest ratings for ABC Family’s premieres, for any TV show, and I also thought it was really cool that – I don’t know exactly the age range, but there was a certain age range that we actually got the highest ratings for – I think was teenage girls, somewhere in that age range. I don’t remember what it was, but I think that really just means a lot to me because it shows that there’s all these teenage girls watching us, and we have to really remain role models and show them – you know, be able to express that we really have this amazing passion for this sport, and anyone can have a passion for what they’re doing and take it to that next level as long as they focus and concentrate. And, I don’t know, just remain focused, like I said. I think that was really cool that we got all these young girls, women viewers, so that was one of my favorite things about when we got the ratings.
Josie: I also, I heard a lot of wow, you know, ABC Family has, you know, this is a great, wholesome family show that they, you know, parents aren’t afraid to sit their kids in front of the television to watch, and that’s also really nice to hear because we have the dramatic conflict in it, but it’s not the drama that parents shy away from or is taboo. It’s something that I think more kids should be exposed to because then they’re kind of channeled to focus on one thing, whether it be gymnastics or whatever sport, or it could be simply baking. But do something that you love to do, and so that’s like the message that it gives, and I think that’s why it’s such a – parents are really embracing it.
The show portrays many struggles, including things like eating disorders. How do you handle that?
Cassie: Well, I think it’s really cool because it’s showing teen girls that nobody is perfect, and girls do have problems, and no teenager out there is perfect. There are girls that have problems with their bodies and turn to bulimia and anorexia, and it’s really sad, and it’s showing that here are these strong, wonderful women who are training for the Olympics, yet even they have problems. Even they have bulimia issues and body issues, and no one is perfect. So I guess the whole, being a role model, that will be shown in how passionate we are about our sport, and I hope that young girls become passionate and realize how passionate we are, and they become passionate about what they’re doing. But they can also see the risks that we’re taking that aren’t working like maybe my bulimia is not working for me.
I mean, I think that they’ll be able to see both sides of the spectrum, like the way that we’re, you know, the places that we’re progressing and the places that, the things we’re doing that aren’t helping us like maybe being in relationships and having all that drama in the show isn’t helping us focus on the sport. Having bulimia issues and problems is mentally not helping us with the sport, so it’s going to show both sides of the spectrum, which I think will be really important because no one is perfect, and I think it will be important for girls to see that.
Josie: To be honest, after the pilot, those issues aren’t – they’re not addressed again, the bulimia, the anorexia. That kind of, I think, was an idea that was introduced in the pilot, and they didn’t follow up with it because they wanted to make us role models for young girls, and show young girls that you can be these fantastic athletes and not go to these lengths of eating disorders. But then again, we do have the comment in the scripts later on, you know, that some girl, one of us might not be very happy with our bodies. We watch what we eat, to show that flaw that we’re not perfect. We might not have eating disorders, but we definitely have the concerns that every other girl has because no one is perfect, and everyone has their own issues. But the anorexia and bulimia is definitely dropped after the pilot.
How much of your own stunts do you actually get to do?
Josie: We have the most phenomenal stunt doubles ever. They’re definitely stunt doubles. Some of them have been in the Olympics. I mean, one of them was like a three-time national champion. So basically we do the move, the beginning of it and the very end of it, the landing. All the dancing of it, like the floor routines, the beam routines that aren’t the actual tricks, we actually do that. We learn those routines, and we perform them to the best of our ability. But all of the tricks are done by doubles. Sometimes they fly them in. Others they’ve recruited from the LA area, just a great, great team of gymnasts that really work hard to make it all seem realistic and look the way it does.
Cassie: Yes. If it was up to me, I’m like the biggest daredevil ever, and I’m sure Josie feels the same way. We would love to be able to learn how to flip and do all these crazy stunts. I’m not doing it because I’m being lazy. I know none of the other girls are either. We would love to be able to learn some more stuff and learn how to vault, but the thing is, you have to also realize there’s liability issues and there’s laws and certain regulations where we can’t get hurt in our contract, so that’s the reason why we also need – also because we’ll never be able to do some of the things they can do, but that’s just another reason we need the stunt doubles there, just for safety, and so that none of us get hurt during the time that we’re filming.
But we do try to learn as much of the routines as possible, and we have all learned a few tricks here and there on the beam and the bars, and we try to do as much as we can to show how much we do respect all the gymnasts out there and how hard they work. I mean, it is tough. It’s not easy, so we have the utmost respect for everyone, for all the gymnasts out there.
What is a typical work week like? How long does it take to film an episode?
Josie: The schedule changes for each of us based on the episode. We film a one-hour episode every seven working days, so it takes a little bit longer than a week. Sometimes we have 12-hour days, 14-, 16-hour days, and then other days, you know, it’s one scene, and we’re out of there. Usually those days are few and far between, but some days we get lucky, and other days we’re just in there forever.
Cassie: Yes, forever. We get very delirious.
SO-M: On the show, each character has a different background, and I know you said you’re kind of different from your characters, but is there another character on the show that you relate more to?
Josie: I actually, when I first read the script, I related a lot more to Payson’s character. I actually was like, oh, that’s so perfect for me. I’m extremely driven. I’m one of those people that, like Cassie said, I see something. I set a goal, and I go for it wholeheartedly. And I’m very, very focused, and very disciplined, diligent with my work, so I don’t know. I relate a lot more to Payson. I’m not Kaylie in the sense that she kind of lets her gymnastics go to the wayside for a boy. Cassie can tell you. I’m like the last boy crazy you’ll ever meet. I’m not a boy crazy girl, and I would never let a boy get in the way of what I want and what I’m going for, so Payson is like that, and that’s why I’ve always just related a lot more to her.
Cassie: I really, there’s no one character, I think, that I relate to completely, but I think there’s a piece of each character inside of me. I think that’s what’s going to be so important for our viewers is that there’s really something for every single teenage girl, and there’s like every stereotype, every family problem you can think of, and I just, I think I just have a little bit of everyone inside me, and maybe except for Lauren, who I actually have to play, but that’s the best part about it that she’s so opposite, and it’s just really fun, so yes.
SO-M: For Cassie, your character is the mean girl. Are we going to be able to see her maybe take a turn towards the end of the season, or is she always going to stay mean?
Cassie: You know what, Lauren takes turns throughout the entire season. She a lot of the time just goes back to her mean, this mean mentality and all her brattiness and attitude. And, like I said, it does come from a place of insecurity and disappointment and betrayal and abandonment, and just so many different things. That’s what’s so cool about Lauren is that, as the show prevails, as the show progresses, people are going to see that a lot of her anger and a lot of her impulses come from a place of pain, truly, and she just tries to mask it and always wants to act like she’s perfect and everything is okay. And that’s why everything comes out so awful, and she looks so mean. And she is really mean. I’m definitely not making excuses for her. She’s a huge brat, but it’s really cool because she takes tons of unexpected turns, and there is a reason that she is so mean, and that’s what’s so cool about her.
And I hope that it shows teenage girls out there that are getting bullied or that have that annoying click in their school, that mean girl click. I hope it shows these girls that maybe those mean girls just have insecurities of their own, and to not let these bratty girls’ insecurities hurt them when they act out impulsively, and that every girl has their own problems and situations. So if it can teach anybody anything, I hope that I can do that for young girls out there.
SO-M: For both of you, you’ve done a lot of work in TV, and you have also done movies like, Cassie, you were in Bring It On, and Josie, 17 Again. What’s the biggest difference between filming a TV show and a movie?
Josie: Personally, I enjoyed filming. Obviously I enjoy any project I get to work on, especially films, but it’s been so nice being a series regular just because since I’m Kaylie all day, every day, I don’t have to work as hard when it comes to like an emotional scene or scene work with the other girls, like my relationship with other girls because, after a while, after you’ve played this certain person all day, every day, you just start to believe the circumstances. Where before, if I was on a film, I would have to really work on like emotional triggers to get emotional in a scene, or I’d have to really, really analyze the relationships, which I did all of that with Kaylie, but I did it more in the beginning, and now, as we’re – more in the beginning and the middle, and now as we’re ending, we’re closing the season, it just comes naturally to me.
I don’t have to work so hard in emotional scenes because I just believe my circumstances so much more, and that just comes from being this character so often, so that’s just been something kind of nice that I’ve noticed and I’ve never experienced it before because every project for me has either been a film or a guest starring role. It’s like, wow, this is so much easier when you’re doing it every day.
Kaylie is just, it’s something that I can just snap into. I’m not a lot like Kaylie, but I understand where she is coming from, so it’s a lot easier for me to tap into now, which before was a lot more difficult just because she is very, very different. And also, the fact that we get to bond with the people around us because we’re with them all the time, so when Cassie and I are in a scene today and we’re laughing, we’re not fake laughing. Like we don’t have to work hard to be friends. The friendship that you see on screen is real because we’re together all the time and, fortunately, we all get along so, so well, and that’s just another blessing of being a series regular on a TV show brings to you. Your relationships just become real, and you don’t have to act it or try so hard to achieve that.
Cassie: Yes. Sorry, guys. No gossip. We actually get along for once, like, in a TV show, especially with four girls. We get along so well, it’s honestly unheard of and such a blessing. And, for me, I would just say, like Josie said, being on the set all day, every day, like, people just call me Lauren now, and I do something like, oh, yes. What’s up? Oh, we’re ready for lunch. You just really become like your character as well.
You’re with these people all day long. You become one big family. You learn each other inside out, and I feel the exact same way. Sometimes I come onto set, and if we have a short scene, I’ll just learn it here in my trailer because all I have to do is learn the words. The emotional placement is already there. I already, you know, have relationships with all these girls, have a special bond with all these girls, and when I’m in a scene, it really, just like Josie said, especially an emotional scene, it’s just, it’s so real because we know each other as people, not just actresses, and we love each other as people, and we understand each other as people, and it makes it so much easier in a scene.
It makes it so much more realistic, and it really does trigger those emotions so much quicker just by being with these people all day, every day, and just knowing them inside out, their families, their situations. It’s just, it’s really beautiful being on set with these people all the time. It makes the job so much easier.
SO-M: I grew up watching Full House, so I’m a huge fan, and I’m really excited that Candace Cameron is back on TV. What was it like getting to work with her?
Josie: I mean, when I heard that we got picked up, I was excited, but I don’t know why I didn’t freak out like the other girls did. But when I heard that Candace Cameron was casted as Summer, I freaked out. That’s when I had my freak out. Like, I grew up watching Full House, watching DJ kiss Steve and oh my, gosh. I lived vicariously through DJ. So being able to work with Candace, well, the first time I saw her, you know, I kind of, I got really, really nervous, and now she’s just – I mean, now she’s a friend. We see her all the time. We know about her and her life, and we’ve met all of her family. They come to set often, and I kind of, you know, I get a little high saying, hey, I’m friends with DJ. That’s awesome. Once you got over the fact that, okay, she’s DJ Tanner, she’s just another, you know, working actress who is one of the nicest people I have ever met, with literally like the prettiest family I’ve ever met too, but that’s….
Cassie: They’re like a Barbie and, like if Barbie and Ken were to have babies, that’s like her family. They’re just amazing. But for me, when I found out, and then I didn’t know for sure if it was a rumor or not because I found out I was going to have some sort of relationship with her. I really could not believe it either, just like Josie said. That was one of the most exciting things that I’ve heard since we found out about the show. I was literally on cloud nine. I mean, like I remember growing up watching Full House with my sister. Like I still to this day sometimes get like just so weirded out, like I’m sitting next to and acting with DJ Tanner. It’s so weird because, I mean, who didn’t watch Full House, and who doesn’t know? I mean, DJ Tanner is a household name, so it’s just really a blessing, and I respect her and her craft, and she was also a young, working, female actress, you know, so we can learn a lot from her and everything as well.
And she’s just such a great person, and I hate that I have to be so terrible to her, but when we cut, I always give her a big hug, and I’ve also been really lucky and very fortunate, and I’ve been able to have great emotional scenes with her as well. As the season progresses, you guys will be able to see that. We have some great moments and great bonding moments because, you know, she comes into my life because my father wants to marry her. She’s going to be my soon to be step-mom. So basically it’s just, it’s been really fun and really great, and what a coincidence that we’re Tanners, and everyone knew of her as DJ Tanner. It’s just, it’s so funny, and my dad in the show, his name is Steve, and her boyfriend forever was Steve, so it’s just really funny, and it’s been an amazing experience already, and I can’t wait for hopefully the up and coming season.
Josie: I have to say that when I got casted in the pilot, and then the pilot was picked up for ten episodes, my little brother was like, oh, you know, congratulations, Jo. It was like a pat on the back. That’s great. When I found out that DJ, well, that Candice was cast, he was the first person I called, and he was just like, oh my, God, Josie. You have arrived. You are seriously now famous. Like, you know, that’s how big it was for us, so it’s really a treat to have her on set.
SO-M: What kind of acting advice would you give for young girls that want to aspire to be like you?
Josie: I guess, I mean, I don’t know. I just started in theater, so I get that question all the time. Yes, you can, I guess, look for an agent or whatever, but I think it’s about just kind of doing as much of it as you can, whether it’s a school play or reading plays or taking voice lessons and dance lessons and there’s acting classes that you can enroll in and summer camps. Just do it as much as possible, and then you’ll find your niche, whether it’s theater, whether it’s TV, whether it’s film, comedy, drama. And then things, I think things kind of fall into place for you if it’s really meant for you to do this.
But as a kid, I mean, like I said, I started off doing monolog competitions and kind of fell in love with it from there. And every opportunity that I had, whether it was like, I mean, I was in musical theater, touring companies, and in local theaters. I didn’t have an agent when I was young. I didn’t get an agent until three years ago when I came out to LA three and a half years ago. So I just kind of took every opportunity that I could get and did as much of it as possible to get better and better. And if you love it, you continue to do it, and things fall into place.
Cassie:My number one quote, it’s something I’ve always said, and I’m actually going to be having an organization, a nonprofit organization named after it is nothing’s impossible, so if you – you know, you can do whatever you dream of, but just like Josie said, you have to be willing to give it your all, you know, blood, sweat, and tears. You have to be willing to, you know, never stop learning, never stop reading, and never stop taking classes. And I don’t know. You have to be very passionate about it. I’m a big believer in being passionate about everything you do.
My favorite acting quote is acting is half shame, half glory. Shame for exhibiting yourself, and glory when you finally forget yourself. Being an actress, I’ve learned that the hardest, yet easiest thing is just being able to let go. It seems so easy, but it’s actually the hardest thing, and if you really just want to become a character, you have to let go of everything and be able to face up to your own fears and really just let go and forget yourself, and that’s basically what I do what I do. It’s the most amazing feeling in the world.
And for those true aspiring actors out there, all I have to say is just strive for that feeling and that moment when you completely forget yourself, and you’re just so in the moment, and everything else in your life is just gone, and it has just disappeared, and you’re just in that moment because it’s the best feeling in the world. And if you’ve experienced that, then I’m sure you understand, and don’t give up on what you’re doing, and keep going because it’s not easy, and you have to be willing to take rejection and take the haters and take just all the nonsense, and just throw it to the side and stand above it, and take anything that’s thrown in your face every day.
I’ve actually had an agent since I was ten, but I didn’t get to come out here to Los Angeles until about four years ago, and I didn’t get to move here until two years ago. Like I literally had begged my parents forever. That’s how passionate I was about it. But just from doing it since I was little, you have to really be able to take that rejection and be able to just take it, and use it, and grow from it. And I guess I would have to wrap. I can go on forever when it comes to acting, but that would have to wrap up my speech, just to be passionate about what you’re doing and nothing is impossible. So if it’s something that you really love, then keep going, and don’t give up on it.
SO-M would like to thank Cassie & Josie for taking part in the call as well as Chrissy & New Media Strategies. “Make It or Break It” airs on ABC Family on Mondays at 9pm EST after “The Secret Life of the American Teenager.”
Photos Courtesty of ABC Family.