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Interview with Alexandra Chando of "The Lying Game" on
ABC Family 8/11/11.
Our volunteer Krista was involved in this call. Her
questions below were "Do you ever keep in touch with the cast of As The
World Turns? and "If you could have any of the cast star in your new
show as guest stars, who would they be?" She also asked if she
liked playingsomeone who was more like herself, or someone different
than herself. (For some reason, ABC Family names all question askers as
"Moderator" even though they are all different people asking questions.
ABC Familyís Q&A Session with Alexandra Chando Ė The
Moderator What can you tell potential fans and fans of Pretty Little
Liars why they should be tuning in to watch this new series?
A. Chando Okay. Great. Well, I think one of the main things for Pretty
Little Liars fans to know is that our series is also based on the novel
by Sara Shepherd, who wrote the series Pretty Little Liars, so that is
definitely a start. Our show it really is a mystery. Itís a little bit
dark. There is definitely a lot of mystery to it, but at the same time,
it has a lot of heart. It touches on romance and love triangles and
relationships between parents and their teenagers. There are definitely
a lot of secrets. I think a lot of the Pretty Little Liars fans will be
able to get into our show, as well, because we kind of have a very
similar tone, if you will.
Moderator I see that Helen Slater is in the cast. Who does she play
exactly, a mother, your mother?
A. Chando Yes. Helen Slater plays my mother. She also plays Sutton
Mercerís adoptive mother.
Moderator Can you talk about playing dual roles and the challenges that
come with that?
A. Chando Of course. Itís first a blessing, first of all, to just have
the opportunity to play two roles. To be able to develop two characters
and kind of find different things about them and explore them each and
every day has been incredible. It does come with its challenges, though.
I have 15-hour work days and Iím working an awful lot compared to what I
would be working if I was just playing one character.
Itís a challenge in the sense, besides the hours and the exhaustion,
just trying to keep them straight sometimes. Weíre about to embark on
Episode 6. Today, we start it. itís gotten a little bit easier to really
feel like these characters and understand them, but there are moments
where a little bit of Sutton will creep into Emma and vice versa. Itís
definitely been a challenge and Iíd say, as well, having to act with a
green screen or an eye line with an X on the wall has become easier, but
it was definitely in a challenge in the beginning.
Moderator What did you learn from your five years as Maddie Coleman that
helps you with future roles now?
A. Chando Honestly, I think I learned more from my experience on the
soap, not necessarily from the particular character. The soap experience
was absolutely incredible. I couldnít have learned what I learned in a
classroom on that set. Honestly, like the work ethic and just how
incredibly difficult it was to learn 30 pages a day and film 5 episodes
in a week. It really, really taught me how to take on that much work and
that type of role, and itís obviously led me to be able to get through
these challenging, long workdays for sure.
Moderator What would you say is the most important thing that youíve
learned from the time that youíve spent so far on the show?
A. Chando Wow, thatís a great question. Iíve learned a lot and Iíve
learned many things about myself personally and about the work. I think
as far as me personally, I feel like Iíve really learned the amount of
focus and work ethic it takes to really hold up a series and maintain
great work and produce good work. Iím incredibly focused as far as my
hours and my work schedule. That is definitely something that I learned
about myself. I guess thatís kind of it. Thatís the most important
thing; kind of an internal thing for me.
Moderator Of the episodes youíve shot so far, what has been your most
memorable moment so far this season?
A. Chando There have been a lot of incredible moments this season so
far. I would have to say thereís like a little snippet of it in one of
the trailers. Itís from Episode 2. Blair Redford and I were out on the
set is called The Overlook, but they used a crane shot. All you see is
grass for miles and miles. It looks like weíre in Africa, but weíre
dancing in this grass. That was certainly memorable. It was kind of
surreal. It was beautiful.
Moderator Could you please describe both of the characters a little more
that you play?
A. Chando Sure. Sutton Mercer is the twin sister that was adopted into a
very wealthy family. She kind of grew up in a privileged lifestyle. She
is kind of used to getting things handed to her; having things come a
lot easier for her; takes a lot for granted. I wouldnít consider her a
mean girl by any sense of the word. I think she is just very
self-absorbed and knows what she wants and knows how to get it and will
kind of do anything that she can to do that. And Emma Becker, who is the
twin that was not adopted and was brought up in the foster care system,
she is just a kind-hearted, really selfless person; just really longs to
have that family connection that she has been missing for all those
years and just truly warm-hearted and doesnít take anything for granted.
Moderator How are you like either of the two characters?
A. Chando I can relate to both of the characters. Obviously, with Emma,
I consider myself a kind person, thoughtful, and I try not to take
things for granted. I mean I grew up in a wonderful family, a wonderful
household, which is great, but with Sutton, I think, I relate to the way
she handles things emotionally. Sheís less emotional. Sheís kind of
compartmentalizes things and I kind of find myself doing that often,
especially in this industry and where life has kind of taken me. There
is a little bit of both of me in each.
Moderator Do you think The Lying Game will appeal to soap fans and why?
A. Chando I definitely think The Lying Game will appeal to soap fans. It
definitely has the tone of intrigue and mysteries. First of all, letís
just say Chuck Pratt wrote and created The Lying Game. He wrote the
pilot and he was one of the head writers for All My Children, so he is
definitely incorporating many soap themes and the dramatic storytelling
of that. There are love triangles. I always laugh because in soaps is
kind of where the twin sisters thing started where one character is
playing two people, so that always makes me think of the soap world. I
definitely think that there are many similarities as far as the drama
and intrigue that our show will bring.
Moderator On As the World Turns, there are heavy dramatic aspects of
your role, but youíre also really funny. Do you think weíll have a
chance to see any of that comedic talent in The Lying Game?
A. Chando I think so. I try and bring it to Emma. Emma is a little bit
more of the quirkier one. I try and bring it to her as often as I can,
as often as they allow me to without going over the top. Yes, I think
that just in Emmaís character, really, I try and bring that lightness to
her, especially because itís such a difference from Sutton.
Moderator I know right now weíre not too far into you filming the
series, but which words would you use to describe your charactersí
motivations because Iím sure playing a dual role there are definitely
certain ones for Emma and certain ones for Sutton?
A. Chando Yes. Well, I think they each have the motivation to find out
the answers as to what happened to them; why they were separated; who
their birth parents are. I think that is certainly some motivation and a
common bond that they hold. As far as Emma goes, right now sheís in this
world where sheís just trying to navigate and survive through it. I
think sheís trying to, when it comes to Ethan in particular, sheís
really trying to maintain her integrity as far as the fact that it is
her sisterís important boyfriend, so sheís just trying to remain honest
and have integrity.
Sutton is a little bit deeper and sheís a little bit more on the
selfish, self-absorbed side. Her main goal is to really just find out
who the mother is, who the father is, whatís going on with that, and not
worry about anything in her past.
Moderator What first attracted you to this role?
A. Chando Well, aside from the fact that I would have the opportunity to
play two characters, which Iíve always fantasized about doing, the pilot
was just so well written and the characters so relatable and not only my
characters, every character in the show, I think, has an element of
relatability for an audience member. That was really incredible. Just
the fact that it was an ABC Family show and ABC Family puts out really
great projects, as well as Alloy, and the connection was Pretty Little
Liars. Everything just kind of lined up, but specifically, the
characters were just really solid characters and I just thought it would
be such an interesting thing to be able to develop these two girls and
see where they lead.
Moderator Who do you think is the most interesting character and why?
A. Chando Iím going to say two. I think Sutton is a very interesting
character because she is not a bad person, but she is definitely a
selfish person with motives. But I think that there is something more to
her and itís kind of a sad thing because she grew up with these great
parents in this great environment but thereís just something missing for
her, which is sad.
Then, I think that Andy Buckleyís character, Ted, is an interesting
character. I am so interested to see what happens with that because I
think theyíre laying some groundwork where the parents are obviously
keeping a secret and we donít know who. I donít know. I keep thinking
that there might be something with Ted.
Moderator If you could tell viewers one thing about the show, what would
A. Chando That theyíre going to love it! I honestly wholeheartedly am so
proud of it and so excited for everyone to see it. I really truly think
that they are just going to love it and find it to be a really great
Moderator One of my questions was with a world of Twitter and Facebook,
how important do you think it is to interact with the online community
and the fans that are all out there cheering for you?
A. Chando I think itís really an incredible way to communicate and
interact with your fans, especially Twitter. Though, I will say, Iím not
as good at it as I should be. I often find myself wondering what
interesting thing I can say. Our fans are the heart and soul of our show
and that keeps us on the air and make such a difference. To be able to
communicate with them through Twitter and reply back to them or re-Tweet
things that they say, I think that itís a really incredible way to
connect with them. Yes.
Moderator It looks like youíre putting 110% in the new show, but do you
have any new projects coming up?
A. Chando I donít. I donít have time. I donít, but maybe in hiatus weíll
try something new.
Moderator How can we tell the distinction between Emma and Sutton? Do
you deliberately make yourself talk a little bit differently, as well as
dress a little bit differently, in terms of the double part?
A. Chando Absolutely. I think the hair and makeup is definitely a key
element, as well as the wardrobe. When we started, I sat down with our
hair and makeup ladies and wardrobe and we kind of planned it out how we
were going to do each character; who gets what makeup; who wears their
hair differently and which way. But I also think on top of that Sutton
talks a little bit differently. Itís not necessarily an accent thing.
She talks just a little bit differently as far as she always has a
little bit of a drawl, in a way. She kind of grew up in that very
privileged way, so she talks in that kind of manner. Her posture is
different. Sheís definitely a little bit more polished.
Moderator Do you have a preference for one of these characters over the
A. Chando I love both of them. I think both of them are very
interesting, very fun to play. Emma is a little bit easier for me to
play. I can relate to her really well, but Sutton is interesting because
sheís a little bit more work. I really have to consider what she says,
how she says it, and sheís got some things going on as far as the reason
she is the way she is. Itís certainly a little bit more interesting to
try and work out Suttonís characteristics, I think.
Moderator Did you read the novels beforehand?
A. Chando Actually, when we shot the pilot, which was in December, the
first novel wasnít out yet, so we didnít get to read it until after the
pilot was done being shot. But I did read the first one. I havenít had a
chance to read the second one yet, but I did read the first one and it
was so helpful. It really helped paint the picture of who Emma was and
where she came from and her upbringing and what she has kind of dealt
with in the past.
Moderator Do you think it differs a lot, like the show versus the novel
and how they play what is called the lying game in the novel?
A. Chando The show does differ from the book. Itís a mystery and in
order to keep fans intrigued and keep a television series going, we need
to maintain that element of mystery. If we were to just follow the book
directly then there would be no mystery involved. We did depart a little
bit from the book, but itís based on the characters and the lying games
Moderator Do you still keep in touch with any of the cast of As the
World Turns, and if you could choose one of the cast to play on your new
show as a guest star, who would it be?
A. Chando I do still keep in touch. Actually, I hang out with Jesse
Soffer, who played Will, very often in L.A. when Iím there. We actually
live a couple blocks from each other. And I am still very good friends
with Zach Roerig, who played Casey. You know, itís tough. We both have
very different schedules and him being busy with The Vampire Diaries,
but we do keep in touch. Itís important to us to maintain a friendship.
If I were to pick one of them, I would say Jesse would add a great
element to The Lying Game. He can really play the mystery of it. He can
really play that dark character and I think it would be really
interesting to see him a show like this.
Moderator Of your characters, do you enjoy playing the one thatís youíre
most like or do you enjoy playing more of someone whoís not like you?
A. Chando I enjoy both, but Sutton is a little bit less like me. Sheís a
little bit more of a challenge to figure out, so I think sheís fun to
K. Mulcahy ABC Family is known for incorporating teaching moments and
positive messages into its programming. Switched at Birth, which is one
of our favorites, does that really well. In The Lying Game, what kind of
message do you think it has for the audience?
A. Chando Well, I find that our show has a lot of heart, especially the
story revolving a little bit about Emma and following her story a little
bit more so than Sutton. I think that Emma comes from the foster care
system and really did not have a great childhood. I think that the show
does a really great job of touching on that and how it had kind of
affected her. Goodness. Thatís a really good question.
Each character and each storyline has really incredible heartfelt
moments and heartfelt issues that they deal with as far as the adoption
process and the challenges of being adopted and wanting to find your
real birth mother and not knowing the answers and just struggling with.
Having parents that you were raised with, but theyíre not your
biological parents and just trying to not hurt them but want to know who
your real mother is and that challenge and what you face in that world.
Also just other relationship challenges and the dynamic of family and
boyfriends and all of that.
Moderator In The Big Break in the MTV reality show you pretty much
committed to living the dream of becoming an actress in a very public
way. If you back to 2005 and give your younger self some advice, what
would it be?
A. Chando I would say to myself and to anyone, really, to stay true to
yourself and if you know what you want, youíve got to fight for it and
hang in there and maintain a thick skin. Most importantly, stay true to
yourself and never waver from that.
Moderator As someone who has done a bunch of different television roles
at this point, do you purposely try to watch yourself? Do you catch
things here and there, and how do you react to that?
A. Chando Well, itís interesting. At first, itís difficult. It depends
really what it is. When I first sat down to watch the pilot of The Lying
Game, I was squirming in my seat for the first three minutes because
itís such a surreal thing. You know, Iím my own worst critic, so Iím
obviously going to sit there and judge, judge, judge. Itís interesting
to sit there and see yourself. Itís almost as if youíre watching
somebody else, but I do like to watch. I like to learn things. You can
always learn something from a performance; pick it apart, but also learn
things. Yes, I try to watch everything that Iíve done just to learn and
Moderator Do you have anything special planned for the premier of The
Lying Game in a couple of days?
A. Chando Iím not sure! Iím working, so it just depends what time we get
out. I think weíre all very excited. It just kind of worked out that
weíre all going to be working on our premier night. I think originally
the whole cast had planned to get together and watch it together, but
itís kind of a tentative thing now. I may be sitting alone on my couch
watching it on DVR.
Moderator Is there anything you were surprised to learn about Emma or
Suttonís state of mind or motives while getting to know them over each
A. Chando Iím surprised every day by them and by different things. I
learn a lot about Emma and how she handles things. Sheís a very strong
character and sheís a strong girl, especially because of the way that
she was brought up and kind of was on her home, so sheís definitely
developed a very courageous spirit. Itís interesting because she handles
things very differently. Sometimes it doesnít really match up. Sheís a
little bit of an emotional character, so that was definitely a surprise
to me. I found it interesting, especially as I started playing it, that
she became a little bit more frenzied and emotional than originally what
I had imagined her to be.
Moderator What are some characteristics of Emma and Sutton that you have
brought to the table and added to them?
A. Chando I would definitely say for Emma, like I had said previously, I
try and bring a warmth to her and kind of a comedic lightness to her.
Sheís very smart. Sheís intelligent. I think sheís one of those people
that doesnít realize how fantastic she really is in a way, which is
interesting, and thatís fun to play. With Sutton, her characteristics
are very different. I donít know. Like I said, Iíve kind of drawn from
the way I handle some emotional things to add to Sutton and kind of make
her be a little bit of a stronger individual.
Moderator When you do get a little bit of extra time, and probably a
very little bit, do you have any guilty pleasures that you like to sneak
off and do?
A. Chando When I have the time, I enjoy getting manicures and pedicures,
which I havenít had the time to do, so thatís kind of a guilty pleasure.
Itís so hot in Austin. Weíre shooting in Austin. I would love to spend
more time outside. Itís just too hard. Iím a big movie go-er. I love
going to the movies. I love just constantly studying and just allowing
myself to enjoy other peopleís performance. I would say that.
The cast and I, we do some fun things. We spent 4th of July on the lake
together, which was so fun. We try and do some fun things; explore
Moderator How many episodes have you filmed of the series so far, or
have you completed the first season?
A. Chando Today is the first day of shooting Episode 6, so we have 5
more to go. We have a 10-episode season.
Moderator Will you probably end on a cliff?
A. Chando Yes, for sure. Every episode ends with a cliffhanger. I donít
know anything, so I donít know whatís going to happen with the finale,
but I am almost positive that it is definitely going to be a crazy
Moderator What could you tell fans of the books?
A. Chando I will say that it is different from the books, but we do have
the same characters and I think it will be really interesting and fun
for them to see the characters come to life and just see it all unravel
and see what happens with it. Like I said before, itís based on a book,
but itís a mystery so if we want to keep people guessing and keep the
audience intrigued we need to kind of veer off a little bit and do our
own thing in order to make that happen.
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