'Awkward's' Ashley Rickards Analyzes Matty and Jake's Pros and Cons
The actress talks about Jenna's boys, friendships, and what to expect on the finale.
She’s the star of one of the summer’s breakout new series. Ashley Rickards plays Jenna on MTV’s Awkward. She’s the girl who floats around high school’s middle earth and viewers seem to connect with her natural ability to temper good times with really bad luck.
“I think about every episode we try to see Jenna get kicked down and then get back up fighting,” Rickards tells The Hollywood Reporter. “That’s just in her nature that she’s not going to give up.”
In recent episodes, we’ve seen Jenna reach all time lows. Her relationships have fallen apart due to a drunken kiss and now she believes that her best friend Tamara (Jillian Rose Reed) has written the crippling “carefrontation” letter.
“If you put yourself in Jenna’s situation, it’s a really crappy place to be,” she says. “And it’s hard to find yourself apologizing at someone’s door when you feel like you’re the villain, to find out that they are the villain, as well. That this person that you love, and that you feel so bad for betraying, betrayed you ten times worse than you did because you didn’t even mean to do what you did.”
We spoke with Rickards about the physical transformation she makes to play Jenna and what to expect from her relationships in the upcoming episodes.
The Hollywood Reporter: You look very different in person than you do on the show. Are people surprised to see how different you look from Jenna in real life?
Ashley Rickards: Oh, I’m always flattered when they say that, but yeah. I’ve gotten it a few times… That actually gets down to my basic career goal… I can look different from role to role, as well as act different from role to role. And in real life, I’m pretty fashion savvy, very into hair and make-up, could sit down all day in a make-up trailer and be completely enthralled with everything. And Jenna’s not so fashion savvy. And actually, on the show I only wear foundation; I don’t even get mascara.
THR: This show portrays a pretty edgy view of teenagers, but the birthday episode reminded us that Jenna was only 15 all this time. How do you feel about the way it portrays teenage life?
Rickards: I think that’s one of the reasons why our show has done so well because we don’t underestimate the 15-year-old. And we don’t water her down for whoever may be viewing this, and feeling insecure about, you know, their kids, or whatever. We portray a fifteen year old with every nuance that a 15-year-old has. And they’re much more complicated than I think people give them credit for. Not all of them are texting at the mall and getting pedicures.
THR: You’ve said before that a mix of Matty [Beau Mirchoff] and Jake [Brett Davern] would make the perfect boyfriend. Which parts would you take from each guy?
Rickards: I think the relationships between the two are completely different. There’s something chemical with Jenna and Matty, just something that works. That being said, it’s a physical relationship, and there’s something mental going on there as well. But it’s not as easy to stumble across as it is with Jake. And Jake and Jenna could just talk for hours, and it’s easy, and they finish each other’s sentences, and at the same time, other things are harder for them to admit to, or to accomplish. So there’s pros and cons to each relationship, and they fit, if you were to combine them, perfectly into this perfect human being that doesn’t exist, hence the reason that love triangles are around, because nobody’s perfect.
At the end of the season she’s going to make a decision. And she makes a decision that’s right for her at that point in time, and it’s a tough decision. And nobody ends up winning, because nobody ever does. I mean, she ends up happy, and one of the boys ends up happy, but there’s still a part of her, as with any person, that’s going to doubt their decision. And in the end, one person’s going to be upset, and one person’s going to have lost. And that’s not a victory.
THR: Can we expect her to end the season on a high?
Rickards: She’s lost her entire support system, and she made a lot of mistakes… But throughout the whole season, she has her ups, and she has her downs. There’s definitely a huge cliff hanger in [the finale] that, I would say, you get to see a glimpse of her at her lowest, and then we cut. It’s going to be good, I’m really excited. Even I haven’t seen the final version of that, but she has her ups; she has her downs, and those are going to continue on from, you know, episode one to [the finale].
THR: What would you like to see her do in Season 2?
Rickards: I would love to see Jenna ride a unicycle, but I don’t know how relevant that would be. If that’s something that could happen, that’d be great. But I think something that would be really great to see in Season 2 would be her rebelling a little bit more than she is now. She stands up for herself, and she’s a fighter, but I think there’s an opportunity in Season 2 for her to really just rebel. So, that will be very exciting.
Tuesday’s episode of Awkward airs at 11:30 p.m. after a 90-minute Teen Mom. And MTV will air the one-hour season finale on Sept. 27 at 11 p.m.
Email: Jethro.Nededog@thr.com; Twitter: @TheRealJethro