When MTV's Awkard first aired, it seemed like the outlier in an otherwise reality TV-heavy lineup. And yet in two seasons the show about the comedy that is high school has quickly become the most buzzed-about slot in their lineup. Maybe it's because the characters are all weird--but totally relatable. Maybe it's because there's always some new--and random--lingo to pick up. Or maybe it's just because it's really good. Either way, it's giving us every reason to tune in tonight for the season three premiere. We caught up with Jillian Rose Reed, who plays the loud and outgoing red-headed Tamara, to find out what's in store--and why she gets a kick out of calling out internet haters.
What was your initial reaction when you got the script for season three?
It's always better than I expected. All of our cast members say every year, "This is our best season," but season three is blowing the other two out the water. and it's always crazy what Lauren [Iungerich, the show's creator] and all of our amazing writers can come up with and produce.
How are things looking for Tamara?
I was super excited for my character because she goes through some changes this season and has a bunch of different stuff going on, so I'm excited for her. I'm so happy for her to be in a good place this season whereas in the past season she dealt with some stuff that wasn't so good. We ended [season two] with Jake and Tamara having that kiss in the car, and some other things that led me to believe that maybe this would be a new relationship for her. And with season three, knowing there was a new couple, I knew it would go in a good direction for her.
What kept you busy between seasons of Awkward?
I was actually very lucky to be working on a couple of cool projects on my off-times. I did an episode of a Nick show called Supah Ninjas--it's a really funny comedy and I got to play a villain, which was awesome. I'm this character named Gina, she's a wallflower, she's really shy, and has a crush on Owen who is one of the ninjas. She tries to woo him and when he doesn't respond she goes kinda crazy. The episode airs April 20 on Nick! I also worked on a independent comedy called Confessions of a Womanizer, it's a really fun, edgy comedy. We filmed I would say over the course of maybe three or four weeks, and it was really awesome--I got to shoot down by the beach at this cool location and the cast was great and everyone on the production was great.
Is there a big difference between working TV and film?
In my opinion it's extremely different. I love working on TV so much; I've been working with the character of Tamara for three years, I've been engulfed in who she is, and live and grow as this character with a new script every week. So I get to go with her life, whereas with this movie I play this character one time, and probably never again. I enjoy TV just because I get to create a entire lifetime--you're working with this person every day.
Have you rubbed off onto Tamara--and vice-versa?
Yeah, it's a weird mix because I brought a little bit of myself to Tamara; I'm super bubbly and I talk really fast, but not even just me but the entire cast has picked up on her lingo. She has these crazy words that she says--there's actually a moment that we've been showing in the trailer where I talk about a "BFGFBFF double date," and I think it's going to stick! I have a lot of good ones this season, but I think it's really going to stick. The focus of the first 10 episodes is this new group and the weird dates. I totally have gone on double dates with best friends. It's always weird in high school because you're with your group of friends and end up dating someone your friend did. Everyone in high school who has or have been can relate to it.
I imagine you get some crazy reactions on the street from fans.
There's been tons of them, I could probably go on for days! I just had one recently--my best friends and I went to Vegas and there was a really fun group of girls there for a bridal shower. We just started talking and hanging out and all of the sudden one of the girls stopped and realized who I was, and jumped into my arms! She actually jumped into my arms! It was the sweetest thing, because she genuinely didn't know.
I've also noticed that you call out people who leave hateful comments on, say, your Twitter page. That's pretty awesome.
I just think people spend so much time trying to hate on others, and sometimes they don't realize that people see that and that it actually hurts people. It's funny to me because they don't realize that we read it, first of all. and some of the things they say is so out there and ridiculous. I could easily leave it be and ignore it, but sometimes they say the most ridiculous things, and it doesn't hurt my feelings--it's just funny.
Who do you follow on Twitter?
I'm a huge Katy Perry fan so I follow her. She hasn't been tweeting as much recently, I've noticed. I also follow Ben Savage from Boy Meets World. He will take the weirdest people's tweets to him and respond to them, and I think it's so funny.
It can't be easy to maintain that bright red hair.
Red is actually one of the hardest colors to keep because it fades so fast. Stacy Heitman at Warren-Tricomi L.A. [is my colorist] and she's just brilliant. She follows all of my Twitter pictures, and she texted me yesterday to say, "OK your hair's too faded, come in." She knows how to keep my hair healthy. I'm a natural brunette--my hair is so dark brown it's almost black. When I dyed my hair for the show my friends and family responded to it so well, so I've never gone back.
How do you keep it healthy?
I would say use a color treated shampoo--I use John Frieda Radiant Red for redheads. L'Oreal has a great conditioner--leave it in for a couple minutes, and then wash it out.
OK, give us the one sentence pitch: Why tune in to Awkward tonight?
Our season is going to be better than ever! We deal with issues that everyone's dealt with, and deal with them in a really funny way. And we have really cute boys and they take their shirts off a lot!