Q&A with Allie Gonino of ABC Family’s “The Lying Game” (J!-ENT Interviews and Articles)
January 17, 2012 by Dennis Amith
Actress Allie Gonino is no stranger to ABC Family. Having starred in the ABC Family TV series “10 Things I Hate About You” (2009-2010), Allie was also a member of the girl group “The Stunners” created by recording artist Vitamin C and the group was the opening act for Justin Bieber’s “My World Tour”.
While Allie is now in a new band known as “The Good Mad”, she’s on a different ABC Family’s hit TV series titled “The Lying Game” playing the role of Laurel Mercer, Sutton’s adoptive sister and the biological daughter of the Mercer family.
“The Lying Game” is a one-hour drama series starring Alexandra Chando, the actress plays two characters. Emma Becker grew up in foster care, while Sutton Mercer grew up with a loving, wealthy family. And the two have come face-to-face and realize that both are sisters. Emma agrees to impersonate her sister while Sutton goes to Los Angeles to find her real biological parents. But for some reason, when Sutton is supposed to return back home, Emma feels that something may have happened. Now Emma may have to come clean and risk her own safety in the hope of uncovering her twin sister’s whereabouts.
To help promote the second season, Allie Gonino recently took part in a media Q&A to discuss her role on “The Lying Game”.
Here is the transcript from the media Q&A interview with actress Allie Gonino:
Moderator What do you continue to enjoy the most about playing the character of Laurel?
A. Gonino I think the thing I enjoy the most about playing Laurel is that with every episode, as her storyline develops, she’s learning new things about life [and] I’m learning new things about life with her and new things about myself too. I feel like I have a chance to grow myself by playing Laurel.
Moderator What do you feel it is about a show like The Lying Game that resonates well with viewers?
A. Gonino I think there are so many elements. I think the romantic love triangle between Sutton and Ethan, you know, is probably stirring up some excitement. And obviously, the fact that like we have no idea whether Alec is a creep or if he’s a good guy. And we have really cute clothes which I’m going to say is probably a big reason why young girls watch it or even, you know, women.
There’s so many elements, though, and just like the mystery aspect. I think there’s so much going on in every episode and I think that’s what keeps the viewers coming back for more.
Moderator Now that Sutton is back in town how will that sort of change things in the Mercer house?
A. Gonino Well, I know in the next episode they’re still wanting to keep the twins anonymity. Like, they don’t want anyone to know that the twins are twins and out and about because there’s a killer on the loose and they don’t know if that’s provoking the killer to go out and find them. So the next episode is basically just both of them taking turns playing Sutton.
Moderator What has been the most challenging episode that you had to do so far?
A. Gonino That’s a good question. I guess probably the episode that was just aired. That’s the first time that I’ve ever had to really break down in a scene and cry. So, I’d have to say that one. It was just a very emotional episode for Laurel.
She never really shows that side of herself. She’s usually very strong and happy and zealous. So I’d have to say that one. I just plugged in my iPod and put on a sad song and thought about something really awful and then the tears came.
Moderator Is there going to be a repair in the relationship between Laurel and Justin?
A. Gonino Yes. There’s definitely some trust issues that will be coming up in the next couple of episodes you’ll be able to see.
Moderator What makes your character so appealing to the fans? And how do you identify with your character; similarities and differences?
A. Gonino I think what’s most appealing about Laurel is that she is such a real character. I think young girls can identify a lot with her. She’s just a regular girl trying to get through life and still remain true to herself, while also trying to be a good sister to a nightmare of a sister. I think there’s a vulnerability to Laurel that I felt when I was 16.
So I think she’s just really relatable. I guess our sense of humor is sort of similar. So I would say it’s a similarity. But the difference between us is, I guess, probably just our lifestyle. Laurel goes to high school and I’ve been doing music and acting for my whole life. That’s probably the biggest difference.
Moderator Do you think maybe in the future Laurel will affect Sutton as realizing she’s kind of snotty? Or do you think that maybe with all the stuff going on with Justin, Laurel might do some of the lying games herself?
A. Gonino I know that the real Sutton and Laurel have a conversation. And Laurel says something to the effect of like, you’ve been different lately. And I think Sutton is taken aback by it because she’s just now figuring out what a cool person Emma is and, of course, that only like sparks more jealousy.
I’m not really sure if Laurel is going to be in on the lying game. I’m sure she probably will at some point. Everyone on the show is playing the lying game. [laughs] So I don’t know about that one though.
Moderator Do they spend a lot of time with you guys in the fitting rooms with your wardrobe?
A. Gonino Yes. We do have a great stylist, Mimi Kaupe. She, basically, just pulls in a big rack of really cute things. We get to try them on, play dress up for like an hour and say what we like best. And then, it just all kind of comes together. We don’t have like a huge budget for our clothes. So I think it’s really, really amazing that we’ve been able to stylize the show so well.
Moderator In which direction would you like to see your character go in? What would you like to see your character do more of?
A. Gonino Well, I think she’s been very enthralled with the boyfriend sort of situation lately. And in the next episode you’ll see she gets to perform on stage for the first time. And so, I’m really glad that she’s kind of getting back into being Laurel, you know, not Laurel plus boyfriends. And she’s getting a little bit of her sass back and getting to express herself through music. So, I’m hoping in the future that they’ll show that it’s possible to balance both having a boyfriend and pursuing your own thing. I think that would be really cool for the viewers.
Moderator Is there anything else you can tell us about future episodes? Any tidbits you can spill about?
A. Gonino Yes, without giving too much away. Laurel finds out in the next episode on Monday (1/16) what the big secret between Justin and Ted is. So it has to do with the bracelet and it’s going to rock her world. So definitely look out for that. It’s a pretty jarring episode.
Moderator So, Laurel is going to find out what Justin’s hiding. Can you tell us a little bit more about that? Does that mean they’re going to repair their relationship after she knows the truth?
A. Gonino I can’t exactly say. I have to be very careful. But it’s definitely going to put a huge a dent in the relationship. You know, they just broke up. So now the truth is coming out and Laurel is going to have to decide whether to trust him again and try to repair the relationship or dump him.
Moderator You also mentioned that you’re performing on next week’s episode. Are there any plans in the work to come back and perform again with your band?
A. Gonino Yes. We are performing in episode, I think, it’s 116. So, like three episodes after this Monday we’ll be performing again.
Moderator Are you ever surprised when you get your next script, who else is holding a secret and who else is involved in this whole game?
A. Gonino Definitely. I’m just as surprised as the viewers are with each new episode. We don’t really ever know what’s going to happen until we get the script. We’ll hear like rumors about what’s going to happen and then they’ll change their minds and write something totally different. So yes, it is the mystery sort of surprise element to the show is what makes it so successful.
Moderator Do you think that these characters are a pretty accurate depiction of 15, 16, 17 year olds today?
A. Gonino I hope not. You know, television we exaggerate everything. But that’s why we do it is to escape the hustle and bustle of everyday life. And entertainment is there for us to just let go and forget about everything else and get involved in lots of drama without actually doing it in real life, you know. I think that’s the good thing about it.
Moderator I have one more question in regards to the wardrobe. You guys wear some pretty high heels. Is that tough on you guys on your long shoot days?
A. Gonino Well, I’ve been wearing high heels for awhile. I’m a dancer. So it’s not too bad unless the shoes themselves are really uncomfortable and then it’s a pain. But, you know, I like wearing heels. They make me feel sexy.
Moderator When you first heard about the role of Laurel, what was it that made you want to play her?
A. Gonino I think it was just that I saw so much of myself in her. And I probably just felt some deep desire to live that stage in my life again and probably relearn some lessons that I didn’t necessarily remember. And learn new things about myself. And I just love her wit.
She’s so funny and energetic. That’s just like the type of character I want to play. And it is my first, like, big role. So I wanted to pick something that would really allow me to learn acting and being in front of the camera and all that kind of stuff.
Moderator Do you have a behind the scene moment or memory or something that you could share with fans that they wouldn’t know about from filming or just some little tidbit?
A. Gonino Well, I guess, we rarely get to do scenes where it’s all of the cast in one scene. But the scene where we had the dinner party when the parents went out of town. We were joking and it’s just a fun set. Like, we really do get along and all the actors are really intelligent people and want to do good work and are here to tell a story. I think the fans would like to know that all these characters that they’re seeing are not as evil as they appear to be on television. They’re really–they’re really good people.
Moderator You started off appearing on Disney Channel shows Cory In The House and The Suite Life On Deck. How did that help you get your role in this show?
A. Gonino Well I think every role I’ve ever done, up until now, has helped me even since being on stage in ballets as a little girl. I think with every new job that I get it’s really about just being more comfortable to be in front of the camera as opposed to get in front of the camera and feel tense or something. Those roles, like The Suite Life On Deck role I guess that was my first big guest star. And it just helped me to loosen up, make choices and stick to those choices as an actor and believe in my ability as an actor.
Moderator What exactly would you like see happen with Laurel’s character in relationship to Justin?
A. Gonino They don’t even know where they’re going with that storyline. But I think if she does decide to stay with Justin it needs to be like full-fledged trust. Relationships are difficult. If you are going to choose to spend at your youth with someone, like, that’s such a big decision to spend your high school years with someone.
So, I think I just want her to remain true to who she is and true to her passions. And I want her to be ambitious and go off and do her own Laurel thing. And be able to have a boyfriend. But I don’t want it to be all about him.
Moderator According to Episode 16 that’s going to change. You’re going to be playing a Dixie Chicks song I think. Are you excited about that? Can you tell us which one?
A. Gonino Yes. I’m going to be playing “Top of the World” which was written by Patty Griffin, but sung by the Dixie Chicks. They’re the reason I got into music in the very first place when I was like four years old. So to be able to play one of their songs on a TV show is, like, really weird but really awesome. And I feel really honored to be able to do that. It’s like, it’s my own little homage to them. So I’m excited.
Moderator What was your first love; acting or performing as a musician?
A. Gonino I would say music. I think it has always been something that I’ve just been in love with. I think it’s universal for everyone. You know, it’s been around since forever. But I was, like, probably three years old when I watched The Wizard of Oz for the first time and that really, I think, inspired me to be an actress. And I would come home from day care every single day and dress up like Dorothy, watch the movie and act it out. So I was, like, definitely an actress from a very young age. But I don’t think I knew it until I actually started booking. But I would have to say music is where my heart will always be.
Moderator Besides the violin what other instruments do you play?
A. Gonino I play a little bit of Mandolin. And I can play a little piano but not very well. Just a little by ear.
Moderator Have the fans recognized you more since The Lying Game and is there any fan experience that stands out in your mind?
A. Gonino I definitely have been recognized a bit more since the show came on. The one I was most surprised to find out about that she even watches the show. My band and I when we were in L.A. we play music for this private children’s hospital, and I walked in to this one girl, Angela, who we actually wrote a song about.
So we walked into her room and she was just chilling and watching ABC Family and our guide was like, “Angela, this is Allie.” And she was like, “Were you on The Lying Game?” I was like, “Yes, you watch that show?” She was like, “Yes.” And she was like really star struck but not like freaking out. But just like happy that we were there to play music for her. So that was like a really special moment for me that people I wouldn’t have even imagine who’d get to watch the show gets to watch it. So that made me really happy.
Moderator What about your own, have you ever fanned girled out on anyone yourself?
A. Gonino Yes. I didn’t let them know it. But I saw David Schwimmer, Ross Geller, from Friends at a restaurant one time and I was freaking out. He was sitting like in the table right next to us. It was actually when I was in The Stunners and everyone else just looked at me like I had lobsters, like, crawling out of my head or something. But that was a pretty big moment for me. It’s Ross, you know?
Moderator Could you tell us if you had a favorite episode from either what we’ve seen or the shows that you’ve shot that we haven’t seen yet? If there’s one episode that stands out to you?
A. Gonino Honestly, the episode you’re going to see this week is my favorite because I get to play the Dixie Chicks song and I get to perform with my real life band. It’s like a dream come true and I’m excited for myself. But I’m also excited for the fans to see it because I think the music element is interesting and I don’t think any other show is really doing it. So to have all this drama with like a backdrop of music is fun. I’m excited for this one.
Moderator Being on The Lying Game and having your band, you’re very busy, very full of life, how do you balance it all?
A. Gonino I don’t know. I really just try to take it as it comes and not try to stress out too much which is, honestly, the hardest thing in the world to do is not let it overwhelm me. But we’ve been in the studio and in film. So you just got to take it as it comes and then treat yourself every once in awhile with, a dessert or a drink or something which I don’t suggest to people under the age of 21.
Moderator So we know now that in The Lying Game signature was the white and black bow surprise and we’ve already seen one. Will there be anymore of those coming up?
A. Gonino We haven’t seen anymore as of yet. But we’re about to do a table read of the next episode so maybe on that one. But that’s all we’ve seen of the black and white bow.
Moderator In terms of the mystery of the lying game, is there a person you think you could expand to also target? Like Ethan or will they exclusively stick to just going after Emma?
A. Gonino I know Ethan gets in trouble for something but it doesn’t really have to do with the twins. The episode we just shot is going to, like, shock people. But that’s all I can say right now.
Season 2 of the Lying Game airs on ABC Family, Mondays 9/8c
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