Actress Cassie Scerbo is a familiar face for ABC Family viewers.
The actress who plays the role of gymnast Lauren Tanner on the network’s “Make It or Break It” and even reprised her role on ABC Family TV Series “10 Things I Hate About You” where she worked with series protagonist, actress Lindsay Shaw (“Pretty Little Liars”).
And now both young actresses star in the ABC Family film “Teen Spirit”.
Cassie plays the role of Amber Pollock, the queen bee of Eugene Ashley High School and all she needs to make her teen high school life complete is by winning the Prom Queen title. A title that she has been working for years in trying to obtain by being the most popular girl at school.
But unfortunately, living with a bad attitude has its repercussions and a freak accident at prom ends her perfect life. And the only way she can save her soul is by helping the shy and not-so-popular Lisa Sommers (played by Lindsey Shaw) win Prom Queen.
The last thing that Lisa wants to win is prom queen but when Amber offers to help her get the attention of her teen crush Nick (played by Chris Zylka), Lisa gives Amber the benefit of the doubt.
With the premiere of “Teen Spirit” on ABC Family, a media Q&A was held with actress Cassie Scerbo. Here is a transcript of the interview:
Moderator I wanted to ask you what is it about the movie or the role that really drew you to wanting to be a part of it. Obviously, it’s not your average teen role, or average role for ABC Family either?
C. Scerbo Yes. Well, as everyone knows, I tend to play the mean girl quite often. But the cool twist about this is that I got to play a dead mean girl. So I think just the name within itself, Teen Spirit, drew me to it. I mean because I knew that it wasn’t about cheerleading, it wasn’t like, Go Team, Go Team Spirit. And I had heard that it was about, obviously, basically a dead prom queen.
So that kind of drew me to the role in itself. Yes, I think that was the main thing. It was just really cool, something different, and I knew that with that, I love challenges. I knew it would be a little bit challenging and it was, because you don’t realize how much physical interaction you have with people when you’re working. I couldn’t touch anyone, and there was a lot of green screen and special effects. I was just really excited about it. It had something for everyone. Yes, it was a fun role.
Moderator Speaking of having physical interaction, how was it getting to work with the cast? You have such a wonderful cast there with Andy (Andrea) Powell and with Tim Gunn making an appearance?
C. Scerbo Yes. It was amazing. We had a great cast. We also have Chris Zylka, who’s going to be coming out in all the new Spider-Man movies, which is pretty awesome. He’s going to be playing Flash Thompson. So that is really cool. And then Lindsey Shaw, who is just an amazing person to begin with; really fun, and we got along so well. And I kind of knew her a little bit due to the fact that she was on ABC’s Family on 10 Things and Pretty Little Liars. And then Andy, who played my mom, she’s so talented and she really liked nailed the role. We had so much fun.
We shot in this beautiful house overlooking the water in Wilmington and it was just a really awesome experience. So yes, the actors definitely made it more special; especially when you’re in a location away from home and you don’t have your friends with you or your family. They would come visit but just, in general, that definitely makes it more comfortable when you’re with people that are first of all, talented, fun, and friendly, and we all had a really good time.
Moderator What would you say was the most challenging aspect of working on Teen Spirit?
C. Scerbo I would say the most challenging was, like I said, just playing a spirit for the first time, playing someone who wasn’t alive because, like I said, you don’t realize how much physical interaction you have with people, and it was just really crazy. I couldn’t touch anyone. I couldn’t touch Lindsey. Obviously, I’m a ghost; I’d go right through her. So, just realizing that usually when I’m just acting as a regular human being there’s a lot of physical interaction, and I had to eliminate a lot of that.
It was that and all of the green screen work. You don’t realize how specific it is. If you don’t hit your mark right on you have to just redo it and redo it and redo it. It has to be perfect when it comes to special effects, and jumping in and out of the bodies and walking through people. It was a lot of green screen, a lot of special effects which I’ve never done before.
So that was definitely challenging as well, knowing timing and marks and all those little things. It was a lot of being able to move my body a certain way. And we to kind of master each other’s bodies, the way she worked, the way I work. If I’m jumping in her body, I had to do kind of the same movements that she was doing. It was a lot of green screen and special effect where I thought that was definitely challenging, just with jumping inside her body throughout the film.
Moderator How would you describe Amber’s motivations in the film?
C. Scerbo I think in the beginning they’re very selfish, and towards the end they become very selfless, which is a really cool switch around. Her motivation in the beginning, all she wants to do is become prom queen. Then her second motivation is just to turn this dweeb into a popular, pretty girl. She is pretty, but to take her, reshape her, and find her a new style and the boyfriend. And she’s really excited to do all that and to switch her life around.
And then she starts to realize, it took her to see the characteristics of herself in someone else to realize how much she didn’t like them. And when she started to see Lindsey’s character, Lisa, actually pick up on Amber’s comments and the way she would treat people she actually started to realize how much she didn’t like herself, and her motivation changes towards the end of the film, which is really cool.
Moderator Are you afraid you’ll get typecast as just another pretty high school girl, or do look at it as paying your dues until you get a chance to show your range as an actress?
C. Scerbo I do definitely have things I’ve passed on, that conversation has came up a lot. I don’t want to be stereotyped as the blonde bitchy cheerleader or gymnast. I do play a lot of these mean girl roles, the pretty popular blonde. I do play a lot of those roles. And actually, this summer I completely dyed my hair black and I took on a few different types of roles. I just played a role in a film called Music High where I was a very vulnerable, kind, intern music assistant teacher. And it was just completely opposite and I loved it, and I definitely don’t be want to be stereotyped.
I don’t mind for the time being, because it’s been a cool little spot to place myself. And I think a lot of these people, a lot of my fans, actually I think they love to hate these characters I play and it’s really fun for them. So I’m kind of going with it for the moment. It’s fun. It’s kind of been my little trademark on ABC Family. But I’m definitely going to want to spread my wings. There so many things that I want to play and different things I want to do. The horizons are limitless. I definitely want to expand my horizons and try out—I would love to play anything and everything under the sun, seriously.
So I definitely don’t want to be stereotyped. But for the time being, I’m just having fun with it. I’m young, and it just happens to be the role that keeps coming up, and they’re always so fun and the scripts are so great. And I kind of just got stuck in it for a bit. But I’m definitely going to want to spread my wings. I cut my hair. I dyed it dark, and I’m trying out new things over on hiatus, for sure.
Moderator How did you get involved in acting?
C. Scerbo That’s my favorite question because it’s like the only one I don’t have an answer to. I literally could talk forever when people ask me questions because I’m Italian, from New York. It’s my personality. I can go on and on. And this is the one thing I don’t have an answer for.
There was never a moment in time where I was like, oh, I want to be like her, or you know what? I want to try out acting. I literally was born just a natural performer. My parents laughed, they were like, before you could even talk you were dancing and singing. I’d make up little dances and I’d perform them for my family. I’d make up skits with my friends and perform.
I just love performing. I love making people happy. I love being a positive influence in people’s lives. I love all of that. So, I guess this was just a good career for me. A good career pop. I started at Charm School when I was eight because I just wanted to do it for fun. They have these little “Academy Awards” at the end of the year, it was really cute. And I won “Best Actress” and I was so excited about it. I won it the second year I was there. And I wouldn’t leave until I won it.
I just kind of went from there, and then agents and managers, and I had an original screen test for Hannah Montana, the original one. It was actually between me and a totally different girl, not Miley.
So you’ve just got to know that everything happens for a reason, and it just wasn’t meant for me. I’m really happy where I am now in a drama, because that’s where my heart’s at. So yes, that was the first time I went out and I just kind of went from there. They decided to go younger with the role, and a little bit different look. But just, in general, I just always, since I was little, wanted to do this, and I’m loving it.
Moderator So if you had to tell or give someone a reason why they should watch this movie, how would you get someone who didn’t really know what it was about, and how would you describe for them to tune into it?
C. Scerbo Well, like I was saying, when I walked off the plane—because I’ve seen Lindsey around because we both shot at Santa Clarita Studios for our ABC Family shows. But when we showed up at the airport it was the first time I actually got to meet her one-on-one, and just to look at our physical differences was hilarious. I was like the small blonde. She was this tall—like I had long blonde hair. She had short brown. She was wearing converse. I was wearing wedges. We’re just complete opposites.
And it was so much like our characters, and we literally just started laughing. We’re like, “Oh my gosh, this is going to be so funny.” Our dynamics, just looking at us, I’m 5’1”; she’s 5’9”. It was really funny, honestly. And I was always standing on apple boxes, of course, like I’m always doing.
I think it’s just going to be a really good dynamic. You have two complete opposite girls, yet at the end of the day, you wind up realizing that doesn’t matter, the physical appearance, these girls had so much in common and wind up getting really close and bonding. There are so many different morals in it; to not judge a book by its cover. We both had all these, in the movie, we have all these prior thoughts about each other and we wind up getting so close and changing each other’s lives. You never know who’s going to change your life; it’s crazy. In this movie you definitely see that.
Never would Amber think that Lisa would be the girl to do that, and never would Lisa think that Amber would be the girl to do that. And they wind up becoming friends that have truly changed each other’s lives and share this beyond special bond. I think the cool aspect is that Amber is not alive. She’s a spirit which is really different. It’s something I don’t think ABC Family’s ever had. Well, I think they did do one movie that was kind of like that with Christmas Cupid or something.
But this one’s just completely different, and I really like the fact that this whole film, we have all these special effects and I’m jumping inside her body. It’s just really fun. It’s something different and there are a lot of good morals that go along with it, like I said. And it’s really funny. It’s got everything. There’s fashion, there’s music—great music actually. Lindsey is singing in the film. Her character sings and winds up performing. And the cute boy, you’ve got Chris Zylka. And there’s just really something for everyone.
It’s going to be hilarious yet it’s going to have touching moments. I’ve only heard great feedback from the network. They’ve gone out of their way to call my manager, and my manager has been like, “They went out of their way to just call me today to just tell me they just are loving this film.” So, I can’t wait to see what other people think.
The director just called me two weeks ago. He saw the final cut and he was like, “I just had to call you the second it was done. You’re going to be so impressed with the film.” I really, truly believe people are going to love it. So I’m really excited about it.
Moderator What is going on with Make It or Break It? When is Season 3 coming?
C. Scerbo I know. That’s a question that I would like to know. We’ve been on hiatus now for awhile. And it’s been great because we got to do different things and live our lives a bit, because we were shooting so much back to back. But I’m such a workaholic. I’ve been working on my hiatus. But I want to get back into it, and we don’t know yet.
Like I said, they’re saying that everything seems like it’s good like we’re definitely going for a third season. One of the guys said if he was betting man, one of our producers, that he would bet that it would definitely be going. But we don’t know for sure if it’s even getting picked up. So we’re kind of just crossing our fingers right now and hoping for the best.
But, like I said, we have these Teen Choice Awards we’re up for this weekend. So on Sunday where all the girls—I’ll finally get to see all my girls together again for the first time since the day we stopped shooting. Or the day, actually, because Chelsea’s going to be there too. So we haven’t all been together in almost a year. So it’s going to be so great. Well, I would say nine months, eight months. It’s been awhile.
So we’re just really excited to see each other, and we’re just hoping for the best. If it comes back, we’ll probably start shooting, I would say in October/November. And it would probably come back in January, I’d say. But we don’t know for sure yet. So we’re still waiting as well. If it goes, it would be our Olympic season. It would be the best season yet, the grittiest, the most intense. So we’re just really hoping for the best and crossing our fingers and taking every day as it comes.
Moderator With the Teen Spirit script, who did you relate to more; Amber or Lisa, on a personal note?
C. Scerbo I would have to say Lisa because there is nothing I would ever want to relate to Amber except for her little transformation that she does go through in the end. But, the only thing that me and Amber had in common was fashion. They really did a great job with the clothes. Everything is so tailored. I wanted to steal all her wardrobe, and I did steal some of it. But I wish to be seen more—and I’m really not like either, but more like Lisa.
In the film she’s a little bit of a dork, but I don’t mind that. She makes these claymation films and I guess she has a more artsy side from the things you see in the film she does. She’s singing in it. I guess there are little things she does that are more like me than Amber in any way. But honestly, neither of them are much like me. I guess that’s what I have to say. I’d have to go with Lisa. But neither of them, really.
Moderator Since you now have fans of your own as an actress, how do you deal with the pressures of popularity?
C. Scerbo I’m honestly just blessed. There’s no pressure. I think that’s silly. You get into this industry, you have to know, you have to expect that to happen. You have to want that to happen. I want to have as many fans as possible and to be able to change every single one of their lives if I can, or just bring joy to their lives, or just have a show that they enjoy watching weekly. So I love it.
I absolutely tweet every day. Some people think it’s silly and will say things. I don’t care. I’m a Twitter-holic. I do what I do for my fans. I’m in an industry where I’m performing for people. I’m giving things for the people. So, I love talking to my fans. I love having my own fans.
There are certain situations that do sometimes get a little weird and a little pushy. But you’ve just got to take it for what it is and just always be cautious and careful because there are some people out there that are a little interesting. But overall, I really truly love all of my fans. The more the merrier. So I only hope for that to grow, and I just continuously feel blessed. I definitely don’t feel pressure from it.
Moderator What did this project teach you about young girls striving to be popular?
C. Scerbo That’s a very, very good point. I think it goes to show that sometimes popularity can actually hurt, to be honest. It’s not about being popular. It’s about having the right friends. And in this film you realize, definitely, there’s certain people that you care about and certain people that matter and there will always be people that will stab you in the back.
There’s some good people and bad people out in the world. It’s not about being popular; it’s about just having the right friends. And I think Lisa and Amber, by the end of the film, both know who their true friends are in both their groups, because there are people that turn on them on both sides. They both, by the end, realize who their true friends are.
And like I said, being super popular can actually take away from who you are as a person, make you feel pressured, or you have to get to be a certain thing or trust a certain way. So even with personality, the more popular Lisa gets in the film the less likeable she gets, and the less unique and beautiful she is. And I think that, who cares about popularity? It’s about just loving who you are and having great people around you and just being happy and feeling good about yourself. It’s really not about how many friends you have; it’s about how great of friends you have. Quality not quantity.
Moderator Can you explain the similarities or the differences between your character in the movie versus the character you play on Make It or Break It?
C. Scerbo Yes. Well we both know their both pretty snobby, popular—Lauren really doesn’t go to school. But their both snobby, pretentious, more uppity rich mean girls. So there’s a lot in common, definitely. But I would say the difference is that Lauren is a little bit more of an athletic, hard core, kind of like “I don’t really give a crap” type character. Where this character, Amber, is actually more snooty and more girly, snooty, pretentious.
And I think that Lauren is like, “This is how it is, this is me, deal with it, take it or leave it.” She’s kind of more hard core. Whereas, Amber is a little more girly and snooty and snobby. Yes, I would say Lauren is just more kind of hard core and just up front and blunt.
Moderator Can you also tell us about any cool fan encounters that you’ve had, the kind of like touching moments or anything that you’ve had just out in the public?
C. Scerbo Yes, I’ve had so many. Honestly, when I’ve had a bad day if I just go on any of my sites, it makes my day. It makes my day just to see people who care so much and are so supportive and loving and always just have such nice things to say. I’ve literally had bad days and like, I just wanted to go on my Twitter or my website and just speak to my fans or just look at some of their comments. It just makes me feel so good, and I love them for that. I’ve had so many great encounters.
And literally, I’ve done that before where I’ve had a bad day and I’ll go on my website, and I would even cry. I’m not even kidding. I love seeing things from my fans and special letters and messages and notes.
I’ve had fans; I have these two girls who I think one was from Norway. I think they’re both from Norway, make me a fan book. This thing is so intense. They sent it to me from overseas. It came to my manager. My manager sent it to me. It was a book of like 200 pages with blurbs from all of these different fans around the world and pictures people have drawn of me.
They went around asking people what you would do, like how far would you take it, what would you do to meet Cassie Scerbo? And they have all these different chapters, and it’s like an actual novel of the fan book, and Twitter and pictures. They just spent so much time on it; it took them a year, and that was so, so touching. And I share it with so many of my friends and my family members when they come in town. I have it sitting on my desk here in L.A.
So that was wonderful. I now have a fan that I’ve had for awhile telling me they want to get my quote, “Nothing’s impossible” tattooed with my name underneath it, and I was like, that’s really intense. But it’s amazing to see how you can change people’s lives and I really will take the time if someone’s like, I’ve got to talk to you. Will you talk to me? I follow a lot of my fans on Twitter. And if they’re like, can I talk to you, in a message? I’ll actually sit there and I’ll talk to them.
I’ve talked to people about family members passing away. I’ve talked to people about personal issues, their image, school problems. And I also used to have a blog in a magazine called Cool where I would do that as well. I would help girls and give advice and whatnot. It was called Cassie’s Corner or something, and I love doing that and those are always special moments for me.
I also have a fan that’s been following me from Bring It On. She’s made so many websites and fan sites. It’s so funny because you have to be careful on the internet but I somehow, throughout the years, wound up becoming friendly with her because this was like 4 or 5 years ago now. I wound up inviting her to a premiere in New York with me, and we are friends to this day.
Her name is Nana, and she actually became like a really good family friend of mine and my family knows her, everything. When I go to New York she’ll come to my family dinners. It’s really crazy. That’s usually like something that doesn’t happen. But I’ve had a lot of really special fan encounters, for sure.
Moderator In the future, who would you like to work with?
C. Scerbo That’s a good one. I would love to work with Michael Pitts and Leonardo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep, Ashley Judd. I’d say those are some of my top priorities. Robert Pattinson. I’d want to work with Robert Pattinson. I love him. I’m a big, big Team Edward fan. So I would say those would be some of the people I’d like to work with.
Moderator What do like to do during your free time?
C. Scerbo I think the most important thing is spending time with your family and friends, which is what I love to do. I like to see movies. I just started a hobby with a friend of mine and we like to surf. We’ve been surfing all the time; we’re actually at the beach right now. It’s my new favorite hobby.
I’m also a boxer. I like to box. I like to go on vacations if I have time, just go shopping and hanging out with my girlfriends and go hiking, staying active. I like to do a lot of things in my free time. I think those would be my top things.