With a hand in both the entertainment industry and the non-profit sector (through her charity Take Action Hollywood), Maria Menounos is arguably one of the busiest and most successful guest-stars ever to be on a teen drama. Both before and after her recurring role on One Tree Hill as Jules, Menounos has been one of television’s most recognizable personalities.
TeenDramaWhore: One Tree Hill was your first recurring role on a television series. What made you want to stray from hosting?
Maria Menounos: I’m the type of person who enjoys wearing a lot of different hats – acting is another hat I enjoy wearing. At Emerson College, I studied both broadcast journalism and film.
TDW: What aspects of hosting prepared you for acting?
Menounos: There are so many aspects. The technical aspects of production – going through hair and make up, having call times, dealing with crew, etc. Also, in my case, it helped me learn more about directing but, more importantly, how to be comfortable on camera.
TDW: What attracted you to the role of Jules?
Menounos: I was really excited to work with the show creator, Mark Schwahn, who said he had an amazing role for me. I knew any role he would create would be a great one.
TDW: Were you familiar with the show before you joined?
Menounos: I had seen a few episodes but definitely enjoyed what I had seen.
TDW: Most people, plagued by the stereotypes of our society, would have a hard time believing someone like Keith (Craig Sheffer) could get a girl like Jules. That ended up being a significant part of the story. Did you agree with that premise?
Menounos: I most certainly agreed! Keith was sensitive and sweet and handsome in a rugged, real man sort of way. On a side note, Craig was also an amazing actor who had been directed by Robert Redford and co-starred with Brad Pitt amongst other greats. He was generous to work with and lent me acting tips that I implement to this day.
TDW: Did you know right from the beginning that Dan (Paul Johansson) was behind Jules and Keith’s relationship–or were you surprised, just like the viewers were?
Menounos: I knew.
TDW: We never found out where Jules went when she stood Keith up at the altar (Episode 2.16, Somehwere A Clock is Ticking). What do you think happened to her?
Menounos: She ran away, feeling bad for Keith as well as ashamed of herself and what she had done.
TDW: Was it your decision not to continue on the show, or was it dictated by the story?
Menounos: It was dictated by the story.
TDW: Did you keep up with the show after you left? Specifically, were you/are you aware of what happened to Keith?
Menounos: I’m so busy with my other shows that I wasn’t able to watch as much as I would like. However, I did find out about Keith.
TDW: Are you still in touch with any of the cast?
Menounos: I am but it’s the same as with most of my friends. It’s definitely hard to remain in touch with the schedule I keep. The news never takes a rest.
TDW: Are you ever recognized for your role on OTH, as opposed to for being a famous TV host?
Menounos: I continuously get recognized from my work on OTH. Fans are always approaching me!
TDW: After One Tree Hill, you did some voice-over work and more one-episode guest roles. Do you have any interest in returning to acting in a larger capacity?
Menounos: I just wrapped on a starring role opposite Christopher Lloyd and a few other names and talents in a comedy feature, “Serial Buddies” – the first serial killer buddy comedy of all time – lol. I really have to pick and choose roles carefully because I only have so much time each year to act. “Serial Buddies” was one of those super original scripts, kind of a “Napoleon Dynamite”/”Superbad” feel that I didn‘t want to miss out on.
TDW: You are one of an increasing number of celebrities interacting with fans on Twitter. What is one thing you like about it, and one thing you don’t?
Menounos: I like being able to communicate directly to fans, hear their opinions and receive their support. It’s fun and allows people to get to know “me” better.
TDW: Lastly, for those not familiar, tell me about your charity, Take Action Hollywood.
Menounos: We are an all-volunteer group that essentially utilizes the power of Hollywood to affect for positive social change. We take on a wide range of subjects and causes. I’m proud of what we have achieved for a small group that puts most, if not all, of its donations towards our programs and not administrative costs.
Come back next week for another exclusive interview!