Exclusive: Amber Wallace Talks 90210, Looks Back on One Tree Hill

4 04 2010

Regular TDW readers know what a small world the world of teen dramas is. We see it each week with Six Degrees of Teen Dramas, finding how one actor leads to another. But the best connection is when you need just one actor.

That’s why I was thrilled last December when I spotted Amber Wallace on 90210. Previously seen as Glenda on One Tree Hill, Wallace was introduced on 90210 as Lila, a star reporter for the Blaze. When the show came back from hiatus in early March, we saw Wallace’s role grow.

In our exclusive interview, Wallace and I chatted about her characters on both shows as well as her musical inclinations.

TeenDramaWhore: 90210 viewers first met you in an episode that aired in December [Episode 2.12, Winter Wonderland]. When did you know you would be coming back again?

Amber Wallace: I already knew about the episode with Navid [Michael Steger] and the date [Episode 2.15, What’s Past Is Prologue]. I knew I was going to be in it for, I thought, maybe a couple of episodes. I didn’t realize I was going to be in it for the length that I actually am.

TDW: Wow. So all those episodes back, all those months back, this was technically coming up and we, as viewers, had no idea that the seeds were being planted for this current storyline.

Wallace: Exactly. I think this season they had the writers come in and do this whole outline for the whole thing so they knew what was going to be happening. And, like I said, I thought I was only going to be in a couple of episodes and every time I would go to the script reading, it was like, “Is my character going to be written out this week?”

TDW: But you ended up doing a batch of six.

Wallace: Yes.

TDW: What’s coming up next?

Wallace: The band plays live and everything that goes along with that. That episode is really fun and really cute. Nothing too heartbreaking in that. And then the episode after that, jealousy comes into play.

TDW: It seems that Navid and Lila have the common journalism interest going for them and they remembered they shared a past when they were young. But Navid and Adrianna [Jessica Lowndes] are so different. Do you think opposites attract? Or does Lila have the upper-hand?

Wallace: I don’t know. It really depends. I think when opposites attract, it can be better because things won’t get boring. It kind of adds life to the relationship. You learn things from the other person. Navid and Adrianna, they have such a strong past with the things that they went through, so I think that’s where their bond comes from. But I think it helps to have things to talk about, things in common because that helps with little every day stuff, what you want to do and sharing it with someone else. But it really depends. It can be different.

TDW: Is Lila familiar with everything Adrianna and Navid went through the year before?

Wallace: You know, it never said anything in the script but I made a choice to be aware of most of it. Lila doesn’t run in the same crowd so I don’t think she knows everything that happened but everyone in the school knew that Adrianna was pregnant. I made a choice to have Lila be aware that they went through pretty significant events, regardless of whether I knew exactly what each one of them were. So whether or not Lila knew–weren’t they engaged at one point or something?

TDW: They kind of were.

Wallace: I think that’s something that Lila did not know.

TDW: Coming into this, where you’re playing opposite two characters who have this intricate backstory, did you have to read up on last season or did you watch the episodes or anything?

Wallace: I definitely did. When I found out I was going to be on the show, I went and I got the [first] season and I made sure that I watched all of the episodes. When I was on set, I tried to ask the actors, for the episodes that hadn’t aired yet, “What’s happening? I need to know” and they told me. I think it’s really important to know the [characters] and what’s going on. It can be a little intimidating to go on a set and be a new character and not know anyone, especially when you’re coming between two characters that are so huge in the show so I better have my info straight!

TDW: What’s the deal with you coming back next season? Is it possible?

Wallace: Maybe, yeah. I think it’s one of things where it really depends on how everyone takes Lila, if they like her a lot. It’s one of those things where people need to write in and say, “I really like this character. I’d really like to see her again” and if there’s an overwhelming majority vote on that, then I think it’s a definite possibility that she can come back.

TDW: I can’t interview you and not ask about One Tree Hill, where you played Glenda. Your first episode there was the school shooting [Episode 3.16, With Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept].

Wallace: Right.

TDW: Do you remember what kind of reaction you had when you first read the script for that episode?

Wallace: Well, actually, I was not given the full script for that episode. That episode was very hush-hush because it was so dramatic and so much happened. I wasn’t sure what was going on. I knew that there was a school shooting but I didn’t know who was doing it. Really, I knew what my character knew. I’m stuck in a gym with this girl [Brooke, Sophia Bush] and there’s a shooting going on and we all have to go home. I literally knew what Glenda knew and that kinda helped in the acting. So I had no idea and when I saw the episode, it was so stunning. I felt so honored to be part of something like that. The episode was so beautiful and heartfelt. I cried.

TDW: Were you surprised when the next season came around and they asked you to come back?

Wallace: I was completely surprised and thrilled. I had one scene [Episode 4.04, Can’t Stop This Thing We’ve Started] and I became a goth all of a sudden, which was really funny to me. When we were filming that scene with me and Sophia, they were like, “Oh, we’re going to bring you into wardrobe and get you fitted the next episode.” And I was like, “Next episode? I’m doing another episode?” It was taken episode-by-episode and I wasn’t really sure when I’d be gone. I actually had to turn down an episode. I was asked to be in the finale of that season but I was filming a movie at the time and I couldn’t do it.

TDW: Oh, wow. Did you know what you were going to be doing in the finale?

Wallace: No idea. With that show, I didn’t go to any of the script readings. Sometimes I would get a script and sometimes I wouldn’t. It was a little bit different. The set was kind of different. So I have no idea what I would’ve been doing.

TDW: One of the other episodes you did, though, where you’re paired up with Lucas [Chad Michael Murray], is one of my favorites [Episode 4.13, Pictures of You]. That was a fun episode but there’s such meaning there in the conversations you had, in teaching each other about stereotypes and judging people before you actually know them. Really, you were on for a short amount of time overall, but you took part in two really meaningful, memorable episodes in the series, in  my opinion.

Wallace: Yeah, I guess you’re right. I think it helps that I have a different look from a lot of actresses today. That’s something that I really enjoy because I do tend to play characters that impart that message. It is an important message, not to judge people if they’re different and that people need to be happy with themselves if they are different.

TDW: Going along with that–and I want to word this as respectfully as possible–I’ve seen some comments from people who have said they are thrilled to see Navid with Lila because she’s full-figured. She’s not model-skinny.

Wallace: Curvy, I like to say.

TDW: That’s a great way to put it. The show has gotten criticism in the past for having these lead female characters who are stick-figure thin and now people are refreshed to see this new body type on the show.

Wallace: I’m glad.

TDW: Going back to One Tree Hill for a second, are you still in touch with the cast?

Wallace: No. That’s the funny thing about filming as a recurring character or in a movie or something. You work with people closely for a short amount of time and you do make friends but then you go about your way. I didn’t live in North Carolina. It’s hard to stay in contact with people when you’ve only worked with them for a short amount of time and then you go some place else and your lives go separate ways. I think I’m friends with people on Facebook, maybe, but you never really know who’s actually running their Facebook or who’s running anything.

TDW: Speaking of Facebook, and Twitter, too, I see you’re using them increasingly so to interact with fans. What’s that experience been like?

Wallace: It’s not overwhelming if I’m not really working at the time and people find me with “I really liked your character on this…” Sometimes when an episode, like on Tuesday, airs, you get inundated with messages and it can be a little overwhelming. But it’s really cool. It’s very surreal to have people know who you are from your work. This business is so hard to break into. It’s so hard to get roles and be seen and have people comment on what you do. People are really thrilled when you talk to them. “I can’t believe somebody famous is talking to me!” And I’m like, “What?! Me?!

TDW: You forget that you’re the famous one.

Wallace: Exactly. I’m like, “Uh, I’m thrilled that you’re talking to me!

TDW: Your Twitter handle is AmberBrookeBand. Do you have your own band?

Wallace: I do. I have a band that’s based in Atlanta. When I go back, I try to perform shows and rehearse with them. I’m trying to get them to come out here for month or two so we can book some gigs out in L.A. I’m also writing with another friend, actually this girl Jen, who taught everyone their instruments on 90210. She and I have been writing together. I’m just trying to keep myself creative. I love music.

TDW: In the band on the show, you play the bass, right?

Wallace: Yes.

TDW: Do you play that in real life, too?

Wallace: I don’t. I play guitar in real life, which, obviously, is not the same thing but it helps a lot. Our instructor, Jen, she’s brilliant. She helped me so much. It was a little bit difficult but I think I picked it up pretty quickly.

TDW: What’s next for you?

Wallace: I have some projects possibly on the way. I’m talking to people about that. And then just trying to audition. I just moved to L.A. from Atlanta, when I started filming 90210. I was like, “I’m going to go out and film that, I might as well stay and make the big move and really go for it.” There’s nothing at the moment to talk about, though, but hopefully good things, hopefully more projects. We’ll see.

TDW: Keep us posted!

Come back next Sunday for another exclusive interview!

TDW Interview Index





Most Shocking Deaths, Pt. 4

26 11 2009

Part 1 Part 2 Part 3

4. Toni is shot when she is mistaken for Dylan (Beverly Hills 90210, Episode 6.10: One Wedding and a Funeral)

3. Keith is shot by his brother Dan (One Tree Hill, Episode 3.16: With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept)

Click to watch!

The countdown ends tomorrow with the shocking loss of two main characters.





Exclusive: Colin Fickes on Playing Jimmy Edwards, One Tree Hill’s School Shooter

30 08 2009

Colin Fickes made teen drama history when he starred on One Tree Hill as Jimmy Edwards, a high school outcast turned school shooter.  The storyline remains one of the most-loved by critics and fans alike, giving Colin one of his career highlights.

Colin was kind enough to provide an inside look at the making of “With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept,” the 16th episode of One Tree Hill’s third season.

TeenDramaWhore: Years before you started on One Tree Hill, you appeared on two episodes of Dawson’s Creek (Episode 2.3, Alternative Lifestyles and Episode 2.9, The Election).  How did that come about?

Colin Fickes: First off, thank you for taking the time to interview me!  I grew up in Raleigh, NC doing community theater and I’d audition for projects that came through NC.  I had a wonderful agent in Raleigh who would submit young actors in the area for various TV and film projects. They were seeing people in LA and NC for the role of Kenny Reiling, and I was lucky enough to get to audition and subsequently land the part.

TDW: On One Tree Hill, you were introduced in the first few episodes and then were off-canvas until season three in 2006.  What was your reaction when you found out a) they were bringing you back and b) what the storyline was?

Fickes: I was completely shocked when I found out that Mark Schwahn wanted to reintroduce the character of Jimmy Edwards.  I remember getting called into his office on the Warner Brothers lot, having no clue what the meeting would entail.  He pitched me his brilliant idea, and I immediately said yes.  I knew that it would be a tough few weeks of preparation and filming, but I was up for the challenge.  I enjoy playing interesting character roles, and where he wanted to go with Jimmy Edwards was exactly where I wanted to be.

TDW: Was it difficult filming such an emotional storyline and/or difficult to keep it all a secret?

Fickes: It was definitely a challenge to go to those dark places and stay true to the character.  There are places inside of yourself you have to explore, and they aren’t necessarily pretty places.   The fact that there are people who feel the way Jimmy must of felt made me strive to be as authentic and honest as possible.  My hope was that if people could see themselves mirrored in the character, they would also see the hope and optimism in there too. That they could see they weren’t alone and that it would, or could, all be okay. The fact that I had pretty much locked myself away for those weeks leading up to filming, I really didn’t have time to worry about keeping the story line a secret.  The twist didn’t really have anything to do with my character and his circumstances, so I didn’t really focus on that part.

TDW: Allison Scagliotti (Abby) told me that you guys didn’t know the ending until it was nearly time to shoot it.  How did you react when you found out your character’s fate?

Fickes: I knew my characters fate from the get go.  What we didn’t know was that Dan [Paul Johansson] would show up and shoot Keith [Craig Sheffer].  I think I was too busy learning lines and finding character to worry too much about the twist.  It was pretty shocking though, yeah?

TDW: How does it feel to know your character was the key to so many critical storylines that followed and still occur?

Fickes: To know that Jimmy Edwards life wasn’t in vain and that he affected so many people, hopefully for the better, is a good thing.  I think it’s indicative of real life.  People can come into our lives and shape our courses, even if it is only for a brief amount of time

TDW: What kind of response did you get when the episode aired?

Fickes: The response has been incredibly heartfelt.  When people take the time to write letters, or stop me on the street to tell me how that episode affected them, it truly moves me.  It makes it seem all worth it.  I think that’s why we make art.  To connect and feel.

TDW: Are you still recognized for the role?

Fickes: I am.

TDW: Do you keep in touch with any of the cast?

Fickes: I don’t really.  Not as much as I’d like to anyway.  Had dinner with Hilarie [Burton, Peyton] and some mutual friends a year or so ago, and talk to Lee [Norris, Mouth] every now and then, but that’s about it.

TDW: What projects are you currently working on?

Fickes: At the moment I’m developing a screenplay and a short film with a friend of mine.  Had an independent film called “The New Twenty” come out on DVD and VOD not too long ago.  Trying to keep the dream alive.

For more on One Tree Hill’s school shooting storyline,

check out my interviews with Lee Norris and Allison Scagliotti.

Come back next Sunday for another exclusive interview!





Exclusive: Lee Norris Looks Back on One Tree Hill’s Six Seasons

9 08 2009

Lee Norris first worked his way into the hearts of young viewers as Stewart Minkus on the ABC hit Boy Meets World.  Exactly 10 years after BMW’s debut, Norris took on the role of Marvin “Mouth” McFadden on One Tree Hill.  Nearly six years later, Norris is still going strong as OTH goes into its seventh season.

In an exclusive interview for TDW, Norris reflected on his favorite storylines,  traveling for the show and who he wants to be Mrs. McFadden…

TeenDramaWhore: I recently rewatched the early season 1 episodes of One Tree Hill and it was amazing to see Mouth’s origins compared to where he is now.  He had such a small role in the beginning.  Did you have any idea how the role and character would evolve?

Lee Norris: I really had no idea.  During the pilot and Season 1, I was still a full-time college student at Wake Forest University.  I would get these scripts Fed-Ex’d to my dorm room and each time I got one delivered, it was a surprise.  I wasn’t under any sort of contract at that point, so I never knew how many episodes I’d be involved in.

I had a few conversations with Mark Schwahn, our creator, and he told me that he really believed in the character and thought it added an interesting element to the show.  I think the big turning point was when Mouth did the cheerleading routine in the first season [ed. note: Episode 1.17, Spirit in the Night].  It was so quirky and different and it got a great response from the fans… and then Mark started building the character from there.  I was so grateful that there were fans out there who identified with Mouth — girls and guys — that were the kids in high school who floated between all the different social cliques.  To be made a series regular was really rewarding for me, but also felt very natural since my character had been there since the Pilot episode.  So no, I had no idea what was in store for me, but I’ve been extremely grateful.

TDW: Do you and Mouth share any similarities?  Do you have any interest in sports or journalism?

Norris: Sure, we have some similarities.  He’s kind of spontaneous in that “Baby Got Back”-at-karaoke-night kind of way, haha, [ed. note: Episode 2.5, I Will Dare] and I like to have fun like that.  Don’t be looking for me at karaoke joints, but I do like to have fun.  I think he is a fiercely loyal friend, and that’s something I try to mirror in my life.  But he’s also done some really dumb things relationship wise, haha, so I’d like to think we’re not similar in that respect.

I love sports… when I auditioned for the role, I wore my Wake Forest basketball t-shirt to the audition, and Mark gave me a little grief because he went to Maryland (an ACC rival).  And in terms of journalism, I was an English major in school and I wrote for the school newspaper in high-school, so that’s sort of a natural fit as well.

TDW: Do you have a favorite episode, storyline or scene?

Norris: My favorite episode is still the school shooting episode [ed. note: Episode 3.16, With Tired Eyes, Tired Minds, Tired Souls, We Slept] .  But I also love any of the scenes where it’s basically the whole cast together.  When you get all of us in the same scene, it’s crazy!  Usually it involves a late night of shooting and everyone gets kind of loopy, and those are the most fun.  I also liked the storyline dealing with Mouth’s grandpa [ed. note: Episode 3.7, Champagne for My Real Friends, Real Pain for My Sham Friends].  It was nice to see someone in his family, and I also got to interact with Hilarie [Burton, Peyton] in that storyline and we had never gotten to do much together before.

TDW: I recently interviewed Allison Scagliotti (Abby) about the school shooting storyline, which is a fan favorite.  What do you remember from the filming of those episodes?  How did you initially react when you found out about the storyline?

Norris: As I said, that is my favorite episode.  When I heard about it, I just thought it was really smart.  Mark took this old character in Jimmy Edwards [Colin Fickes], who hadn’t been around in seasons, and used his re-emergence to tell this amazingly powerful story about life in high-school as an outsider.  It was really controversial and he had to fight really hard to get the episode made, but it was definitely worth it.  All of the actors and crew put in the longest hours on that episode and everyone really stepped up their game.

Those of us who were locked in the tutor center would file into this little room day after day and film these emotionally draining scenes, and I remember doing this part where Mouth sort of breaks down.  And I was really drained afterwards and [Bethany Joy Galeotti, Haley] looked at me and gave me some really encouraging words.  Little things like that stick in my memory.  This is random, but I remember listening to “Fix You,” by Coldplay the whole time I filmed that episode.  I’m really proud of the work we did, and I think it really set us apart from some other teen shows in that it had a lot of heart.

TDW: Do you have a favorite memory from the set?

Norris: It’s tough to pick just one after 6 1/2 years.  Two of my favorite memories involve episodes where the entire company traveled.  Early on we went to Myrtle Beach to film, and more recently we went to Honey Grove, Texas.  On the Myrtle Beach trip, we were all staying in the same hotel and it was like summer camp.  We all snuck down to the pool after hours and went swimming, so that was pretty fun.

And then in Texas, we got to watch an episode of the show with the kids who won the contest to bring our show to their town.  We literally sat in one of their living rooms and watched an episode with them, and it was so surreal to see them look at the TV screen and then look at us sitting in the room with them.  During certain parts of the episode, they would cry, laugh, etc., and it was just awesome to see our little show affect people that we had never even met before.

TDW: Mouth has had several relationships on the show but also very strong friendships with Brooke (Sophia Bush) and Rachel (Danneel Harris).  Why do you think that is?

Norris: I honestly don’t know why he’s had so many relationships.  As an actor, it’s not really my place to question the storylines, though.  Our writers have gotten us to 7 seasons, so I trust them even if I don’t always understand something.  Mouth was never a jock or a pretty-boy, so-to-speak, so it’s not surprising that his romantic aspirations with Brooke and Rachel didn’t really pan out.  But I think he had good friendships with them because he truly liked them as people, and not just because of how ‘hot’ they were.

TDW: Mouth and Millicent have hit several bumps in their relationship, whether it be Gigi, Owen or job opportunities.  Do you think they’ll last?  Do you want them to?

Norris: I think they will last, and I’d be happy to see that.  Lisa Goldstein, who plays Millie, is so awesome and we have the best time working together.  We both went to school in North Carolina and we have a lot of similar interests, so it’s very easy chemistry with her.  Gigi and Owen are just two obstacles that they had to overcome.  I think any great relationship that is worthwhile will always be tested.

TDW: What was your reaction when you found out they were bringing Gigi back?

Norris: On a personal level, Kelsey Chow who plays Gigi is the sweetest girl, so I was happy to work with her again.  On the storyline side, again, it’s not really important what I think.  No matter what I’m given to do, I just try and commit to it and make the most out of it.  There are people out there who passionately love my character and those who can’t stand him.  You’re never going to make everyone happy, but for those out there who watch our show with an open mind, and for those who identify with my character, they are the reasons that I work so hard.  I’m so grateful for my job and my fans, and they deserve nothing but the absolute best from me, no matter how I might feel about a particular storyline.

TDW: In season 5, the show jumped ahead four years and now there will be another jump.  Where do you think Mouth will be in another 5 years?

Norris: At the end of last season, Mouth made it pretty clear that he was happy with his job and with his girl, so hopefully he’ll still be involved with both in 5 years, although it might be nice if Millie was Mrs. McFadden at that point!

TDW: What can you tell us about the upcoming season and your storylines?  Will you be a regular and on for the whole season?

Norris: Yes, I’m signed on for this season.  I mentioned in another interview that I had to do some naked scenes, and the interviewer incorrectly assumed that it meant love scenes between me and Millie [ed. note: I think he’s referring to this]. My naked stuff is actually funny stuff, not romantic.  I read a comment from a girl who is apparently horrified about seeing me partially naked; that made me laugh!  I love how passionate our fans are.  Don’t worry girls, if I’m not your cup of tea there will be plenty of nakedness from the other guys on the show.  But on a more serious note, I really like where Mouth is headed this year.  Nothing is drastically different, but he’s going to face some tough dilemmas where he has to choose between his career and personal life.  And Millie has a really interesting arc this season, so we’ll see how Mouth deals with that.

TDW: Which role are you recognized for more: Mouth or Stewart Minkus on Boy Meets World?

Norris: It used to be Minkus all the time, but now that OTH is re-running everyday on SoapNet, it’s kind of a toss up.  Older fans tend to know me as Minkus, or even Chuckie Lee from ‘The Torkelsons,’ but OTH is popular with all age groups… I’ve had grandmas come up to me.  One lady kept calling me “Mouse,” I didn’t have the heart to correct her, haha.

TDW: Are you still in touch with any of the BMW cast?

Norris: Not really, unfortunately.  Most of them live on the West coast and it’s been so many years.  I hope they’re all well, it would be fun to reconnect sometime.

TDW: What is your upcoming movie, Blood Done Sign My Name, about? Does it have a release date yet?

Norris: It’s a true story about a racial murder in North Carolina that happened in the Vietnam War era.  I played one of the accused murderers, so it was completely different for me.  It’s an independent film and it deals with such a controversial subject, so I believe they’re still trying to figure out the best way and time to release it.  It was a great experience and I hope people get to see it.

TDW: Lastly, there are a lot of people on Twitter claiming to be One Tree Hill actors but are actually impostors.  Have you thought about getting your own account?

Norris: There are people that pretend to be me on Twitter, Facebook, etc.  It’s flattering in one respect, but at the same time it’s kind of a drag because they’ll write things I’d never write, or deny friend requests, etc.  I don’t think I’ll be doing any of that.  I occasionally post messages on OTHForums.com and I like that medium for interacting with the fans.  Also, I have some amazingly talented fans that started lee-norris.net and leemichaelnorris.com, so if anyone wants to know what’s going on in my career, they can always check those out.

Click here to see a picture of Norris and me from last year!

Come back next Sunday for another exclusive interview!

TDW Interview Index








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