Amanda Leighton is enjoying her extended appearance on The Fosters, as Jesus’s love interest Emma. Here, she discusses the moment when she ‘fell in love’ with her character, among other things. She also shares some great advice she’s received, as well as a brilliant kernel of her own: No one can be you better than you
YOUNG ADULT: Hi Amanda! What has it been like playing opposite Jake T. Austin in The Fosters?
Amanda Leighton: We have fun on set working together. He’s a real nice and personable guy who’s been in the business a long time. It’s great to get to work with someone who’s been in the biz for so long.
YA: What appealed to you about Emma? In what ways are you different from her, and how do you resemble one another?
AL: I loved her bantering with Jesus in the beach scene. That’s when I fell in love with the character. I’ve totally had that relationship before with a close guy friend so I understood where she was coming from. I’m definitely not as assertive as Emma but I will fight for things I want or believe in. When people meet me they think I have an outgoing personality but I’m a lot more reserved with my thoughts and what I will say—I’m a bit of an observer. I do admire how confident Emma is and that she knows who she is. I think that it’s something a lot of people struggle with, so they admire her for that. My personality is more playful, down to earth, and I’m not super girly like Emma. My work and dedication to acting is very important to me and is something that I have fought for, just like how persistent she is with her wrestling.
YA: You have been involved in a range of amazing shows, from Six Feet Under to 90210 toMake It or Break It. What has the standout experience been for you?
AL: Every project you work on is a different experience so it’s hard to choose. I think Make It or Break It was a big standout project for me because it was the first long recurring guest star I had done. I got a taste of how it is to develop a character over time and watch her change. I also got a nice chunk of time to work on camera and learn. It really helped my confidence.
YA: What methods or routine do you utilize when preparing on set?
AL: You’d laugh if you saw my scripts, there are notes all over them. I’ll usually start with figuring out as much as possible about the character and who she is, then build from there. The more I know, the better. I put a lot of work into breaking down every character I audition for. I write notes about everything including my inner dialogue thoughts. Once you’re on set you let it go and be in the moment. Listen and respond and hope that it all comes together. Lol!
YA: What is the best advice you would share with other aspiring young actors?
AL: You have to love acting enough to do it for free. If you are coming out here to pursue a career you have to realize what you’re up against and expect the worst but hope for the best. Don’t expect that you’re going to ‘make it’ in a year or two because it’s really going to be more like 10 years. The competition is fierce and you always have to bring your A game if you want to build a solid reputation with casting directors. You have to love what you’re doing and enjoy the path of getting there…because it’s a long path. If it’s something that you have a passion for, go after it, 100%. We’ve only got one life here on this earth, why not take the risk to do what you love?
YA: How are you able to ‘stand out from the pack’ in Hollywood today, when so many talented people are jockeying for a limited number of roles?
AL: It’s important to stay true to yourself because in the end that’s will make you stand out. No one can be you better than you! If you are constantly changing to what you think people want, you’re just chasing the wind. I think the people who really know who they are have a confidence that stands out and you can see that.
YA: If you had to choose one other career other than performing, what would it be and why?
AL: That’s a hard question because I love what I do and I haven’t given much thought to what I would do if I wasn’t doing this. If I had to pick something I would probably say film editing. I really enjoyed doing that while in high school taking several Multi Media classes in an Arts Program.
YA: What’s next for you?
AL: I just wrapped an Indie film called The Better Half and a short called Stolen. Next I have a film called The Fifth Victim that starts production in late summer. It’s a horror/thriller and I’ll be playing a very different character, someone people aren’t used to seeing me play, so it will be exciting!
YA: If you could have played any role in any film or TV show in history, which would it be and why?
AL: Angelina Jolie’s role in Girl Interrupted. There aren’t a lot of gritty emotional roles out there and that’s what I really love. Plus I love the cast in that film and would love working with any one of them!