J-14 caught up with Ashley Rickards, who plays Jenna Hamilton on MTV's new show Awkward, and she dished about dealing with bullies, embarrassing moments on set, and her secret relationship! Awkward airs Tuesdays 11 p.m. on MTV.
J-14: On the show, your character Jenna struggles to be accepted. How do you relate?
Ashley Rickards: I graduated high school at 15, so it's different than my own personal experience. I was the girl who got the right answers in class but wouldn't admit to actually studying. I relate to what Jenna's going through because it's incredibly difficult to be popular. You're never perfect. I just wanted to be accepted and I think that's something that everyone can relate to.
J-14: Did you ever deal with bullies like Sadie?
Ashley: I definitely dealt with bullies. I think everyone does. You just have to be confident in yourself. When somebody throws something at you, just take it in stride and let it go because what doesn't kill you makes you stronger. I hope the show helps teenagers understand that what bullies say isn't about them in specific, it's about something else. I hope it helps people pass less judgment and be kind to mean people. They need it the most.
J-14: What's the funniest thing that has happened on the Awkward set this season?
Ashley: There are a lot of pranks. I just found out that [co-stars] Beau and Brett have been locking Jillian in her trailer without her knowing. She thought she had a faulty trailer and would call Brett to let her out because she was too embarrassed to call Transpo! Behind the scenes, when I had the cast on my arm, I would actually run into a lot of people with it because I would forget that my arm went out to almost a full wingspan reach.
J-14: Jenna has a secret relationship with Matty. How do you handle secret crushes?
Ashley: When you're in that situation, it's so hard because there are genuine feelings there. Jenna sees the game Matty is playing, but she also knows that when she's with him, it's real and it's genuine. If I was in that situation, it'd be a lot harder to admit and say, "I don't know if this guy is what I need right now."
J-14: What kind of insecurities did you deal with while growing up and how did you get over them?
Ashley: My friends went through phases where they were vegetarians and they ran much faster than me. I went to a pretty athletic school so I thought, "Maybe if I'm a vegetarian, I'll run faster." I was insecure about eating meat a little bit. I tried to be vegetarian but bacon was my weakness every time. I think insecurities are fleeting and unless it's a major risk to your health, you should just love yourself for who you are.
Photo: Courtesy of MTV