In case you have been under a rock for the past few months you know that “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” is one of the hottest shows on television right now. Furthermore, if you’ve watched the show, you might be one of the many viewers who think Adrian is a naughty girl — to put it mildly.
“I was at a dance convention just sitting there and some people noticed me, my boyfriend got on the mic and asked people if they liked Adrian and a girl yelled out “NO,'” recalls actress Francia Raisa, the face of the girl everyone is loving to hate. “That girl realized I was there and came up to me saying how she didn’t like my character’ because she’s too mean, but everyone always says they love how bad she is!”
Indeed, her character in the ABC show is something else. Adrian seduces morally confused football players, deals with a mother who may want to relive her teenage years again, manages to be a popular cheerleader who is also in the honor roll and crushes on a guy who, well, got a girl pregnant at 15.
All in a day’s work.
Raisa manages to interpret the feisty, sexy, independent and lonely Adrian amazingly well.
So well in fact that, when I was getting ready for this interview, I was already thinking she would shoot me a snooty one-liner like the ones she uses on screen. To my amazement, the young and talented actress could not be farther away from her character’s personality. Raisa, an LA native who is DJ “El Cucuy” Renan Almendarez’s daughter, gushes about “how lucky” she is to be in a hit TV show and talks with such an upbeat tone and frankness she had me laughing five minutes into conversation.
“I remember how I was at the point of talking about sex when I was younger but I love playing my character because she actually does and I get to send a message to a lot of teenagers. This girl chilling with Ricky, she doesn’t have to sleep with him because at the end of the day she knows he doesn’t love her, but the fact that she’s smart gives her a little more of an edge because it shows you can be smart, and still be hot,” she said.
Her fans will be happy to know that they’ll soon see more of her on television, movies and on-line coming soon.
“Me and the girls from the show are talking about having a site for teenagers where they can ask us questions they are ashamed or afraid to ask adults, we could recruit a doctor as well to educate them. It could be very helpful so we are definitely considering it. I have also been working on movies and I have so many ideas to develop in the fashion business and even produce or direct. I have many interests,” said the 20-year old star.
The movies Raisa speaks of are completely different from one another. On her first lead as indie film talent she got to work with Tinieblas Gonzalez, one of the lead Spanish directors in the horror/science fiction genre. In the film ASD , her character and her graffiti artist friends are caught in a new subway system and discover a half-human creature they must escape from to survive. The plot sounds interesting but what Raisa was interested in were the working conditions.
I did two movies before this one, but it was my first lead and I was very excited. The fact it was in Spain made it even more exciting. However, it was one of the hardest jobs I’ve had because of the environment! It made me appreciate the Actors Guild and how we shoot movies here,” says the actress. “We would shoot long hours at some locations that were disgusting. I remember my first day we were in a tunnel and there were bugs and trash, then in another location we filmed at a tunnel where people shot heroin and we had to be very careful where we stepped because there were syringes everywhere. We even shot in the sewers and it smelled so bad.”
The crazy settings were apparently worth it. According to Raisa, Tinieblas is known for his unusual vision. Although she wondered how it all would look on screen once she saw the trailer she was, “impressed with how it came out and with what his vision would be.”
The overall experience is one she will cherish. Still, she says, once she was back in America to shoot her second lead role things felt much better.
“My other role in The Cutting Edge was heaven. Being in a studio and having a set, it was amazing. Now when anyone starts being a diva, complaining about nothing, I just go “You have nooo idea how things can get,” Raisa jokes.
Getting the audition a day after returning from Spain, Raisa was happy to know she had gotten the lead. But there was no time for rest; soon after the casting, dance lessons and filming began. The lack of free time can be tolerated by the fact that work is enjoyable.
Contrary to the cast dramas that were popular a few years ago, having a cast that doesn’t like each other seems to be preposterous nowadays. Because of this, Raisa admits that going to work is something she looks forward to.
“We just get along so well and learn from each other, it’s amazing,” she says of her “Secret Life” castmates. “For the movies I was also very happy because we all got along and worked well, we wanted to make things great and just made it happen.”
In case catfights make a comeback though, Raisa has other personal projects. One of them being a clothing line. As cliche as it may seem, she says she’d like to focus on a niche market, curvalicious women.
“Business-wise my main focus is to direct and produce someday. I have a lot of concepts that I want to put on camera and I’m already putting attention on set and seeing how I can start things. But, there are a lot of girls my size, petite with big hips, and there aren’t a lot of clothes for us! I want to start a clothing line to do something that will fit us in all the right places. I also have a passion for makeup and would love to create a line that works with these ideas,” the mini-mogul shares.
Among the many decisions to make, one thing is certain. This actress’s popularity has grown and she’d better get used to it.
“Because of my dad’s background, I can say I am a little more aware of what its like to not have a personal life, but its crazy right now. I’m not used to it yet because when I’m with my dad he’s the one getting recognized. Now it’s about me so this is interesting,” says Raisa, trying to make sense of stardom. “I went to the finale of ABDC (America’s Best Dance Crew) and people were screaming but I thought it was for the Pussy Cat Dolls, turned out it was for me. As far as my private life, I have a boyfriend and a rumor magazine came out saying that I was dating this choreographer so I was like “Oh no, it started.'”