Jillian Rose Reed has some of the best lines on MTV’s Awkward., but she isn’t about to take credit for them. Her character of Tamara comes straight from the mind of series creator Lauren Iungerich, who leaves a little bit of herself in every character but mostly in Tamara. In fact, many of the terms and catch phrases are ones she uses daily herself. That very specific reality adds itself nicely to Reed’s particular brand of spunk within Tamara, making her a standout for the fans. But the tide turned recently, with her reveal that she actually wrote the infamous “care-frontation” letter to her supposed best friend. What gives, right? Well, we wanted to find out!
LA TV Insider Examiner: Tamara is one of the most unique characters we have seen on television in a long time. She pops off the screen, and we can only imagine she did so early on, just on the pilot script pages, as well. Going back to when you first read the project, what was it about Tamara that drew you in?
Jillian Rose Reed: The entire pilot, I thought it was one of the funniest pilot scripts that I had ever read, and with Tamara specifically, I just loved her spunk and her sassiness, and I just loved that I would be able to play a character that really had no censor and just said whatever she wanted and had a really good sense of who she is. For me, that seemed really fun to be able to play.
Lauren has said that many of Tamara’s “isms” come directly from her own vocabulary, but now that you’ve been playing her awhile, have you found yourself adlibbing and adding little bits of yourself in more and more?
J.R.R.: You know, Lauren’s really great. She definitely lets me play when I want to play, but to be honest, all of those really quirky things that I say come from Lauren’s brain [Laughs]. Those are things she’d say in real life. The last time I was at dinner with her she’d say something crazy, and I was like ‘What does that mean?’ and half the time she doesn’t even know!
Do you have a favorite or one that’s kind of turned into a catchphrase for you?
J.R.R.: My favorite that I got to say in episode three was I referred to something as a ‘big Fail Mary,’ and I thought that was so funny because it’s not something that you’d ever hear somebody say!
Well, maybe not *before* Awkward. premiered, but now fans are really incorporating the quotes into their own lives, especially on Twitter.
J.R.R.: I hope so! That’s awesome!
Tamara has such a unique perspective when it comes to parties and socializing and relationships, but what has been the most fun moments for you to film and to explore as the character?
J.R.R.: I think that my favorite episode to shoot was episode three when we were at our very first party and all of the red cup stuff was happening, and I got to do so much fun stuff. I think my favorite to do was the spit-take, when I took a sip of a drink, and it was cigarette butts, and I spit it out. It’s been really fun for me to explore this character who has such a desire to fit in and to be more than she is and to get this guy that she loves so much. I feel so lucky to get to do all of this fun stuff because Tamara’s crazy! [Laughs]
Are you feeling like you’re living vicariously through her then? Is she completely different from what you were like when you were in school?
J.R.R.: There’s definitely some similarities between Tamara and I. I was a theater geek when I was in high school, and Tamara’s definitely a theater geek, so we have that in common. My need for popularity was not at all like Tamara, so I guess I am living a little bit vicariously through her in that way [laughs], but I love to go out and be funny and do crazy things, and Tamara’s like that so we are definitely similar in that way.
We imagine you don’t thrive on drama as much as Tamara does, though. She seems to be really relishing her anger at Jenna right now.
J.R.R.: I definitely think that Tamara does thrive on the drama of situations, and she tends to react in very big ways, but the situation that Tamara and Jenna are going through right now is bigger than anything she’s ever had to deal with. I think that this is a little more extreme, and you know, involves some really hurt feelings. I don’t necessarily know that we’ll ever see Tamara this angry again, but right now this is as extreme as it’s going to get for her. She’s very hurt, and with her character comes all of that drama.
It also seems like they’ve had such a solid friendship that they can’t stay apart for too long...
J.R.R.: Right. Every teenage girl has that fight with their best friend where something happens, and Tamara and Jenna are so close that it’s almost like– I was actually talking to Nikki who plays Lacey on the show, and we were talking about this moment, and we were saying that it’s almost just as bad when your best girl friend hurts you as when a boy hurts you. You expect the boy to break your heart, but you don’t expect your best friend to do it.
Right! But ultimately what would it take for Tamara and Jenna’s relationship to get back to what it was?
J.R.R.: Honestly, I think that Tamara knows that Jenna’s sorry, and I think that Tamara feels for Jenna. She’s always felt for Jenna– she’s always been Jenna’s rock– and I think that for Tamara, it’s just going to take that moment of ‘Okay, Jenna really needs me, and I have to be there for her.’ No matter how mad Tamara is, I think that she’ll always be there for Jenna, and I think that’s what will bring them back together.
You guys have a pretty big dance/formal event coming up—
J.R.R.: Yeah, it’s gonna be fun!
Is that a moment where Tamara really gets to shine or does something else get in the way?
J.R.R.: Tamara definitely has her moments. She’s so excited to go to the dance and put on her pretty dress and I’m very excited for viewers to see what she looks like when it comes to the dance because she definitely put her Tamara spin on everything! The dance is a big moment for everyone but especially Tamara, so I think it’s going to be a really fun episode.
And going forward for the second season, is there anything that you would love to get to do– or a side to Tamara that you want to explore– that you haven’t had a chance to yet?
J.R.R.: Yeah! I think that I definitely think that Tamara needs to make Ricky Schwartz jealous. Up until now it’s been Ricky Schwartz having this power over Tamara. Like we found out in the last episode, even when she gets mad at him, she still wants to kiss him. [Laughs] So I think that Tamara needs to have a boy that really, really likes her so Ricky’s like ‘Hey, that’s my girl!’
So you think it’s still going to be about Ricky for Tamara? She’s not going to move on and set her sights on someone else? Personally we’re not quite sure what she sees in him, but he must have his moments…
J.R.R.: Oh, poor Ricky Schwartz! I think that Ricky is kind of that guy that every girl has in their life that they just can’t let go, and he’s kind of like a mild obsession for her.
And who do you see as that for Jenna? There may be a good case for both Matty and Jake here.
J.R.R.: I vary back and forth, so I’ve decided that I am Team “Jatty,” and she needs to have both of them. [Laughs] I just think that there’s aspects of both of their characters that are perfect for Jenna. There’s Jake who’s so sweet and could be everything she wants, and then there’s Matty, who you know, is a little bit of a bad boy in that sense because he’s not perfect, but that’s very attractive as well.
Awkward. airs on MTV on Tuesday nights, this episode at 11:30pm. And don’t worry, we did talk to Reed about the infamous letter, too, but we’re saving that for a whole other post. Be sure to come back here for that portion of our chat!
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