Sunday, October 12, 2014

EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Brittany Underwood on Playing Bad, and a 'One Life to Live' Reunion on 'Youthful Daze'

Left: Brittany Underwood. Right: Sarah Hester, Mike C. Manning and Brittany Underwood.
Actress Brittany Underwood is well-known for a memorable six-year stint as Langston Wilde on daytime drama One Life to Live, as well as her role as Lauren Tate in primetime soap opera Hollywood Heights. She guest stars on ABC's The Goldbergs on Wednesday, October 22 as Jill Rubin.

Underwood has also joined the cast of another serialized drama, hit web series Youthful Daze, as Sheila Edmundson, a character bound to cause heaps of trouble for anyone who crosses her path.

Serial Scoop spoke with Underwood about her new character, the One Life to Live reunion taking place on the set of Youthful Daze (David Gregory and Nic Robuck will soon arrive on the canvas), how her Youthful Daze executive producer Bryan James is different than her former executive producers Frank Valentini and Jill Farren Phelps, and to find out if she too will be joining The Young and the Restless, as several of her former Hollywood Heights co-stars have. Read our exclusive interview below:

SERIAL SCOOP: It’s a One life to Live reunion on Youthful Daze.
BRITTANY UNDERWOOD: I know. I know. I was very excited about that. It’s so funny because Nic (Robuck, who played James on One Life to Live) was asking me what I was doing as he was seeing all of my tweets about Youthful Daze and he was curious, as a lot of my actor friends are.  I told Bryan James I have friends that are curious and it’s really exciting and how Nic Robuck from One Life to Live was asking me about it.  A few days later Bryan came back and asked, "What if we had Nic on the show? He could be this…" I was like oh my god, that’s so amazing, and that would be so much fun. I love Nic and getting to act with him. It's really fun.

SERIAL SCOOP: David Gregory has also joined Youthful Daze. Poor Langston, what she went through with Ford...
BRITTANY UNDERWOOD: Oh, I know. And we don’t have any scenes together actually. It’s so funny because on the soap I had way more scenes with David but then on this show I have way more scenes with Nic.

SERIAL SCOOP: Now it's time for Lenny Platt (currently starring in ABC's new smash hit drama How to Get Away with Murder) to arrive on the scene.
BRITTANY UNDERWOOD: Oh my God I tweeted an Instagram picture of David and me when he came to set and I said 2 out of 3 Ford brothers... Lenny Platt, you next?

SERIAL SCOOP: So who is next? Robin Strasser? Erika Slezak?
BRITTANY UNDERWOOD: Yeah, the whole cast. [Laughs]

SERIAL SCOOP: Looking back, What were your thoughts on the cancellation of OLTL?
BRITTANY UNDERWOOD: It was really sad to hear. At that point I was no longer part of the shooting cast, but I was in LA when I got the call from Kristen Alderson (Starr, One Life to Live, now Kiki, General Hospital). She called me right after they found out, and was sad because even though I wasn’t a part of it anymore. Whenever I was in New York I would always go to the set and visit because Kristen and I stayed really close and even after I was off the show.  Anytime I was in New York for auditions that was home. It never felt weird after I left, it felt like visiting home. It wasn’t even about work so much it was just a place that was familiar and was a beautiful place for everybody to come together that I knew and cared about so much. They grew into my family. I felt really bad for the fans.  They invested so much in these characters and stories and it just got kind of ripped out from under them. I feel and I felt really bad for a lot of people.

SERIAL SCOOP: It was nice that you got to be a part of the last episode on ABC.
BRITTANY UNDERWOOD: That was such a honor. I was really honored that they asked me back for the last episode. You know being there on the last day and shutting off the lights and everybody saying goodbye was really, really sad, but in a beautiful way. I mean it was great because we saw how much everybody cared and loved each other and how much it meant to everybody.

SERIAL SCOOP: You have the unique experience of having had both Frank Valentini as your executive producer on One Life to Live, and Jill Farren Phelps as your executive producer from your time on Hollywood Heights. How do they differ from Bryan James?
BRITTANY UNDERWOOD: Hilarious. That’s such a funny question. [Laughs]

SERIAL SCOOP: I have to ask the tough questions. [Laughs]
BRITTANY UNDERWOOD: I mean it is very different. With Frank and Jill, I never knew them before I was cast. When I was cast on both of those shows it was a very different process. With One Life to Live it was a gradual transition, I was only supposed to be there for a day and then they had me back and then they finally gave me a contract. With Hollywood Heights it was right away, they were always working me.

Brittany Underwood plays Sheila Edmundson in Youthful Daze.
With Bryan it was funny because in the middle I feel he had written this character Sheila and she was only supposed to be in a few episodes; I don’t even remember how many. And then when Bryan found out I could do it he wrote more which was really flattering. He decided to invest more in the character and give me more to play. We explored backstory and why Sheila was the way she was and we were really able to tap into that. Bryan is more accessible to me because of the way I came on with him already knowing who I was. It’s been a really good experience because I’ve been able to be part of the creative process which I wasn’t so much allowed to do on One Life to Live, but was allowed to do a little bit more on Hollywood Heights because I was the first one cast as the lead. Then even more when I got Youthful Daze. I have a lot more access to my executive producer here. That is always a good thing to have.

SERIAL SCOOP: Hunter King (Summer Newman), Melissa Ordway (Abby Newman), Robert Adamson (Noah Newman) and Kelli Goss (Courtney Sloan) all appeared on Hollywood Heights and have since joined The Young and the Restless. Are you going to be cast as well?
BRITTANY UNDERWOOD: No, no, not that I know of. [Laughs] I was so happy for them getting to experience the soap world and the soap life. It’s such an amazing experience. I was really happy for them that they got to experience that. I feel like at this point Jill would get in so much trouble for bringing on more people from Hollywood Heights. I don’t know. I know she gets a lot of flak for that.

SERIAL SCOOP: She does.
BRITTANY UNDERWOOD: So that’s absolutely awesome for them. I wish them all the best and I wish Jill the best. She was super awesome and I don’t have one bad thing to say about her. So I’m just happy for everybody in their own paths.

SERIAL SCOOP: Your character on Youthful Daze, Sheila, is quite the bad girl.
BRITTANY UNDERWOOD: Oh yeah. She’s the bad girl, which I love because I’ve always played the good girl. Even when Langston first came on One Life to Live and she was a little bit dark, and even with the whole Ford thing it was still like she was just naughty in terms of what she did, but not really the bad girl who caused trouble for more than one person. I’m really excited to have the chance to play this kind of role. It was something I’ve really wanted to do for a very long time, and on soaps you always worry about playing the villain.  Not that necessarily she is the villain, but I do cause a lot of trouble. You always worry if fans are going to love you or hate you, or love to hate you. I think Sheila gets redeemed when we show a little more of why she is the way she is and what she’s been through in her life. I’m really excited that we’ve been able to go into the back story and that is actually how Nic comes on Youthful Daze.

SERIAL SCOOP: What can fans of your previous work find to enjoy on Youthful Daze?
BRITTANY UNDERWOOD: One Life to Live fans are definitely going to enjoy the soapiness of it and the drama because it has a lot of elements from the daytime soaps. Hollywood Heights fans I’m wondering because so many of them are so young, and this is a more mature show. I feel like the responsible older sister because I do feel like the older sister to them. I communicate with a lot of them on Twitter and so I hope they don’t necessarily do as they see on TV. [Laughs] But I hope they are entertained. It’s still an interesting story and they are able to see the behavior is for a reason. It’s not to show this is how you should act. Sheila has been through stuff and this is why, not to show this is the cool way to be and it’s going to get you anywhere. I hope it can be a lesson learned for the younger audience.

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Catch up on Youthful Daze at youthfuldaze.com.

Michael Goldberg is a writer, producer and actor based out of New York. He hosts Serial Scoop Now and regularly contributes television and web series features to SerialScoop.com.

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