Haley Ramm won the hearts of audiences last season as Brenna Carver, youngest sister of April Carver on ABC Family’s Chasing Life.
Playing a rebellious teen who struggles to come to terms with her sexuality, you can catch her every week as she fights to be seen by her mother and work through the challenges of growing up.
Read our interview with Haley below.
Last week was really Brenna focused. Was that your favorite episode so far to film?
“Yeah, I would say for sure it was my favorite episode. It just feels good to control the scene as an actor and to have a whole week where I was doing the most scenes. It was nice. It was good practice. I felt like I learned a lot more about Brenna myself by doing that. I was super thrilled when I found out that they wrote an episode for me. I got to film it on my birthday, so that was amazing!”
When did they tell you that they were going to do Brenna focused episode?
“We usually have a meeting with the writers right before we start a season to kind of see where our characters are going and what’s in store for them. They told me then that somewhere in the season there would be a Brenna focused episode and that we would be talking about all of the topics that needed to be talked about with her. I feel like a lot has happened with her, like she has this huge back story that slowly gets unveiled, so it was nice to get a dedicated episode to it.”
When you first auditioned for Brenna did you get this full back story? Did you know she was going to be bi? Did you know all these things taking on the role?
“Well I certainly didn’t, because to me it was just an audition. I got the call the night before “can you be there at 11:00 am?” You know you have a bit of time to go over it and then you go in and you kind of forget about it and then you really start thinking about it when you start getting the call backs and going to network and stuff. I had no idea what they were going to do the character. I could tell that she had had somewhat of a more troubled past than anyone else in her family, but that was all I knew.
When we were shooting the pilot in Boston we got to ask the writers questions and I just said where do you think Brenna is going and they mentioned one of their family members was the inspiration for Brenna. She told me a bit about her family member and I kind of like put somethings together in my head, but they didn’t tell me that I was going to be bisexual or have any of those story lines. They tended to come along along the way.”
Since Brenna is kind of actually based off of a person, does that make portraying her easier or harder?
“Well I got to meet her, so that was really fun. We didn’t really talk about it much, but I don’t know. I think just knowing that I get to play someone who’s so relatable. There are a lot of young girls out there who are bisexual or who have dealt with an abortion, you know, all of these things that she goes through; or has a family member going through an illness. I think that kind of like makes it easy; just knowing that there are a lot of people actually going through those things.”
We’re going to talk about Monday’s episode for a bit. It was the big wedding dress episode, and there’s so many movies and shows where they do the dress montage scene, is that actually as fun as you guys make it seem? What is that like?
“Yes, it was so much fun; we were just dying laughing. We had gotten to try on the dresses in previous wardrobe fittings, so we kind of knew what was coming up. We had some time to look forward to it. I think everyone loves a montage. I’m someone who will turn on the TV and if there’s like a montage happening in the show or the movie I’m all in, because it like has me hooked! It’s like an infomercial, you know? [Laughs].”
Did you have a favorite bridesmaid dress that you tried on?
“I kind of liked the blue one that Brenna ended up in; I kind of felt like I was a dream girl, but like a dream girl reject.”
It kind of reminded me of the dress from Anastasia. The one she wears at the opera.
“Oh my gosh, it does. That is so funny. It’s definitely, yeah, it’s the princess dress.”
You also got to direct a film within a show. Do you have a desire to actually pursue directing?
“Yeah, I kind of always have. Whenever I’ve ever been on sets I really like talking to the directors and kind of sitting with them at the video village and seeing how they work. I just find it really fascinating. I have a bit of interest, but it also scares me, so I don’t know if I’ll do it anytime in the super near future. I think it’d be cool to direct like a young girl in something. I don’t know why. I think because I started acting when I was young, so it’d be fun to just, I don’t work with a younger character.”
What was it like directing within an episode? What was that like?
“It was really funny. I told Charlie Stratton, the director, right before and I was like do you want me to direct this whole thing, kind of teasing like I’ll just take over the scene. [Laughs]. I mean that’s basically the scene right? Of course I was kidding, because there are other things, like lighting, involved that I don’t know what I’m talking about. It was fun to just like hear action and then I call action. I feel like directors have like this certain cadence that they use, so trying to get to play around with that and kind of just mimic Charlie. I just Charlie’s copycat.”
Do you have a personal favorite characteristic of Brenna’s?
“Yeah, I like how she’s unapologetically herself. I think that’s just the coolest thing. She is very comfortable with herself, but also like struggles with a lot of insecurities like normal people do. I think that’s a cool characteristic, because, I don’t know, I’d like to be a little more like that, so I like it.”
Are you team Leo or team Dominic?
“It’s so hard. I think that Leo is really fun and is super charming, one of my favorites of the … I don’t know. I can’t really say. Sometimes I’m more of a team Dominic fan. You know, because like I’m his friend, because he’s kind of turned into the underdog and it makes you like feel something for the underdog; like I want you to win. [Laughs].”
Do you have a favorite actor to have a scene with on Chasing Life?
“Oh that’s hard, because there’s so many and they’re all so different. I like that I get a lot of scenes with different people. They start to pair Uncle George and Brenna up together in scenes this season, so that’s been really fun. I don’t know, scenes with Italia are great; she’s really fun and it’s fun to work with people more your age, but then to work with super seasoned actors is kind of different and just fun like hearing about their stories in the past. I think I like pick up things from everyone, so I can’t pick a favorite, it’s kind of hard.”
Is there somebody you wish you had more scenes with?
“I think that Aisha and I wish that we had more scenes together; we always do. I think it’s time that Brenna starts partying with Aisha’s Beth, like I think that she’s old enough now.”
She could be the third roommate, you know?
“Yeah, exactly! We’re all friends in real life, so it feels so funny when there’s a party scene and I get all these text messages from everyone on set saying, “We wish you were here;” like write me in. [Laughs].”
Can you tease a bit about what’s coming Bren and Margo?
“I think that with Margo, Brenna just needed to have fun with someone and clear her mind from Greer. I can say that the next episode has some really funny moments and you find out more about Margo and what’s going on in her crazy world, so that’s a fun one.”
Besides the Margo storyline, what else is coming up for Brenna in season two?
“Up next for Brenna, she is really focused on becoming a director. She makes it clear to her family that that is definitely what she wants to do. Her and her mom are still on the going to college and not going college argument, but she knows that she definitely doesn’t want to go. She just wants to jump into being a filmmaker. A lot more love interests, like a couple more, so it doesn’t get boring.”
What other show on ABC Family should would you like Brenna to crossover onto?
“The Fosters. I like The Fosters and it comes on right before us, so I like watching both of them. It’s a great show.”
What show are you currently nerding out about?
“I just started Mr. Robot. That show’s really good. It’s really kind of intense. I don’t know why, but I chose to turn it on at like midnight and then I find myself falling asleep and having to watch the other half the next day, but I’m so into it. [Laughs].”
Since you’ve guys just finished wrapping season two, what other projects do you have coming up?
“I’m not quite sure yet. I’m just getting back into going out for other roles and stuff. I feel like I’ve been in the Chasing Life world for so long, but I definitely want to try to do something in between. I’m working with a charity right now called AARDA, it’s American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association, and we’re planning a walk in November; it’s going to be on November 8th.
I’m very excited about it and it feels good to do things for a good cause and it’s something that’s really close to my heart. I’ll be doing a lot of that”
What goes into planning a walk? What do you have to do?
“I find it’s kind of like planning a party/producing a show. You know you have to figure out who’s going to come, what fun booths you’re going to set up, who you’re going to have perform. A lot of my friends are really great really talented musicians, so we’re going to have a lot of fun music. Food trucks. I think just the ultimate goal is to make it as fun as possible and make it a place where people can learn more about diseases and also a chance to make a donation. We’re just looking to raise awareness and money. Also porta potty funding is involved; on top of all that. [Laughs].”