Haley Ramm plays Brenna Carver on ABC Family’s hit show, Chasing Life. Since the show began Brenna has been dealing with the aftermath of her father’s death and her sister’s cancer diagnosis, while also navigating the ups and downs of the typical teenage existence. Here, Haley talks with Talk Nerdy With Us about being Brenna, what’s up next for the younger Carver sister, and why raising awareness on autoimmune disease is so important to her. Read on to hear more.
One of the biggest complaints that I often hear is that there’s a lack of representation on television of the bisexual community. Can you tell me a little bit about what it’s been like having the opportunity to be able to tell Brenna’s story in that respect?
I love playing Brenna and one of my favorite things about her is the bisexual aspect, just because she’s totally herself and she doesn’t apologize for it, nor should she in any way. The best thing for me has been how the writers have handled all of it. There’s never a scene where Brenna was explaining herself at all, she never had to do that with her family. They’ve been very gentle with it, and really spent so much time on making sure that people who are bisexual feel properly represented. There aren’t a lot of bisexual characters on TV and honestly I wish that Brenna would get a little more attention because there’s not a lot of bisexual characters and it’s so important. And I think that’s why they added the scene a couple of episodes ago when she’s in the LGBTQAI support group and her friend, or not her friend, her nemesis at the time, says ‘oh you’re bi, I thought that you were gay’ saying it’s not a real thing because her ex-girlfriend made that excuse. And it’s not an excuse. People can love whoever they want to love and people are people and love is love. And that’s Brenna.
Absolutely. I loved that scene with the group. It shed some real light on the fact that even within a community that’s supposed to be supportive there’s still judgment and still people who feel about out-of-place.
Yeah, exactly. Everyone can be more accepting.
One of my favorite episodes of Chasing Life to date was in this season, “Life of Brenna” –
The show focuses so much on April’s perspective, I really appreciated having a chance to see Brenna’s perspective a little bit. What has been your favorite part of digging a little deeper into Brenna?
For me “Life of Brenna” was so much fun. I was so happy to find out about that episode and I got to do it on my birthday which was pretty cool. I think it was important because so much has happened with Brenna, in her life, and I think she’s a complicated person so to touch on everything was important. And it was super fun to do and it helped me out a lot, too, for future episodes because I got to learn so much more about Brenna.
Something that the show does really well is illustrate how challenging it can be to be the support system for someone who is sick. What are the biggest things that Brenna has learned or that you, Haley, have learned through the experience of portraying this character who has a sister with cancer?
I think a big thing for me is to laugh, ya know? Because life is going to give you whatever it’s going to give you. That’s what Chasing Life is all about. Make the most of it. Even when that sounds impossible, find the funny in everything. That’s what we do on the show and that’s what my real life family does, too. Or at least we try, too.
I spoke with Italia [Ricci] earlier this year and she also mentioned that in between takes there’s a lot of joking and laughing and making sure that you’re having fun.
Yeah there has to be. I mean one of the camera guys stomachs will growl and you just laugh [laughs]. Ya know?
So, without giving anything away that you’re not allowed to give away, what can you tell me about what’s next for Brenna?
A love interest, which I think everyone knows by now. There’s only a couple of episodes left. And [pauses] it’s Finn. They’re starting something romantic and it’s super sweet. I love so many things that are coming up. I think that Finn brings a really great aspect to the show because he opens up Brenna’s eyes a little bit like we saw in the past episode when they’re talking about life and death and the afterlife. He is what Brenna really needs right now in the midst of all this craziness that’s happening with her family right now and the doubt and the sadness. We have some really sweet scenes coming up, we go to a school dance, which was fun – I’ve never been to a school dance because I was home schooled through high school. I’ve really gotten to live out my high school years on camera.
The show and the cast have done so much to raise awareness and money for cancer research, but I know from your social media accounts that you’re working really hard to raise money for research for autoimmune disease, so I wanted you to tell our readers a little bit about that.
Yeah, thank you! I’m really excited about it. I got involved because my mom was getting diagnosed with autoimmune diseases and, like the rest of the world, we didn’t know what autoimmune disease was. And the deeper you get, it’s a really scary thing. These diseases don’t mess around. So it became really important to me to talk about it and raise awareness, especially after meeting other patients with autoimmune disease. Just seeing the fight they fight every day, it changes your regular life, and it can change you if you let it. So, we want to raise research dollars and awareness, because we were a family that was like “what the hell is this and what is this going to do to our family?” There are millions of other families out there and no one is really talking about it, so we want to.
We have an autoimmune walk taking place in LA on November 8. It’s the first LA walk. It’s something my family’s working really hard on and I’ll be there and we’ll have some other celebrity guests there. A lot of my friends are going to perform their music. I think it’s going to be really fun. It’s autoimmunewalk.org and my team is Team Rammiams.