Interview with Janel Parrish

In the recent mystery teen drama "Pretty Little Liars" Janel Parrish plays the role of Mona Vanderwall and she also starred on "Heroes". In this interview Janel talks about her work on these two shows, her first acting jobs in musical und TV and about her dream to one day be able to combine her music with her acting job.

Foto: Copyright: Marc Hussman Photography
© Marc Hussman Photography

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1. You've had you first acting job when you were only 11 years old. How did you get started in acting?

I started in musical theater actually. The National Touring Company of Les Miserables came to Hawaii, where I'm from, to hold open auditions for the role of Little Cossette. When I got cast, I was 6 years old, and it was my first time performing in front of anyone! It was such a great experience. 9 months touring the country, and 2 months on Broadway. Since then, I was bitten by the acting/singing bug. I moved to Los Angeles to try my hand in TV and Movies when I was 14 years old.

2. One of your first roles was on "Baywatch". What do like to remember most of that time?

That was so fun! I think I was 11 years old, and it was great to be able to work at home in Hawaii. I remember there was a scene where I had to act like I was drowning. The waves were about 10 feet high that day! I was getting tossed by the waves and freaking out! When the scene was done, the director goes "Great job Janel! That looked like you were really drowning!" I really WAS drowning though and I started crying to my dad that I didn't wanna go back in! Luckily, they got what they needed on the last take!

3. You play Mona Vanderwall on "Pretty Little Liars" who is sort of a difficult character. Is it fun to play a bitchy kind of girl?

It really is fun to play the bitchy role. It's hard though, because you don't want the viewers to hate the character. It's challenging to find a way to play her bitchy, but show the audience why she is the way she is. In this case, Mona is trying to overcompensate for her earlier "dorkiness" by being a bit loud and obnoxious. But it's all because she's terrified she'll go back to being invisible.

4. Do you already know what's going to happen to Mona in the second part of the first season?

The writers are keeping things pretty close to the vest! I kind of find out whats going on script by script.

5. On the one hand "Pretty Little Liars" has a young cast and on the other hand some more experienced actors like Chad Lowe and Holly Marie Combs. Is it like a huge family on set? Do you learn from each other?

Everyone is so good! It's fun to be able to watch such amazing actors, and yes, I do think we all learn from each other. We're lucky that its a fun set and that everyone gets along. It makes work fun!

6. Is there a lot of goofing around on set? Can you share a funny little anecdote?

It's a pretty professional set! We definately laugh together and goof around, but once the cameras are rolling, everyone snaps into work mode. The hair and make up trailer is always a fun place to hang out. They play some great music, and we're all groovin in there and having the best time!

7. "Pretty Little Liars" is like a mix between "Desperate Housewives" and "Gossip Girl". What aspect of the show do you like the most?

I love the mystery aspect of the show. It's always fun to see juicy gossip and all that, but the mystery really adds something new. It keeps you wanting more!

8. You played May, a recurring character on "Heroes". What do you think about the development of the show?

I loved the show! I was so happy to be on it and to be able to work with such great actors. I was a fan of the show way before I was even on it, so it was a dream to be cast in it.

9. You are a singer as well. Do you see your future in music or television? Would you like to combine the two?

I would love to be able to combine my music and acting. I've been fortunate enough to have had some of my music placed in movies that I've done, but it would be amazing to land a role where I could sing and act. I would love to do a musical movie!

10. Is there a show currently airing that you would like to play a part in? What kind of part would you like to play if you could choose?

I love "Glee"! It would be so cool to be one of the Glee Club members. Such a great show!

11. Do you have new projects you can tell us about?

An independant film a did last summer in Hawaii just got accepted to the Hawaiian Film Festival. It's called "One Kine Day", and we hope some good things will come of it! Also, another film I did called "Triple Dog" will be coming out on DVD in September.

13. Since myFanbase is an online magazine about TV series, do you have a favorite one?

I have a few! "Glee" and "Vampire Diaries" are two of my favorites. Before "LOST" finished, that was my all time favorite. RIP "LOST"!

Thanks for your interest! -Janel

Nicole Oebel - myFanbase

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