THE SECRET LIFE OF AN AMERICAN TEENAGER: Ken Baumann and Francia Raisa interview (2011)

Ken Baumann and Francia Raisa of "The Secret Life of the American Teenager"

Hailing from the ABC Family series about the real life implications of sex and pregnancy for teenagers today, though portrayed through a warm and loving lens, THE SECRET LIFE OF THE AMERICAN TEENAGER holds up a mirror for high school kids today.  Co-stars Ken Baumann portrays Ben Boykewich, the gentle teen that found out one night of passion has far reaching implications; and Francia Raisa portrays Adrian Lee, a n outgoing young woman determined to get back at her ex-boyfriend by sleeping with his rival.  But that one night changed their lives forever after it ended in an unexpected pregnancy.  At the ABC Family/Disney press junket held at ABC Studios on May 14th, Ken and Francia shared their insight on what is next and how they feel about the show’s depiction of teen life today.

Do you think SECRET LIFE realistically portrays teenagers?

Francia: It’s pretty realistic. I have a sister who is still in high school and she says a lot of what is going on has been going on in her experience in high school. Everyone is talking about sex. Everyone is talking about who’s hooking up with who. And nowadays they’re more dealing with drugs. They’re dealing with alcohol. They’re dealing with peer pressure.  Pregnancies happen. When I was in high school I knew so many girls who had abortions. Some left because they had babies. It’s pretty realistic. So, yeah, we deal with it in realistic ways.

Are you concerned about the example the show sets for kids?

Ken: It’s interesting to me because, first and foremost like any television show, the responsibility is to entertain. But I think we do it in a responsible way. We show pretty honest results from all these problems that teenagers face.

Were you surprised to learn that your characters were getting married?

Francia: We never really know what’s going on. It’s always a surprise to us when we receive the scripts. It was a surprise when I found out [Adrian] was pregnant. Then there was always the question of whether [Ben and Adrian] were going to get married, were [they] not going to get married, and are we going to feed into that? Then all of a sudden I’m trying on a wedding dress.

Ken: I know, there you go. It happens fast.

Francia: It’s nice to live it on TV and not in real life yet.

Are you looking forward to working with another baby on set?

Ken: Throughout the show’s history it’s been a very baby friendly television show and we have handled many a baby and many a twin baby. The more babies, the merrier.

Do you have any desire to do other projects in addition to SECRET LIFE?

Francia: Oh, yeah. I would always like to try different things. I did a figure skating movie and that was 16-hour days. That was amazing and different. I want to try a martial arts movie because I was a martial artist growing up and I want to see what that’s like. I want to branch off to anything after this.

Ken: I’m in this business because I love collaborative work. So any chance that I’m able to collaborate with a new group of people — a new group of professionals that I respect that’s the dream. That’s what everybody wants. You want to work with and not just necessarily for. You want to work with people that you love and you love their work and have that inspire you to keep going.

Francia: And we love being challenged. We’ve been so challenged emotionally on this show and if another project can bring that up for us, bring it on.

How does shooting the show feel versus filming other shows, like CASTLE?

Ken: It is unheard of how efficient this show is. We have lives off-set. We have 7 day episodes. We rarely do a 12-hour day. CASTLE routinely does 14 to 16, sometimes 18-hour days when it gets near the end of the week. Like I said, it’s unprecedented how efficient of a machine this show is.

Francia: It’s a shock if we have to order a late-afternoon snack.

Ken: When people go, ‘4 pm snack time,’ everyone says, ‘Oh, my god, this is terrible!’

Francia: Or ‘I’m not done yet?!’ Sometimes we’ve had to wait it out because we’re not allowed to be done until then.

Ken:  And sometimes they don’t want us to wrap before lunch, but sometimes we do. We try to shoot seven or eight pages before lunch. It’s pretty wild.

Francia: It’s quick.

Ken: It’s weird and it’s crazy.  But it’s a talking-heads show. We show up and talk and cut. There’s not much action, sweeping boom shots. It’s simple.

Is there a storyline that you would like to see for characters on the show?

Francia: Oh gosh, what hasn’t happened in the show?

Ken: I would really enjoy becoming the first astronaut — aiming high. No, I would say that our experiences run the gamut. This upcoming season, or the season that’s playing now up until the season that we’re filming at the moment, I didn’t think that it could get this difficult and challenging, but it has. So it has surpassed my expectations. Anything else at this point is icing on the cake.

Can you share what to expect in the upcoming episodes?

Francia: We have a very emotional episode coming up. It’s a life-changing episode on June 6th. We all worked so hard on this episode. We were all challenged as actors. It’s one of our favorite episodes that we shot. We have the wedding coming up now and then that episode. I hope you guys enjoy it. We had to dig into places that I never wanted to get into.

With that bit of a teaser, be sure to tune in for THE SECRET LIFE OF THE AMERICAN TEENAGER on May 30th when it airs two special episodes leading up to the June 6th shocker.  SECRET LIFE airs Monday nights at 8:00 p.m. on ABC Family Channel.

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