UP CLOSE…WITH AMANDA LEIGHTON

Behind bright blue eyes, Amanda Leighton is a lightening force of energy, channeling her enviable talents into her role as Emma, love-interest to Jake T. Austin on ABC Family’s hit drama, The Fosters. We settled in with the Fresno, California native to talk fashion, passions and the Hollywood game.

'THE FOSTERS' STAR: AMANDA LEIGHTON

THE LEIGHTON FILES…

BEST EARLY MEMORY: Singing “I believe I can fly” out a car window.

DESIGNER CRUSH: I love Alexander Wang urban chic stuff this season and Vena Cava’s vintage inspired flair has a nice vibe to it. I also love Stella McCartney and I think Victoria Beckham is going to be great!

CLOSET FAITHFULS: My leather jacket! If you see a girl wearing a black leather jacket in LA in the middle of summer, it’s most likely me!

LAST JUICY FASHION FIND: Washed denim shirt from All Saints.

#1 BEAUTY SECRET: Attitude. It’s an important lesson to focus on inner beauty and to think positive thoughts and to treat others the way you want to be treated. I feel like your inner beauty can be seen from the outside because it’s infectious and others want to be around that.

LATEST OBSESSION: Tom Ford lip stick in Spanish pink. That man is a legend!

LAST TWEET: I was wishing my little brother a happy birthday. I also posted a picture collage of the both of us making funny faces. We’re both June babies.

THE GREAT ESCAPE: The beach! Any where near water and I’m a happy camper.

BEST LA HAUNT: My closet. Lol! Aroma Café.

DREAM DINNER GUEST: Ron Burgundy

THE INFLUENCER: God and my family.

YOU’D BE SURPRISED TO KNOW I…am half Hispanic.

SATURDAY NIGHT, I’D FIND YOU…with friends most likely.

YOU, IN 3 WORDS: Writing this interview.

HYDROGEN MAGAZINE: You’re a California girl through and through. Tell me about growing up in Fresno…

AMANDA LEIGHTON: It’s not the most exciting place to visit in California, but it’s easy going and that’s where my family lives so, to me it’s home. Fresno helps keep me grounded and is my little oasis.

HYDROGEN MAGAZINE: What drew you to acting and performing?

AL: I started dancing when I was five years old and loved being on stage and performing. I knew from a very young age that I loved the performing arts. I come from a very right brained family. I have a pretty big imagination and have always enjoyed seeing people bring stories to life on the big screen. I walked out of my first acting class when I was 10, and thought, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life.

HM: Who are some of the actors that have influenced your work?

AL: That’s hard to say because I literally watch everyone. I’ve always watched a lot of TV and movies. Each actor is so unique. I feel the more open I am to watching everyone, the more I learn. With that said, I do have my favorites …Tom Hanks, Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Rachel McAdams, Jennifer Lawrence, Jessica Lang, Emmy Rossum, Emma Stone, Andrew Garfield.

HM: Hollywood is like one big glamorous chess board where making key moves at the right time is important. How do you deal with the pressures of the industry which can be unforgiving?

AL: I think you are right, this industry can be unforgiving which is why it’s important for us to forgive ourselves. It’s best for us to just keep moving forward and not give up. I also pray a lot and keep positive people around me as much as I can.

HM: First acting gig…

AL: Six Feet Under. I played the Singing Cactus in a school play.

HM: Best bit of career advice so far…

AL: Peter Paige told me at my audition for The Fosters to “trust myself, because there is something so interesting about you.” I think staying true to yourself is very important in this industry and it’s easily forgotten.

HM: You’ve gone from The Young and the Restless to ABC Family’s The Fosters. Biggest difference between working on a daytime and a primetime show…

AL: The hours. On a daytime drama, they give you one take most of the time, so there’s more pressure not to make a mistake, but your day is much shorter. On prime time television, we go until we get the shot no matter how late it is [laughs]!

HM: Let’s dig into your role on The Fosters – the ABC Family drama about a multi-ethnic family mix of foster and biological kids being raised by two moms. First thoughts on the show…

AL: Bold. I love everything about it. It’s a show that tackles a lot of real life issues that everyone can relate to.

HM: How did the part of Emma come your way?

AL: I auditioned for the part of Emma with the casting director. Then I got a callback and read for the executive producers: Bradley, Johanna, and Peter. I heard that I got the part shortly after that. Originally, Emma was only going to be in 4 episodes. I feel very blessed to have been given the opportunity to play her.

HM: Emma is Jake T. Austin’s character Jesus’ love interest. Tell us about her.

AL: She’s one tough cookie. She is the only girl on the wrestling team. She is strong. She knows who she is and what she wants. She’s a girl who is always true blue to herself and doesn’t sway in her ways.

HM: When you read her on the script pages, what was your approach to breathing life into her?

AL: It came kind of naturally. It’s so great when you read material and it just clicks with you, because it reminds you a bit of yourself. She’s much more assertive than I am, but I’m learning from her [laughs]!It’s fun to see a character grow before your eyes. It’s always exciting to see what the writers will come up with next!

HM: What has Jake been like to work with?

AL: He’s great to work with! Very professional and polite. He brings a lot of experience to the table.

HM: Best on-set shenanigans…

AL: We had to shoot an awkward make-out scene in a car. During rehearsals, we were parked outside the sound stage, and the producers, writers, and director were all peering through the windows at us. As if that wasn’t bad enough, the WB Tour bus drove by and announced “…and this is where we shoot The Fosters.” We had quite the audience!

HM: You were a competitive dancer when you were younger. Do you still trot out the old dancing shoes?

AL: I dance around my house, does that count [laughs]? I got back into it while filming Make It Or Break It, but I haven’t had the time lately to do it as much as I’d like to. I really miss it.

HM: What’s the long game?

AL: The long game plan for me, is just to be fortunate enough to keep working the rest of my life. Acting is what I love to do and I find myself wondering if I would be happy doing anything else. The answer is no. I love the craft and even though this business is unpredictable, I can be pretty persistent.

‘THE FOSTERS’ AIRS ON ABC FAMILY, MONDAYS, 9/8C

PHOTOGRAPHY BY RICKY MIDDLESWORTH

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