Smashing Interviews Magazine

Compelling People — Interesting Lives



October 2010



India Eisley Interview: Show Biz Runs in the Family of 'The Secret Life of the American Teenager' Star

Written by , Posted in Actors

India Eisley

Best known for playing Ashley Juergens in the ABC Family teen drama The Secret Life of the American Teenager, India Joy Eisley was born on October 29, 1993 in Los Angeles, California. Her parents are actress Olivia Hussey (famous for her role as Juliet in Franco Zeffirelli’s Romeo & Juliet) and actor/musician David Glen Eisley.

The Secret Life of the American Teenager takes a look at the relationships between teenagers, and especially focuses on Amy Juergens (Shallene Woodley) who juggles life, motherhood, and high school. The series first aired on July 1, 2008, is currently on hiatus after finishing a third season, but will return in 2011 with all new episodes.

"There is a human side. I also think that sometimes people, whether it’s their characters or other characters on the show, forget that young people are allowed to change and develop."

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): India, you were raised in an acting family, so did that influence your career choice?

India Eisley: I’ve always had an interest in it because I love movies. But I think growing up on sets and stuff was nice because I got to see both sides to it. I got to see the work part and the creative part also. It wasn’t like I just went into it not knowing what to expect.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Was your first professional job the film Headspace?

India Eisley: You know, I don’t even count that (laughs). Honestly, I had like two lines and it got cut out in the final thing. It was just for fun really because my mom was in the film. I was there and they hadn’t found anyone for this part so they said, “Why don’t you do it?” It’s not something I really count as a job. I’ve done a few small independent films.

India Eisley

India Eisley (Photo by Tyler Shields)

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Secret Life was created by Brenda Hampton, creator of 7th Heaven. I found it interesting that your dad appeared in a couple of episodes of 7th Heaven.

India Eisley: Oh yes he did.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Have you watched all of your parents’ work in films and on television?

India Eisley: Well, of course, I’ve seen most of my mother’s work. I’ve seen a couple of my dad’s stuff, but I’ve seen more of his music and touring gigs.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Have you ever thought it might be fun for either of them to guest star on Secret Life?

India Eisley: No! No! No! I don’t think so, no (laughs).

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I remember seeing your mom in Romeo & Juliet. She was 15 years old and had a nude scene. How do you think she’d feel if you were offered a nude scene in a film?

India Eisley: I don’t think it would really bother her at all or my dad either because they’re creative and their jobs are in entertainment as well. But I’d only be comfortable, I think, if it was there for a reason.

I think if they show it just for shock … I really don’t know why they would use it for shock at all. I mean, it’s the human body. I don’t see what’s so prohibited about it. But it would have to be there for a reason and not just there to be there.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Have you found that people in the industry treat you differently or maybe a bit better because of who your parents are?

India Eisley: No, not really. Unless you really emphasize on it, I don’t think it occurs to people.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Did you audition for the role of Ashley?

India Eisley: Yes, I went through a lot of callbacks.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You were 13 when you started?

India Eisley: I had just turned 14 and have been on the series for three years.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Ashley is a bit on the sarcastic side, isn’t she?

India Eisley: Yes she is (laughs).

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How was the character explained to you in the beginning?

India Eisley: The audition was just for the pilot and then there was one scene, I think, from the third or fourth episode. But, it just said “rebellious” and that could go any way.

For some reason when I did it, I didn’t really want to do it in a valley girl kind of way because I don’t think that’s too funny. So I thought I’d try something different and it worked out.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Sometimes it seems Ashley is the only one in the family who is grounded.

India Eisley: Yes (laughs).

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What’s next for Ashley?

India Eisley: Well, you’ll just kind of have to watch and see. I think the Grant thing doesn’t really pan out. But I’m enjoying playing her this past season more than the others because we’re starting to show other layers of her that people have not seen. They’ve only seen the gruff, dry wit side. There are vulnerabilities, too.

There is a human side. I also think that sometimes people, whether it’s their characters or other characters on the show, forget that young people are allowed to change and develop. It will be fun if we get to see more sensitivity from her and see her emotions unravel a bit.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Maybe have her soften up some.

India Eisley: Yes.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What’s it like to work with Molly Ringwald?

India Eisley: She’s very sweet and professional. They’re all a really nice group of people and are nice to work with.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Is doing an hour-long television series tough work?

India Eisley: No, our hours are actually amazingly good compared to other shows. We finish very early in the day.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): India, have you gotten your driver’s license yet?

India Eisley: Not yet because I really haven’t had much time, but I’m studying the booklet little by little. I’m not in a huge rush.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Have your parents taught you how to drive?

India Eisley: I know the physical part of it. I’m not very good at written tests in general (laughs). I kind of sit there and everything leaves my head. But the physical part of it is not a problem.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What do you like to do when you’re not filming?

India Eisley: Well, we see movies all of the time. We see at least two films a week at the theatre. I love cooking and baking and I’m starting to get into sewing. I’m very excited because I just bought a very old vintage sewing machine and it works very well.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you watch television?

India Eisley: Yes, I’m obsessed with True Blood and Weeds. I also just started watching The Big C. Laura Linney is just so good.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What’s next for you – singing or feature films?

India Eisley: Not singing, not unless I had to sing in a role (laughs). I would love to get into films because that’s basically why I got into acting in the first place. I just love movies so much. There is nothing better than a good movie.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Can you pick a favorite film?

India Eisley: I love Gone With the Wind obviously. There’s a film with Montgomery Clift called The Heiress that I love. Quentin Tarantino is amazing. I just love all movies.

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