Amanda Leighton is an ABC Family VIP. She’s had roles on Make It or Break It and Pretty Little Liars, and now she’s appearing on The Fosters. She talked about her fun role, and the crazy training that came with it! The summer finale of The Fosters airs tonight at 9/8c on ABC Family.
OK!: Tell us a bit about your role on The Fosters.
Amanda Leighton: I play Emma. She’s the tomboy, only girl on the wrestling team. She’s pretty true-blue to herself, a strong, independent character. She’s a lot of fun to play. She was Jesus’ friend turned love interest, but now they’ve broken up, so we’ll see what happens.
OK!: What was it like working with Jake T. Austin as his love interest?
AL: He’s really, really great to worth with. It’s fun on set. It’s cool to work with someone who’s been in the business for a long time.
OK!: There are so many great kids on the show. Were you able to bond with the group?
AL: Oh yeah, definitely. From my first day on set, the entire cast and crew were super welcoming. It really is like a family on that set. You can tell when people show up—they’re happy to be there. They love their job. Everyone was welcoming, from my very first episode.
OK!: Can you give us any spoilers?
AL: Oh, I don’t know! I don’t give too much away. I think people are going to be really shocked. I feel like the writers are doing a wonderful job and the audience is going to be really happy with it.
OK!: We can work with that! You’ve been on so many ABC Family shows! What’s your favorite as a viewer, and what was your favorite experience as an actor?
AL: Ooh, that’s tough. I do love working for ABC Family. I did get really into The Fosters right when I booked it. I hadn’t watched the show before, so it was around Thanksgiving. I came home and my whole family sat down and we started watching it on Netflix. I got really into it! As a viewer, I love The Fosters. To work on, I’d say Fosters, too. It’s hard, because each show is different. I learned something from each show that I’m on. Like Make It or Break It, that was the first time i had a big recurring role, so that was my first taste of having a character develop over time. I enjoyed that.
OK!: You’ve played a gymnast, and now a wrestler. How much training goes into those roles?
AL: A lot. [laughs] I never wrestled before I got the part of Emma. I did do competitive dance for 11 years, so that helped me with both the gymnastics on Make It or Break It, and the wrestling. We have wrestling practices because Jake and I do all of our own stunts. We would meet with a coach and go through the whole wrestling routine, and it’s like dancing because everything is so coordinated. It’s tough. It’s really hard work. I’d leave completely drained and sweaty. I have a ton of respect for wrestling now!
OK!: How did you get your start in acting?
AL: I did dance growing up, and I always loved movies and storytelling, reading. I would sit in front of the TV and copy lines. I remember telling my mom, I want to do acting. And your mom’s like, Okaaaaay. I started taking classes locally in Fresno. The people in the actors’ studio told my mom to get me down for auditions. I was like, I want to do this for the rest of my life! This is my calling. My mom would drive me down to auditions, and I would do my homework in the car. I’ve been doing it since I was 10, pretty much. And I still love it.
OK!: When did you feel like you had made it?
AL: I got my first job when I was 11, on Six Feet Under. After that, I continued to go to school. I had those awkward teen years, where I had a dry spell. When I was 15, I booked Criminal Minds. Ever since that, I’ve been working consistently, thank god! Work’s been coming.
OK!: What would your dream role be?
AL: Something gritty, really dark and gritty. I love film, and would love to break into film. To stretch myself, I’d really like to do some indie film.
OK!: I was looking at your Instagram, and I need to hear everything about your dog.
AL: [laughs] Yes, my Instagram has been taken over by my dog. I was thinking about actually changing it to a dog Instagram, and starting another one for myself. He’s already 90% of it. My dog’s name is Watson. I got him when I graduated high school, when I moved down to LA. I picked him up in small town on my way there, and he’s been with me ever since. He’s my sidekick. He’s a sweet boy.
Have you been watching Amanda on The Fosters? What is your favorite ABC Family show? Tell us in the comments below or tweet us @OKMagazine.