Actress Raven-Symoné stars in a brand new series entitled State of Georgia, which debuts tonight, June 29 at 8:30 PM ET on ABC Family. The actress recently participated in a conference call to discuss her new show. Here's what she had to say below about the show and her character, Georgia.
How easy was it for you to get into the character with Georgia, since you're originally from Atlanta?
Raven-Symoné: Well, actually Georgia and I would have grown up in different parts of Atlanta, and so it was actually interesting being able to play someone that - I guess her and I would have been a little bit different ends of the school. So it was fun actually getting to play that character and blending it in to who I am now and finding a happy medium, so I'm no longer mad at the cheerleaders that I grew up with, because now it works for Georgia.
How did it feel to be a trending topic yesterday on Twitter? Do you pay attention to that stuff online?
Raven-Symoné: Everyone in my camp does. I was asleep when it happened. I love my twitterers for making me trendy for that one moment in time, and hopefully I can stay trendy for many moments to come.
What are you enjoying the most about working on State of Georgia?
Raven-Symoné: I enjoy working with Majandra Delfino and Loretta Devine. They're absolutely amazing; I'm learning so much from Miss Loretta and Majandra and just how to morph myself into different things and relearning more acting tips and tricks, and being able to create a new family.
How would you compare the role of Georgia with some other roles from your past?
Raven-Symoné: She is a strong-willed individual, she could be flighty at times, but at the same time she is very gallant and she knows that her core is the passing moment and that's probably a characteristic in characters that I choose all the time because it's very important for females to stay confident and to go off and venture into the world, but to come back knowing that you have family to come back to. I think some forget to venture and then they just get stuck; because you have to go and enjoy yourself.
Could you describe the show a little more?
Raven-Symoné: The show is about a young lady who moves to New York with her best friend into her Aunt Honey where Loretta Devine has a condo in New York, she wants to become famous. And her best friend is a physicist or she's trying to become one, and it's the trials and tribulations of these two girls having a great time in New York, taking odd jobs here and there, trying to find their way, while having that Down South, more homey type vibe to them, it's fun.
What was it about this particular role that drew you back to television?
Raven-Symoné: Well actually before this role came to my attention I had already sold the pilot to ABC Family with another writer, and while that was in the works, they came to me and said, "Well, we have a pilot ready to go, we think that you would like it." I read it and I said, "Sure, you never know: this might go, it might not go," just more fires out there the better. And so that's what happened, but this one just got picked up super quick. We got a wonderful cast and here we are.
Was there instant chemistry when you began working with Loretta and Majandra, or did you guys take a bit of time to gel together?
Raven-Symoné: Instant chemistry. No question about it.
What was it specifically about Georgia that made you want to play her?
Raven-Symoné: I think she's a great character. She goes in line with the other characters that I've played before. She is probably a good mold of what this generation is, but will never be able to get famous super quick over Twitter.
How involved are you with wardrobe?
Raven-Symoné: Not a lot. I come in and I just, you have to think in the Georgia sense. I think as the character grows she'll get more into whatever she wants them to, but as of right now it's just plain and simple.
What is your favorite thing about starring in a comedy?
Raven-Symoné: I guess you create a family, hopefully for many years, with the cast and crew and the writers and the producers. I get to play a character that I love and enjoy hopefully for many times, and I get to grow with that character while I grow, and they grow, and that's what I like about it.
What achievements are you the most proud of in your career?
Raven-Symoné: My semi-sanity. The fact that I can feel joy going home and it's not the glitz and the glamour that really drives me, it's the fact that I need to, I get the thrill of making someone else laugh, or someone else feel emotion; that's very much a selfless act. And that's what I, no matter what character I choose, I try to make it about that, otherwise I'll go crazy.
What's it like being an actress yourself, who is playing an aspiring one on State of Georgia? Can you relate to her?
Raven-Symoné: Of course I can. It's very difficult in this industry to do what you like or become anything or to get a break and she's very determined, but sometimes unnoticed. And then it's enough to where I can maneuver in situations that I don't want to be in, and she's still learning; it's quite funny.
And what advice do you have for aspiring actors?
Raven-Symoné: To be very professional; always professional, and to enjoy yourself.
Your character Georgia is just brimming with confidence, where do you think all of that comes from?
Raven-Symoné: Well, Georgia has that confidence; she actually comes from a well-to-do family. They always promoted and supported her dreams, and always told her she could be anything she wanted to be and helped her get to where she is now, as a very confident young lady by boosting her ego in a good way, but not too much to where she'll fall flat on her face later on. She learns little bits and pieces of how she was very privileged as a young child here and there throughout the show, which brings you back down in reality, so that's a good thing, but I think it's definitely the support of her family.
What role do you think Georgia would do really well at, what popular movie or theater or blockbuster hit do you think Georgia would love to go, love to do?
Raven-Symoné: I I've only done nine episodes; I'm going to need you to ask me that question when we're in the third season. I don't know just yet. She's still growing, let's say that. I don't know if she's supposed to be comedian or whatever, she does about anything right now. We know she can sing though, but drama-wise, we'll see.
If Georgia were a real person that you were mentoring, what would you tell her about her future?
Raven-Symoné: What would I tell Georgia about her future? That it doesn't get any easier, sweetheart, it doesn't get any easier. It's still a grind no matter how famous you become and you have to do things that you don't want to do to start, and then when you think you've made it, things will just drag you down and make you start over again, and you have to keep the confidence up and you have to keep your friends and family close.
Could you tell us a little about the relationship between Georgia and Jo? Did they grow up as friends, did they meet in high school, what's the background?
Raven-Symoné: Georgia and Jo have been friends since they were four years old and they were inseparable, they always were chilling together and they went to school together. Georgia became one of the popular girls but kept Jo close because she knew that that was her best friend for life. So when Georgia decided to move, Jo went right along and got a scholarship, I think, to a college, and there it is, and that's how they're here together, they are bestest of friends, kind of like sisters from another mother, so good.
What about romance? Do we expect any relationships coming up for them in the early episodes?
Raven-Symoné: Good thing about this being a new show, where the characters are 25 and 24 years old in New York City. First of all, in New York City, of course there's going to be cute guys, but there's so many possibilities that we can do and, yes, I think we're going to touch on everything that life has to offer.
You've always been considered a role model for young ladies; do you take that into account when you take roles like this?
Raven-Symoné: I actually take into account what my grandchildren's grandchildren are going to be watching later on down the line, and that in turn to me kind of encompasses all of the kids that have watched me over the years, but at the same time I do what I think is fun, but I'm not going to disrespect my family.
I was really excited to learn that Loretta Devine has signed on to the show. What has your experience been like to work with her and also as it relates to her being from the South as well?
What did Loretta Devine bring to the cast dynamic as Aunt Honey?
Raven-Symoné: Aunt Honey is probably, no, she is the scene stealer. She has the lines that I just have to stare and just break sometimes, and she's also the voice of reason, keep that for your acknowledgement and watch the show, and she's just a sweetheart. It seems I can't help but to love Aunt Honey, and when you see the show you'll see her with these girls within her apartment are absolutely more sane than she is, but she has a ray of light.
Many actors draw their inspiration from people that they know to play their characters. Is your portrayal of Georgia based off of anyone that you know?
Raven-Symoné: You know, it's funny. It's so true, and people do that, but when I was younger, I wasn't allowed to have like posters or things, people on my wall, I had to watch like old school shows like Nick at Night, so what she always remind me of at all was anything that I watched on That Girl, or Flip Wilson. I pull from other comedians that I've watched and admired over the years, so definitely a mix of That Girl; probably a little bit of, what can I say, I don't know, somebody from Taxi for sure, and somebody a little flamboyant, I don't know, I haven't figured that out yet, but I know that it comes from me studying when I was younger.
It seems like it would be really exciting to shoot the show in front of a live studio audience. What is that like?
Raven-Symoné: Shooting in front of a live studio audience is one of the best things you'll ever experience. They make sure that you're on point with your jokes, as long as they are free to laugh, and they just give this type of, I can say the scene in front of the people that we work with every day, and then when the audience comes in here for the first time, because you've heard it for 17 times, it just brings more joy into the script when you can actually enjoy it a little more. It's fun, exciting, and the audience is cheering, there's music; it's like a little gathering every tape night.