Going through high school is hard enough. Going through it again might rate as positively masochistic. Thankfully, Jillian Rose Reed doesn’t have to play the awkward one on MTV’s Awkward. As Tamara, she’s the foul-mouthed firecracker who’s always around to lend a helping hand and word of advice to her best friend, Jenna. (She’s the awkward one.) We caught up with Jillian on the phone to talk about karaoke, dealing with love triangles, and—of course—her own moments of awkwardness.
I’m sure you get this a lot, but I was wondering if you could tell us the most awkward thing you did as a teenager.
I always have to tell the same story because this is the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to me. When I was younger, I had a friend picking me up from class one day and she was parked outside. I went to go get into her car without paying attention to anything, and I opened her car and saw that her car was a mess. Stuff was on her front seat so I was like, complaining about how she didn’t clean off her front seat for me. Just, you know, messing around. So I pushed everything off onto the floor and I looked over at her and it wasn’t her. I had gotten into the wrong car. It was just some girl and she was eating a sandwich and she was just mortified that I was in her car. So I got up and I ran. I was so embarrassed.
Have you ever been involved in a love triangle of your own?
No, I wish. I wish I had two guys fighting over me.
Do you know how you would deal with it?
I don’t. The only thing I can think of is I would probably sit with my best friend and make some sort of pros and cons list and try to figure it out.
That’s really sensible. In high school were you the supportive best friend or the hectic one that needed advice all the time?
I was definitely the supportive one. I’m still the supportive one. I’m kind of that person that all my friends come to for advice, just because I like giving it and I like listening and helping people out.
Does your advice end up being right most of the time?
Most of the time. I’m pretty insightful.
Do you think you’d be friends in real life with Tamara?
I have never been asked that before! I think I would just because she’s very fun-loving and she absolutely means well. She’s always a good time, so I think if I met someone like her in real life I think I would gravitate towards her. Just because she seems like she has a big heart.
Has doing the show given you any insight on why teenagers have a hard time in high school of all times in their lives?
Absolutely. Not only just the show but being in high school when I was younger, I can relate. Things that teenagers have to go through in high school can be pretty crazy for someone who’s so young. Doing the show and just having been through it all makes it easy for us to relate as actors who are playing these parts. It’s definitely a true life situation because we’ve all been there.
What sort of college do you think Tamara would go to?
I think she’d want to major in musical theatre, she’s all about the arts and drama. So I think she would probably aim high, like she’d probably try to go to New York and do something off Broadway while she’s studying theatre. I’m not sure she’d actually get there, but she would try.
I know you’re into musical theatre, right?
Yeah, I definitely am.
Do you think the two of you would have the same taste in show tunes?
Probably, yeah. I think Tamara is just obsessed with all things theatre and I love theatre. I think that we would get along and have fun seeing some plays together [laughs].
Switching gears for a sec: I know you like to sing. Do you have a go-to karaoke song?
I like to karaoke to anything like old school Britney Spears. I’m super embarrassed when it comes to karaoke and I really don’t like it, so I go to that funny place. I can pick a song that everybody knows and go up there and have fun so people aren’t so concerned with how I’m singing.
So do you prefer private or public karaoke then?
You know, I’ve never done private but people always tell me that it’s so much fun. I hear there’s really awesome places to go in LA, but I’ve only done public and it was just terrifying for me.
Do you have any other projects coming out that you can talk about?
Right now I’ve just been focusing on Awkward. I’ve just started to audition again since we’ve been on hiatus. Hopefully I’ll have an update soon but right now it’s just Awkward.
Photography by Vincent Sandoval