Grabbing top billing on a television show can be a competitive, bloody affair. On The Lying Game, Alexandra Chando has it twice. As Emma Becker and Sutton Mercer, twins separated at birth, Chando works good girl versus bad in ABC Family’s dramatic proportions, daily. We caught up with the 26-year-old actress on a recent break from shooting to discuss her split personality–inducing role, life in Austin, and the hyper drama of it all.
Playing twins must be a fun challenge. Tell me about that.
It’s certainly a challenge and it’s time-consuming, but it’s a welcome challenge and I have so much fun. It’s such a joy to be able to play the two personalities, because Emma is a little bit more genuine and just a nicer person over all. It’s nice to do that and turn around and play the bad girl at the same time. It’s refreshing.
Has it ever made you feel schizo?
Absolutely. We try to work the schedule so I’m doing all Emma or all Sutton, but sometimes it doesn’t work out that way. If there’s a Sutton and Emma scene with them together, obvious we do that in the same day. And that’s when it starts getting a little crazy, because we do a quick changeover and then hop right back into it, and sometimes it becomes a little hard to shift into one or the other
Who do you prefer playing?
Sutton. It’s just fun to play the bad girl and to be manipulative.
Which do you think has had more dramatic plot lines: Lying Game or As the World Turns?
[Laughs] I would say the Lying Game for sure.
That’s a big statement.
Yeah, well As the World Turns has been on for how many years? For me, it’s been pretty traumatic. I’m basing it off of my experience.
The show shoots in Austin. What do you do for fun out there?
We have so much fun out there. We do a lot of cast outings. So on a weekend we’ll go float down the river and then go to a concert at night. Austin is known as the live music capital of the world, so we’re always going out and seeing new music. We went to Austin City Limits this year as a cast. We find a lot of fun things. We’re usually out there in the summer when it’s like a thousand degrees, so anything we can do outside that’s on the water, we’ll go out on the lake, jet ski, tube and all that. We make the most of it.
How did you get your start in acting?
I started when I was really young in community theater, at 6 or 7.
And you knew then that it was what you wanted to do?
I knew that I loved it. I wasn’t necessarily sure that’s what I what I wanted to do, but I do believe, as I got older, it was something that I was interested in doing professionally. And then I was doing community theater. Once I got to high school, just before my freshman year at 13, I signed with my manager, and I started auditioning, and I was in normal high school and would leave school an hour early to have my parents drive me up to New York and audition. I worked a little bit throughout high school and then did a year in college and then booked As the World Turns.
Where’d you go to school?
Actually I’m still working on it. I went part-time as well, once I was on the soap, at Fordham.
Are you one of those people that has your Oscar speech ready?
No. Obviously, it’s a dream but it’s not something I’m obsessing over.
If you were allowed to play only one more role in your life in any movie ever made or one you want to see made, what would it be?
Oh my god. Well, if I’m basing it off something that’s already on, I think it would be pretty awesome to be a part of Homeland, because that show is absolutely incredible—really good television.
What can you tell me about your upcoming movie, Construction?
It’s still in the post-production process, trying to work that out. But I play a younger girl. It’s a romantic comedy, and I can’t give away too much, because there’s a big reveal, but I’m involved with a man. [Laughs] Really vague! But yeah, it’s a romantic comedy.
What do you have coming up next?
Right now we’re just waiting on when we’re potentially going to go back to Austin, and I’m looking at scripts and auditioning.
Have you completely wrapped the season?
No. We’ve wrapped to first half.
The Lying Game mid-season finale airs tonight at 9pm on ABC Family.