Actress Mandy Musgrave has made a memorable impression on audiences with her portrayal of rebellious teenager Ashley Davies on The N's breakout hit show South of Nowhere, but she's also made TV history. Lesbian teen romances on television rarely last beyond sweeps week, so the fact that the one between Ashley and girlfriend Spencer (co-star Gabrielle Christian) has become such a focal point of the program is remarkable indeed. As a result, the show was nominated for a GLAAD award for Outstanding Drama Series, and has returned this fall for a second season.
AfterEllen.com recently talked to Musgrave about what the new season holds for Ashley and her romance with Spencer, the response of gay viewers to the show, and staging the perfect catfight.
AfterEllen.com: How is your character developing this season?
Mandy Musgrave: Well, she's developing for one thing. She wasn't much last season. This season you get to hear a lot more about what happened in her past. Last season, you learned that she had been pregnant, but they go into a little bit more about what she's been doing with her life, and there are a lot of twists and turns that are helpful later on but definitely not beneficial in the beginning.
You still have that whole drama going on between Ashley and Madison all the time, but you get to see a little more about where they came from and how their characters are evolving.
AE: There is such animosity between them that you do wonder about the back story. Was there extreme love that preceded the extreme hate?
MM: They used to be best friends, and it's so funny because Valery Ortiz, who plays Madison, is sweeter than any of us. We all get along so well it's not even funny. Gabby is so sweet in real life, everybody here is.
AE: How are you and Ashley different?
MM: I can answer that one. I don't have any tattoos—and they're going to go more into that, why Ashley does things like that.
I have a great relationship with my family and my father. I have a twin sister, and an older sister, so I'm the baby. And I'm not exactly a lesbian in real life–as much as I'd love to be. I like the drama that comes with boys. So I've been in a two-year relationship with a guy. I'm not hard core, I am not as high fashion as Ashley, and I wasn't loaded growing up. My parents are divorced so that's a similar thing, and her attitude and confidence—I developed that later in life, after I joined drama club, so that's sort of similar as well.
AE: She is a powerful character.
MM: She is, and she's totally headstrong. When they were casting the roles, they tried swapping Gabby and I. We laughed so hard that we couldn't finish it.
AE: You hit it off at the casting session, right?
MM: Yes, and it was so weird. I had forgotten my sides and she knew all of her lines, and we were going up for the same character—Spencer then was known as "Zooey". We went in there and I thought “Crap, this girl is amazing! She so has the part, I don't know my lines and I'm not prepared.”
She knew her lines, so she gave me her sides. But then when they started matching us up, they put me up for the character of Ashley. I thought, “I'm so unprofessional, this girl has the part. Why am I here?” But they kept bringing us in together and loving our chemistry and we became lovers at first sight! (laughs)