The ABC Family series Chasing Life has yielded some of the most unique representation of LGBT teens on television this season, in my opinion. From a girl who doesn’t like labels and wants to date a certain boy and girl at the same time, to a 16-year-old out and proud lesbian who loves pink and tennis and smiling, it’s been breaking molds and stereotypes at every turn.
Haley Ramm was kind enough to chat with us about her character Brenna, the label-free teenager at the heart of this teenage love triangle, her relationship with Greer, and what’s in store for the two of them in the back half of the season. Plus, she shared some behind-the-scenes scoop on the tennis match that started it all.
AfterEllen: What has been your favorite thing about Brenna and Greer’s relationship so far?
Haley Ramm: I think the thing about Brenna and Greer is that before Greer came into the picture, Brenna was obviously in a dark place, and you don’t really know why she was the way she was, why she was so bratty, kind of obnoxious and not really likable—you find out a little bit later on why she was that way—but once Brenna met Greer, it seemed like Greer has helped her become interested in school activities and given her a better perspective on life, about her sister who’s battling cancer. I think it’s in episode six or seven, where I show up at Greer’s house and we start talking about death, and from that moment, Greer is always the one who is always there to make Brenna feel better. So I think my favorite part about them is how they can talk about anything and Greer’s always there to talk to Brenna and vice versa. They just have each other’s backs.
AE: That’s been really great. It’s been great to watch Brenna grow since the beginning, she’s evolved from, like you said, this bratty kid. She’s kind of growing up right in front of us.
HR: Yeah, not many people liked her at first. [laughs] And I don’t blame them!
AE: One of my favorite scenes was when Brenna and Greer were playing tennis, it was really cute. Do you have a favorite scene so far?
HR: That was actually a really fun scene. So, it turns out the doubles that they had hired weren’t actually doubles, they were just hoping to be seen on camera, and they didn’t really know what they were doing when it came to tennis. So they had to pull them, and they just figured, why don’t we just put us in there and see what we can do on the tennis court. We actually had NO training ever in tennis, like ever in our lives. So that night was a very long night, I remember we went until two or three in the morning, I think. We basically learned how to play tennis. It got to the point where neither of us could really hit the ball because we’re not professionals—it’s actually really, really hard! They ended up CGI-ing the ball. I think that was one of my favorite scenes, because it’s like we were playing. Everyone on set was in this situation where it was like, “Well that happened. Let’s make the best of it,” and we did. It was really fun.
AE: What’s it like working with Gracie Dzienny on the show?
HR: Oh, it’s great. She’s so sweet. She’s just the biggest sweetheart. She comes to set and is just like, “I baked a cake last night!” And she has this beautiful cake. She’s just darling and so great to talk to and fun to hang out with. So yeah, she was cast very well, and I think she plays Greer better than anyone could.
AE: When the show started, Brenna said that she identified as not being labeled straight or bi or anything. Do you think after everything that’s going on with Greer that would change, or do you think that’s part of who she is?
HR: I think that Brenna is really set on who she is, and really still doesn’t believe in labels. Even if I could picture Brenna at 30 years old, I still don’t know if she would be into labels. I can see her liking whoever she’s gonna like in the future; whether it’s Greer, whether it’s not Greer. I think she just sees it more as being loved, and it doesn’t matter who the person is, she just cares about love.
AE: I think it’s very unique to see a young person portrayed on television like that, and I think it’s really important. I don’t think there’s a lot of that for teenagers who do feel that way now.
HR: Yeah, I agree and it’s a really great character to play. I’m so glad that they went the direction that they did with it. The way I look at it is that if there’s any young teenagers out there who are watching and are feeling the way Brenna feels and Brenna can be that example where it’s totally normal—and it totally should be, it shouldn’t be anything BUT normal—then I think that’s really cool and I’m so happy to do it.