America Ferrera on Learning To Trust Her Instincts

by Jarett Wieselman 9:46 AM PDT, August 10, 2012
Photo: WIGS

The ever-expanding world of webisodes has hit a new high with Christine, a 12-part series that chronicles one woman's search for love via speed dating. But the America Ferrera-fronted vehicle is so much more than a series of first date faux pas. At its core, Christine is a character piece of the highest order as each seven minute "episode" takes the audience and both halves of this date on a journey of self-discovery.

ETonline sat down with Ferrera to talk about her first foray into online content, what attracted her to the project and why there's a little piece of Christine in all of us.

ETonline: What appealed to you about Christine?
America Ferrera: First and foremost, the biggest attraction for me was Rodrigo Garcia, the writer/director. When he reached out to me, I was very interested. Then I read the script and was even more intrigued. I was excited by the idea of the format [of] webisodes. Short 7 minute episodes that are each an arc within a bigger arc. It was new, different and something I've never done before. It is an interesting way for the audience to discover a character and an interesting way for me to build a character because there's a character arc for all 12 episodes, but then I also had to look at each individual episode and figure out what the journey was there as well.

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ETonline: The comment sections on all the videos are filled with people telling Christine which guy to pick, or which guys to avoid. Do you like the kind of viewer engagement you get with this medium?
Ferrera: That is the really exciting part of it. I love hearing the immediate feedback and see what the audience is reacting to. You don't really get that with any other format.

ETonline: Did you know any of your "dates" before?
Ferrera: For the most part, I met many of the actors on the day we filmed our date. Everybody really came to it with their own take on the character and backstory, so it was really fun to sit across the table and deal with whatever that actor was bringing on that day. It was a surprise for me sometimes to see their interpretation of the character. Which sometimes made it feel like I was on two dates [laughs] – the one we were filming and the one that happened in between takes as I got to know my co-star.

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ETonline: Do you think a seven minute speed date is enough time to get to know someone?
Ferrera: No! Absolutely not. But what's funny about 7 minutes is how much you can immediately know. Whether there is natural chemistry or if things are not going to work out at all. I always find it interesting to think about where that chemistry comes from – why are you immediately drawn to some people and not others? Thinking about that intrigues me.

ETonline: These days, online dating is now the norm. Have you ever tried it?
Ferrera: I've never really partaken in the new wave of internet dating. I've always done it the old fashioned way. I have friends who've had long relationships with people they met online. There's a lot of ways to get it these days, and everyone has to do what works for them.

ETonline: The speed dates ended in episode 10 -- so will episodes 11 and 12 give us resolution to her dating dilemma?
Ferrera: There's definitely a resolution. You might be surprised where the last episode takes you. You also learn more about Christine and what speed dating really means to her. You see how that fits into the rest of her life. There is resolution there, but some questions are not completely answered.

ETonline: Do you like ambiguity with a character?
Ferrera: I really like that this is an open-ended character. You get thrown into her world on this very specific day, in this very specific environment. You only learn about her as he dates go on – you don't know what's real, what's not and even when the series ends, there are still some questions left up in the air. I kinda love that you peek in on this woman's life for one day and it's anyone’s guess what the rest of it looks like.

ETonline: When you look at roles now, is what attracts you to a character different today than it was 10 years ago?
Ferrera: Definitely. I'm more attuned to what excites me now. There are different reasons for picking the roles I do now depending on what I'm looking to explore in myself as an actor, as a person.. For example, End of Watch, I was so ready to dive into that character and go through the training to be a cop. Taking on a character that felt so different from anything I've taken on before. Christine was so much more of an exploration of my own extremes – she, in a way, goes to these places and says things out loud that we only say in our head sometimes. She indulges those impulses that I think everyone has. Christine is, for better or worse, living them out. I'm a lot more open to following my own instincts about why a character appeals to me and not needing for it to make sense on the outside if it makes sense to me on an artist level.

To watch Christine from the beginning, click here!