In lesser hands, Valerie Marks could come across like a professionally incompetent, personally unhinged character. But thanks to the magical combination of brains, heart and courage, actress Desi Lydic imbues her Awkward scene-stealer with, Val is one of the most inspired and endearing citizens of Palos Verdes!
Lydic tells me she's particularly excited that upcoming episodes will put more of an emphasis on the "heart" part of that equation as Val's relationship with Jenna is tested in a whole new way, and we take a trip inside her home!
ETonline: What have you enjoyed about this season thus far?
Desi Lydic: All the interrogation stuff to intimidate Sadie. I love that suddenly Val turned into David Caruso from CSI: Miami. She even started dressing differently because in her mind, she thought, "I'm a cop now, I'm going to put on a black blazer." [laughs] Tonight's episode is also one of my favorites. Jenna goes to a coffee shop to share some personal material and Val ends up being there, putting on a performance of her own, which is as ridiculous as you think it's going to be. It involves a leotard, some Flashdance moves. It's everything and more.
ETonline: What do you think someone from the outside would say about Val's relationship with Jenna?
Lydic: I think anyone looking in from the outside would say, "This is inappropriate. Dial it back. You're crossing a boundary." I think Val is one of those people who has great intentions and, growing up, was told that the more in someone's face you are, the more successful you will be. I think she probably grew up in a household where there were no doors on the bathroom. She just doesn't know any better. She thinks she’s doing the right thing, but it's all wrong. I think her job would really be in jeopardy if someone on the outside took a peek in. And next season, we will explore a bit of a speedbump in Val and Jenna's relationship, and how they navigate around that. It's not going to be easy.
ETonline: There are lots of rumors that Jenna is going to cheat on Matty with Collin. If that did happen, how do you think Val would react?
Lydic: It's interesting because as a young woman, you're trying to figure out who you are as different people come into your life for different reasons and bring out a new side in you. There's something really exciting about Jenna meeting someone else and going, "Oh, OK, here's a guy who is totally different from Matty and I can relate to these new qualities." I think that's exciting and something worth exploring because you don't want to settle down too young -- but I think there's a right and a wrong way to do it and Val would absolutely let Jenna know what is the right way to do it. I don't think she would hold back at all if that situation comes up.
ETonline: Val's got a solid 50/50 average on the accuracy of her advice, so how do you view her professional abilities?
Lydic: I never ever, ever, ever play her as dumb or clueless or a fool. I always play Val like the smartest person in the room. I think she always knows what she's talking about and has great conviction in her beliefs -- she just has different logic. I look for and crave the moments where we really see her heart and where it comes from and can explore it in a grounded way. I love comedy and the juicy funny stuff I get to do every day, so it's just a matter of rooting it in something more real. And there's a lot of that coming up next season -- we even get to go home with Val and see what that is like.
ETonline: Amazing. What do you think the aesthetic of Val's home is?
Lydic: I feel like there's a waterbed in there somewhere. Definitely a craft studio. It's filled with tchotchkes and miniatures just taking up space. Lots of a cats. Maybe borderline hoarding. Although, I always pitched [to the writers] that Val has this stunningly beautiful model at home. Like a Calvin Klein underwear model, but she's embarrassed by him because her taste is so skewed. Like, "Ugh, just ignore him. No, you can't come out with me. Stay at home! Ugh, you're so embarrassing." [laughs] That's my dream; that we go home with her and there's just this underwear model in the corner, vacuuming.
Awkward airs Tuesdays at 10 p.m. on MTV.