The weekly, primetime soap follows Emma, a kind-hearted foster kid who learns she has an identical twin sister, Sutton. Sutton, unlike Emma, was adopted by wealthy parents and is seemingly living an ideal life. After their initial meeting, Sutton talks Emma into stepping into her life for a few days while she pursues a lead on the mysterious identity of their birth mother.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV recently had the chance to talk to Alexandra about THE LYING GAME, AS THE WORLD TURNS, the challenge of playing twins, and much, much more. Here's a transcript of our conversation, followed by more info on Alexandra and THE LYING GAME.
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WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Do you think THE LYING GAME will appeal to soap fans? Why?
Alexandra Chando: I definitely think THE LYING GAME will appeal to soap fans.
It definitely has the tone of intrigue and mysteries. First of all, let’s just say Chuck Pratt wrote and created THE LYING GAME. He wrote the pilot and he was one of the head writers for ALL MY CHILDREN, so he is definitely incorporating many soap themes and the dramatic storytelling of that. There are love triangles. I always laugh because in soaps is kind of where the twin sisters thing started where one character is playing two people, so that always makes me think of the soap world. I definitely think that there are many similarities as far as the drama and intrigue that our show will bring.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: On AS THE WORLD TURNS, there are heavy dramatic aspects of your role, but you’re also really funny. Do you think we’ll have a chance to see any of that comedic talent in THE LYING GAME?
Alexandra Chando: I think so. I try and bring it to Emma. Emma is a little bit more of the quirkier one. I try and bring it to her as often as I can, as often as they allow me to without going over the top. Yes, I think that just in Emma’s character, really, I try and bring that lightness to her, especially because it’s such a difference from Sutton.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: ABC Family is known for incorporating teaching moments and positive messages into its programming. SWITCHED AT BIRTH, which is one of our favorites, does that really well. In THE LYING GAME, what kind of message do you think it has for the audience?
Alexandra Chando: Well, I find that our show has a lot of heart, especially the story revolving a little bit about Emma and following her story a little bit more so than Sutton. I think that Emma comes from the foster care system and really did not have a great childhood. I think that the show does a really great job of touching on that and how it had kind of affected her. Goodness. That’s a really good question. Each character and each storyline has really incredible heartfelt moments and heartfelt issues that they deal with as far as the adoption process and the challenges of being adopted and wanting to find your real birth mother and not knowing the answers and just struggling with. Having parents that you were raised with, but they’re not your biological parents and just trying to not hurt them but want to know who your real mother is and that challenge and what you face in that world. Also just other relationship challenges and the dynamic of family and boyfriends and all of that.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: In I'M GETTING MY BIG BREAK, the MTV reality show, you pretty much committed to living the dream of becoming an actress in a very public way. If you could go back to 2005 and give your younger self some advice, what would it be?
Alexandra Chando: I would say to myself and to anyone, really, to stay true to yourself and if you know what you want, you’ve got to fight for it and hang in there and maintain a thick skin. Most importantly, stay true to yourself and never waver from that.
What did you learn from your five years as Maddie Coleman that helps you with future roles now?
Alexandra Chando: Honestly, I think I learned more from my experience on the soap, not necessarily from the particular character. The soap experience was absolutely incredible. I couldn’t have learned what I learned in a classroom on that set. Honestly, like the work ethic and just how incredibly difficult it was to learn 30 pages a day and film 5 episodes in a week. It really, really taught me how to take on that much work and that type of role, and it’s obviously led me to be able to get through these challenging, long workdays for sure.
Do you still keep in touch with any of the cast of AS THE WORLD TURNS, and if you could choose one of the cast to play on your new show as a guest star, who would it be?
Alexandra Chando: I do still keep in touch. Actually, I hang out with Jesse Soffer, who played Will, very often in L.A. when I’m there. We actually live a couple blocks from each other. And I am still very good friends with Zach Roerig, who played Casey. You know, it’s tough. We both have very different schedules and him being busy with THE VAMPIRE DIARIES, but we do keep in touch. It’s important to us to maintain a friendship. If I were to pick one of them, I would say Jesse would add a great element to THE LYING GAME. He can really play the mystery of it. He can really play that dark character and I think it would be really interesting to see him a show like this.
What can you tell potential fans and fans of PRETTY LITTLE LIARS why they should be tuning in to watch this new series?
Alexandra Chando: I think one of the main things for PRETTY LITTLE LIARS fans to know is that our series is also based on the novel by Sara Shepherd, who wrote the series PRETTY LITTLE LIARS, so that is definitely a start. Our show it really is a mystery. It’s a little bit dark. There is definitely a lot of mystery to it, but at the same time, it has a lot of heart. It touches on romance and love triangles and relationships between parents and their teenagers. There are definitely a lot of secrets. I think a lot of the PRETTY LITTLE LIARS fans will be able to get into our show, as well, because we kind of have a very similar tone, if you will.
I see that Helen Slater is in the cast. Who does she play exactly, a mother, your mother?
Alexandra Chando: Yes. Helen Slater plays my mother. She also plays Sutton Mercer’s adoptive mother.
Can you talk about playing dual roles and the challenges that come with that?
Alexandra Chando: Of course. It’s first a blessing, first of all, to just have the opportunity to play two roles. To be able to develop two characters and kind of find different things about them and explore them each and every day has been incredible. It does come with its challenges, though. I have 15-hour work days and I’m working an awful lot compared to what I would be working if I was just playing one character. It’s a challenge in the sense, besides the hours and the exhaustion, just trying to keep them straight sometimes. We’re about to embark on Episode 6. Today, we start it. it’s gotten a little bit easier to really feel like these characters and understand them, but there are moments where a little bit of Sutton will creep into Emma and vice versa. It’s definitely been a challenge and I’d say, as well, having to act with a green screen or an eye line with an X on the wall has become easier, but it was definitely in a challenge in the beginning.
What would you say is the most important thing that you’ve learned from the time that you’ve spent so far on the show?
Alexandra Chando: Wow, that’s a great question. I’ve learned a lot and I’ve learned many things about myself personally and about the work. I think as far as me personally, I feel like I’ve really learned the amount of focus and work ethic it takes to really hold up a series and maintain great work and produce good work. I’m incredibly focused as far as my hours and my work schedule. That is definitely something that I learned about myself. I guess that’s kind of it. That’s the most important thing; kind of an internal thing for me.
Of the episodes you’ve shot so far, what has been your most memorable moment so far this season?
Alexandra Chando: There have been a lot of incredible moments this season so far. I would have to say there’s like a little snippet of it in one of the trailers. It’s from Episode 2. Blair Redford and I were out on the set is called The Overlook, but they used a crane shot. All you see is grass for miles and miles. It looks like we’re in Africa, but we’re dancing in this grass. That was certainly memorable. It was kind of surreal. It was beautiful.
Could you please describe both of the characters a little more that you play?
Alexandra Chando: Sure. Sutton Mercer is the twin sister that was adopted into a very wealthy family. She kind of grew up in a privileged lifestyle. She is kind of used to getting things handed to her; having things come a lot easier for her; takes a lot for granted. I wouldn’t consider her a mean girl by any sense of the word. I think she is just very self-absorbed and knows what she wants and knows how to get it and will kind of do anything that she can to do that. And Emma Becker, who is the twin that was not adopted and was brought up in the foster care system, she is just a kindhearted, really selfless person; just really longs to have that family connection that she has been missing for all those years and just truly warmhearted and doesn’t take anything for granted.
How are you like either of the two characters?
Alexandra Chando: I can relate to both of the characters. Obviously, with Emma, I consider myself a kind person, thoughtful, and I try not to take things for granted. I mean I grew up in a wonderful family, a wonderful household, which is great, but with Sutton, I think, I relate to the way she handles things emotionally. She’s less emotional. She’s kind of compartmentalizes things and I kind of find myself doing that often, especially in this industry and where life has kind of taken me. There is a little bit of both of me in each.
Do you think it differs a lot, like the show versus the novel and how they play what is called THE LYING GAME in the novel?
Alexandra Chando: The show does differ from the book. It’s a mystery and in order to keep fans intrigued and keep a television series going, we need to maintain that element of mystery. If we were to just follow the book directly then there would be no mystery involved. We did depart a little bit from the book, but it’s based on the characters and THE LYING GAMEs are mentioned.
Of your characters, do you enjoy playing the one that’s you’re most like or do you enjoy playing more of someone who’s not like you?
Alexandra Chando: I enjoy both, but Sutton is a little bit less like me. She’s a little bit more of a challenge to figure out, so I think she’s fun to play.
As someone who has done a bunch of different television roles at this point, do you purposely try to watch yourself? Do you catch things here and there, and how do you react to that?
Alexandra Chando: Well, it’s interesting. At first, it’s difficult. It depends really what it is. When I first sat down to watch the pilot of THE LYING GAME, I was squirming in my seat for the first three minutes because it’s such a surreal thing. You know, I’m my own worst critic, so I’m obviously going to sit there and judge, judge, judge. It’s interesting to sit there and see yourself. It’s almost as if you’re watching somebody else, but I do like to watch. I like to learn things. You can always learn something from a performance; pick it apart, but also learn things. Yes, I try to watch everything that I’ve done just to learn and grow.
Do you have anything special planned for the premier of THE LYING GAME in a couple of days?
Alexandra Chando: I’m not sure! I’m working, so it just depends what time we get out. I think we’re all very excited. It just kind of worked out that we’re all going to be working on our premier night. I think originally the whole cast had planned to get together and watch it together, but it’s kind of a tentative thing now. I may be sitting alone on my couch watching it on DVR.
Is there anything you were surprised to learn about Emma or Sutton’s state of mind or motives while getting to know them over each script?
Alexandra Chando: I’m surprised every day by them and by different things. I learn a lot about Emma and how she handles things. She’s a very strong character and she’s a strong girl, especially because of the way that she was brought up and kind of was on her home, so she’s definitely developed a very courageous spirit. It’s interesting because she handles things very differently. Sometimes it doesn’t really match up. She’s a little bit of an emotional character, so that was definitely a surprise to me. I found it interesting, especially as I started playing it, that she became a little bit more frenzied and emotional than originally what I had imagined her to be.
When you do get a little bit of extra time, and probably a very little bit, do you have any guilty pleasures that you like to sneak off and do?
Alexandra Chando: When I have the time, I enjoy getting manicures and pedicures, which I haven’t had the time to do, so that’s kind of a guilty pleasure. It’s so hot in Austin. We’re shooting in Austin. I would love to spend more time outside. It’s just too hard. I’m a big movie go-er. I love going to the movies. I love just constantly studying and just allowing myself to enjoy other people’s performance. I would say that. The cast and I, we do some fun things. We spent 4th of July on the lake together, which was so fun. We try and do some fun things; explore Austin together.
How many episodes have you filmed of the series so far, or have you completed the first season?
Alexandra Chando: Today is the first day of shooting Episode 6, so we have 5 more to go. We have a 10-episode season.
Will you probably end on a cliff?
Alexandra Chando: Yes, for sure. Every episode ends with a cliffhanger. I don’t know anything, so I don’t know what’s going to happen with the finale, but I am almost positive that it is definitely going to be a crazy cliffhanger.
What could you tell fans of the books?
Alexandra Chando: I will say that it is different from the books, but we do have the same characters and I think it will be really interesting and fun for them to see the characters come to life and just see it all unravel and see what happens with it. Like I said before, it’s based on a book, but it’s a mystery so if we want to keep people guessing and keep the audience intrigued we need to kind of veer off a little bit and do our own thing in order to make that happen.
More on Alexandra...
Alexandra Chando is best known to television audiences as Maddie Coleman on AS THE WORLD TURNS. Other credits include HOUSE BLEND, SHERRI; MEDIUM, GLORY DAYS and the webisode series ROCKVILLE, CA (produced by GOSSIP GIRL creator Josh Schwartz) and TALENT (produced by Alloy Entertainment). She made her feature film debut starring in the horror film Bleeding House, which was included in the 2011 Tribeca Film Festival.
Born in Pennsylvania, Chando graduated from Liberty High School before moving to New York City to pursue acting. Around the time she got cast on AS THE WORLD TURNS, she was featured on an episode of MTV’s TRUE LIFE series entitled "I'm Getting My Big Break."
In her spare time, Chando enjoys yoga, singing and cooking.
About Emma Becker and Sutton Mercer
Alexandra Chando stars as long-lost twin sisters Emma Becker and Sutton Mercer. While Emma grew up in foster care, Sutton grew up in privilege, surrounded by a loving family. After finally meeting face to face, Emma agrees to impersonate her sister while the real Sutton tires to find their biological parents in Los Angeles. But when Sutton doesn’t return when promised, Emma knows something’s amiss.
About THE LYING GAME
THE LYING GAME, a new one-hour scripted drama, follows Emma, a kind-hearted foster kid who learns she has an identical twin sister, Sutton. Sutton, unlike Emma, was adopted by wealthy parents and is seemingly living an ideal life. After their initial meeting, Sutton talks Emma into stepping into her life for a few days while she pursues a lead on the mysterious identity of their birth mother.
After Sutton inexplicably fails to return to the girls' designated meeting place, Emma must decide whether to come clean about her identity and risk her own safety in the hope of uncovering her twin sister's whereabouts, along with the truth about why they were separated in the first place.
THE LYING GAME stars Alexandra Chando (ex-Maddie, AS THE WORLD TURNS) as Emma/Sutton; Andy Buckley as Ted; Helen Slater as Kristin; Blair Redford (90210/PASSIONS) as Garrett; Sharon Pierre-Louis (LINCOLN HEIGHTS) as Nisha; Kirsten Prout (KYLE XY) as Char; Alice Greczyn (LINCOLN HEIGHTS) as Mads; and Allie Gonino (10 THINGS I HATE ABOUT YOU) as Laurel.
Charles Pratt, Jr. (UGLY BETTY, DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, ALL MY CHILDREN, MELROSE PLACE) serves as executive producer and writer; Leslie Morgenstein (PRETTY LITTLE LIARS, THE NINE LIVES OF CHLOE KING, GOSSIP GIRL, THE VAMPIRE DIARIES) and Gina Girolamo will serve as executive producers. Produced by Alloy Entertainment in association with Warner Horizon Television, the series is based on the novel by author Sara Shepard.
Kevin Mulcahy Jr. is a Harvard alum who is currently working as a staff contributor at welovesoaps.com writing theater and web series reviews as well as other in-depth features. Read all his Web Series reviews here. To contact Kevin, email firstname.lastname@example.org.