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"I was born and raised in Grand Prairie, Texas, which is a really small town outside of Dallas. My mom and dad had me when they were 16 and 17—that’s kind of what you do in my hometown, start a family really young. But I always wanted to perform—I was a really dramatic kid. My mom would let me run around and make short films and the entire neighborhood would audition for me, just for fun! At that point, we couldn’t afford for me to go out and do pilot season, so I would just put myself on tape instead. We finally moved out to California when I was 13 and everything took off from there.
I was on Wizards of Waverly Place from when I was 14 until I was 18 or 19 and I thank God for that show—it gave me a legitimate family. The whole cast and crew were all there before anything started, they saw me at my best and at my worst, and could call me out on my shit. People ask how I feel about having such a young fan base because of that show—I’m proud of it! Sure it put me in that box of being a Disney kid, but I wouldn’t change that for the world.
Last year, I filmed a new movie called Rudderless, directed by William H. Macy, who’s amazing, and starring Billy Crudup—it’ll be out this October. It’s about a man whose son commits suicide—I play the son’s girlfriend. The entire process was really emotional because the character really had an effect on me. She’s not really likeable, partially because she’s so hurt. It’s such a different role for me, which is thanks in part to Spring Breakers—I gained so much from that, and now I want to regroup and do more projects in the indie space. There’s more freedom in it, the people are really inspiring, and I’m in a position as an actress where I want to be surrounded by really great people who I can learn from. I don’t care how big the part is, if it’s a great character that I feel I can relate to, I’m down.
ON GROWING UP
It’s been such a transitional year for me—I moved out of my parents’ house this year and into my own place. I also took my first break ever and have been using the time to really concentrate on what makes me happy. Sometimes, I’ll be honest, I don’t handle all of this as well as people think, so it’s been important to really figure out what makes me feel grounded.
The older I get, the prouder I am to be a woman in the industry. When I was younger and running around all the time on tour, I don’t think I took the time to notice how being a woman in my position is really a gift. I want to make sure I utilize all that power. I was in Nepal for six days with UNICEF recently and it was so humbling to be immersed in someone else’s environment—I wish I could bottle that feeling up and bring it home with me. It was really empowering. So I think that’s what I’m most excited to share in my music and performance now—all the stuff that I’ve been living, because it’s been beautiful and awkward and authentic.