I love ABC Family’s programming. I watch almost all of it, and Secret Life is no exception. While the show as a whole has had its ups and downs (I’m looking at you hair plugs and Mayim Bialik), I still enjoy it quite a bit week after week. And one thing Secret Life has a way of doing is pushing the boundaries of typical teen television with lessons and racy subjects. I recently had the chance to speak with Francia Raisa, who plays Adrian — one of the more outspoken, strong female characters on the show. She talked about how she relates to her character, what she wants to see from her character going forward and if she sees herself as a spokesperson about teen sex.
What kind of emotional journey does Adrian get to go on this new season?
Well, we all found out last night that she is in fact pregnant. She was trying to hide it from everyone. In the last scene that you see with Adrian, you see that she is calling the women’s health clinic. The reason why she was hiding it from Ben and trying to hide it from everyone else is because I think she’s calling to decide whether she is going to keep the baby. I think in her head right now, she’s not going to, because she’s trying to think about her life with a baby, and I think she’s seeing Amy’s life and the way it’s changed. She has this big decision coming up this season. She has to decide for another life as well as her own, so there is a lot of growing up that she has to do this coming season.
Speaking of emotional journeys, it has to be pretty emotional for you these past couple of seasons to see the evolution that Adrian has gone through, right?
Oh, yes. So much has been going on with my character, being in love with Ricky, and then the relationship with her father, and then her mother, and then now with her pregnancy, it’s just been an emotional roller coaster for Adrian. Once things are going well, then something happens and she feels like she has to get revenge. That’s the only reason why she’s in the situation right now is because she thought something happened between Ricky and Amy right when things were going really well between them. And then she goes, “Well, I have to get them back,” so she sleeps with Ben, and now look where she is. It’s just been a whole roller coaster for her — insane.
How do you relate to your character? Are you anything like Adrian?
I’m flirty by nature, so I think I relate to her in that sense from how she was in the beginning of the show. Back when I was in high school if anyone did anything to me, I was like, “Well, I’m going to get them back.” So I guess in that sense I can relate to her. I feel a deep connection with Adrian just because a lot of her personality traits reminded me of myself when I was growing up, and then a lot of what her decisions reminded me of a lot of decisions that my friends made, my close friends made. So it was almost like it was a part of me just because I heard about so much and I was so involved in it. So I do have a personal connection with her. And then the relationship with her mother, I didn’t have the best relationship with my mother when I was in high school, just because, I don’t know, I was going through puberty and I hated the world. And now I have an amazing relationship with her now the same way that Adrian has with her mother and the same with her father.
What would you like to see from your character going forward, like what would you like to see from Adrian that we haven’t seen in the past seasons?
I think what I wanted to see from her and you guys are actually going to start seeing, was her growing up a bit, realizing that life isn’t all about sex and boys and everything that she was focusing on. Obviously, she’s also focused on her education, which I really appreciated that they added into the show. But she was also so focused on this guy loving her that she put herself aside and didn’t really think about herself, and now she’s in the position where she needs to think for herself and realize that she’s more important than any other guy or person around her. She has to think for another life and not just for hers and so she’s really growing up and maturing a lot, and letting people in her life, and opening up friendships.
Being on the Secret Life, do you ever feel like you’re taking on the role of spokesperson about teen sex?
Oh, yes, definitely. I feel like people are paying close attention to what we’re doing, because I remember when I was younger and anytime anyone did something on TV, I wanted to do that too. I was a big Mary Kate Olsen fan growing up, so anytime they did anything on TV, I was like, “Mommy, I want to do that, I want to dress like that, I want to be like that.” Yes, I do feel a big responsibility, like they’re paying close attention to every decision we make. I feel like they’re relating their lives a bit to ours and saying, “Oh, I’m just like that,” so whatever we decide on the show, whatever the consequences come about, they’ve related to themselves and their own lives. With the show, what I’m hoping is when they see the consequences of sex, and young teenage sex, that they pull away from the emotional side of it right then and they think about it twice, because pregnancies can occur. You don’t always get the guy and it’s really not the best decision when you’re so young. There’s a whole life ahead of you.