ABC Family/Andrew Eccles
Amy Pietz became a household name when she starred alongside Lea Thompson on the sitcom Caroline in the City. But these days she’s reaching a whole new audience on the ABC Family series The Nine Lives of Chloe King. At a recent press event Amy talked about Twitter, single-camera shows and being a mother on- and off-screen.
Amy talked about reaching out to whole new audience. “I’ve never been in this demographic… I wasn’t part of the machine that is Disney before. And now I’m seeing that there are some differences. But mostly its technological differences like being requested to Tweet and have a Twitter account as a part of your life as an actor… I’m not really super interested in that.”
Pietz is also still adjusting to acting in a one-hour drama series. She explained, “Any time a person’s trained in the theater and has done like sitcom after sitcom after sitcom, goes into a single camera scenario there is a big adjustment. And so for me, I think the show I did prior to this one, ‘Aliens in America’ was a good ramp and a good adjustment period for me — really learning how to act in front of one or two cameras as opposed to an audience. Tempering my theatricality, keeping all the same intentions, but taking the edge off, taking the presentational aspect of it off.”
Pietz plays an adoptive mother to the title character, Chloe King, who happens to have just realized that she is the chosen one of a secret society called the Mai. Chloe is reluctant to tell her mother, Meredith, about her new found powers. But Amy acknowledged, “I suspect that Meredith knows a lot more than she’s letting on to both Chloe and the audience, especially with regards to Chloe’s origins and what happened in Ukraine. And there was a lot more upsetting news to share with Chloe that she hasn’t shared because it wasn’t pretty.”
She said she believed that all would come clear, but not right away. “That will slowly be revealed. Because as you all know what makes good television is keeping that line of tension really tight for as long as you can. And I know the writers. I trust the writers will do that successfully for a long time.”
But Chloe King isn’t resting on the laurels of just one big reveal like some shows do. Instead more and more layers to the onion keep get peeled back. As Amy noted, “It just keeps getting piled on. What I really like about the show is that it doesn’t have that, well it’s obviously not a procedural, but it doesn’t have that cliffhanger that some procedurals have.”
And that makes the show just as exciting for Amy to act in as it does for viewers to watch. She confessed, “It really is actively thrilling to me as a person reading the script for the first time I’m often like, ‘Oh my god.’ I’m surprised, so that’s a good sign when the actors are surprised.”
Amy has also been amazed by her recent role of stepmother — both on and off screen. She explained her anxiety at taking on both roles. “I panicked a lot as I did when I became a stepmom — just utter panic.”
But Amy and the actress who plays the title character, Skyler Samuels, clicked right away. She revealed, “What Skyler and I have going for us is a natural chemistry and a natural understanding. She has such a maturity level that she really, even without a great amount of experience, she’s able to emphasize and to listen well and to assess scenarios and situations well. I didn’t audition for this. I was given this role and the first time [executive producer] Dan Berendsen saw me with Skyler was a table read for the network and for everyone and I’m sure he was shaking in his boots. Like, ‘What if they hate each other? Oh my god.’ But we had an instant rapport and an instant rhythm. We kind of really had that naturally.”
Amy also recently married and became a stepmom to a teenager in real life. She talked about how working on the show is helping her connect with her stepdaughter starting with contributions from some of the show’s team. She noted, “Their writing is useful for me as a stepmom. It’s really good because I had no template. And very few friends of mine are stepmoms. So I’ve been reading a lot of books and actually the writing staff is helping me navigate it, too.”
She sounded happy for any help she could get, “Whatever it takes to keep [my stepdaughter’s] trust and keep the open communication lines. I’m not a parent…. So I’m in real life learning the same things that Meredith is learning. And the same thing happened to my stepdaughter recently. She’s extremely beautiful and sweet and has a lot of the same characteristics as Chloe and so it’s really weird. Sometimes I call Skyler Taylor and Taylor Skyler.
She added, “I’m literally playing a role. I’m thrown into being a mom in both counts, without having any experience. So keep pretending until it becomes a part of you and I think it’s starting to become a part of me.”
One thing she doesn’t have to worry about is mothering the cast off-screen. As she remarked, “Some of them aren’t children, so I don’t have to. But certainly with Skyler I feel incredibly protective of her… She’s so unbelievably bright and she has such drive and a very high sense of integrity. That I often find myself going, ‘What would Skyler do?’ Or ‘What will she think of me if she catches me saying or doing this?’ So she keeps me on my toes. I think she’s probably parenting me as much as I’m faux parenting her. And then having a real mom on set, also, is another dynamic. I often just watch and listen and try to learn from her.”
Catch Amy on The Nine Lives of Chloe King on Tuesdays at 9 p.m. EST/8 p.m. Central on ABC Family.