Interviews / TV

Tedra Rogers Endures a Shattered Friendship in the New Season of “Cruel Summer”

Summer is a time of relaxation and fun for most. Tedra Rogers will be neck deep in intrigue. The actress joined the cast of Freeform’s time jumping slow burn thriller, Cruel Summer for season 2. The show invites the audience to collect answers piece by piece. “It’s  a show where you think you’re going to just be watching a who-done-it but really you get more of a why-done-it,” she reveals. “You’re dying to know why everything happened the way it did, not just who put it all into action. On the surface, it’s a sexy teen murder mystery, but below that, it has much more depth with nuanced themes to explore.” With events taking place around 2000, Tedra enjoyed not only the fashion, but the chance to embody her childhood idols. “It’s easy to just say, ‘the clothes,’ but when I really reflect on it, the thing I enjoyed most about portraying the time period was getting to step in the footsteps of all the super cool ‘big girls’ I remember admiring when I was really little. I remember looking up at them with their super cool blonde highlights, chunky jewelry and shoes, and belly baring tops, and seeing how confident they seemed and dreaming of being like them one day. One morning while shooting, I was in my trailer getting into costume, and I all of a sudden realized I was one of them! So getting to play Amy who, at her core, is one of those quintessentially Y2K cool girls was, in a way, fulfilling that dream for Little Teddie, a dream that honestly I hadn’t even realized I had!”

This season, another shimmering teen fantasy turned tragedy will be unfurled. “Being an anthology series, fans can definitely expect a brand new juicy mystery,” Tedra says. “The twists and turns in this season are so fun to ride. Being set across Y2K this season really allows the time period to become a character of its own, coloring the whole season with 90s and 2000s nostalgia and familiarity. Fans can also expect some fantastic Y2K fashion moments from yours truly that I’m so excited for them to see! There is one outfit in particular where the reference is really clear and fun, and I think fans are going to love it.” 

Tedra’s character Amy experiences growing pains in her friendship with Megan. “I would describe Amy’s dynamic with Megan as loving but misunderstood. Amy adores Megan despite the fact that she doesn’t understand her. Before Isabella arrives, Megan really doesn’t party or get into trouble the way Amy really wants to. They’ve been friends forever and despite the girls being so different, Amy doesn’t push Megan past where Megan is comfortable (other than maybe a LITTLE light teasing). I think a lot of us can relate to having friends from childhood where even if you aren’t into the same things anymore, you still love each other and want to look out for each other. As Megan changes through the timelines, Amy keeps an eye out for her, and definitely feels protective and concerned as things get out of control.” Isabella’s introduction turns the duo into an uneasy trio. “When Isabella first arrives, I really do think Amy is delighted to see Megan opening up and joining the group more. I think that if someone you’ve known your entire childhood suddenly starts relaxing and seems more comfortable with themselves, and that’s what you’ve been wanting for them the whole time, it’s exciting and you’re happy for them. But then…well, things start to change.” 

Amy drifts away from Megan in the ensuing years as her former BFF becomes unrecognizable. “Once we get to summer 2000 in the third timeline, it’s clear that Isabella’s arrival has somehow driven a huge wedge between Megan and everyone she used to be close to, and Amy resents Isabella for it deeply. How could you not when it seems like someone you’ve known your whole life and who you love has suddenly completely flipped who they once were?” It’s a complicated examination of adolescent turbulence that many women will find painfully familiar. Change is as inevitable as it is uncomfortable. “I love seeing friendships between young women explored in our media. Having been through my fair share of female friendships, I think the portrayal is most fascinating when it feels really close to real life, and just like in real life, these characters aren’t saints, even if they are trying their best. Growing up, I actually went to an all girls school and I remember so clearly having a new girl arrive at school one year and having the whole dynamic of my friend group thrown off. All of us had to grow and adapt. Real life friendships are complex and nuanced and flawed, and I hope fans of Cruel Summer will really see parts of themselves and their friend groups in this season (sans police investigations hopefully)!”

The chaotic events cause Amy to lose her innocence and hollow her out into a shell of her former self. Her playful façade can no longer conceal her serious problems. Life comes at the cast much faster than they could’ve imagined. “Amy responds to the mystery in a way that I think is a really profound journey for her,” Tedra muses. “She goes from being completely carefree to being deeply worried and introspective. Amy likes to play things off and keep things light. She tries to cover up what’s going on for her a lot of the time, but I think the weight of the mystery takes its toll on her, just as it does for all of the characters wrapped up in the mystery.” Ultimately, Amy represents a cautionary tale about the limits of love and the need for healthy boundaries. It can be difficult for anyone, but especially teenagers, to retain their identity in such intense (and occasionally lopsided) bonds. “I don’t really believe that unwavering devotion to a friendship can conquer all, or that you should abandon yourself for the sake of the concept of a ‘friendship’ (or any relationship really) if it isn’t working. Friendships take work like all relationships, and are just as important as romantic ones. I do believe that genuine commitment to a friendship and a person, being willing to admit when you’re wrong and taking steps to be accountable to your friend could conquer all, but that’s not an easy thing to do!” Cruel Summer airs Mondays at 10 PM on Freeform and streams the next day on Hulu.

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Tedra Rogers Endures a Shattered Friendship in the New Season of “Cruel Summer.” Photo Credit: Kate Whyte.

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