From a simple slip of the tongue to a full on faceplant in front of a crush, life is full of awkward moments. Learning how to navigate those situations is a skill everyone must face sooner or later. The best way to do that? Well, according to Jillian Rose Reed, known for her role as Tamara Kaplan in MTV’s Awkward, “The best way to handle an awkward situation is to just laugh it off! There’s really no cure, so if you can laugh at yourself, you’ll feel a lot better.”
When she first read the script, Reed was immediately enticed by Awkward’s premise. “My first thought was that it was one of the best pilot scripts I had ever read,” she said. “I was instantly drawn to it and immediately felt like I needed to be a part of it.”
Awkward, which premiered in 2011, follows Jenna Hamilton (Ashley Rickards), a teenager learning to handle the embarrassing, often uncomfortable, and just plain awkward high school experience. “It’s 100 percent relatable,” Reed said. “We deal with real issues that real people face. High school is the same for everyone, so we have the ability to reach a wide range of people who can all connect on one subject.”
Tamara is Jenna’s best friend and has had her own fair share of perplexing moments throughout the show’s four seasons. The role earned Reed a Young Artist Award nomination for a leading actress performance in a television show back in 2012. Though Tamara has matured since season one, Reed was initially captivated by the character for her brash attitude. “I loved Tamara for her sassy comebacks and her no-filter mouth. She’s grown up a lot now, but in the beginning she was a loose canon, and I absolutely loved that,” she said.
The last season ended with a memorable spring break and some romantic cliffhangers. Now in its fifth season, fans can expect their favorite characters to finish their senior year in true “awkward” fashion.
“You can look forward to prom, graduation, and even seeing what the characters do post high school,” Reed said.
While looking back on the show’s seasons this far, Reed said her favorite part of the entire experience is the TV family she’s gotten to work with over the years. “We, the cast and crew of the show, have grown so close over the years,” she said. “I couldn’t have asked for a better team of people to work with every day for years and years.”
Reed, now 23, began dancing competitively when she was 4, and with an additional love for singing, she began the transition to musical theater when she was about 7. When she was a few years older, Reed landed some commercial work in the Detroit and Chicago market, which launched her adoration for on-screen acting. As she dove deeper into the world of acting, she began to focus less on dance. “I still do it now, but mostly for fun. My girlfriends and I take a class every once in a while, but it’s not really something I miss,” she said. “Other than the physical benefits of keeping me in shape, it wasn’t a big passion as I started getting older.”
In 2008, Reed also scored a recurring role on the fourth season (and a guest role in the fifth season) of Weeds.
“Weeds was an incredible experience for me,” she said. “I learned so much being on that set and from working with Mary-Louise Parker. I couldn’t have asked for a better ‘first job.’ I had the opportunity to use everything I learned in acting class and put it into practice. Even though my part wasn’t huge, I worked with almost every main actor on the show and took away some great knowledge.”
She has had a number of guest spots since then, including appearances on NBC’s Community, ABC’s The Middle, and Disney’s Jessie. Reed said popping into a show for an episode gives her a chance to jump into some of her favorite shows. “It’s kind of like being thrown into someone else’s family, but, it’s really fun for me to explore new characters and end up on shows I really love.”
One of her current favorites—and latest binge-watch—is Lifetime’s UnREAL. “I started the show a few weeks late, and I am so obsessed with it!” she said.
When Reed isn’t working, she enjoys spending time with her family, which includes two brothers, her eldest brother Matt and her younger brother, Robbie Tucker, a fellow actor. After Matt was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes years ago, Reed became involved with the American Diabetes Association. She uses social media to reach her followers and raise awareness for the association. “Being involved is a big deal for my family since my older brother has Type 1,” she said. “I love being able to talk to people who are going through the same things my family is and getting to help raise awareness at the same time.”
Reed is also passionate about staying fit and healthy. She said she likes to incorporate dance into some of her workouts and is prone to jump from gym to gym looking for new, fun workouts to try.
Later this year, Reed will appear in the indie comedy Sharon 1.2.3., alongside Matt Bush, Nadine Velazquez, Skyler Samuels, Erinn Hayes, and Gina Rodriguez. She is even producing a web series for the first time called Elevator Stories, where she will also star as Samantha, an artistic lesbian who is falling for the main character, Ezabel. The series is a modern-day love story, much of which takes place in the elevator of the characters’ apartment building, as well as interactions with the building’s other diverse inhabitants. Reed’s team also launched a Kickstarter campaign to help fund the project, so if you’d like to help them reach their goal, search “Elevator Stories” on Kickstarter.com and pledge today!
See more exclusive images of Jillian Rose Reed in our Oct/Nov 2015 issue!
Read more Entertainment Interviews on ClicheMag.com
Jillian Rose Reed Interview: Photographer: John Hong, Stylist: Melissa Lynn Woodbury, Makeup: Mandy Perez, Hair: Matilde Campos