Allie Gonino has definitely switched gears this TV season. After two successful years as Laurel Mercer on ABC Family's fan-favorite series The Lying Game, she's now tackling a much darker role in Sundance Channel's original series The Red Road. Allie plays Rachel Jensen, the daughter of police officer Harold Jensen (Martin Henderson), who's caught up in a Romeo and Juliet-esque romance. NFTV checked in with Allie last week to talk about moving from one series to another, and what motivates her in her career.
Firstly, it goes without saying that you shouldn't miss tonight's Red Road season finale, and make sure you watch all the way to the end. "It's a really great episode," she enthused, telling us that "it could possibly end there, but it's such an amazing [last] scene and such a crazy turn of events that I feel like people will really want to see more. The whole episode is awesome - t's my favorite episode out of the series - but the last ten minutes of it is like wickedly jaw-dropping. Some crazy stuff happens."
Is she proud of anything in particular that she's accomplished during the season? "A lot of the work that I've done on this show; [I] also credit that to having great writing to work with and great actors to work with," she told us, "but I think a good scene for me was the scene between Rachel and Junior, where he's just broken her heart and made an ass of himself. They're talking in the hallway at school and he's trying to reconcile with her. I really loved shooting that scene. While I was shooting it, I was having major anxiety because I wasn't feeling like I was doing a great job, but watching it back I was pretty proud."
Allie's work on The Red Road comes not long after the two seasons she spent on The Lying Game, and we asked her what it was like to move from a series with a loyal fan following to a new project that's unknown. "It's always a transitional phase that comes when you're going from really one family to another," she said. "The transition was hard in the beginning. It was way different material. Different dynamics. Everything was different.
"It's really crazy, because I'm constantly still getting tweets and posts commenting like, 'I just started watching The Lying Game and I'm obsessed.' I think it's grown so much because now we have both seasons on Netflix finally. The show's been cancelled for almost a year, but now we have this huge additional new fan base," she continued. "It's bittersweet. An artist's life is constantly changing and you're constantly moving and adapting. I feel really lucky to have been able to get off a series and then basically go directly on to another one. It's not lost on me how rare that is for a lot of people."
The new show is also a benchmark for her, because most of her previous TV work has been either with ABC Family or Disney, and Allie has enjoyed the opportunity to take on a different project. "I'm happy to go out for whatever," she said, but explained that "I wanted to be challenged as an actor. I don't have fun unless I'm learning and unless I'm being challenged. I like to challenge other people and I like to be challenged myself."
With the season wrapped, Allie can now turn her focus to her music career. "I'm in a folk trio called The Good Mad, and we've been making music on and off for almost three years. Hopefully we'll make an album by the end of this year," she explained. "But I'm going to go in studio next week to go record some music for a solo project that I'm doing, that's been incubating. The first season of The Lying Game is when I started writing this album. So I'm extremely thrilled about that.
"I'm of the mind that it's always good to have more than one thing going on. So whenever I'm not acting, I'm doing music. And whenever I'm not doing music, I'm acting. I love music, I've always loved performing music, and I'd really love to go on tour."
At 23, Allie's making progress as both an actress and a singer, but she also has plenty of opportunities ahead of her. Was this how she originally saw her career turning out? "I'm farther along in my acting career than I thought I would be and I am not as far along in my music career than I thought I would be," she reflected. "It does make sense, because the music industry is a lot harder to break into in a national, popular level than acting is. Acting, if you're prepared and you're right for the role, you get the job. Music is a lot different.
"But I'm taking it all in stride. Sometimes life doesn't happen at the pace that you thought [it would] when you were a little kid," she continued. "It's the journey. It's not about how fast you get there. It's about the experiences that you have on the way."
The season finale of The Red Road airs tonight on the Sundance Channel (check your local listings for specific channel and airtime). You can also follow Allie on Twitter (@go_nino).