Amanda Leighton is on her third ABC Family series in three years. In 2011, she played Danielle in three episodes of Pretty Little Liars, and she followed that up the next year with a seven-episode arc as Wendy Capshaw on Make It or Break It. Now she has a recurring role as Emma, the alpha-female girlfriend of Jesus Foster (Jake T. Austin), on the network's groundbreaking drama The Fosters.
And here's the amusing part: it's all pure coincidence, though Amanda was more than happy to get another call. "I love ABC Family," she told us. "All of their shows are family-oriented."
Emma's relationship with Jesus has been a roller coaster ride so far in season two, with the characters currently at somewhat of an impasse. But it's that back-and-forth that makes the arc feel like a real entanglement, and it's not about to become smooth sailing any time soon.
"They are going through some different challenges this season," Amanda explained, and some of those have to do with the fact that Emma is pretty outspoken. "She knows who she is and she knows what she wants," she continued. "And I feel like that really shows more in the second season, kind of having to deal with that."
How did she create that palpable chemistry with Jake T. Austin? "We actually met before we worked with each other on set," she explained, adding, "I feel like a lot of things happen naturally, and I think the more that you work with someone, the chemistry builds."
Since many ABC Family shows are targeted to the same young adult demographic, they usually share a few viewers, so have people tuned into The Fosters recognized Amanda from either of her earlier roles on the channel? "They have. It's kind of funny," she said, laughing.
But she also enjoys interacting with fans on social media: "It's a really cool way to connect with the audience," she continued. "People see the same scene ten different ways. And it's interesting to see what people see."
Following her first movie in 2012, Divorce Invitation, Amanda is continuing to branch out into film. "I start shooting a horror movie in September," she told us. That's called The Fifth Victim and it will be a decidedly different role for this up-and-coming young actress who's always bringing plenty of energy to the screen.
But she's also still a fan of all kinds of television: "I watched Scandal, I caught up on that and I loved it," she said. "I'm currently watching Orange Is The New Black. I watch New Girl. I love a lot of comedies."
And we love seeing her, so maybe there's a fourth ABC Family show that can find room for her talent? If that happens, they'll have to start calling it the Amanda Broadcasting Company.
The Fosters airs Mondays at 9 PM ET/PT on ABC Family (check local listings for specific channel). You can also follow Amanda on Twitter (@MandyPandyLeigh) for more.