If you have watched TV in the last few months, you have undoubtedly seen many commercials for Red Band Society, Fox’s latest show, which airs September 17th at 8/9c. Ciara Bravo, a 17 year old from Kentucky, plays one of the main characters, Emma, who is hospitalized with an eating disorder. I got the chance to interview this intellectual, sweet young lady to learn more about her, her character, and the show. More insight into the characters, plot, and actors of Red Band Society's pilot can be found in our latest issue of Life with Teens magazine.
1. If you were in an elevator with a stranger, how would you tell your life story? What do you want people to know about Ciara Bravo?
To be honest, it would probably take me until we got out of the elevator to warm up to the stranger. But, hypothetically speaking, my life would probably be revealed in a series of rambling stories. I simply want people to know that I am real. It’s easy to forget when you know someone only from TV.
2. My kids watched Big Time Rush. You are obviously so talented and such an inspiration to teens? If you look back on your life, how did you get to this point in your career?
I genuinely have no idea how I managed to end up where I am today. Sheer luck, it seems… and a bit of hard work. I am grateful to have a family who has allowed me to spilt them up so I could leave for LA. They keep me motivated when things feel like they are slowing down. You hear 100 “no's" in this business, but my family always reminds me that a “yes” is right around the corner.
3. When you got the role of Emma, how did you think your life experiences, especially in high school, would help you nail the character? How does your character relate to you personally? Do you have close relationships with teens that have battled eating disorders?
Well, I haven’t attended a “real” high school, so all of the experiences I’ve pulled from to play Emma are from simply being a teenager. You know, the moments you don’t need to attend a high school to obtain.
Emma and I are both young girls trying to figure out our ways through life. We both go to school, fall for boys, and fight our own demons. Although, Emma’s demons are much darker than my own. Bringing them to life has proved to be quite the challenge because I’ve never personally known anyone with an eating disorder. So, books and online research have been vital tools for me.
4. What have you learned by playing Emma?
I’ve learned how much darkness can be hidden by a simple smile. It’s crazy, really. But also how amazing the people who manage to get help truly are. Learning to manage an eating disorder is quite the battle and you have to be extremely strong to be willing to put up the fight.
5. Although it takes place in a hospital setting, Red Band Society touches on such real issues, often uncomfortable issues that occur in the teenage years (love/drinking/pot/friendships). Why do you think it is so important to have a show like Red Band Society on the air?
I think it’s so important to have a show like RBS on the air because it’s showing people what it’s like to grow up in the hospital. You will learn what a positive experience it can be. Love, drinking, and friendships are simply some of the side effects of being a teen. The audience will get to experience everyday teen topics alongside the characters. It’s simply relatable.
6. Red Band Society champions teens of different backgrounds/illnesses to be a close-nit group that band together. How do you think the show will make social change?
I hope that RBS shows kids that it’s worth getting to know other peers that you would typically not hang out with. More often than not, you’ll have a lot to teach each other.
7. I will definitely watch this show with my young teens. I think one of the best things about Red Band Society is that it will be so appealing to both teens and parents. Why do you think it is so relevant for both audiences?
I think it’s relevant for both audiences because it’s a show about human beings. These characters are going through real life issues that everyone is bound to experience at one time or another. The kids can learn, the adults can reminisce (or learn some more). And it may spark conversation around taboo topics they have not yet discussed.
8. Octavia Spencer plays one of the adult leads as a sort of caring, determined "mother figure." Tell me how she is influencing you on the set, not just acting per say, but bringing an adult perspective, mentoring the ups and downs, bringing leadership to the teen characters on the show?
Octavia Spencer. Talk about a gem of a human being. She’s taught me so much about life and the business in such a short period of time. I may be a little biased, but I’d say she’s the best mentor around town. We’re lucky to have her on set!
9. What is it like to be on a show that is likely to be Fox's new big hit?
I don’t like to think about Red Band Society being considered Fox’s new “big hit” simply because I think it’s terrifying. Also, there are some other amazing shows coming out this season. Have you seen the Gotham trailer? We’ve got some stiff competition!
10. Besides being cast in your high school plays, have you ever had any formal acting training?
It feels like I have taken just about every acting class available in this town, although I am now a regular student of Aaron McPherson. Also, being on Big Time Rush for four years was excellent training.
11. How would you inspire other teens that want to break into the entertainment industry? What advice would you give?
The one piece of advice I would give to those trying to break into the industry is DON’T GIVE UP! It’s so easy to call it quits in this business, but you need to stay strong. Also, I recommend finding a class that you love and sticking with it. Practice makes you better!
12. Who's your biggest role model? Who inspires you in the business?
I don’t really have a role model. Unless we’re talking about fashion, because then it’s Alexa Chung. Hands down. If I gave you a full list of the actors that inspired me in the business, this interview would be 10 pages long… and that’s just the actors! There are so many wonderfully talented people in Hollywood today, it’s hard to narrow it down to just one. If I had to choose though, I would say Meryl Streep. Good ole’ Meryl. Now there’s a truly talented woman.
13. As a relevant young actor, you have a powerful voice. How do you want to be heard? Do you champion any issues/align yourself with any causes? This a great opportunity to "bang your drum." What's important to you?
I would like to be heard as a wise young lady. Not only do I want to do those who have lived with an eating disorder justice, but I want to bring other diseases the attention they deserve. That is why I am a big supporter of the CCFA, Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America. As a disease that has personally affected my family, it is important to me to do as much as I can.
14. Where do you see yourself—and your career—in five years?
Five years from now I’d like to see myself exploring different sides of the business. Hopefully by then, I will have had my fair share of acting gigs, and maybe even tested out the waters in the music video side of the biz. That’s always been interesting to me.
15. What should people take away from this interview?
Hopefully people were able to learn a little bit more about me, Emma, and RBS as a whole by reading this interview.
16. What do you like to do outside of Red Band Society? Any hobbies?
Outside of Red Band Society I love to read and explore the city in which I find myself living. In this case, Atlanta. Great foodie town!
“Things You Don’t Know About Ciara Bravo”
1. Favorite entertainers: The Killers, The 1975, and The Avett Brothers. Also David Blaine.
2. My favorite song: Shadow by Bleachers.
3. Favorite TV show: Sherlock.
4. In middle school, I acted as: Towns Person #2, Wizard of Oz.
5. My biggest obsession: Fashion pictures on Pinterest.
6. My favorite place to shop: TopShop.
7. My favorite food: A good sandwich.
8. My favorite memory from high school? Crashing my old school’s prom.
9. My favorite memory from Red Band Society? Hard to choose. Maybe the Beyoncé concert.
10. Favorite quote you live by? “People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.” -Maya Angelou
This article was originally published in Life with Teens Fall 2014. Read the whole issue here!