MCKENZIE MORRELL: Before we get started, I wanted to tell you that after our last interview, I made the Hot Cheetos donut you dreamt up and… it was surprisingly delicious.
RITA VOLK: Oh! [Laughs.] Thank you.
MM: So, it’s going down. Things are getting Karmi-cated. Can you tell us a little about what we can expect from the season?
RV: The premiere had a lot of tension—probably more so than ever. Karma and Amy don’t talk for a while. They both come back thinking they’re right in their feelings. Karma is really mad at Amy for leaving her hanging, and Amy doesn’t feel like she has to defend herself. She’s really adamant about the fact that she needed to go away for the summer, do what she has to do to get away from this feelings that she had, this unreciprocated love. So that’s where it’s going to start. They’re both battling for who’s right, basically, and who should apologize. Shane’s going to get caught up in it; Lauren’s going to get caught up in it. Amy and Lauren are going to have their own relationship—I love the tension between those two characters. Some people are going to be rooting for them to get back together. Shane’s going to have his own sneaky ways to get them to apologize to each other. And Lauren is going to be against it. That’s the outline for where we begin.
MM: Amy has definitely evolved and has come into her own over the course of this journey already. How do you think Amy’s feelings for Karma have changed since season one? Do you think the separation has helped her move on?
RV: Totally! Absolutely. I think we all sometimes just need time to step away from the situation and get a clear perspective. That’s one of the things I’ve been wanting for her since the first season—for her to be more assertive in who she is, to have her own opinions, and to do what’s right for her. It’s been so long. I think she was a loyal friend, almost to a detriment, to Karma, and she would appease anyone. I think in this season for the first time, she’s very gutsy, which I love. It’s about time. She deserves to be happy. She’s kind of been putting other people ahead of herself. It’s nice to see her say, “You know what? It’s about me now. It’s what I needed to get over you.”
MM: I think that’s super interesting. I had a conversation with Michael [J. Willett, who plays Shane,] not too long ago. He said that he thought it was the best decision for Amy to leave, even though it was hard for her to do. In terms of everyone falling on the spectrum of Team Karmy or not, can you give me any indication if Liam and Amy are going to keep in touch? I think out of everything that’s happened on the show, their friendship has been the most surprising and refreshing despite the circumstances.
RV: They’re not really going to have too much of a relationship. It was surprising; I think that needed to happen. These two people bonded over their kind of hatred in the moment for Karma. That was kind of the plot device, that was point. So they’re not going to have too much interaction in this season. They’ve never been friends. They’ve never really liked each other… or at least Amy has never loved Liam. [Laughs.] So there’s not going to be too much of that relationship.
MM: What advice would you give your character if you could get face to face with her in terms of her kind of getting back into the swing of things and getting Karma back on the same page as her?
RV: I think that she’s following the advice that I would give her. I would express to her that she should stand up for herself and that she needs a space to rid herself of the torment and these feelings, which is what she’s doing. And there’s no good way to go about that, you know? There’s never a peaceful way to say, “Hey, sorry I ditched you, but I had to!” There’s always going to be a problem, and there’s always going to be resentment from other sides. I think that she handles it well. I can’t say too much, but I think that Amy is handling everything well. So that would’ve been the advice I would give her, and fortunately I see that happening for her so I’m very excited about that.
MM: [Faking It co-creator and showrunner] Carter [Covington] has mentioned that this season is pretty focused on rebuilding friendships and trying to focus on that as opposed to the endgame people are rooting for. Would you say that’s how you saw the season? What do you think you took away from the season?
RV: Totally. Yeah, absolutely. It’s about totally rebuilding the relationships, because I think for the first time this season they’re not really changing anything. It’s more just the truth being out there and these feelings being out there and these actions being out there. They spent months apart, which they’ve never done before, that’s very new for them. So there’s a lot of rebuilding that’s going to happen. And there was so much that happened in season one and season two that it all kind of piles up on top of each other, and this season is definitely about rebuilding that. That’s going to kind of happen over the course of this season. They’re going to try to get back to where they were and try to forgive each other. There’s a lot of bitterness from both sides. Karma’s really mad that Amy left, and Kamra feels she really did a good job putting Amy’s feelings first in recognizing that Amy had feelings for her and trying to be receptive to that. Amy really doesn’t really think that’s what happened, because Karma can be a little selfish at times and unaware. But they have to put that past time. And that’s what this season is going to be.
MM: Will we see Karma coping with these feelings—whether it be coming to a realization or her anger toward your character? Will we see that spiral as the season progresses?
RV: Yeah! Well, Karma is going to be very much involved in this kind of attitude. She’s going to be doing something that’s not really in character for her to do. And Amy being Amy and being Karma’s best friend, knowing who she really is, she’s going to call her out on it. She will say, “This is not who you are. And I know that you’re mad at me because you wouldn’t be doing these things otherwise. You’re just lashing out.”
MM: I see a pattern there with her character!
MM: But hopefully she’ll come to some sort of realization, like, “Hey, we need to be friends.”
RV: I hope I’m not saying too much! I don’t think I am. I don’t know!
MM: I don’t think so! We’re coming into this knowing there’s going to be some sort of realization, whether it’s feelings, or anger, or trying to get their friendship back on track. I think that we’re all under the impression that’s how it’s going to unfold. How it unfolds we’re unsure.
MM: You mentioned your character is going to spend some time with Lauren this season, which is awesome. That dynamic has surely shifted since the beginning. What do you think sparked that? What was the turning point where these two formed an alliance, if you will?
RV: Well, Lauren is somebody who clearly needs friends. [Laughs.] I think that the girl has a lot of defense mechanisms. She goes through life in a façade in many ways, but deep down she’s very sensitive, very sweet, and a very caring person believe it or not. But there’s also an inner drive to be very successful, and to be competitive, and to be the best. Unfortunately that’s her current situation. She’s not really surrounding herself with good, genuine people. So eventually that kind of, naturally, falls apart. I think she realizes that she wants people who are genuine people, who are genuine friends, who can trust her for who she is and not for what her secrets are. And also they live together, so ultimately when you’re living with someone you’re going to connect. They really are sisters in many ways. They may not be blood related, but I think that’s just naturally what happens. And Lauren sees that Amy is going through this really difficult time, and Lauren’s not Karma’s best fan, so she’s protective of her stepsister. She basically says, “She’s doing it again. She’s pulling you back into this cycle I don’t want to see you in.” That’s the first time, I think, we see that Lauren really, really cares for Amy, which she’s done before without realizing it. But this season we definitely see a lot more of that. And those scenes are great. [Bailey de Young, who plays Lauren,] is such a great actress and [Lauren] is such a great character. That was definitely one of the highlights.
MM: In terms of friendships flourishing, are we going to see more of Felix and Amy and that dynamic?
RV: We are! Felix has feelings for her as, I think, we know or we’ve sort of gathered. She’s going to be caught again in the middle of a thing—there is a female love interest for Amy. I think I should say that: there’s going to be a female love interest who comes back from their past, who Karma also knows. She’s kind of going to shake things up. There’s a history there, and I can’t say what it is. But Karma is not her biggest fan, and Amy is not aware of Karma’s feelings. So it’s going to get a little love triangle-y.
MM: How is she going to deal with that? She already had a relationship with Reagan that Karma didn’t approve of. It’s gotta be hard to have a best friend who doesn’t support the relationship you’re in. How is Amy going to deal with that?
RV: Yeah, it’s really hard. But I think it ties into Amy’s feelings of assertiveness and independence. She’s definitely seeking less validation from her friends, which is actually a healthy thing for her in this scenario. We’re not always going to have relationships that other people live, and that’s OK as long as yourself and you’re not with someone who doesn’t deserve you. It’s not going to matter to Amy as much this time. We’re really just going to see a stronger version of her.
MM: It’s about damn time! Right?
RV: Yes, I’m excited to say! I know Reagan was such a fan favorite, and she’s great, and everyone was very upset when it ended. But it was kind of an intermediate step for Amy, because at that time she still didn’t really know 100 percent how define herself, how to label herself. Is she lesbian, is she bisexual, is she straight? And, really, she’s not straight. I think we’re all getting comfortable with the fact that it’s OK not to label yourself if there is a possibility of going both ways—which some people are going to love, and some people are going to hate that I said that. Because I know. I know that characters like this don’t come about every day. So I definitely see the need to want to label that so that someone can kind of claim them for their own. To say, “This is someone who relates to me 100 percent.” And unfortunately sometimes it’s a little hard to do because we’re not always black and white as people. So Reagan was definitely the first, maybe, symbol of Amy questioning things. And maybe feeling like she wasn’t 100 percent there and not wanting to be unfair. I think this time around she’s a little bit more comfortable with the idea of, you know what? If this is the person I’m attracted to in this moment, then I’m just going to go with it. And If I’m attracted to a boy then maybe I’ll go with that. But in this moment, there’s a little less second guessing from Amy.
MM: In terms of labels, last year both you and Katie [Stevens, who plays Karma,] both made AfterEllen’s Hot 100 and were praised for steamy Karmy kisses. Have you guys finally adjusted to the constant recognition and being held to that standard of representing an audience that might not have a voice otherwise?
RV: Absolutely. We’re definitely more comfortable with it. It’s not as terrifying, I’ll say that. In the beginning it was very terrifying; it’s a lot of responsibility. Everything’s just coming at you. And I think at this point now we are more comfortable with it. But it doesn’t get any less amazing every time; it’s mostly unbelievable. I mean, this is our first big thing that we both had and for it be loved so much and to be socially applicable for where we are in the world today is really, really amazing. We just hope that we are a part of the bigger picture and that we’re just contributing to something that will spark that idea of acceptance. That responsibility of representing a certain LGBT character doesn’t just rest on just one show or one character; we’re all sort of doing our part so that maybe my character doesn’t have to carry it all by herself in certain ways. Because there’s another show that holds that label, and there’s another movie that has that label. You know? They all kind of come together to represent the whole testament of the thing. So to be a part of that is really great.
MM: To wrap things up, in addition to Faking It, you have a few projects coming up. Can you tell us anything about Holding Patterns and Relationship Status and when we can expect those?
RV: I’m actually not sure. I know that Holding Patterns is in post-production now. So hopefully it will be finished really soon. I’m excited about that. That was definitely a really, really cool thing to be a part of. It has a great cast—Freddie Highmore (Bates Motel), Haley Joel Osment (The Sixth Sense), Jake Abel (Percy Jackson & the Olympians: The Lightning Thief), really great guys, Odeya Rush (Goosebumps). It’s a little bit of a mature part. My character is kind of like the bigger sister role to Freddie Highmore’s character. She’s a little bit more into her femininity as opposed to Amy. So that was a nice change in some ways. There’s that. I’m not sure about the release date on that yet. I don’t believe there is one yet. Hopefully soon! And Relationship Status is a really cool—I’m not exactly sure how they’re doing it—I think it’s going to be an online format. It’s going to be broken down into different episodes, kind of like Verizon’s mobile version for streaming. It’s about how we deal with relationships in the technology age, with Twitter, Instagram, all that. How we interact with people with all this stuff being thrown at us. I have a really great scene in it that I’m proud. And I’m not sure when that is premiering either. So clearly I’m the wrong person to ask. [Laughs.] But that’s what I’m doing.
MM: [Laughs.] We’re really excited to see how this season is going to unfold, how your character is going to come into her own and be more assertive, which we appreciate. Hopefully we see you on Twitter for some live-tweeting! I want to thank you again. It’s always a pleasure to chat about your projects.
RV: Thank you so much, I really appreciate it. Yeah, I’ll come out of my Twitter cave. You never know when I’m going to strike!
MM: Right? I always get questions when I put it out that you’re going to be chatting with me. Everyone is like, “When is she coming back to Twitter!” “I suspect when the show returns, don’t worry guys. Leave the girl alone.” [Laughs.]
RV: I know! [Laughs.] I’m learning to see its benefits. Tell them I’m not dead! They’re always concerned I’ve died. That seems to be a main concern with the fanbase. Tell them I’m alive.
MM: I will tell them. I will tweet it out. Everyone will rest easy for the next few weeks. And you should definitely try those Hot Cheetos Donuts, ‘cause they’re pretty awesome.
RV: Oh, I will. I will. Where do I find them?
MM: Well, I made them. But I think I’ll send you a picture of what I made. They were pretty tasty. It was weird, they were sweet and spicy, but in a comforting way.
RV: That is amazing. Can you just send the recipe?
MM: I will. [Laughs.]
RV: [Laughs.] Awesome! Awesome. I’m glad my weird ideas are catching on.
MM: Oh, they are. People on Twitter loved it. I was tweeting out the pics and people were like #RitaDonut. They’re definitely on board for it.
RV: Amazing. That is amazing.