Small Screen’s Sexiest Summer Sensations


MTV’s scripted series Awkward ended its first season on a high note and enters into its second this summer with the characters navigating through the same high school drama and teenage angst that has made it so relatable. One of those characters that the majority of audiences connect to is Tamara – the not-quite-so-popular best friend who gives advice no one asked for but upholds loyalty and just enough quirkiness to make for a good time. The young ginger-headed actress who has taken on the role of Tamara is Jillian Rose Reed, who does a great job of showing you should never underestimate the importance of the BFF. Nominated for a Young Artist Award earlier this year for her performance on the show, Reed jumped into her Awkward character using some of her own personality traits and high school experiences to make the most out of the part. “We’re a lot alike, so it was a role that attracted me because it was like me. Tamara talks really fast and I tend to talk really fast, too,” Reed describes. “She’s kind of crazy, like she’s a kind of a ‘live in the moment’ type of girl, and I feel like she’s always down for an adventure and that’s how I am, absolutely.” Life has been an adventure of sorts for the Michigan native ever since she got her start in acting at the young age of seven. After years of musical theater, Reed knew she had found her calling and moved into TV, and eventually film. As a burgeoning actress, she first hit the small screen in Nickelodeon’s Zoey 101, but has since found herself in an array of fiery roles in shows like Hung, Weeds and Community and turned out to be the perfect fit for Awkward. “When I originally read the script for the pilot, I thought it was the best pilot script that I had ever read,” she declares. “And as far as Tamara goes, she’s the fun-loving best friend and she has all of the funny lines and the sassy stuff to say, so I thought that that would be a really fun character for me to play.” Reed gives some insight into Season 2 of the show and promises “a lot more drama” that involves a love triangle storyline between lead character Jenna, Jake and Matty and continued torment for Tamara’s enduring crush on Ricky Schwartz. “Tamara kind of goes to a crazy place in her way of dealing with it, which is really fun,” she reveals. The MTV series, and its humorous approach to what can seem like a traumatic time period in teenage lives, has proven to be a fictional success for the reality TV-geared network and Reed attributes the achievement largely to its creator and writer, Lauren Iungerich. “[She] is so good at making it so real to life and so relatable for anyone of any age that watches it. Everyone that we talk to says they just feel like that was them in high school.” For now, Reed is focusing on the complications of high school until Tamara’s graduation, but in continuing her career she says, “I think I really would like to play something that’s not super true to life, like something kind of sci-fi – a ghost or a vampire – just something that’s totally not me, because I think that would be a stretch for me. And also the makeup would be really cool, and that’s exciting.”


Canadian actress Enuka Okuma doesn’t think she has what it takes to be a police officer in the real world. But lucky for Rookie Blue fans, she has no qualms portraying one on the small screen.
“I don’t have the stomach for it. I don’t have the patience for it,” Okuma admits. “I think after doing this job I’ve discovered that they really are our real life heroes and they need to be commended for what they do… It takes a really special person to have the heart and the strength to do that job, and I only hope I can do it justice by pretending.”
Before becoming Traci Nash, one of the rookie cops on ABC’s police drama series, Okuma acquired her share of television accolades on several shows aired in her home country, as well as U.S. ones that include 24 and Grey’s Anatomy. Her experience gained from other roles, coupled with the drama competitions in which she competed during high school, geared the actress up for her newest part as the single mom, no holds barred, motivated officer.
“She’s a pretty real character and I knew that if the show got a chance to go for a few seasons that there’d be tremendous growth,” Okuma states. “She’s definitely a tough cookie, tells it like it is, doesn’t let anybody tell her no. But she’s maybe a little overly ambitious, perhaps – could be a character flaw.”
Currently in its third season, Rookie Blue grants Okuma’s character a promotion up to detective, and as she sheds the uniform, she finds herself starting on a new path once more. “That was really fun, to be able to explore all those first day fears all over again,” she says. “It opens up a whole new avenue of storylines for me.” It hasn’t been all fieldwork and chasing bad guys for the rookies in the past two seasons, though. Audiences see much of their lives unfold outside of the job, and this is what Okuma attributes to the show being different from other police series.
“It’s definitely more relationship driven than crime driven, but the combination of the two, I think, is what makes it attractive to both guys and girls,” she explains. “We’ve got a pretty broad audience because the women love to know who’s sleeping with who, and the men want to know how the crimes get solved. It’s pretty balanced.”
Okuma doesn’t just show off her Hollywood skills in front of the camera; she can also add writer and director to her résumé with the festival release of last year’s short film Cookie. Enjoying the creative freedom that goes into writing, she’s continuing on an off-screen track towards developing film scripts and a TV series that will showcase all she has to offer the industry.
“I do see myself broadening my horizons for sure. I don’t want to just act, that’s not the end of the line for me. I kinda see it as an all-encompassing art form that I want to be a part of in every way that I can… You know, I don’t think a lot of directors necessarily give enough credit to actors and how they can completely turn a character because they’re a whole different person with a whole different outlook on life. And what they do when they walk into something is change the angle, and that’s the type of actor I want to be, so that’s the type of actor I would look for when casting.”

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