By Jillian Rose Reed
Until I started dating my boyfriend, Marty, travel wasn’t really something that was on my mind—he was way more adventurous than I am. But now that I have the travel bug and a travel buddy, I’ve experienced places that have changed my life! Here are my favorites so far...
MAUI, HAWAII. My first big trip was Maui, Hawaii and it was the first trip that changed my life. I went with Marty, and we spent a week hiking, swimming, zip-lining, and eating! I’m not exactly sure how what it was about Maui that changed me, but it’s something I can shake off. Maybe it was the beauty or the calm, all I know is I’ve thought about it everyday for a year and a half. I can’t wait to go back!
BIG SUR, CALIFORNIA. Another one of my favourite places on the planet is Big Sur, California. I went last December—it was bitter cold, but still so beautiful. I’ve never seen so many stars! On our first night there ,Marty and I grabbed a few blankets and went to lie outside on a hammock and it just happened to be in the midst of a meteor shower! It was beautiful!
MILAN, ITALY. I’ve only been out of the country one time, but the experience I had was unforgettable! Just recently, I had an opportunity to spend five days in Milan, Italy. I think the best part of my trip was the people I met. I was there for work, and had the pleasure of talking to so many young fans. They were the most enthusiastic and passionate teenagers I’ve ever met! It made me remember why I do what I do. Not to mention, the wine and pasta were fantastic!
NORTHVILLE, MICHIGAN AND SARASOTA, FLORIDA. My last two life-changing trips are ones that I actually take often, right in the USA, and places I consider home, my hometown Northville and Marty’s hometown of Sarasota. These may not seem like super exciting places but they ground me. I love going home and spending time with my family, biking through the my neighbourhood on a summer day, or bundling up and playing in the snow in December. There’s nothing like getting back to your roots. I love going to Florida and lying on the most beautiful beach I’ve ever been on, sitting on the sand at 2:00 am., looking at all the stars, and breathing in the ocean air! It’s these close-to-home places that make me feel the safest... and the happiest!
In case you’re curious about what’s up with Awkward’s Palos Hills gang and what’s up with Tamara in reel and real life...
As the Awkward. gang enters college, how do you feel about growing up with your character in the five seasons you’ve been playing her?
"It has been one of the most amazing experiences making Tamara come to life. This shoe has been such a wonderful ride... and now she’ll always be a part of me. I love her!"
What are the changes you love and hate about Tamara?
"I love that she’s finally figured out love and what she deserves in a relationship. One thing I am still waiting for her to realize is that she’s good enough—she still fights with who she is and tries to better herself to fit other people’s standards. I don’t hate that about her, she’s young, but I look forward to her growing past that."
Should Season 6 happen, where do you see Tamara and the rest of the crew in the future?
"Hopefully, we’re all still friends! I hope that even if we go separate ways, to separate schools and states, that the gang always finds a way to make it back together. That’s what best friends do!"
Outside of your work on Awkward, you keep yourself busy with new shows. What can your fans look forward to in these projects?
"I have two new shows coming up that I am so excited about! I will be voicing an animated character on a new Disney show called Elena of Avalor. I play Naomi, a fun-loving girl who works on a dock, and that will be out later this year. I’ve also been shooting a documentary series with Morgan Spurlock’s Warrior Poets anf Maker Studios. I’m the host of this new series, which dives headfirst into social issues that millenials deal with today. That wil be out soon as well."
You’re also passionate about lending your voice to certain causes. What fueled your passion to give back to others?
"It really started with my older brother—he has Type 2 Diabetes, and that’s what got me involved with the American Diabetes Association. Since then, I’ve realized there are quite a few causes I’m passionate about and I want to use my voice to make a difference." (She also serves as spokesperson for Break the Chains, a global non-profit charity that provides awareness for those affected by eating disorders. Plus, she also supports DoSomething.org with different campaigns every year!)
Who inspires you to be better at what you do?
"My family. I come from a big Italian family and we’re all about taking care of each other. All I want is to always be able to take care of them—so, being the best at what I do will help with that!"
Where do you see yourself in the coming months? What would you like to be doing and achieving by that time?
"I’ve really been focusing a lot of time and energy on writing. I’d love to produce or sell a concept that I’ve written. It’s a different side of the business that I want to explore!"
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Images by (Lead) Adam Hendershott for The Headshot Truck and (Inset) Jillian Rose Reed. Interview Elaine Carag. Styling Ali Levine Design. Makeup Allison Noelle. Hair Matilde Campos.