Maiara Walsh chats 'General Education' - East Valley Tribune: Movies

Maiara Walsh chats 'General Education'

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Posted: Wednesday, August 29, 2012 3:00 pm

Enormously charming, with an irresistible smile and compassionate heart, Maiara Walsh burst onto the scene via Disney Channel’s “Cory In The House” in 2007, but is best known for her role as troubled teen Ana Solis on ABC’s “Desperate Housewives”.

She’s graced the screen in other popular television series like “The Vampire Diaries” and “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”, and has a slew of upcoming film projects on her plate.

Her latest venture, “General Education”, arrives in Valley theaters this weekend. In the film, Walsh portrays Katie, a classmate and love interest to Chris Sheffield’s charismatic underachiever. In a recent talk with The East Valley Tribune, Walsh spoke about her character, the atmosphere working on set and what appeals to her most about coming-of-age stories.

How did you first get involved with "General Education" and what appealed to you most about the project?

I auditioned for “General Education” a little over a year ago. When I read the script, I thought that many people could connect with the themes and that it would be a film the entire family could enjoy.

May you tell me a little bit about Katie and what personal traits or mannerisms you might have brought to the character? Did you have any input in her writing or development?

Kate is a bright, intelligent teenager, who struggles with the pressure her mother puts on her to get into med school. She is Chris' love interest; they meet in summer school and are attracted to one another. I definitely can relate to Katie. I did well in school and was very much expected to go to college. So playing Katie was not too much of a stretch for me. My favorite part of acting is creating the world that my characters grow up in that influences the way they respond to different situations. For example, her parents are divorced and mine or not, so I enjoyed exploring that environment.

How would you describe your experience shooting “General Education”, and what was it like working with your fellow costars and director Tom Morris?

I had an absolute blast working on “General Education.” Everyone, including the director, producers, and crew were super young. We all hung out a ton outside of set. I am still good friends with a lot of people we worked with! Working with Tom was awesome; he was very open to communicating about our characters and was very patient in general. He made being on set even more fun.

How long did shooting last?

Shooting lasted about 3 weeks. Most of us didn’t work every day and we were in Chico, Calif., which is absolutely beautiful. We spent a lot of time hiking and exploring.

In the past you have spoken about topics such as a painful upbringing and teenage empowerment, most notably during a sit-down with Dr. Phil while promoting “Mean Girls 2”. Any similar themes or ideas you see in "General Education”?

I think there are a lot of pressures as a teenager. You're trying to figure out who you are and where you fit in, while trying to satisfy everyone around you. I think that's exactly what Chris is going through. He has been following his father's dream his entire life, and really doesn't know what he wants. Which many of us can relate to, especially at that period of our lives.

Having previously appeared in projects like “Mean Girls 2” and "The Secret Life of the American Teenager”, what would you say attracts you to these types of coming-of-age stories? Any other genres of film you hope to get involved with in the future?

I like stories about growth and transformation. So if I'm playing a character I don't relate to, like Mandı from “Mean Girls 2,” I have to find the human side of them. That is my goal for every character I play. I love fantasy movıes; I would love to work on something like “The Hunger Games.”

What do you hope audiences walk away with after seeing "General Education"?

I hope audiences will feel satisfied and motivated to follow their dreams.

Anything else you'd like to add?

It was really wonderful working with pros like Janeane Garofalo and Larry Muller. The whole cast was wonderful to work with.

- Walsh is heavily involved in philanthropic work, including this year's nonprofit "Enchanted Weekend" from October 19-21 in Central Florida, which benefits children with life-threatening illnesses. To learn more about Walsh and her involvement with the event, visit www.EnchantedWeekend.org.

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