Last year, my roommate and I were obsessed with our TV time. We had our scheduled shows to watch almost every night and if for some reason we had to miss an episode, her and I would stream it together from my laptop the day after. One night during TV hour, I caught a promo for MTV’s new series “My Life As Liz.” Liz Lee was a high school senior from a city in Texas with hair as red as Hayley Williams. She wasn’t a part of the mean girls, though she once hung out with them. She wasn’t a mathlete, a prep, a jock, or a sexually active band geek, though she does enjoy singing! Liz and her best friends would actually prefer to call themselves the “Nerd Herd.” The show revolved around her life, her relationships, and the end of her senior year in high school, but basically what you need to know is that this girl is badass. Liz is totally a girl that I would have hung out with in high school and I think that’s probably one of the reasons why I adored the show. Although the series was shot with reality television style camera-work and editing, the show is completely unscripted. As the season went on, I became more interested in trying to reach out to Liz for an interview on Yow Yow, but unfortunately wasn’t able to. It took me a year, but I’ve finally gotten my interview! Two weeks ago, Liz and I finally had the chance to speak with each other on the phone (my second phone interview since Brendan Leonard.) where she filled me in on her first year of college, her first season shooting My Life As Liz, and now her second season, which premieres tonight on MTV at 11PM after Teen Mom 2.
Q: Hi Liz! First off, how old are you and where are you from?
Liz: I am 19, and I am from Burleson, Texas.
Q: How did you acquire your own show? Did MTV approach you or did you approach them?
L: MTV was shooting a pilot for another show at my school focusing on my school’s journalism program. (Supposedly a spin off of The Paper) The producers interviewed me and the test shoot morphed into my own show.
Q: Prior to forming a contract with them, did you have any hesitations about letting MTV into your life or did any of your family/friends have any hesitations?
L: Before shooting season one, my family was concerned about me being in the public eye and living out my high school experience in such an open way. They were only familiar with reality shows that involved drinking and partying, which also concerned them. They wanted to make sure that my show was positive and reflected my life and the situations encountered by my friends on the show in an accurate and positive way.
Q: Looking back on it now, how do you feel about those hesitations? Are they still there or how have they been resolved?
L: The hesitations have been resolved because they were able to see that my show is of a different breed. They also feel that it’s totally worth it because of the way that the fans of the show have reacted.
Q: So it’s been a year since we’ve seen your show’s first season. What has changed and can you set the scene for what the second season will look like?
L: Well, now I live in New York and I graduated from high school and now go to an art school called Pratt Institute in Brooklyn. It’s my first year of college and it just sort of follows that big change, you know, the dynamic between you and your old friends and trying to find new friends and trying to be independent in this huge scary place. It’s sort of like – not every college experience is like an Asher Roth song or a movie. It’s showing the tough side of it especially since the Pratt curriculum is pretty heavy undertaking. So I’m trying to juggle school and all of these adjustments at the same time. It follows the relationships and how the dynamics change and stuff.
Q: And how was your first year of college?
L: It was a struggle at first because it was this whole new place. I had never been this far away from home and I didn’t really have any friends up here so it was just kind of tough. But now, I kind of feel like this is where I belong and I feel like I’ve finally found my place with friends – and it’s just great.
Q: That’s great to hear. This is my third year in college, but I remember that same feeling of being down and trying to adjust with friends at school and with friends away at school and managing those relationships as well.
L: Yeah, well because there’s just sort of this stereotypical college experience that you see on TV or in movies and I come to college expecting that I’m going to immediately have a social life and a bunch of friends, and it’s just not that way especially with school. It’s tough.
Q: But college must be a lot easier because there’s no Cori there right?
L: Yes, it’s great! It’s awesome!
Q: I can’t remember if you mentioned it in one of your episodes, but how did that rift happen in the first place?
L: We were really close freshman year – like really really close. I sort of started to break off of that group of friends – the like blonde girls in the show – and she wasn’t really too happy about it, I guess. She was always kind of catty, but I just kind of thought that’s how friendships were. I remember sitting with my nerd herd for the first time and at the lunch table it was like I completely forgot that there were friends you could trust, you know? That you could confide in and that wouldn’t talk about you behind your back.
Q: After having one season out, do you think that MTV has portrayed your life pretty accurately? Do you think they ever edited anything deceivingly at all?
L: No, it’s really accurate. It’s through my eyes. It’s through my prism as I see it.
Q: Do you have any hand in how it gets edited at all or is it just left up to them?
L: It’s never been edited in a different way than it was shot. They’ve never put things out of order or took things out of context. It’s all been accurate.
Q: What was it like to watch your life on television from over a year ago? Do you sometimes cringe at some of the things you said or did or do you wish you would have done some things differently?
L: It’s weird; I don’t really have any regrets. Everything, even the awkward stuff, were things I learned from. I was open and honest about that struggle and I’m glad that people got to see that. I know that when I was going through those experiences, if I were to know that someone was just like me going through the same things, maybe I would feel a little bit less alone and it would have been easier.
Q: Last year, I saw some comments after the show aired that people speculated that the show was scripted or they couldn’t believe that it was real. How do you respond to these types of comments and do you understand why they might think that it is scripted?
L: Yeah, well definitely, I mean it’s a hybrid. We’ve never been handed a script. There was never a script for the show, ever. All the characters are real. They act the same way in real life. They have the same name. They’re not actors or actresses and never planned to be actors or actresses. You know, it just sort of happened and all of the relationships and the people are real. The shows and themes are how I see it, but the people are portrayed exactly how they are as well as the relationships. Sully and I have been friends since the 8th grade and we’ve been really close ever since.
Q: And what has the show taught you about yourself?
L: What has the show taught me about myself…It’s really weird and awkward seeing myself on TV. It’s kind of like when you hear yourself on a voice mail or something, it’s like, “Do I really sound like that?” “Do I really look like that?” All the stuff that I learned wasn’t necessarily through the show. I think I’ve learned a lot over the time the show was shot though. It wasn’t necessarily through the show, but through the events.
Q: On a scale of 1-10, how comfortable are you with the cameras now in your second season?
L: You know, I don’t even think it was the cameras. I think it was the people behind them. It’s weird having so many people stare at you at the same time when you’re shooting, but we’ve sort of grown to be like a family. I really trust them and I don’t even notice it anymore. I just act natural because they’ve been there for so long.
Q: So is this the same crew you had in the first season?
L: Yes, there’s some added members, but aside from that – even with the new members, we grew close over time. We just hang out like family. It’s really cool.
Q: When did you guys actually wrap up the second season?
L: It was awhile back – maybe three months ago was when we finally finished editing and the voiceovers.
Q: Going back to high school again, what is your best memory from high school?
L: The best memory I can recall was the talent show. I was so afraid and so nervous and I was just anticipating the worst. Then to have Bryson show up and be there for me… to see my friends in the crowd supporting me and to hear people clapping; it was just a really cool feeling because all that stress – all the anticipating and the horrible stuff – it was just the exact opposite. I felt really accomplished.
Q: Do you ever get mistaken for Hayley Williams of Paramore?
L: Yes! I actually was just talking about that in another interview. I was eating at this Chinese restaurant called Joe Shanghai when I was with the rest of the cast and this kid walked up to me asked me if I was Hayley Williams and everyone I was with answered “Yes” for me. It was a really awkward “What do I say?” but he got so excited. He honestly had no idea who I was, but I felt like I was disappointing him.
Q: Oh no!
L: Sometimes it happens on Twitter too. A lot of times on Twitter, people are like “Oh you guys look alike.” I personally don’t think we look like. I think we both just have red hair haha
Q: Tell us about a typical day in the life for Liz Lee.
L: Well, I go to school at Pratt Instititute and it’s an art school in Brooklyn. The curriculum is just really heavy undertaking so I’m usually doing homework or going to school. On Wenesdays, I’ll go to comic book shops and aside from that I’m kind of a hermit and I play video games and watch Netflix.
Q: So are you a sophomore in college now?
Q: And what are you majoring in?
L: It was art history, but now I’m taking some writing classes. I think I’m going to veer into that major.
Q: What kind of music are you listening to these days?
L: Bad Books is a band I’ve listening to a lot of. Who else… I would blank out on this list. I’ve been listening to a lot of Bad Books and old school hip hop like N.W.A. I don’t know why I’m revisiting that, but it just seems like a good time. I’ve been listening to the new Cold War Kids album too. It’s pretty neat.
Q: If you could choose a musician or band to be the soundtrack to your life, who would it be?
L: The band that reflects my life best right now is Anamanaguchi. I love that they hacked a Nintendo and Game Boy to create such awesome music. Nerds love video games so I find their music very fitting.
Q: So last night before finishing up these interview questions, I watched the trailer again and I have a few questions for you. I know you can’t give too much away so if you want you can answer them in one sentence or however you would like. First off:
Q: Is Bryson in New York with you?
L: I can’t really give it away. It could be either or. I could be back in Texas or he could be in New York.
Q: Can you tell us anything about this new guy Louis?
L: Louis – oh my gosh, he’s so great. He’s such a good guy! He’s such a gentleman and it really shows how he’s such a good guy. He’s in a band called Augustine and he’s such a talented musician, it’s incredible. And he’s just a total dreamboat altogether. He was one of the first friends I had in New York and he really kind of helped me adjust.
Q: You seemed a little lonely in the trailer and you expressed your feelings about it. Have things since changed?
L: Yeah, actually. Things are a lot better now. I finally know where I’m going. I haven’t quite mastered the entire subway system, but I’m meeting new people, making new friends, and you get to see that in the show and those people. I’m doing a lot better. I actually feel like I belong here for the first time.
Q: So what are you doing with your life these days and where can we expect to see you next? Do you think there might be a third season or even after My Life As Liz wraps, is there anything else you would like to pursue?
L: You know, it’s really cool to be at Pratt and being surrounded by this community of artists and being able to make friends with these people who are animators and drama majors and photography majors. I’d really like to collaborate with some of them in the future. Maybe with a comic book and writing it with them and illustrating it or even a cartoon and animating it or something like that in the future. Right now, I’m just focusing on school. It would be cool if there were a season three, but I don’t know just yet.
Q: What are you most excited to have the world learn of you through this next season?
L: I’m really excited for fans to see romantic relationships unfold from the other cast members. There are tons of surprises in store for fans who want to see a different side of Sully, Taylor and Miles. They have love interests this season and it’s a totally new dimension of their lives this season.
Q: Lastly, do you have anything you would like to say to my readers?
L: I really appreciate my fans out there. I’m so grateful. I’m really excited about this next season. It’s just filled with so many twists and turns every episode – it’s just crazy and wild. It’s also a really fun and interesting season.
Thanks Liz! We wish you the best at Pratt and on the upcoming season of your show.
Catch My Life As Liz every Tuesday at 11PM after Teen Mom 2!