Ashley Rickards on Being Possessed, Awkward. Season 4, and Losing the Side-Braids

Awkward.’s Ashley Rickards. Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Ashley Rickards is far from awkward, but she’s definitely possessed. Not in the same way her character is in the new horror film At the Devil’s Door, but possessed with a drive to succeed. She already shows off her comedic chops on the MTV teen dramedy Awkward., which returns for the second half of its fourth season tonight, but now you can watch her stretching her wings in a new, horrific way (well, besides the minor role she had on the first season of American Horror Story): being possessed by the devil and then, in turn, making it her dastardly goal to possess others in the search for a new human home. The 22-year-old — who will also publish her first book, Get Your Sh!t Together, next spring — spoke with Vulture recently about being possessed by the devil and what’s coming up on Awkward., and she even gave us a concise and helpful zit-concealing tutorial. She really can do it all.

At the Devil’s Door is pretty terrifying. Are you a horror movie fan?
As a viewer, I’d always been a horror-movie fan. I think we go to movies and television as a departure from our own lives for a minute. To me, horror movies are like that. I feel like for me personally, being in this industry, I never thought the horror movie was something I was going to do. That was something therefore I wanted to examine from an artists point of view. When the opportunity came around, I was definitely interested because it was different. It’s really the story of people in terrifying circumstances. It doesn’t play to the typical genre standards of horror or standard structure, which was awesome. 

Your character spends a lot of time alone, getting possessed, and then being the embodiment of the possession.
I think my character, during the scenes where she was alive, she’s never really alone. She’s always fighting the demon inside of her. There’s three stages to Hannah. There’s Hannah, halfway Hannah, and full-on, the devil. The most exciting version of her to play was definitely the in-between. Every character has a conflict, but when the conflict is literally inside of you in a way that physically manifests itself, that’s a very interesting place to go as an actor. I really enjoyed that aspect of it.

It’s a departure from the comedy of Awkward. Did you take things you learned from Awkward. and bring them to a horror film?
I mean, people are people. If you do your job right, you’re just portraying people in different circumstances. The writer gives you black on the page and you take the white, and that’s your performance. You and the director build that white together. That’s what was great about working with Nick [McCarthy, the film’s director]. He was always very well aware of the fact that I was interested in directing. He was generous and really let me learn a lot, too, on set.

You’re so young to be so ambitious. How do you get yourself into the mindset to juggle all those career ambitions?
I think some people just can’t imagine doing one thing in a field where it’s so creative and fluid anyway. When you have a passion for the arts that crosses over into everything. There’s a lot of opportunities for me to do what I’m meant to do, which is inspire people in some sort of way. Whether that’s directing or writing or being on Awkward. or whatever, that’s just what I want to do.

You’ve got a book coming out in 2015. How did you balance the writing process with your filming?
It was hectic, but I thrive on that. I thrive on being busy. Not chaos. Chaos is a different thing. I thrive on being around other people that are working. I was doing a lot of writing on the set of Awkward. A lot of stuff coming home after a 14-hour day and doing two more hours of writing. Waking up early and getting to set to get in some extra time writing, and doing it on the weekends. I wrote as much as I could before we started filming, and I did it. It’s done! It was a blast. I love writing.

What kind of reaction have you gotten from your fan base to the announcement of the book?
They’re already very excited about the book. It can’t come out soon enough as far as my fans are concerned. Whenever I mention it, they say, “I need that now!” or sometimes, “I need that yesterday.” Sooner than now. They know me, I’m accessible and relatable. I don’t want people to think that L.A. is this mysterious, super private, secretive, magic place. It’s not. We’re just people. I think my fan base can find the similarities. I’m just a normal person, dealing with breakouts. I have a huge pimple on my face right now, so I’m trying to game-plan the makeup situation for later on tonight.

What is your game plan for the pimple?
I usually like to do powder foundation, just because it looks lighter. First of all, never pop a pimple if you know you have to be someplace with makeup on two days out. It’s harder to cover up a scab. So what I’ll do is put on the light powder foundation, and then I’ll go over the spot — which, technically, I’d always recommend against mixing mediums in makeup — but then I’ll go over the zit lightly with a heavier concealer, and then I’ll blend it with the same powder foundation. That’s just enough coverage. It really blends well, and you don’t have to sacrifice the rest of your face to looking like you only used concealer.

You really can do everything. I threw a makeup tutorial question at you and you didn’t even pause.
Thank you. [Laughs.] I hope it helps people, that’s why I do it. I just want to help people and inspire people. There’s a shortage of power bitches out there, and I want to bring that back. Everyone can be a power bitch, and it’s a good thing.

Awkward. is coming back with new episodes September 23. Any hints you can give about the second part of the fourth season?
I will say that the director who filmed all those snowy episodes where we were literally freezing, he took us from snow to sand. We end up on beach, and that goes over oddly, as per usual on Awkward. I think fans are going to really be so conflicted this part of season four. There’s a lot of character development, there’s a new character. There’s lots of people to root for and lots of reasons to not root for them. It’s going to be interesting to see the response. [Pauses] I’m pretty happy because my hair looks great in every episode.

That’s definitely the most important issue, the demise of the side-braid.
That’s what I had to deal with for the first three seasons. Can we please get out of this inexplicably weird, dated side-braid? We finally fixed the side-braid. Anything else, as long as it’s not that side-braid, I’m super happy.