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Twice As Nice
Twice As Nice

Twice As Nice

Actress Alexandra Chando doubles down in The Lying Game. By Wendy Douglas. Photographed by Clarke Tolton

“It took a while for L.A. to feel like home because I started in New York and I’m an East Coaster through and through,” says Alexandra Chando, calling from her adopted home in the hills above the city. “But I really enjoy it. I honestly don’t even know how long I’ve been living here. You know how time flies.”

It’s no wonder the 26-year-old star of ABC Family's The Lying Game is losing track of time considering she’s constantly flying back and forth between Los Angeles and Austin, Texas, where the show is filmed. Now in its second season, The Lying Game is based on the books by Pretty Little Liars author Sara Shepard, and like that other ABC hit, it’s full of intrigue, secrets, and manipulations. On the show, Chando has the challenge of playing identical twin sisters, Sutton and Emma, who reunite as teenagers after being separated at birth. “I like them both equally—they each bring something different to the table,” she says of her double alter egos. “But I enjoy playing Sutton the most. It’s always fun to be the bad girl.” Here she tells us about her double life on and off screen.

What secrets can you tell us about season two of The Lying Game?
I think the biggest one this season is that there’s going to be another death, which is huge for the show. What’s most interesting is that Emma discovers something really huge on her own that nobody else discovers. You’ll also see more of the manipulation between Sutton and her mother Rebecca. Lots more revelations and mystery!

Is it difficult playing two characters?
It’s certainly exhausting and the days are long, but it’s so much fun. It’s a dream to play the nice girl and then turn around and play a manipulative brat. Sometimes it gets a little old to just be nice all the time, so it’s good to have that yin and yang.

How do you switch in and out of Sutton and Emma?
It’s gotten a lot easier since we’ve been filming because I know these girls so well. The wardrobe definitely helps shape the character. Mimi, the costume designer, is really incredible and she allows me to put in my two cents. Then there are differences in how I hold myself as Sutton—she has a very different posture and way of speaking.

What’s the atmosphere like on set?
We’re in a bubble in Austin, so we plan cast trips. We film in the summer and it’s brutally hot, like 110 degrees, so we try to do anything we can that’s in water. We’re all really close and joke around, but I would say Andy Buckley, who plays my father, Ted, is the biggest jokester. We call him “The Mayor of Lying Game Town” because he knows everything about everybody.

How are you dealing with increased attention from fans?
It’s a little bit surreal. A part of me is just like, Why? Why are people interested in me? My favourite part is seeing my family’s reaction. I have two older brothers and when I’m with them and I get recognized, they get a kick out of it. They’re protective of me in those situations, too.

What do you like to do when you’re not working or travelling?
When I’m in L.A. I catch up on reading—I could sit and read a full book in a couple of hours. The last book I read was Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl. I also mentor a 12-year-old girl. I hooked up with a non-profit called Create Now and they partner you up with an at-risk youth. I meet her once a week and spend some time with her. It has been really rewarding and eye opening.

What are your goals for 2013?
I would love to be back in Austin filming 10 more episodes. And I’d love to do a film and play another character. It would be really great to branch out and do something else.

Stylist: BETH HOPPE
Hair: CAILE NOBLE
Makeup: KRISTINA BROWN