THE CRAZY-HOT HAPPYLAND STARLET TAKES A ROAD TRIP
INSPIRATION COMES FROM THE most unexpected places. Bianca Santos was a senior at a tiny West Coast college studying psychology, eyeing a career far from the limelight, as a therapist, when a chance encounter with one of the gods of her chosen field changed her path forever.
World-renowned psychologist Albert Bandura—“the Sigmund Freud of this generation,” Santos calls him—came to her school to lecture. “I got to sit near him during a lunch. So I asked him, ‘What’s the one piece of advice you could impart to us?’ I was on the edge of my seat, ready for him to change my world.” And did he? “Yes! He said, ‘You regret in life the things you didn’t do.’ It was in that moment when I thought, I’m going to act. Like, what do I have to lose?”
Now, in a crazy-short time, the 24-year-old, who grew up in and around Los Angeles, has morphed from would-be shrink to girl-on-the-verge. Santos stars in the MTV series Happyland, about the weird world of theme-park employees, and had a recurring role in ABC Family’s teen drama The Fosters. And this month she’s costarring in The DUFF, a comingof-age comedy about the viciousness of high school cyberbullies.
We caught up with the starlet in a West Hollywood café, where she showed us her tats (full sleeves, faux, for an indie thriller) and more.
You don’t waste time. You went from nowhere to becoming the star of two TV shows and a couple of movies almost overnight. It’s crazy. Growing up in this town, you see a lot of failure. You grow up being told your waitress is actually an actress. And you keep going back to that restaurant… and she’s still your waitress! Like, what happened?
Did you worry you’d meet the same fate? I just figured I’d put everything I had into it. And within seven months I was a recurring character on a TV show. I’m still shocked. But here’s the thing: I never fully gave up psychology. I use my degree all the time.
How so? Are you analyzing your costars? I use it more in social settings. Like, I was at a bar last night, and I could really see the inner workings of what was going on in guys’ heads. But mostly I understand that everyone is on a spectrum of crazy. If we just accept that and stop trying to be so perfect, we can actually get places.
So you’re crazy, then? Oh, my God, I’m so crazy! But good crazy. You can ask my boyfriend. I’m insane, but he says I’m worth it, so that means something.
What are some examples? Well, I love being weird. I sing to myself and dance all the time, even while crossing the street. And I love walking into a room full of complete strangers and pretending everyone is my best friend. Strange but fun!
In The DUFF, your character is called “a fiery Latina.” Is that you? I’m a first-generation American. [She’s of Cuban and Brazilian descent.] I remember growing up and not relating to anyone on the TV screen. I grew up thinking,
I’m not blonde, so I’m not beautiful. I think the shift in diversity in film and TV is great. I love the fact that the person who was missing on TV and film—now that’s me.
We’re coming over for dinner. What are you cooking? I love food! I like making weird things. I cook grains that a lot of people never heard of, like millet and amaranth and buckwheat.
Nice! If acting doesn’t pan out, maybe you can open a restaurant. Or would you go back and become a shrink after all? Well, I think it’s something I’d still want to do, maybe years from now. But only when I’ve actually lived enough. How can I be a therapist when I have zero to little life experience?
“EVERYONE IS ON A SPECTRUM OF CRAZY. IF WE JUST ACCEPT THAT, WECAN ACTUALLY GET PLACES.”