Maxim - - CONTENTS - By A.J. BAIME


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?


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