EXCLUSIVE: Bianca Santos on Her Badass Character in The DUFF Crushing on Robbie Amell!

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Bianca Santos is quickly becoming a household name in Hollywood!

After landing the recurring role of Lexi Rivera (Jake T. Austin’s girlfriend) on ABC Family’s hit series The Fosters, the talented actress starred in the horror film Ouija and landed the lead role on the hit MTV series Happyland. Her latest role is as a badass (and hot!) high school student in The DUFF, a highly anticipated (and smart) teen comedy that opens in theaters nationwide today!

We caught up with the rising Latina star (shes half-Cuban and half-Brazilian!) to get the scoop on her highly anticipated movie; what she loves about her badass character Casey and why she (and all of her co-stars) have a major crush on the movies male lead (heartthrob Robbie Amell!).

Tell us about your character Casey!
Casey is Biancas (Mae Whitman) best friend. She and Jess (Skyler Samuels) really represent true friendship for Bianca — the type of people who love you no matter what and will always be by your side and are very loyal. And while Bianca goes through many different things throughout the movie, you come to find out that her friends are there waiting for her to get over it and realize, ‘hey, we love you for who you are — it doesn’t matter if it’s someone called “The DUFF”— and that’s what I really love about that!

In the trailer for the movie, Bianca asks her friends why they didn’t tell her she was their Duff and they look kind of confused. They dont see her that way, do they?
Yeah. We have friendships where that’s not something that you see — you know, you love the person so much for who they are. And maybe they didn’t even know what a DUFF was! I know when I first got the script, I didn’t know what that was. But then I asked some people and they were like, ‘No, I definitely know what a Duff is.’ But I didn’t, so…In the same way, Jess and Casey could’ve been like, ‘what is that?’

What drew you to the character of Casey? What do you like about her?
I love the fact that she is willing to kick butt for Bianca. There’s this scene with Madison (Bella Thorne) where she’s like, ‘oh, actually I only have like this many invites’ and I don’t even flinch for a second — I rip mine in half and I’m like, ‘Oh, look at that? Problem solved!’ And I love that initiative that she takes — she’s that girl who makes sure that no matter what, her girl’s taken care of. I very much love that about Casey!

Duff Group

Bianca Santos with The DUFF co-stars Robbie Amell, Bella Thorne, Mae Whitman and Skyler Samuels

You shot a lot of scenes for the movie in high school settings — like high school hallways. Did that bring back any memories of your own high school experience? 
You know, having a locker is such a funny thing. And all of those locker scenes where someone’s coming up to you and you’re like, ‘oh gosh, what’s this about to be?’ {Laughs}. I think that’s definitely something we all experienced at some point if we went to high school, whether you were The DUFF or  you were the Madison Morgan. Theres always those classic moments where you’re just like, ‘where do I stand? Does this feel awkward for anybody else or is it just me?’ I think high school is an awkward time and I think that’s universally so.

Were you in any cliques in high school?
I wasn’t in a clique. I don’t know — I feel like my group of friends in high school were just like blissfully unaware. We didn’t have any guy friends — we just kind of hung out with each other. And we just were really smart together. We were in our own little bubble in high school and I feel like it kind of separated us from a lot of the drama, but we were just really unaware {Laughs}.

Do you think that young girls will be able to relate to the falling out that the girls have in the movie?
Absolutely. I think this is one of the movies that actually tries to bring to life what social media looks like today and I’ve heard that that feud rings true to so many people! I mean, when you unfriend a friend on Facebook — it’s not a joke. Like, that’s very real! That was our version of bringing to light something very real today and I think it gets the message across.

If you were in high school today, do you think you would crush on a guy like Robbie Amell’s character Wesley? Would that be your type?
Yeah, definitely. A hundred percent. I think we all crush on Robbie Amell.

Why is that?
Why? Becausewell, in real life, he’s an amazing guy and an amazing person. But in the movie, he has his shirt off a lot and I think a lot of girls are going to appreciate that {Laughs}.

We know you’re half Cuban and half Brazilian and we think it’s really cool that this kind of mainstream movie has TWO Latina stars (you and Bella Thorne) playing very different roles. And we love that theyre both All-American girls and not stereotypical Latina characters. Did you feel that way when you first got the script?
Definitely! What I loved {was that} in the book our characters are different — Casey is actually supposed to be blond, so I love that they kind of blind-casted that. They sort of turned it into, like, whoever wants to play this role can and then they kind of catered it to, ‘well, let’s make her a fiery Latina. But there’s nothing specifically — you know, I’m loyal, but it’s not like I’m like speaking Spanish all over the place. So its very grounded and just like you said, very All-American because that is what we are — we’re Latina, but we’re American. And it doesn’t have to play into that, it’s just like, ‘we’re here and we’re in the movie.’

Hollywood is finally “getting it!
Yes! I know. We’re everywhere, just put us in a movie. {Laughs}.

Bianca DuffYou’ve been on a really hot streak lately career-wise, landing projects like The Fosters, Ouija, Happyland and now The DUFF. How long had you been trying to break into the business before landing these coveted roles? Did it happen overnight?                                                                                                                                                                 I mean, nothing’s overnight. I’ve had the desire to be an actress since I came out of the womb — ask my mother {Laughs}. But as far as actually making an effort to step into the business, I actually started the summer after I graduated from college. I made the decision that I was going to try it, because if I didn’t do it now, I would regret never having tried to do my dream. This September will be three years.

Oh wow! So it was kind of quick. You started and Hollywood was like, ‘welcome!’                                                        I mean, yes it was very quick {Laughs}.

Your character Lexi Rivera was so loved on The Fosters. Would you ever return to the show?                                  I would love to return to that show. {It} still has such an amazing place in my heart. People still love the show and my dad still watches every episode and I love it, because when I come over on Sunday for dinner, he lets me know whats going on and I think it’s the cutest thing. So, of course, I would love to come back to The Fosters if they would ever want to have me.

Since youre in a great teen movie, we have to ask: What are some of your favorite movies from that genre?
Oh my gosh, absolutely. Well, can I just tell you that, even if I wasn’t going to be a part of this movie, I remember seeing the script and thinking to myself, ‘well, I’m going to see this anyway, because I LOVE teen movies! I mean, I still quote Mean Girls every day of my life — it has shaped who I am and I’m NOT afraid to say it. And I love Easy A, but even the movie with Amanda Bynes {She’s the Man} is so underrated! And even She’s All That or the John Hughes movies. What I love about those movies is that they touch our hearts. No matter how old you are, there’s something so magical about those movies, because it’s this time in your life where everything can kind of change. Its one of my favorite genres, so it’s such an incredible honor to be a part of it.

Photo courtesy of Marc Cartwright

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About Author

Lee Hernandez is a writer, editor and executive producer. Lee has been the Deputy Editor of Latina Magazine; Editor of Latino Voices at the Pulitzer-Prize winning site The Huffington Post and a breaking news contributor to dozens of leading sites and magazines, including the best-in-class celebrity site PEOPLE.com; Cosmopolitan for Latinas magazine, AOL.com, The Wrap, HollywoodLife, Celebuzz, The New York Daily News and Fox News Latino.