In February, actress Chelsea Gilligan, 22, will become a household name when American teenagers tune into The CW’s new series, Star-Crossed, a high school drama about the romance between a human girl and alien boy.
It’s the first major TV role for the Palm Springs resident and former Miss Teen California (2009).
“I play an alien named Carrie,” Gilligan says. “She’s in love with [fellow] alien, Roman, who’s in love with a human so Carrie does everything in her power to stop that. She’s manipulative, conniving, and crazy. The show is sort of Romeo + Juliet meets District 9.”
The rising star talked with Palm Springs Life about her career and growing up in the Coachella Valley.
A Miss Teen California must be fairly sweet. How challenging is it to play a villainous character?
I love playing characters that are not like me. I am not one to pick a fight, but it’s fun to play a badass. Surprisingly, it has not been a challenge [laughs]. I’m finding I have an inner badass.
You’ve appeared on several TV series (Victorious, How I Met Your Mother). How does it feel to land your first reoccurring role?
I keep pinching myself. I can’t believe this is happening.
You were also second runner up in the 2009 Miss Teen USA pageant. What makes you a positive role model for today’s youth?
It’s important to be yourself. When you allow your inner light to shine, everyone will see how beautiful you are. I try to do that every day. I try to stay grounded and remember where I came from.
What inspired you to pursue acting, and how were you discovered?
My stepfather was a publicist in L.A. and my mother was a model, so I would go to events with them. I grew up in the business and always knew I wanted to do it.
When I was young I had no self-confidence. I was shy and would hide in my room and put on plays. So I entered a [Miss Beaumont] pageant to find confidence. That’s how I got discovered by my first modeling agency, and eventually began going on acting auditions — and got booked.
You grew up in Palm Springs, part-time. What do you love most about the desert?
My grandparents live in Palm Springs, so I spent a lot of time here. I love going outside at night and seeing all of the stars. L.A. is covered with lights and smog. I’m a nature geek, so I love the desert.