WARNING: Mild Spoilers for The Kicks
If Monica Lacy seems familiar to you, she should. Times three. Back in 1989, the actress starred in a couple of Disney movies with her identical triplet sisters, Leanna and Joy. Parent Trap III and Parent Trap IV: Hawaiian Honeymoon were part of The Magical World of Disney, which at that point aired on NBC.
Monica’s other small screen credits include Baywatch, Beverly Hills 90210, Party of Five,Â Hawaii Five-0 and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. This Friday, the real-life mom turnsÂ TV mom for the new Amazon series, The Kicks.
The Kicks tells the story of Devin Burke, a teenage girl who’s forced to adjust her universe when her family moves from the east coast to the west coast, where the California vibe is clearly different from her Connecticut upbringing. She’s in a new town so that means she’s also attending a new school. On top of that, the soccer star joins a team that’s not nearly as excellent as the one she left.
Lacy’s character, Sharon Burke, has her own issues to deal with in addition to raising her two kids and figuring out life in a brand new place. In this email interview, she talks aboutÂ the appeal of a show like The Kicks, the journey for her character, she reflects on those Parent Trap flicks, and discusses what she learned from the costars from those films, Hayley Mills and Barry Bostwick.
TV Goodness: The Kicks is based on a series of books Olympic gold medalist Alex Morgan wrote. Were you aware of the books before you were cast?
Monica Lacy: Actually, just as I was auditioning, I noticed the books at my kids’ school book fair! Lots of kids in my daughters’ class had read them.
TV Goodness: All the episodes are set to drop on Amazon Prime. How does it feel to know that people watched the pilot and voted for your show to go to series?
Lacy: I love the way that viewers have a say in which shows will get picked up for a full series order with Amazon. It’s very democratic. It was gratifying to read all the comments and see that almost everyone responded so positively to the show. I’m very proud to be a part of it. It seems lots of people are looking for a show like The Kicks – one that they can watch as a family.
TV Goodness: What do you think set it apart from other pilots?
Lacy: I heard many comments about how refreshing it was to have a young female lead character who was not solely obsessed with fame, makeup, and dating. The lead, Devin (Sixx Orange), is focused on becoming an elite soccer player, and we see the bumps and challenges that it brings. Every kid, boy or girl, can relate to this, and also enjoy the great sports sequences that are exciting to watch.
As a mother myself, I’m thrilled to see a show based around the trials of everyday life, like dealing with the “mean girl” and “not making the club team that you wanted to” because these are exactly the issues my tween daughter faces every day.Â And the parents are also in the picture in a realistic way, not just to be the joke, but depicted as humans with their own struggles too.
TV Goodness: Okay, I know Iâ€™m not the intended age group for this series but I totally loved the pilot. Why do you think The Kicks actually appeals to people of all ages?
Lacy: Well, everyone loves a good sports movie. We love to see the underdog go through crazy challenges in pursuit of their dream. This is the core of the show. Plus, the soccer sequences are really exciting to watch, young or old; they really draw everyone into the action. And it continues to have fun and entertaining action all through the season. Parents will love the values like dedication, not quitting, and learning to work as a team. There is plenty of humor, friendly competition, and heart to capture a wide range of ages.
TV Goodness: In the series, weâ€™re introduced to The Burke family. Theyâ€™ve moved from Connecticut to California and they have to get used to a whole new way of life. Things start off shaky. What does that adjustment process look like the rest of the season? Does every family member continue to have issues adjusting?
Lacy: Good question. Yes, I’d say the struggle is real throughout the entire season. Obviously we go through Devin’s struggle first: joining a terrible soccer team. Her dad also struggles with being a boss for the first time, and trying to connect with his co-workers. And even her mom struggles when she starts to miss her friends at home and finds it difficult to make new ones in California. For instance, she notices that the moms in Southern California are into completely different things. In one episode, she makes her son, Bailey, go to a classmate’s birthday party…just so she can meet the moms and make some friends. He calls her on it, telling her she’s trying too hard – and he’s 100% right!
TV Goodness: What do you enjoy most about playing Sharon Burke?
Lacy: I love how upbeat, optimistic and idealistic she is…sheâ€™s super positive. She is the cheerleader to every member of the family and keeps them on track, so it’s especially fun to play her when she loses it or when she is forced to admit that she doesn’t have it together on the inside. She’s a lot like most moms; getting it right through trial and error, but earnestly trying to be the best mom she can be.
TV Goodness: What can you tease about Sharon’s journey? Will we see her go through the ups and downs of trying to start her own business?
Lacy: Well, we do see her attempt to start her own business as a party planner off the ground, and not get very far with it. She thought in Los Angeles it would be a piece of cake, but she can’t compete with the natives and all of their celebrity connections. She does make small strides, but I wouldn’t call her successful yet. She is an example to her kids, to keep going even when you see failure everywhere you look.
TV Goodness: Talk about working with newcomer Sixx Orange. She did an amazing job in the pilot.
Lacy: Sixx is a natural; a real star. She is really good as an actress, but is also a serious soccer player too! She went to the State Cup this year with her new California club team, all the way to the semi-finals. I don’t know any other girls who have their own TV show AND also could be an Â Olympic hopeful one day. Sixx is not afraid to be vulnerable or real when she’s filming, and she is so likable that she’s impossible not to root for. I think she’s an amazing role model for my kids, too. Both of my kids are obsessed with her!
TV Goodness: Having starred in family-Âfriendly programming when you were a teen, what kind of advice have you given Sixx?
Lacy: Shooting the pilot episode was Sixx’s very first experience “on camera.” During the pilot shoot, I would sometimes explain filming terms to her that she didn’t know, like when the props guy told her to carry this bag “on the day” — she turned to me and said, “but aren’t we filming this scene today?â€ He meant for her to carry the bag “when the camera is rolling.â€
Sometimes we would improvise a little before a scene started, to get into the feel and emotional life of the scene. But, honestly, she studied so hard on her own, she was ready to go the distance on an entire first season. I encourage her to keep studying, and keep doing everything she’s doing…cause it’s working.
I do look after both Sixx and Gabe Eggerling (Bailey, my TV son) as if they were my own, making sure they get what they need, and rest etc. Once I realized Gabe kept giving me his prop school backpack, and I would just hold it between takesâ€¦ even though there is a prop master to take it. It was just natural, I guess, for both of us.
TV Goodness: Other than the pilot, what episode are you looking forward to people seeing and why?
Lacy: The Season 1 finale! All of the threads of the show culminate in the final episode, which promises to have you sitting on the edge of your seats. I know I was and I read the script! In another episode I really like, the Kentville school girls soccer team (â€œThe Kicks”) is pitted against the boys soccer team. This is really fun to watch, as the boys team always wins a ton of games, but they also haveÂ always had the best resources, like a great field and excellent coaching. So the girls have a lot to prove and everything is stackedÂ against them. There are some “girl power” moments that will make you smile, for sure.
TV Goodness: Your bio says that in real life you’re a soccer mom. So that means you must relate to Sharon Burke very much. How do your parenting approaches differ? How are they similar?
Lacy: I have two kids the exact ages as Devin and Bailey, so I live this tween/teen thing every day in real life. I hope I’m similar to Sharon in that we support our kids’ dreams and activities, and sacrifice to make them happen. I also am a working mom, and Sharon is struggling but determined to go back to work as well. Â We both are pretty strict, and punish our kidsÂ by taking away the phones and computers when needed.
In a few episodes, it seems that perhaps both Tom (Tim Martin Gleason) and I are blind to Bailey’s interests, skillsÂ and achievements, and are overly-focused on our daughter’s issues. Â She is the soccer star and easy to have her as the focus of attention. Â As much as I hate to admit it, this could be true with me, too. It’s hard to be there 100% of the time for both of your kids. I admit I do relate to one of my own kids in an easier way than the other, because they are very different. But I love them both equally, and I’mÂ striving to give equal attention to each of their interests, even if they are vastly different from my own.
TV Goodness: Please tell me you had fun filming the Parent Trap movies with your sisters back in the day. What do you remember most about the experience?
Lacy: I loved shooting the Parent Trap series! When I look at Sixx, I remember the excitement my sisters and I had being on set for the first time, and being the star of a show for the first time. Disney was soÂ great to us, and what a thrill it was to have my two sisters there to share in everything with me! We couldn’tÂ comprehend how lucky we were.
I remember Hayley Mills, our screen hero, being terribly kind and patient with us. We grew up watching her movies, so to even meet herÂ was a thrill. She taught me how to be professional andÂ gracious to every member of the crew. And Barry Bostwick was so generous and creative. His acting showed me how to be physically free on set, and how to respond to creative impulses.
TV Goodness: How much do you get recognized for those movies today?
Lacy: Honestly, more oftenÂ than you’d think. Our fan base from that are now women aged about 30-35. I will hear from teachers, or other parents I meet, that they still have an old Parent Trap III poster on the wall in their parent’s house. I love them for being fans, so loyal after all these years. I bet kids today will one day be saying thatÂ about Sixx, actually.
TV Goodness: You’ve starred in so many great projects over the years. What do you get recognized for the most?
Lacy: Well, I get recognized for being Tori on Saved by the Bell probably the most, which is funny, because that was actually my triplet sister Leanna! But we do look exactly alike, so I forgive the confusion!
TV Goodness: How did you get involved with a non-Âprofit called PhotoPiece?
Lacy: My sister Leanna got me involved. She’s an accomplished photographer now, and noticed a niche that could be filled.
PhotoPiece goes to underserved populations in our Los Angeles schools, and offers a free photographyÂ class to willing participants. They get all the equipment and instruction free, and in the end are helped to edit their strongest images and frame it at a photography show. These kids go from the negative label of “immigrant” and “undocumented” to earning the new label of “photographer” and â€œartist,” while we get to see our city from an entirelyÂ new perspective. Some of the former students are now teaching the class.
TV Goodness: How important is photography to your life?
Lacy: I am an avid photography collector myself. I particularly find the artists who are pushing the medium in new directions the most fascinating, like Mariah Robertson, who has taken the camera out of photography by going into a dark room wearing aÂ hazmat suit and throwing the chemicals directly onto the paper. Matthew Brandt, James Welling and JR are other favorites of mine, creatively pushing the limits of what defines a photograph.
TV Goodness: What’s next for you?
Lacy: I’m hoping to hear that The KicksÂ will be back for Season 2! Until then, I’m busy filming more commercials, print ads and radio spots for my gig as the spokesperson for AutoNation. They are theÂ largest auto retailer in America, but what is so cool is that they have dedicated all of their fundraisingÂ efforts to curing cancer. They founded the AutoNation Curebowl, andÂ donated one million dollars in proceeds to the Breast Cancer Research Foundation last year. Â I love being a part of that effort!
The entire family-friendly season of The Kicks drops on Amazon Prime Friday, Aug. 26.
Official Trailer for The Kicks
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