Alex Gaines (front) plays a fully functioning android in the form of a teenage girl

New actress Alex Hook tells how much fun it has been to get her big break in Nickelodeon’s I Am Frankie.

FIFTEEN-year-old Canadian actress Alex Hook began her acting career first in musical theatre before landing commercial gigs and small roles in television. Her big break finally came years later when she won the lead role for a show on Nickelodeon, one of the top children’s networks in the world.

”I’ve always watched Nickelodeon shows growing up so I actually thought it’d be 10 times better to be on one of them.It is!” says the Ontario-born actress in a telephone interview with the New Straits Times.

Hook plays the lead character Frankie Gaines for the teen comedy I Am Frankie, and it’s no ordinary role.

Frankie may look like a typical teenager but she is actually a cutting edge, experimental android who must pass off as a high-schooler in order to avoid being tracked down by the evil tech company EGG Labs.

She begins to adapt well by bonding with her new best friend Dayton (Nicole Alyse Nelson), juggling loads of homework and dealing with boy crushes, all the while keeping her true identity a secret.

To complicate things, Frankie’s wiring goes haywire as she starts experiencing human emotions, creating more challenges and adventurous fun.

“This opportunity is special not only because this is my first leading role but also because the character and the storyline really appealed to me.

”There was really no reason to say no,” says Hook.

I Am Frankie stars Nicole Alyse Nelson, Kyson Facer, Carson Rowland and Mohana Krishnan.

Hook tells more about I Am Frankie and her acting career below.

HOW DID YOU PREPARE TO PLAY AN ANDROID?

I knew that they are rigid and monotonous when they talk. (The American comedy show) The Big Bang Theory is one of my favourite shows and I used it as an inspiration by copying (its lead character) Sheldon Cooper’s way of using big words and talking.

WHAT WERE THE CHALLENGES IN PLAYING FRANKIE?

Frankie progressively becomes more human as the episodes go on so I had to find that balance in between her being human and robotic. After a while, I got the hang of it.

DO YOU SHARE ANY SIMILARITIES WITH FRANKIE?

We’re both learners, curious and adventurous. While Frankie loves to learn in school, I prefer learning about the outdoors.

FRANKIE IS TORN BETWEEN CRUSHING ON TWO BOYS, aNDREW AND cOLE. hAVE YOU EVER FACED THE SAME SITUATION IN LIFE?

Yeah, I’ve been torn between two decisions in general as well. (Laughs)

ANY PARTICULARLY MEMORABLE SCENE?

The biggest Brain Squad competition. There is so much action going on with different things happening at the same time but it was tonnes of fun to film.

WHAT’S THE CHEMISTRY LIKE ON SET?

The cast is like a big family actually. Pranks were pulled off often and one took place near the end of filming. Some girls just completed their scenes when we hit them in the face with cake. (Laughs)

CAN YOU SHARE A BEHIND-THE-SCENES SECRET?

In between takes, food was always available. We had a table called The Crafty that has all kind of snacks like chips, cookies, brownies, vegetables and fruits.

I loved that.

YOU GO TO A PUBLIC SCHOOL. HOW DO YOU BALANCE ACTING AND YOUR STUDIES?

Luckily Nickelodeon really took care of it. We had a classroom complete with teachers in the same building as the set. So when we’re not filming, we’d be studying.

WHAT DO YOUR FRIENDS THINK OF YOUR ROLE IN I AM FRANKIE?

I’m getting lots of support back home. There are people who knew that I wanted to take acting seriously so when I got the part in I Am Frankie, they’re so

proud and happy and love watching the show.

FRANKIE IS YOUR FIRST LEAD ROLE IN A TV SERIES. HOW DID YOU GET USED TO STARRING IN AN EPISODIC SHOW?

(Laughs) It did take a long time to get used to since it was a huge commitment having to film for three months. It was the only big project in my life at the time so I had to devote my time and energy into it. In the end, I loved the experience. It didn’t even feel like a job because of how much fun we had on set.

WHAT’S THE BIGGEST THING YOU’VE LEARNT FROM THIS?

That it takes a lot of effort and hard work. A lot of people don’t realise how much work it requires behind the scenes, like learning the lines, memorising, rehearsing and establishing that chemistry.

ANY DREAM PROJECTS?

I’d love to star in an action adventure movie. But doing TV shows are fun too. I just want to keep acting.

WHO ARE YOUR IDOLS?

I really look up to Jennifer Lawrence and Selena Gomez because they’re such strong females in showbiz. They’re fun, real and down-to-earth, which I like.

WHAT DO YOU LOVE TO DO WHEN YOU’RE NOT FILMING?

I love sports. I play hockey, football and volleyball. I also like hanging out with my friends, go shopping and eating good food.

WHAT’S THE BIGGEST CHANGE IN YOUR LIFE SINCE STARRING IN I AM FRANKIE?

I feel like my social media has changed so much. My accounts used to be private and I’d post pictures of my family and friends. Now they’re open for everyone to see. It’s not necessarily bad but I have to think before I share anything.

THIS IS HOPEFULLY JUST THE BEGINNING. ARE YOU READY FOR MORE EXPOSURE?

(Laughs) Yeah, I’ll take on anything.

I Am Frankie airs weekdays at 5pm on Nickelodeon (Astro Channel 612 and HyppTV Channel 554).

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