By TV Guide Canada (May 17, 2011)
I was never a big fan of cheerleading movies like Bring It On or Sugar & Spice, but I am wholly addicted to The CW’s Hellcats,
and its energetic dance numbers and salacious drama. Debuting last fall, this series quickly filled my teen drama, guilty
pleasure addiction, replacing the likes of Dawson’s Creek and The O.C. in years past.
If you’ve never seen it (shame on you), the show focuses on a college cheerleading squad, the Hellcats, as they strive to win
big at nationals. Of course, that’s just one underlying tale. In recent episodes, the show’s also been following Marti (Aly
Michalka) as she connects with her long-lost sister, Deirdre (AJ Michalka), and former law prof Julian (Gale Harold); squad coach
Vanessa (Sharon Leal) and boyfriend Red (Jeff Hephner) as they face off against Red’s ex-wife; and Savannah (Ashley Tisdale)
and Lewis (Robbie Jones) as they cope with a cheating scandal, to name a few tasty tidbits.
Another storyline to note is that of Emma Lahana’s Charlotte, whose pregnancy has been both a recurring theme and a point
of interest throughout Season 1. The seemingly high-and-mightier sister to Tisdale’s Savannah, Charlotte has endured telling
her Christian parents she is preggers, facing motherhood alone and fearing she might be kicked off her school’s cheer team.
Now, fans are left wondering — at least this fan is — whether or not she’ll pop out her kid before the show wraps up.
TV Guide Canada got Lahana on the line to chat about all things Hellcats, but aside from talk of Charlotte’s looming due date,
finale teasers and the show’s pending renewal, the cheery Canadian actress also dished about her role on Heartland, her
charity work and how she loves to call Vancouver home.
TVGuide.ca: Thanks so much for taking some time today.
Emma Lahana: Oh, no worries!
TVG: On Hellcats and Heartland, you play characters that are never as innocent as they first appear to be.
EL: It’s really funny, actually. I normally play kind of the innocent, girl-next-door tomboy. And then last year, everyone I booked
was this mean kind of girl, kind of bitchy. (Laughs.)
TVG: What acting challenges do these types of roles present?
EL: I think you have to find a reason that the character is doing that, because the character still needs to be full and I think
there needs to be underlying reasons for why somebody behaves that way … at school, I was never one of the cool kids, and I
remember the cool kids acted really mean and horrible, but it was generally out of fear and insecurity, and I think bringing that
into a character just makes it more well-rounded. It just adds more layers.
TVG: Both Hellcats and Heartland happen to film up north, and Heartland is fully Canadian. What does it mean to you to be part
of a homegrown production?
EL: That was cool because I’m from New Zealand — I’m a Canadian-landed immigrant. I’ve actually applied for my citizenship.
The thing that was so exciting for me about Heartland was I was getting to see more of the country that I call home now that I
haven’t seen. I’d never been to Calgary before … it was gorgeous, we would drive out to these locations some days and it was
breathtaking. I really wanted to see a moose! (Laughs.)
TVG: And for Hellcats, that shoots in Vancouver. It must’ve been just in your backyard.
EL: It was amazing. I love Vancouver. It’s really funny, when I first visited Vancouver I was actually living in the States, and I
got off the plane and from the taxi ride from the airport to downtown Vancouver, I knew I wanted to live here … Vancouver is
so picturesque and beautiful and clean. I remember driving to work just thinking, ‘Wow, I’m so lucky.’
TVG: Hellcats has created PSAs for bullying and a fun one for when the Super Bowl didn’t have cheerleaders. How important is
it for celebrities to lend their voices to good causes?
EL: I think it’s really important, especially in today’s society when so many teenagers look up to celebrities. The world has
changed; I think you can notice that everything’s a little more celebrity-centred than it used to be … I think if a celebrity’s
morals are good at the centre of something then it’s going to teach somebody at a young age, ‘cause that’s when you’re so
impressionable and it’s going to teach you, I think, the right thing to do. Years ago, I did the NOH8 campaign — when it first
started — and that was really, really cool to see that all happen.
TVG: You support the WSPA. How did you get involved with the organization? How rewarding is your work with them?
EL: They called me and they were looking for people for this campaign called Animals Matter To Me. I also do work for the B.C.
SPCA; I’m a dog walker for them. It’s so hard, sometimes, walking away and not taking all the dogs that are there!
TVG: To go back to Hellcats, what direction would you like to see Charlotte go in, storyline-wise, if Hellcats is picked up for a
EL: You start to see it when Charlotte falls pregnant, this shift in her thinking because she has grown up in such a bubble. She’
s pretty spoiled and she’s very immature, and so now she’s forced into a situation where she has to grow up. I think it’ll be
interesting to see where she goes having a kid and how that works with Ashley’s (Tisdale) character because Ashley’s the
good one. If you look at the sisters, Ashley’s morally more responsible than Charlotte so I think she’s a really, really good
influence as an older sister. I think it’s fun to see those characters juxtapose against each other.
TVG: Will we see Charlotte have her baby by the end of Season 1?
EL: Well, you’ll have to watch … (Laughs.)
TVG: I know you can’t give away any spoilers, but is there anything you can tease about what’s coming up near the end?
EL: There are amazing choreography numbers coming up, so I would watch for those. The team is amazing; they do such an
amazing job. I don’t get to partake in them anymore (because of Charlotte’s pregnancy).
TVG: What do you wear to look pregnant?
EL: It’s really funny, it is basically a pillow and it’s strapped on and it has a built-in belly button (Laughs.) … and then a padded
bra with the chicken cutlets in it. It’s so uncomfortable and just not fun. I have so much respect for women who are pregnant
TVG: You have quite an elaborate dance background. Back when you were able to do all of the Hellcats routines, did this help
you prepare for them?
EL: My background is ballet based, so it was actually a little more difficult because it’s so military-like, the way you move as a
cheerleader. I find it much more athletic than ballet, in a way. I think it helped me just in terms of being able to pick up
choreography, but it felt semi-awkward, the way I had to move my body.
TVG: Hellcats is known for showcasing songs, in addition to dance. You play a couple of instruments (the guitar and violin) and
have performed in musical theatre — any chance we’ll see you perform onscreen?
EL: I backed up Marti one episode on “Redemption Song.” I just play guitar and sing back-up vocals. But I don’t really play
anymore, just in the comfort of my own home. It’s not something I’m pursuing. Kevin Murphy, the creator — I did a pilot for him
a long time ago that didn’t get picked up, and I played the girl’s best friend in that show and we were in a band. That’s the
only reason I backup Marti in that one song is because he knew I could play guitar.
TVG: If Hellcats is cancelled, do you have any TV projects in the works for fall?
EL: No, then I’ll just have to start auditioning again. (Laughs.)
TVG: Fingers crossed the show is renewed.
EL: I’m really hoping it goes another season because it’s been so much fun. It’s such an amazing group of people … tell
everyone to watch it!