“It’s Time for Autumn Wendel”
Exclusive Interview by Michael Aaron Gallagher of StayFamous.Net
There are mean girls. And then there is Sophie. On the surface, she seems like any other popular girl in high school, with her perfectly brushed hair and her flawless makeup. But there’s also a certain weirdness (some might even say air-headed) quality about her that makes her comically hilarious.
Over the past four seasons, actress Autumn Wendel has brilliantly brought the character of Sophie to life on the Nickelodeon telenovella-style show Every Witch Way. The series follows two rival teen witches – Emma (played by Paola Andino) and Maddie (played by Paris Smith), along with a cast of characters that includes Sophie (played by Autumn Wendel), who is part of a group of mean girls (called the Panthers).
“Sophie’s very unique in that she’s very quirky,” Autumn told me in a recent interview. “To everybody else, she is so weird and dumb, and everything she says and does, really makes no sense. What I love about her is that to her, everything makes sense. And to her, everybody else is weird. She really embraces the idea of being yourself and having fun with everything that comes – just making the most out of life.”
Originally from Orange County, California, Autumn began acting at a young age.
“I’ve lived a pretty normal life, but I’ve always had a big, big passion for acting,” Autumn said. “Whether it was being in the front yard singing into the hose and putting on shows for the cars passing by or participating in school productions and local theatre.”
By the time she was 8 years old, Autumn was signed by an agent and soon landed her first role working on an industrial (a prolonged commercial) for Toyota.
“That’s really when I realized how passionate I was about acting,” she said. “I think I realized how much I loved it and how much I really wanted to make an actual career out of it, on the first film I did – The Whisper in Darkness. It was based off of a novel by H.P. Lovecraft. It was set in the ’30s, all in black and white. But what really got me was the family that the crew and the actors made. We were all so close and it was such a good atmosphere and such a good experience. I was like, ‘This is what I want to do, this makes me so happy.’”
Now at age 18, Autumn is proving that with her versatility and vivacity, she has what it takes to be a star.
Fellow co-star Katie Barberi (who plays Maddie’s mother, Ursula Van Pelt), praised Autumn’s work on the show. “I think she’s a fantastic young actress – her timing reminds me a lot of a young Lisa Kudrow,” she said. “She’s extremely intelligent.”
In its final season, Every Witch Way keeps getting bigger and better. With its colorful special effects and its enchanting magical spells, it has captured the imaginations of kids and entertained them with its original storylines and unique characters. Every now and then, the special effects in a scene are even more amazing than the actors expected.
“We really let our imaginations soar,” Autumn said. “When I’m doing the scene I imagine it, so it’s like it’s actually real. Then when we see it on screen, it’s something totally different. And that’s always such a fun experience to see it in its finished product. What you imagine yourself is a lot different from what the special effects people will imagine. It seems a lot more real on a larger scale, when you see it.”
Though her on-screen character isn’t always nice, in real life, Autumn is anything but a mean girl. As a volunteer, she brings a smile to the faces of elementary school students for organizations like the YMCA, where she participates in after-school programs, reading to the children and helping them with arts and crafts.
Autumn believes education is an important part of living a balanced life in Hollywood. In fact, many people are surprised that she enjoys math so much.
“I really love math,” Autumn said. “A lot of people look at me and say, ‘Why? Math is no fun at all!’ But I love how you learn a formula or you learn a concept and you can do so much with it. It’s not just one fact. You can use that to solve even more problems. And I love how a lot of math problems, they are like puzzles. So you use your brain to figure them out and they become so simple. You can take something so complicated and make it one short, nice answer.”
In addition to her volunteer work at the YMCA, she has also helped Pardon Me Inc., a dog and cat rescue organization that seeks to help boost pet adoptions.
Although it can sometimes be difficult to manage a busy schedule, Autumm finds inspiration in one of her favorite quotes.
“There’s a song [“Wish You Were Here” by Incubus] and in it, it says, ‘The world’s a roller coaster and I am not strapped in. Maybe I should hold with care, but my hands are busy in the air.’ I love the quote because, yes, there is so much in life that can be very stressful,” Autumn said. “But you just have to remember, that whatever you are doing, just have fun with it, make the most out of it, because you really only get one life. So I think it’s just so important to be happy, no matter what’s going on.”
There’s no doubt that with her off-screen, girl-next-door charm and her scene stealing comedic performances, when it comes to what’s next in Hollywood – it’s time for Autumn.
“It’s Time for Autumn Wendel”
Copyright 2015 by Michael Aaron Gallagher
Photography courtesy of Autumn Wendel
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