Actress Amber Stevens plays sorority president Ashleigh Howard on the hit ABC Family TV show “Greek.” Taking a break while filming the third season in Los Angeles, Stevens, 22, took time to speak to me on the phone about her personal experiences with fraternities and sororities and whether they like how “Greek” portrays their college lifestyle.
The third season of “Greek” just started Aug. 31. Watch it on ABC Family every Monday at 8 p.m. CT.
What do you think it is about your show that has prompted ABC Family to pick it up for another season?
It was doing really well on our network. ABC Family was really happy with the show and wanted to keep us around. They liked the numbers that we brought in. We were – at the time – the No. 1 show the network had ever had. There is a demand for our kind of show. There’s nothing else out there like it. We don’t compare to any of the other television shows out there right now for this age group.
How has your character Ashleigh Howard evolved over the last couple of years and what can we expect from her this season?
She’s evolved in quite a few ways. I think becoming [sorority] president was a big deal for her last season. That was something she never expected. She wasn’t used to being a leader but now she has developed new skills. She’s got a boyfriend finally. She’s falling in love with someone. Next season you’ll see what happens there. Some of her friendships are also going to start to change. She’s figuring out who she is.
When you started two years ago, how much did you know about the Greek system? Did you have to immerse yourself into that lifestyle?
I knew a little bit about it. My first boyfriend graduated [from high school] before me and joined a fraternity. I went to some of his functions and learned about it from his perspective. Then, once I graduated, my friends moved on and went to college and joined sororities, so I started to go to their functions. But I really learned the most from just being on the show. I learned about all the traditions behind it.
Since you’ve had some experience going to Greek functions and have seen how they work, what do you think it is about fraternities and sororities that have college students joining up every semester?
At the beginning I think people join because they don’t know anyone in college. You have to find a way to make friends. I think a Greek system is great for that. There are always new people coming in. On top of that, there are all the traditions and long-lasting friendship, the parties, the events, and just the memories you can build.
What do you tell those people who say joining a fraternity or sorority is the equivalent of paying for friends?
A lot of people say stupid things like that. There are people that give the Greek system a bad name, but you can’t really judge from the outside. You have to be a part of one. Every house is different and every campus is different, so you can’t just put them all in one category. There are going to be the cliché houses where everyone is cliquey and materialistic, but there are also those houses with amazing people. I don’t think it’s fair to say those kinds of mean things.
Was there a specific point when you realized that “Greek” was an international hit? I mean, it’s popular here in the U.S., of course, but it’s shown in so many other countries.
Yeah, first they told us it was going to be in South America and in the U.K. We just heard about it but didn’t know who would really watch it. Then, once I started getting friend requests on MySpace from people I didn’t know and messages like, “Hey, I really love your show. I live in Argentina. We don’t have the Greek system where I go to school,” that’s when I started to realize, “Oh, this is a big deal.” Then the emails started coming in from all these different countries. It was really cool.
What have you heard from fraternities and sororities about how the show portrays them as college students?
That’s what I am most proud of about the show. We stay so true to the real traditions and real people. I mean, every character on this show will remind you of someone you know. There is someone you can always relate to. I’m really happy the writers don’t feel like they have to make things overdramatic and water it down with petty stuff.
What do you hope a show like this does for your career?
I am so happy where I am right now, it’s kind of sad to think that I am going to be moving on eventually. But I know that day will come. I really love television. It’s always been where my heart is. I love comedy. I love sitcoms even though I feel like they’re dying. I love the live audience. If I were given the opportunity to do more television I would embrace it.