'Awkward' Exclusive Interview: Nikki DeLoach Talks What's Next for Lacey and Jenna's Darker Turn
'Awkward' Exclusive Interview: Nikki DeLoach Talks What's Next for Lacey and Jenna's Darker Turn
Morgan Glennon
Morgan Glennon
Contributing Writer, BuddyTV
Things have gotten even more Awkward than usual on the MTV hit sitcom, returning to finish out its extended third season on October 22. When last we left Jenna, she was making some downright unlikable choices. Will her turn to the dark side continue? And how will her mother Lacey feel once she sees the trouble her once-responsible daughter has gotten into?

Chatting with Nikki DeLoach about what's next for Lacey in the back half of season three, motherhood was a big topic of conversation. That's because DeLoach is currently pregnant with her first child, and due any day! 

Thankfully BuddyTV had some time to chat with DeLoach about what's next for Lacey, Awkward's new showrunners, and taking Jenna in a darker direction. 

Now that you're about to have a baby and become a mother, does that change how you view Lacey at all? 
[laughs] No, it doesn't. If being pregnant has taught me anything it's that you do the best that you can. For me that has been my take on Lacey since day one. She may have an inadequate skill set, because she didn't have a mother that was really there for her or taught her to stay on the right path. 

So she came into motherhood with an inadequate skill set, but what she did have was a lot of heart and the very best of intentions. She loves her daughter more than anything else in the world. If there's anything I've learned so far on my journey into motherhood it's that you wake up and you do the very best that you can. I think more than anything it makes me just love Lacey and understand Lacey even more. 

So what's coming up for Lacey in the second part of season three? 
Season three has been about her becoming the mother that Jenna always needed and the mother that Lacey never had. So she's really navigating this new territory of: How do I become that mother? How do I become the mother that knows how to discipline and the one that actually can give her daughter really solid advice? The one who can get deeper than "this is the color lip gloss you should wear" and "this is how to be popular." 

All of those intentions that she set forth in the beginning of season three of wanting to be a good mother and a good role model are all going to be tested in the back half of this season. Jenna definitely begins to make some choices and travel down a darker path. Lacey's going to be tested and her skills as a mother are really going to be tested. 

But at the end of the day, the one thing that has always been true for Lacey is that she loves her daughter more than anything in the world and she never wants to see her daughter hurt herself or travel down the wrong path. So that's really, really going to be put to the test in the back half with Jenna when the wheels fall off the bus. 

We've seen Jenna start to make some choices that might have alienated some of the audience. Whenever there's a female character, especially a young one, who makes those kind of choices I feel like they tend to be criticized more. Was there ever any concern or were you excited about the direction Awkward was going with having Jenna make mistakes and own them, instead of backing off?
You know there was concern to be perfectly honest, there was a lot of concern I think for the whole cast in the very beginning when Lauren started arcing out this season and what her vision was for Jenna. There was a lot of concern because you're absolutely right, there is backlash when you take such a likable character-- and she's a woman-- and she starts making unlikable choices.
 
So yea, we were a little concerned and worried in the beginning. When you're a writer and you're crafting each and every season you can't keep your lead character, or any of your characters, in one place. They have to grow, they have to move, they have to actually grow up. And in growing up they're going to make some unlikable choices.

I think it is a very honest and authentic storyline that we've carved out for Jenna this season. I don't know anyone who hasn't gone through their high school or college years and hasn't gone through that valley. 

So for me I look at it and think it's a very authentic storyline, and very relatable to what kids go through. I think at the end of the day, whether we get backlash for it or we don't, the audience is going to love where the season ends. I want our audience to understand as a kid you're going to make mistakes and unlikable choices, but at the end of the day it's not about the mistakes that you make, it's how you recover from them. 

Considering some of the choices that Jenna has been making this season, are we going to see the relationship between her and Lacey changing?
Oh yea. Not only are you going to see a different side of Jenna that you've never seen, you're going to see a different side of Lacey that you've never seen before. 

Are we going to see Lacey start to branch out next season and maybe change some things in her life?
Oh I would love that in season 4, it would be so much fun to see that! Of course I have some ideas of what I would love to see for Lacey in season 4. It would be really neat to sit down with our new showrunners and kind of toss those ideas around. Because yea, Jenna's going to college and Lacey has to get a life! She has to figure out what to do or she has to get pregnant or something.

Something big!
Something big has to happen! So I think there are some really fun directions to go in for Lacey in season 4. It's all about cracking Jenna's journey and then figuring out how Lacey fits into that. 

You mentioned the new showrunners; how hard was it to lose Lauren Iungerich since her voice has defined the show so much? 
It was very tough of course to lose Lauren. This is her baby, she created all these characters and she gave birth to them and her voice is so prevalent in each and every one of them. 

This happens with a lot of showrunners; she crafted the show and gave us these characters, she got it to season three, and now she's got other projects. She wants to go and hopefully have the same successes and we're fortunate enough that we have two wonderful guys stepping in. 

We're really, really fortunate that they want to be a part of the show and they got really excited about jumping onboard. I think it's going to be a really awesome season 4. Of course we will miss Lauren, we wish her the absolute best and we're sure she's going to go on to do amazing things. And we're really happy to have these new guys as a part of our family!

I love the dynamic between Lacey and Val, I think they're hilarious. Are we going to see more of them? 
Actually yes, you are! Episode 19 is a very special episode of Awkward, and it is mainly about Val and Lacey. 

Awesome!
I know! Desi and I always hear that there should be a spinoff with the two of us and I would love nothing more than to wake up every day and get to work side-by-side. So let's keep pushing that! [laughs]

What are you most excited for audiences to see in season 3b? 
There are two episodes that for me, when I read them on the page and when we shot them, I felt like they were two of my favorite episodes of the entire season. One of them is episode 12, I think it's really fun and really good. 

The other is episode 19, that's the Lacey and Val episode. I'm really, really excited for audiences to see that because it gives both Lacey and Val a really big, nice arc. A lot of the time you just see them pop in for a funny scene here and there, but this episode really has an arc laid out for both characters. So those two episodes, for me, I just can't wait for the audience to see that.

And then there's a really special moment between Jenna and Lacey in the finale episode. Bring out the Kleenex people! It's really good, it's really heartfelt and it's a tearjerker, I'm not going to lie. 

I'm just excited about the stories we're telling. They're very different and they're very brave. I think you had a really great point, we were concerned about having such a likable character make such unlikable choices, but at the end of the day you have to tell those stories. As a storyteller you have to evolve and grow your characters and we really do that this season. I'm excited where we end. It leaves season 4 open to anything. Anything is possible! 

Awkward premieres October 22 at 10:30 EST on MTV.

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(Image credit Rick R Photography, with hair and makeup by Allison Noelle)

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