Make It or Break It returns tonight for its third season with big changes and new challenges for the girls of The Rock, including fan favorite Payson Keeler, who is portrayed by actress Ayla Kell. The driven and arguably the most dedicated female gymnast on the show will once again attempt to prove that she has what it takes to compete for the 2012 London Olympics but making it onto the Olympic team is easier said than done.
In a recent Q & A, Kell talked about her character's love life, the new coach, some minor spoilers about the new season and what she loves about the show.
Warning: This article contains minor spoilers about the new season.
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On Payson's friendship with Lauren (Cassie Scerbo) and Kaylie (Josie Loren):
"We have such an exciting storyline between me and Lauren where we start to really rely on each other because we're confiding each other's secrets in the other person. So it becomes this little bit of a sisterhood between the two of us because Kaylie and I are on the out. So, me and Lauren become very dependent on each other, and then have a big falling out after I think I'm doing the right thing by telling one of her secrets. So then we have to work back our relationship because we are on a team, so we have to work as a team. I have to say, the whole secret about who sent the kiss cam--it comes out this year."
On Payson's relationship with Sasha (Neil Jackson) and what she thinks of the new coach:
"Well, anybody who knows Payson will know that she is going to be a resistant to the change at first; at the change of style and the change of how he views the girls and all of that. I think the hardest part is having the Rock title ripped away from her because that's been her home for such a long time. But as always, Payson is respectful and tries to work her hardest and tries to be the best she can be. Essentially, in the long run she ends up clicking with the coach, but still needs Sasha to help her get to the Olympics."
On what's in store for her character Payson:
"She's starting to prepare for the 2012 Olympics. She's going through this other side of the battle which is her coach thinks she's safe, which is something she never thought she would ever hear. Because of her back injury she went into ballet. So now all of the sudden she's being called safe. So she has to do something to completely blow the coach out of the water. So her solution is to try going to a salsa club scene because going to a ballet class that Sasha had me go to, helped then. So she's hoping that going to a salsa club will help. So we'll see if it does."
On Payson's love life and her new love interest:
"I think that the one you're going to see this year is the most compatible. Every time it's been somebody who didn't quite understand what her goals were. Because with Max, the problem was he has his own issues, obviously as we saw when he kissed Austin which, you know, kind of unexpected. Then with Ike, obviously, he was in high school and was offering me drugs and wanted me to go to the Prom and stuff like that. So he wasn't really quite compatible either. Sasha, obviously, that's a long shot; although that was one of my favorite scenes to shoot last season. But I think that the one you see this year, because we're at the USA Training Center where everybody there is going to the Olympics. Finding a boyfriend there was, kind of, the perfect spot for her because it's somebody who has the same Olympic drive and that same 'go get them' attitude. Wants her to achieve everything she can in gymnastics and just wants to support and help her. I think that this year it's that kind of relationship that she has this year that really brings her out of her shell and really starts to show her the world outside of gymnastics."
On the Payson's core values and her transformation in season 3:
"I think she's really retained the core values that her family instilled in her. The fact that if she does keep working hard and if she does strive for what she believes in and what she dreams about that she's able to make it there. It's through the love and support of her family that she's really able to make it because otherwise her family wouldn't have been able to afford this. They've pulled all these strings to make it happen. Speaking on the transformation of Payson in the last two seasons, though, this season, I think, is the biggest transformation for Payson. She really starts to understand that it's not just gymnastics. That she has to find her voice as a woman and it's thanks to a boyfriend, which she never thought that would be the case. So we really see a change in how she carries herself and how she handles herself and how she even used herself, which really starts to benefit her gymnastics routines because she's trusting her body more."
On what to expect from the new character gymnast Jordan:
"Well I think it skews the dynamic in, actually, a really good way. It posed this problem for the girls of what's more important: the individual medal, the team medal, or us three making it to the Olympics. So we have this kind of battle throughout the season of, is she competition or is she a teammate? It's a little bit of a struggle. So we start to finally figure out what it takes to win and what it takes to be a team and what it takes to be in this sport. I think that she added a great level of realness to this season. I think that, one, she's just gorgeous. She's just gorgeous. But she's also just a talented actress and she had so many wonderful scenes. They did so much with her character this year that is going to, I think, really play as a real thing this year because it's been very prevalent in the news."
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On how Emily's (Chelsea Hobbs) absence will affect the new season:
"With no Emily this year it left us with a little bit of a hole. But it kind of forced then the three Rock girls to kind of step it up. Then all of the stakes get higher because we realized how easy it is to be-how quickly it can happen that you're gone. So it makes it kind of real for us that there's no room for error."
On what she loves about the show:
"One of the things I love about the show is that it isn't showing just the boys' side. Something like Friday Night Lights does where only the boys are achieving and the girls are a side note to the boys achieving. This is more about the girls going out there and getting at their dreams. They're capable of achieving anything and their strength is more than the boys have, I'd say, for gymnastics. So I love that it shows strong women at their best. I do think that girls will want to go out and get some sports after seeing this because I know that after I watch an episode I have to go move my body and do something.
Make It or Break It airs Mondays at 9/8 on ABC Family.
(Image courtesy of ABC Family)