Inspiration comes from the most unexpected places. Bianca Santos was a senior at a tiny West Coast college studying psychology, eyeing a career far from the limelight, as a therapist, when a chance encounter with one of the gods of her chosen field changed her path forever.
World-renowned psychologist Albert Bandura — “the Sigmund Freud of this generation,” Santos calls him — came to her school to lecture. “I got to sit near him during a lunch. So I asked him, ‘What’s the one piece of advice you could impart to us?’ I was on the edge of my seat, ready for him to change my world.” And did he? “Yes! He said, ‘You regret in life the things you didn’t do.’ It was that moment when I thought, I’m going to act. Like, what do I have to lose?” Now, in a crazy-short time, the 24-year-old, who grew up in and around Los Angeles, has morphed from would-be shrink to girl-on-the-verge. Santos stars in the MTV series Happyland, about the weird world of theme-park employees, and had a recurring role in US teen drama The Fosters. And more recently she costarred in The DUFF, a coming-of-age comedy about the viciousness of high school cyberbullies. We caught up with the starlet in a West Hollywood café, where she showed us her tatts (full sleeves, faux, for an indie thriller) and more.
You don’t waste time. You went from nowhere to becoming the star of two TV shows and a couple of movies almost overnight.
It’s crazy. Growing up in this town, you see a lot of failure. You grow up being told your waitress is actually an actress. And you keep going back to that restaurant… and she’s still your waitress! Like, what happened?
Did you worry you’d meet the same fate?
I just figured I’d put everything I had into it. And within seven months I was a recurring character on a TV show. I’m still shocked. But here’s the thing: I never fully gave up psychology. I use my degree all the time.
How so? Are you analysing your costars?
I use it more in social settings. Like, I was at a bar last night, and I could really see the inner workings of what was going on in guys’ heads. But mostly I understand that everyone is on a spectrum of crazy. If we just accept that and stop trying to be so perfect, we can actually get places.