Tommy2: Hey it’s Tommy2 and joining us today we have Ken Baumann from ABC Family’s – The Secret Life Of The American Teenager. How you doing man?
Ken Baumann: I’m very well, thanks for asking man.
Tommy2: In just a few weeks the 2nd half of the 3rd season of The Secret Life of the American Teenager will be premiering on ABC Family. Are we in for some twists and turns?
Ken Baumann: Oh yes! It is a pretty, I think that it’s honestly the most dramatic season yet and the most emotionally complex season yet. So I think it will be real exciting for the fans.
Tommy2: Now, when you first landed the role of Ben, did you see the potential of the show?
Ken Baumann: You know I did. I had know idea, I mean honestly I had know idea that it would take of and become so popular and so closely watched. But I knew that these characters were very unique and very well written and there was obviously a huge foundation for drama starting off the show with a girl who gets pregnant in high school. So I knew that, I knew that it had you know a lot of places to go, it had a lot of range and just the fact that we managed to you know luckily find a big audience has allowed us to kind of explore that range and it’s been pretty nice.
Tommy2: I find it funny that the critics pretty much haven’t been exactly kind to the show, but the ratings keep showing that there is a huge audience.
Ken Baumann: There you go man! I mean ultimately at the end of the day for this stuff it matters who’s watching, you know. It’s entertainment and it’s clearly pretty effective. So, yeah there it is.
Tommy2: Do you have people approach as if you’re Ben?
Ken Baumann: Oh yeah. You know it’s it’s gene… everybody, I’ve never had any sort of weird experiences. Everybody’s generally been really nice and like shy or just you know very respectful. But I definitely have had people like call me “Ben, Ben, Ben” and even after I introduce myself as Ken they’re like “Okay Ben.” You know it just, which I understand I mean it’s TV and your like seeing these people every week, so it’s like seeing an old friend you know? So it’s like hard to shake that idea of who you’re looking at, but yeah I’ve had that happen a few times.
Tommy2: And fortunately your character’s a very nice, kind person so they’re friendly to you…
Ken Baumann: Yeah…. exactly! I was about to say hopefully I don’t scare anybody off
Tommy2: Are there any similarities to you share with Ben?
Ken Baumann: I like to hope so, I mean this next season you know, Ben is in probably the most stressful place so far in the show so he undergoes you now quite a bit of an emotional change and struggle. But just in the past, I mean yeah Ben’s a nice guy, he’s very sweet and the end of the day I think he’s ultimately responsible for what he gets himself into and I like to think that I’m responsible too. Who knows, we’ll see? And you know he’s neurotic and hopefully I’m not as neurotic as him, but I certainly have my moments like everybody and that’s about it. I mean, I don’t know? Maybe Ben and myself, maybe we’re blending together more than I’d like to think, but those are the key differences and similarities I think.
Tommy2: Is there anything you’ve learned about sausage since being on the show?
Ken Baumann: Oh boy! That you know, I’ve never had that question before which I actually like this question a lot. You know I have to say probably not. No, although I have spent you know more time in a, in a pro-ported Butcher Shop than ever before. I don’t think I’d ever been in, and maybe I’d been in a butcher shop once before I started working on one in television. I don’t, you know I’m not the Sausage Prince, but I play one on TV. So there is that.
Tommy2: How about your thoughts on the casting of the show, cause I really think that the characters that are all set into place are perfect for who they are.
Ken Baumann: Yeah, yeah, I totally agree. I think that the dynamic, the cast, and and just our relationships with each other are offset and our chemistry on set, it all feels pretty much perfect, you know very smooth. Everybody is willing to collaborate and listen to each other and really give when you know we’re performing, in scenes together were all ready to give to the other person and make sure that they, they get the best place to perform off of and it’s, it’s great. I think, and yeah I think you’re right. I think that Brenda saw part of each of us that belongs to those characters that she wrote and cast accordingly, and I think that the audience picks that up too. Definitely.
Tommy2: And before landing the role in The Secret Life, had you watched any of Brenda’s (Hampton) material before that?
Ken Baumann: Yeah, I’d watched umm 7th, I’d seen a few episodes of 7th Heaven when I was younger but i didn’t actually watch to much TV, but that was about. Oh and of course I watched Fat Actress. My Mom was obsessed with Fat Actress and so we would turn on Showtime and watch that. But yeah, other than Fat Actress which I did watch… a few episodes of 7th Heaven and that’s about it. I mean this material for Secret Life was kind of my, I’d say my biggest introduction to kind of her writing and style and technique.
Tommy2: Just looking back at your career, could you kind of give like a brief snapshot of how you actually got into acting?
Ken Baumann: Sure! I say that I started doing school plays honestly. Like playing the blowfish in the fourth grade assembly or whatever, but I always kind of like a ham and a performer and I always loved art. I loved drawing and painting and telling stories, and I suppose that I just became, like there were more and more opportunities popping up for school plays or performance, like public performance and I was taking them and literally enjoying them and I started doing community theater in the town where I grew up, Abiline and there are quite a few theaters actually in Abilene. And I started doing these plays and it just all felt right and then one of those small town Actor/Model searches rolled into to town and I decided yeah, lets like give it a shot and I got an agent eventually and then spent some time in New York and worked for many years in Dallas and then just started coming out to Los Angeles and trying out book in TV and film.
Tommy2: Gees, I thought that you were going to say, the fact you were from Texas. Since like fifty percent of all the actors and actress that work for the Walt Disney Company come from Texas.
Ken Baumann: Amazing! Amazing! I mean I do not doubt it. It’s, hey man it’s a big state and plus we’re like ostentatious little kids you know. We want attention and I also think to it has something to do with like you know, I know my parents were like the most, are continue to be the most supportive people I know and very hands off, you know I know that there’s another side to that. There are the stage parents who are just like driving their kids forward, but you’d know that was never my mom and dad. So, I just had support. You know when you’re a kid and you have support and you know you have total support you feel pretty free to just keep doing what you love and you know rain or shine.
Tommy2: And I actually was reading about your mom, and it said that she was into horses and water skiing and that your dad was actually into cars. Out of those three activities which is your favorite?
Ken Baumann: Well, I do love horses but I’ve gotta say I’m kind of a car guy. I do quite like speed and my dad has put me in a few of his race cars over the years and it’s like a horrifying experience but it’s also pretty thrilling. But I do love cars, I love the aesthetics of cars and I think they’re beautiful objects and I look forward to a day when you know they’re not like spewing emissions everywhere. Where they can be both kind of beautiful and responsible but I’ll still take what I got now. I mean I do love cars and speed and all that.
Tommy2: When scanning the web for some topics to talk about, I happened get a laugh on your Wikipedia page where it says “Ken spends his free time editing his own Wikipedia profile” (It can be viewed with the history link). Did you actually write that?
Ken Baumann: (Laughter) Oh that’s awesome! I haven’t read that, no. I can definitively say that, that isn’t true but that’s good. I like that, I hope that stays around. That’s ah, some self-referential Wikipedia humor which is always nice.
Tommy2: Yeah, that was… I kind of laughed because the funny thing is that according to Wikipedia standards, they don’t allow that.
Ken Baumann: Oh, well there you go. See you know not all comedy can be 100 percent accurate I suppose, but that’s pretty interesting. I had know idea that you couldn’t edit. I remember I tried to edit one article I think for a friend a long time ago, like three of four years ago and honestly the editing process is just so convoluted I was just like this isn’t worth it man. This is not worth it, I have no idea how that compendium got built. There is a lot of patient, a lot of patient, patient people working on these articles I’m telling you.
Tommy2: When you’re not acting, you actually have some other interesting things going on like with book publishing and Satore Press. Why don’t you talk about that?
Ken Baumann: Oh gosh great, I can talk your ear off now man. I… I love literature. I always read a lot when I was a kid and started writing when I was really young and had just continued to read and write since I was like 10, I mean I was trying to write a fantasy novel when I was about 11 years old. Just trying to rip off what I was reading basically at the time, but it continued on and not long ago I just you know, started publishing this paperback selection of short stories with a friend of mine who is a writer and he’s got a couple novels coming out from Harper Printing. An old guy named Blake Butler and we kind of, we became pretty good friends and started just publishing this journal full of really weird fiction that we both really liked and we didn’t feel like there were enough outlets for that kind of work and it got good response. Like we managed to sell copies and people really liked it and you know I had kind of dipped my toe in book publishing there and then I decided eventually just after getting involved in this literary community that’s quite alive online, that I would you know, give it a shot and maybe publish books and about three days after I had mad that decision internally, Blake emailed me like, a friends book that we had both know this guy Chris Higgs through a couple of websites he’s ran and I read the book in one sitting. Like one really long sitting and just like, I was blown away. And so I figured everything out basically, logistically like what i had to do to publish this book in 12 hours and sent him an email the next day and said okay, here’s my plan. And it’s been working since, I mean it’s kind of a one man shop and I’m doing everything myself. The next book, the next like debut kind of full-length book is coming out probably in a couple months and the next issue of that journal that I put out with Blake is going to be available in the next few days and I love helping other artists make their work, you know available. Like Producing their work, it feels pretty amazing.
Tommy2: So you definitely have your options open there if, depending on the life of The Secret Life, huh?
Ken Baumann: Absolutely man! I think it’s always good. I always teen anybody who is fresh off the boat in Los Angeles, or anybody who is getting into acting, I tell them find one other thing that you can just do independently and really enjoy. Be it an art or a hobby, or whatever. Just make sure that you have, you know, not even necessarily a back up plan, but something. You know cause acting depends so much on the approval of an audience or producers or people you know who can put you into their machine and if you can find one thing that you can do yourself that makes you happy, I think that’s really key. And so far writing for me has been that and now this publishing has, has expanded that, so yeah I’m definitely, I definitely have quite a lot, quite a few hobbies that I love. So, I feel pretty comfortable.
Tommy2: That’s great to hear that their taking off. Now, for people that want to kind of stay up to date with
online, what are the best places to go?
Ken Baumann: Twitter! Twitter is the place. I consume a lot of culture and I like. if anybody offers ears I will fill them with recommendations of stuff. I love like art and stuff, so Twitter is my compulsive habit. So, anything you know like stuff about the press, I will feed through Twitter just like personal stuff, really anything. It mostly comes from there. I also write kind of, longer stuff for this blog I contribute to called HTML Giant and I’ve been writing for them for a long time and that’s Blake, the guy that I started that literary journal that he started this blog. and now it’s become like a pretty successful blog about kind of anything and everything now. It started as a literature blog and now it’s just kind of about culture at large and… so between HTML Giant and Twitter that’s ah, that’s it. I mean yeah, those are, those are pretty good resources I think.
Tommy2: Now before we you go I want to remind everyone that they can tune into ABC Family on March 28th to check out the latest episode of The Secret Life Of The American Teenager. And if you need if you’re not up to speed, you can watch the previous episodes on Hulu.com or Netflix. Ken thanks so much for your time today.
Ken Baumann: Thank you so much man. It was a pleasure.
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