Emily Osment, Jonathan Sadowski
Emily Osment has grown up since her days on Hannah Montana. Now 22, the former Disney Channel star is taking on a more adult role as a feisty personal chef on ABC Family's Young & Hungry.
"I'm excited for my fan base from Disney to transfer over to this show because it's a little more suggestive and sexier," Osment tells TVGuide.com. "From the fans I hear from on Twitter, they're about my age and they've grown up with me and are watching ABC family and Pretty Little Liars, so this isn't too out of the box."
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The upcoming comedy (premieres Wednesday, 8/7c) stars Osment as Gabi, a charming, disheveled wannabe chef who lands an interview to become the personal chef to a young entrepreneur named Josh (Jonathan Sadowski). As an audition, Josh enlists Gabi to prepare a romantic meal for him and his girlfriend to whom he's planning to propose. But plans go awry, and Josh and Gabi end up drinking the night away and wake up the next morning in bed together. Vowing to remain platonic, Gabi lands the job of her dreams.
"I think what initially drew me to this was the idea of playing a normal girl with normal aspirations," Osment says. "She's poor and underachieved and she's really trying to make her way in the world. She gets to work in this unbelievable penthouse mansion, but she's a bull in a china shop. And she's in her early 20s, which I connected with because I'm in my early 20s and never know what I'm doing 90 percent of the time. It was a cool opportunity to play a real girl who is messing up all the time. I'm tired of seeing perfect people on TV. This is a messed-up, weird girl who makes mistakes and it's funny to watch her muddle through it. I think that's something audience can connect with."
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Among the cast of characters viewers will meet are Gabi's best friend Sophia (Aimee Carrero), Josh's housekeeper Yolanda (Kym Whitley) and his assistant Elliot (Rex Lee) — although he's not Gabi's biggest fan. Eventually, Osment says, "They [become] her family. We establish we don't know where her dad is and her mom died when she was 16. She's really going at it alone with the help of her roommate so you see her find her own with these other coworkers. They're like her guardian angels."
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Staying platonic will be easier said than done for Gabi and Josh, whose relationship Osment compares to Friends. "It reminds me of Ross and Rachel," she says. "The audience knows it's going to be great, but there are these blunders that get in the way. You want everything to work out, but the fun part is the journey and watching her and Josh fall for each other not knowing if they'll ever make sense or if the time will ever be right."
As for the culinary aspect of the show, Osment says she's gaining some skills. "I've been cooking a lot more and baking and feeling what it's like to walk around in an apron all the time," she says. "I'm trying to learn, but we have a lot of help on set and sous chefs on set every day to tell us what we're doing and walk us through it and hold [my] hand. It's a little easier than it should be. It's cheating a bit."
Osment says she wasn't looking to stay in comedy. After Hannah Montana ended in 2011, the actress went on to star in ABC Family's powerful film Cyberbully. A few smaller projects later and Osment came across a script for a witty comedy. "Drama is where I always thought I would go," she says. "I went to theater school and then comedy ... just happened. What's great about having the live audience is you know immediately if you're funny or not. That always helped when we were doing Hannah Montana; it teaches you if something worked or didn't. When [Young & Hungry] came up, I was like, another sitcom comedy, I've already done that. But then I read it and thought this is brand new."
Young & Hungry premieres on Wednesday at 8/7c on ABC Family.
Watch a sneak peek: