She sings. She dances. She makes music videos. Suburgatory's Dalia Royce may be Chatswin High's resident mean girl, but it's kind of hard to hate her.
Whether she's challenging her neighbor Tessa (Jane Levy) to a dance-off or burning up YouTube with her Rebecca Black-like single, "You Missed a Spot," Carly Chaikin's Dalia has quickly become a fan-favorite character on the ABC family comedy. Case in point: On last week's episode, Dalia delivered a completely off-key and slightly off-lyric rendition of "Send in the Clowns" at Marty's funeral. "I had an earpiece in my ear with the song and I kept messing up the first line," Chaikin tells TVGuide.com with a laugh. "I guess in editing they thought it was funny and decided to use some of the wrong lines I did too."
After first breaking out in dramas such as the 2009 Nicholas Sparks tearjerker The Last Song, Chaikin is enjoying the laughs, and even the many hours of dance rehearsal occasionally required of the role. "It is really nice to be able to now show that I can do comedy and I can do drama and I can play the b---- ," she says. "It's allowed me to broaden my horizons. Dalia has really allowed me to play something that I never thought I would be able to play. ... TV always used to really scare me and when I saw this script, I was like this is the kind of show that I would gladly want to keep working on for 7-plus years because there is so much to it."
Dalia will once again add to her impressive resume on Wednesday's new episode (9:30/8:30c on ABC) when she takes it upon herself to give Mr. Wolfe (Rex Lee) a post-breakup makeover. "One of Dalia's favorite things to do is get revenge, which ties into the rest of her story line throughout the season," Chaikin says. "I think she's good at getting back at people, and I think that she sees Mr. Wolfe and sees an opportunity in someone who is just losing it. She goes in and tries to help, or [does] what she thinks is helping."
Even though Dalia may be ABC's other queen of revenge — sorry Emily Thorne! — she will also reveal a new side of herself as the season progresses. "We see a little bit more of her relationship with Evan [Sam Lerner] towards the end of the season. For the finale, there's a big twist in regards to Dalia and her romantic life," Chaikin says. "We don't necessarily get to really see them as a couple so much, but we all know that Dalia is pretty crazy, and we see her crazy get taken to a new level."
From the sound of things, Dalia's longtime enemy and possible future step-sister Tessa may be on the receiving end of that crazy as well. "Tessa and Dalia get into their biggest battle yet and in the finale there might be some sort of throwdown," Chaikin says. "They have made progress but it's definitely something to watch out for."
Could it be a battle for Daddy Altman, aka Tessa's dad George (Jeremy Sisto)? Ever since George started dating Dalia's mom, Dallas (Cheryl Hines), the unlikely twosome have grown closer. "One of my favorite relationships that we've slowly started to see, and will see more of, is between Dalia and George," Chaikin says. "I think they're just such polar opposites, but they have this great relationship that is really endearing. Dalia just really looks up to him as a grounded, consistent, reliable parent. She hasn't really experienced that before."
Stars who don't look their age
George has also helped fill the void left by Dalia's real dad, Steve (Jay Mohr), who split town as soon as Dallas asked for a divorce and didn't invite Dalia to his recent second wedding. Dalia will come face-to-face with her disappearing dad for the first time since his marriage when he comes back to Chatswin for the season finale. "That relationship definitely plays into Dalia and George's relationship," Chaikin says. "We have a lot of heart and emotion in the finale, and a lot of it is what is it to be a parent and what it means to be a dad. It's really sweet."
Those scenes may not require any rehearsal time in the dance studio, but it's the heartfelt moments that Chaikin says are the most difficult. "It is interesting when I get a script and see that she's sad ... or mad or upset or scared," Chaikin says. "Feeling out how to play those emotions without losing the character at the same time — those are the times where it's the most challenging for me."
Suburgatory airs Wednesdays at 9:30/8:30c on ABC.