1 of 5 | From left to right, Ashley Moore, Leah Lewis, Ariel Winter and Sasha Fox star in "Tripped Up." Photo courtesy of Rob Stein
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- The stars of the movie Tripped Up, on video-on-demand Friday, said they related to their young adult characters' career struggles. Leah Lewis, Ariel Winter and Sasha Fox play friends on a road trip in the comedy.
Lewis, 26, plays Lizzy, an aspiring chef who had an embarrassing failure on a teen cooking show when she was 17. In the movie, Lizzy and her friends drive to a food festival hosted by a famous chef.
Lewis said she was driven to act the way Lizzy was driven to cook. However, doing both as a teenager is challenging.
"Growing up is also tough when you're trying to make a career for yourself really young," Lewis told UPI in a recent Zoom interview. Tripped Up was approved for an interim agreement with the Screen Actors Guild and American Federation of Radio and Television Artists so the stars may promote the film.
Lewis has been acting on television since she was 9, with early highlights in Fred 3 and Disney's Gamer's Guide to Everything. Lewis had nothing as traumatic as Lizzy's food show disaster in her life, but said she also went through phases of re-examining her career choice.
"There've been many times I've questioned my worth, my talent but it always leads me back to wanting to do this work," Lewis said. "I'm very hard on myself, and that's always a balance that I'm trying to navigate."
Co-stars Winter and Fox also had childhoods in the entertainment industry. Tripped Up is Winter's first live-action appearance to come out after Modern Family ended.
Winter, 25, began Modern Family when she was 11. Even though she was 22 when the show ended, she said she felt that viewers and industry professionals still saw her as the child she was when the show debuted.
Winter said playing Kai in Tripped Up offered her a new opportunity.
"That was really important for me was to be able to establish myself as my age and play those different roles," Winter said. "I wanted to do new things. I wanted to play different characters."
Kai is the most rebellious and sarcastic member of the group. Viewers will see Winter smoke marijuana, but she said portraying the smoking challenged her lungs.
"I was working overtime to get my lungs to inhale and get something to come out," Winter said. "I was like, oh, my god, I look like such a fraud right now."
While Lizzy tries to realize her culinary dreams, her friend, Taylor (Fox), is an aspiring musician. Fox, 23, is the daughter of singer-actor Vanessa Williams and athlete-turned-actor Rick Fox.
"Ever since I was a kid, I knew that I was going to be a performer," Fox said. "I knew that it was going to be both. I wanted to be a rock star and I wanted to be an actress."
Williams, who also appears in Tripped Up, set a precedent for music and movies that Fox could follow. Tripped Up features Fox singing a duet with Justin Guarini, as well as a solo.
Fox wrote the solo, "Clearer View," herself. It was a last-minute addition to Tripped Up.
"I was scribbling the final lyrics for the chords," Fox said. "I think we were like a few hours before the scene, maybe an hour. It was cutting it pretty close."
Growing up, Fox began piano lessons in preschool, played drums in marching band in fifth grade and started learning guitar when she was 13. She also released a single, "Antics," on Oct. 1 and has two more on the way.
Though Fox had prior music training for her role, Lewis had to study food preparation to portray Lizzy. Screenwriter Carrie Shaw, also a chef, helped Lewis with some of the details.
Lewis said Shaw taught her proper terminology and technical kitchen procedures. Lewis also tasted some of Lizzy's confections between takes.
At the food festival, Lizzy also competes in a hot dog eating contest. For that scene, Lewis said she spat out hot dogs between takes.
"I'm not a big hot dog girl," Lewis said. "They even put veggie dogs in there for me."
When Lizzy serves her friends, Fox said she got caught eating too many of the screen-ready items.
"Throughout the scene, I just keep on eating the mushrooms," Fox said. "They're like, 'We don't have any more mushrooms. Sasha, stop eating them.'"
Winter said she passed on eating between takes because they attracted flies in the hot sun.
"The flies were everywhere," Winter said. "Truly, they were in heaven."
Both Winter and Fox said Shaw made fresh lobster rolls for the cast and crew, which they enjoyed.
Through their comic misadventures, each of the characters in Tripped Up learns a valuable life lesson. Lizzy's lesson comes from meeting a mentor (Williams) who was once in her place.
Lewis said Williams shared career advice behind the scenes, too.
"Something that she and I had even chatted about, too, is how hard I am on myself," Lewis said. "It was just really beautiful to hear you don't have to put all that pressure on yourself."
Fox said she did not share any scenes with her mother. Still, Fox relied on some of Williams' performing advice to sing in the film.
"When you need some lubrication, eat potato chips," Fox said. "The oil in the potato chips just makes it a little bit better to soften [the vocal chords]."