ATX Exclusive Interview with Ugly Betty’s Ashley Jensen

AUSTIN, TX - JUNE 11: Eric Mabius and Ashley Jensen attend the "Ugly Betty 10 Year Reunion" panel during the 2016 ATX Television Festival at the Paramount Theatre on June 11, 2016, in Austin, Texas. (Photo by Jack Plunkett/Picturegroup)
Photo Credit: Jack Plunkett/Picturegroup

Christina McKinney, played by Ashely Jensen, was the Scottish seamstress/best friend to Ugly Betty, who had a slight drug problem. Christina’s humor and charming personality made her one of our favorite characters on the show. After Ugly Betty, Jensen moved back to England and went on to film various TV shows like Accidentally on Purpose, The Reckoning, Love and Marriage, The Espcae Artist, Catastrophe and Agatha Raisin. Read our interview below as we discuss her excitement over the Ugly Betty reunion, her favorite memories and more!

What were your initial thoughts when you heard there would be an Ugly Betty reunion?

I think it took everyone minutes to actually … As soon as we got the email, we just went, “Yes, let’s do it.” (laughs). Any excuse to get us all back together again is just phenomenal. It’s been 10 years since the pilot. Everybody’s just … It feels like no time has passed at all. Everyone just takes off where we left off.

When was the last time you guys saw each other?

I live in England now. I moved back to England in 2012. I left the show before the last season. So it’s been seven years since I’ve seen a lot of these people. 

Do you have a favorite episode or memory from the show?

Oh gosh. Somebody asked me about my favorite episode and I can’t even think. There are just so many. The pilot is very special because that’s the one I remember the most. That’s the one I auditioned with. I remember when I was doing the lines on the set, it was like … That was the one I was doing a screen test for.

I never even imagined living in America, to be honest. I was on my holiday and ended up getting a manager and an agent. Then they said, “Would you want to go out for this show?” I was afraid I didn’t get it. It was like, “I’m going back to England now.” They said, “Well, come back and audition for this.” And I didn’t get that. The next one was, “Read this.” “Go out for that.” Before I knew it, I’d signed away years of my life and I was living in America. (laughs).

I was like, “My God. What am I doing here?” I still watch that show and thought, “How did I get on that?”

When you auditioned, was it everything you thought it would be? How did your perspective of the show change as the show went on?

When I read the script, I knew that it was special, to be honest. You do read a lot of scripts. A lot of them are trying to be the new Friends, or trying to be Will and Grace, or the new 24, or whatever. This just stuck out like nothing that I’ve ever read before.

I also think there’s been nothing like it since. It paved the way for things like … Jane the Virgin, and Glee. Ugly Betty dealt with Justin’s character coming out, being an outsider, being a transsexual, and immigration, and infertility when I carried the baby for Wilhelmina for a while.

That was weird though, because I wore this fake pregnancy for that whole time. Then I got pregnant. (laughs) People were like, “How long …? It’s like the pregnancy of an elephant. How long have you been pregnant for?” I was like, “That was birdseed, not pregnancy belly. It wasn’t real.”

If you could describe your experience on Ugly Betty in five words or less, how would you describe it?

An exhilarating roller-coaster ride. 

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