PHOTOGRAPHER: Kristen Jan Wong STYLING: Siena Montesano HAIR: Justine Marjan MAKEUP: Melissa Hernandez
Over the summer, the minds behind Riverdale and Chilling Adventures of Sabrina—Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa and Lindsay Calhoon Bring— revamped the world of Pretty Little Liars for the next generation. Among the liars is Noa, played by Maia Reficco.
When we first meet Noa, she’s working hard at finishing up community service hours. The track runner is just trying to get her life back to normal after spending the summer in juvenile detention. Then the new school year begins and she acquires an entire new set of best friends— a necessity for when you’re all being tormented by the same unknown, murderous assailant.
Fresh off the announcement of Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin, Reficco spoke with LA Confidential just before heading off on an Amsterdam adventure. The 22-year-old actress recently wrapped filming on A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow and was ready to begin her first vacation in three years, but not before diving into her upcoming movies, Original Sin and plans for new music.
What did you enjoy about playing a character like Lila? A Cuban Girl’s Guide to Tea and Tomorrow is pretty different from the past few projects you've done.
I feel like there's always something so beautifully light hearted about going to set and giving into love. Always telling Latino stories is what moves me the most and what makes me the happiest to play as an actor. It was really important for me that I started taking on roles that felt like it moved me in some capacity. Obviously this being a story centered around the Latino community, it was a huge, huge part of why I wanted to do it. And at the end of the day, it was also really special because Matt Kaplan and Aubrey Bendix and everyone from ACE Entertainment were so open to adding little things about my life to Lila’s story and explaining like why my accent is Argentinian and little things that would make it more true to my life. So it was a really cool project to get to be a part of, especially after being chased around by assassins every day on set for Pretty Little Liars.
Looking at the opposite end of the genre spectrum, you also recently filmed One Fast Move. What was it like being part of an action film?
Oh my god, it might have been one of my favorite experiences in my whole life, to be honest. Shooting One Fast Move was such a special moment for me. It really did make me so happy. I felt so fulfilled in so many different ways that it was such a dream come true. Everybody involved— our director Kelly Blatz, our lead KJ Apa, Eric Danes— everybody was so incredible. It was just a constant learning experience and I felt so honored to be a part of it. There's still so many little surprises about that movie that I can't wait to be able to talk about because it really did tick so many so many bucket list items off my list.
Do Revenge was an immediate Netflix hit. How has it been seeing the great response?
It's been so surreal. Getting to shoot that movie was also, again, one of my favorite experiences because it was the most fun, incredible group of people. And such a fun, fun, fun cast of brilliant actors and incredible friends led by the fantastic Jen Robinson, our director. It was a dream. I truly was so in awe of everybody and this is such a women-driven set that I felt inspired by every single woman that was there.
My biggest inspiration for my character Montana was Karen Smith from Mean Girls... It was really funny to tap into and it go as campy as we could and with Paris Berelc and Alisha Boe and JD, going full out and being able to play with it.
Pretty Little Liars: Original Sin was renewed for season 2 in September. Has that lifted any pressure you may have felt living up to the original series?
Oh, that was insane. We were all so scared because at the end of the day, we know how big of an honor it is to come and to reimagine such a beloved world that already has such a big following that we all love and adore as much as the original PLL. There were huge shoes to fill and to see that people really did enjoy it and respected our show so much and really were fighting for us to get a season 2, and obviously we ended up getting it, which was incredible. It was insanely surprising in the best way. I think we were also incredibly nervous to do the original justice show. To see that it actually happened and people were excited with the show is surreal, truly surreal, and we're so incredibly grateful. We all really are and it's something we talk about on a daily basis.
I know it's early, but do you have any hopes about what's in store next season for Noa?
Oh, yes, I do. I've talked about it with our show runners already because there's one thing that we talked about during season 1 that I really wanted to come through. I can't really talk about it because hopefully it will happen. There's definitely a lot of Noa that I know exists behind what season 1 showed and I think getting to tap into that is going to be really exciting. Every single character has so much more depth to them because they're so complex and they're all very, very much layered and I think getting to know all the girls individually more is going to be really exciting outside from the obvious running away from a murderer.
So far, what are you most proud of about Noa?
Her loyalty. It was so fun and beautiful to play with. The way they wrote her undying loyalty to her mom was very moving to me and it hit home in many ways. There's always so much to draw from every character you ever play, even Montana. And I think with Noa, her undying loyalty to her family and her friends was something that really moved me from day one till the end.
You’ve also been working on music. When might we be able to look forward to a new single?
It's been so therapeutic. I am so excited about it. It's my baby and I love acting with my whole heart, but music is who I am and it's the most vulnerable and the most personal thing I've ever done. I really am equally as terrified and excited for people to start listening to it all. I'm tirelessly working on it. I literally go from my vacation straight to L.A. to meet about it because it is my biggest priority. It is where my head is at and where my where my energy is going to be put into up until I start suit shooting season 2, so hopefully very soon I'll be able to communicate a little more about it. It is what I care about the most in the whole world in terms of my work and what I dream of doing: it’s my music. I can't wait for people to start listening to it. It is terrifying because it is extremely, extremely personal. But I think that at the end of the day, that's the only way to communicate is through truth and through vulnerability.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
Photography by: Kristen Jan Wong