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Wednesday, April 23, 2014
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Published: 8/9/2013

Commentary

Toledo native shares opinions on ‘IMO’

BY KIRK BAIRD
CULTURE SHOCK

As the first talk show aimed at tween and teen girls, IMO dishes on the usual topics.

Boys. Fashion. Boys. Hair and make-up tips. Boys.

Then there’s the unexpected conversations on self confidence, loving yourself, and, yes, boys — specifically, what happens if you’re crushing on your best friend’s brother.

You can thank IMO’s cohost Gracie Dzienny for that sisters-before-misters poser. It’s a quandary that came to the Toledo-born actress at a concert while listening to a woman warbling romantic sentiments for a best friend’s brother.

“I thought it would make an interesting topic for the show,” she said.

Gracie Dzienny. Gracie Dzienny.
Enlarge

She was right.

“Everyone had a different point of view,” she said in a recent phone interview from Los Angeles, where she lives and records the show one weekend a month. “All the girls come from different backgrounds and from different circumstances. It’s really interesting to see how we all come together and have different opinions and sometimes share opinions. And sometimes we get into little heated arguments ... but at the end of the day, I’ve kind of formed a second family with these girls because we talk so much and because we know each other so well.”

Best known for the recently canceled Nickelodeon action-comedy series Supah Ninjas, Dzienny, who turns 17 later this month, is joined on IMO’s panel by a regular trio of teenage cohosts — comic-actress Audrey Whitby (Disney’s sketch comedy So Random), actress Teala Dunn (TBS’ sitcom Are We There Yet?), and twitter fav Meaghan Dowling, and one or two celebrity guests. Taped in front of a studio audience, IMO — an abbreviation for In My Opinion — is essentially The View for tweens.

“It’s everything that goes on in a teenager’s mind,” Dzienny said. 

Available on YouTube (as part of the Awesomeness TV channel of youthful programming), IMO is available in time-friendly segments of seven minutes or less. The off-the-cuff show offers a new experience for the actress, providing the freedom to speak for herself rather than recite scripted material. It also affords Dzienny and her cohosts the opportunity to share personal experiences with a particular topic.

“If we feel comfortable then we’ll tell stories of ‘we went through this’ or an awkward moment,” she said. “We’ll try and tell as many stories as we can that we feel comfortable sharing with everyone.”

Aimed at junior high and high school-aged girls, IMO is a quick and painless way for parents to learn what their daughter(s) may be talking about with friends. The show — along with the actress’ active social media accounts — also has been handy for Dzienny’s mother, Tara, to stay abreast of her daughter’s busy life.

“That’s how she’ll know how I’m doing and where I am,” Dzienny said. “I’ll call her and be like, ‘Hey, haven’t talked to you in a few days,’ and she’s like, ‘Oh, I’ve been keeping up with you. I’m looking at your Instagram and Twitter. And I watched IMO.’ It’s really funny.”

In what could very well become a future topic on IMO, Dzienny noted the pros and cons of social media.

“I personally think it’s a great way to build a fan base and to also keep a fan base because you can interact with them,” she said. “I’ll also tweet pictures of what I’m doing today and who I’m hanging out with. I think that’s the great part,” she said.

Conversely, “it’s just as important to keep some things private and to have a balance. I think the Internet is great, but it can also be not so great if you use it in the wrong way.”

As with most fixations in our lives, Dzienny said, balance is the key.

“You shouldn’t be with your nose in the screen the entire day,” she said. “I think it’s really important to look around you and to enjoy the world around you, along with keeping connections online.”

Contact Kirk Baird at kbaird@theblade.com or 419-724-6734.



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