Christina Ochoa Talks ABC’s New Drama ‘A Million Little Things’ (Interview)
A new season of fall television is upon us, and with any new television season comes brand new programming. ABC is upping its dramatic game with the addition of the upcoming series A Million Little Things.
The official synopsis for the series says: “They say friendship isn’t one big thing, it’s a million little things, and that’s true for a group of friends from Boston who bonded under unexpected circumstances. Some have achieved success, others are struggling in their careers and relationships, but all of them feel stuck in life. After one of them dies by suicide, it’s just the wake-up call the others need to finally start living. Along the way, they discover that friends may be the one thing to save them from themselves.”
The new series stars a stellar cast including David Giuntoli, Ron Livingston, Romany Malco, James Roday, Stephanie Szostak, Allison Miller, Christina Moses, Christina Ochoa, Grace Park, and Lizzy Greene.
We recently spoke with Christina Ochoa who plays the mysterious role of Ashley in the new drama. We talked about what drew her to the role, the amazing instant chemistry the cast felt while on set and also nerded out about Aquaman and her favorite podcasts.
Denise Caputo: Congratulations on the show! I’ve had the chance to screen the pilot for A Million Little Things, and I loved it. I think our readers will love it too. What can you tell us about the upcoming series?
Christina Ochoa: I can tell you that the show is looking to reach an audience that is interested in human stories. Not saying that action shows and sci-fi shows don’t have their niche audience too, but our show, in particular, is targeting the inner lives of this group of friends that gets hit with an unexpected death of their friend John and then we see the aftermath of that. It’s that turmoil and secrets and guilt and things that I think we can all empathize with as human beings.
DC: Absolutely! Most likely, just because it’s also an emotionally-charged drama, the show is already being compared to another hit drama, NBC’s This Is Us, which it’s a huge compliment to your show. I think A Million Little Things stands on its own. What do you think about your show being compared to one of the most popular dramas on television?
CO: Thank you for that. It’s funny because we’ve gotten a lot of media training right before the pilot. Were told to talk about the differences – all the ways that it’s not like This Is Us or all the ways that it differs from that story, which obviously, it’s a completely different story. At the end of the day, I think it’s just a testament to the show. What an honor to be compared to a show that’s reached so many people and that’s moved such a large audience and that has such a wonderful fan base! I think we’d be remiss not to talk about the way that Dan Fogelman and This Is Us, the cast, the crew, that ensemble has paved the way for us.
I just take it as a huge compliment, and if we get half of the love that a show like This Is Us has garnered, then I consider us incredibly fortunate and lucky. So, I stand behind those comments instead of trying to correct them. I embrace them, and I hope we live up to it and do it justice the way that show has done.
DC: I think it will. I honestly do. The pilot is fantastic, and I think it will hold its own.
CO: I really appreciate that.
DC: No problem! So, you play Ashley Morales, and we know very little about her. The trailer focuses on the guys and their friendship. What can you tell us about your character?
CO: Ashley is a little bit of a mystery and will remain so for a while. She’s the only one who holds that key to unraveling the reason why John killed himself. As we tell that story and we jump back into the flashbacks, we explore all of his relationships with friends. She was with him day in and day out, and then she holds that key as to the reason why, but she also has her own conflicting emotions too. I like the fact that we don’t get to see her secrets right away. I think that her secrets help form the story and I like how they’re telling that story, how it starts to unravel and unfold, and the subtleties that kind of come into play.
DC: The whole idea for the show is based on this great quote: “Friendship isn’t one big thing. It’s a million little things,” and also the thought that everything happens for a reason. Additionally, I’ve learned that it’s also loosely based on personal experience from the life of creator D.J. Nash. What drew you to this role and did knowing that the premise comes from such a personal place change your outlook on the role or your interest in the role at all?
CO: It didn’t change it for me. I think the best writing is always told coming from a very personal place. D.J. has been kind enough and generous enough with us to tell us where his motivation comes from, which has been very helpful. It didn’t change anything for me in the sense that I gravitated towards this script and it stood on its own before knowing that information. The series holds its own with the writing, and he’s just been kind enough to add in some information that makes it very personal. That helps us on our journey in understanding the responsibility that comes with tackling some of these topics that are so controversial and personal.
What interested me in this project and this role is that it is such a departure from everything that I have done in the past. The role is so different from the women that I’ve tackled, and I was so excited to take a bite into something that was a little out of my comfort zone in that sense.
DC: You mentioned that the show deals with topics that are controversial. The show certainly deals with a heavy subject matter, obviously, involving suicide and some other struggles that we learn about along the way. With that in mind, what do you hope viewers take away from the series?
CO: Yeah. The show is definitely not romanticizing those topics. You know what? I don’t know how popular this opinion is going to be, but thank God for filmmakers who tackle those topics. They are part of a real-life. Cancer, depression, and others are very much a reality for all of us. I think that these topics, in one way or another, touch most of the people involved in the show, and hopefully the audience because we all deal with it day to day. Thank God for the filmmakers that are brave enough to tackle them and tell them from less of a myopic point of view by showing different perspectives and sides that these topics carry.
DC: You’re part of this stellar cast which includes David Giuntoli, James Roday, Ron Livingston, Romany Malco, Grace Park, Stephanie Szostak, Allison Miller, and Christina Moses. It’s a fantastic ensemble cast. What was it like working together, and was there instant chemistry?
CO: It sounds, so cliché to say “We met, it was great, we’re such a family,” but honestly, this ensemble is lightning in a bottle! Most of us didn’t test together. None of us read together, so the chemistry was a big unknown when we started shooting the pilot. We are so incredibly fortunate.
When Roday, who I’ve worked with before, signed on, I remember that moment just being one of those beats where I thought, “of course! He is perfect for this!” I was attached pretty early on, and not a lot of the rest of the cast was yet. When they started casting those roles, we just kept giving thanks because each cast member elevates this show. Anything that’s on the page, it doesn’t matter what you give them, they elevate it. They bring it to life. They add these beautiful nuances to their characters, and they make everything so much fun on set as well, which for our long journey, small boat, and for our personal experience when shooting the show is very important.
The moment they put the four guys together and they shot those scenes at the hockey stadium; I think that’s when we all just knew this was special. We saw it in the monitors and the dailies. That was the moment where it just crystallized, and it became so incredibly real. They looked like they had been friends for 20 years. That chemistry, once that hit, that’s when we knew the show was something really special.
DC: That’s awesome, and that chemistry shines through in the pilot. Here at Fan Fest News, we celebrate all the things that we love and that our readers love as fans, whether it’s music, film, television, books, and so on. Right now, in today’s pop culture world, what are some things that you fangirl over? What are you a fan of nowadays?
CO: I’m a pretty big nerd. (laughs) For me, things that are science-driven are normally my go tos. I’m also drawn to the water, so I’m very excited about Aquaman coming out. I have friends in Shazam!, and that’s going to be coming out soon. I cannot wait for that cause I hear such great things. Podcasts are up there for me right now. I’m always saying to my friends, “oh my god, you have to listen to this one! You have to check this one out!” In particular, up some of my favorites are Radiolab, Cara Santa Maria’s Talk Nerdy, and Sean Carroll’s Mindscape.
DC: In addition to A Million Little Things, do you have any other projects coming up or anything that you’re working on that you want to share? Or just anything that you want to share with potential viewers or readers in general?
CO: Yeah! I just recently joined the advisory board for Oceana which is an organization dealing with marine advocacy. I’m very excited about that! We are working on pushing forward some of the campaigns and asking people to help with passing bills that will protect the endangered species. Right now, that’s our prime focus, and that’s very important to me. Fun-wise, yesterday I participated in my first triathlon. Aside from those things, I can’t wait for everyone to finally see what we’ve been working on with A Million Little Things.
Thank you, Christina Ochoa, for taking the time out of your incredibly busy schedule to speak with us here at Fan Fest News! We can’t wait to see more from A Million Little Things.
A Million Little Things premieres Wednesday at 10 pm EST on ABC. You can check out our spoiler-free review of the series premiere HERE.