Growing up in a quaint, colonial Pennsylvania town, Alexandra Chando, who plays Maddie Coleman on CBS' "As the World Turns," actually dreamed of having a hard knock life at a very young age. A hard knock life on stage, that is.
"My mom took me to see Annie," Chando explained about her first inspiration to act. "From that day forward I knew I wanted to do something like that."
Seemingly unaffected by the fact that show business is the founding school of hard knocks, Chando pursued her dream of acting with unwavering drive before she even hit high school, playing the lead in productions like Anything Goes and Our Miss Brooks.
"I started acting at a very young age in community theater," Chando said. "And in high school, I did shows every year. But it's funny, my very first television job was a little role on 'Guiding Light' when I was 13 and then I did a pilot for the WB."
The pilot called "House Blend" aired on the WB in May of 2002 and landed her prized face time, albeit green, on a set with Amy Yasbeck and Dan Cortese. Although the pilot never took off, Chando's journey to becoming a working television actress was picking up speed.
Just a couple years later, Chando snagged a role on "As the World Turns" after a spur of the moment audition. With MTV documenting her very first steps on the soaps for "True Life: I'm Getting My Big Break," Chando debuted as a young talent on the rise on two networks.
"It's so nuts, I cannot believe how time flies," Chando said about her fast-approaching second anniversary as Maddie. "I see a difference in my work and I feel I've evolved from when I started on the show. It's a lot easier and natural for me, because I've learned a lot. My knowledge of the craft has really expanded."
But transitioning from the stage to daytime television definitely had its challenges for the young actress.
"Soap operas are a totally different arena," said Chando, who will celebrate her 21st birthday on July 28. "We move very quickly and it's so much different from even filming a TV pilot, where we did a bunch of takes. Here we do one or two takes and move on."
Thanks to Chando's fellow actors on the show, the switch from live theater and TV sitcoms to grinding out six soapy scenes a day was a smooth one.
"When I first started 'As the World Turns' I worked with Trent Dawson, who plays my brother Henry, and Terri Colombino and Mark Collier every single day," Chando explained. "They really showed me the ropes and Trent always raises the bar. He's a phenomenal actor and makes me want to make different choices in my scenes."