RED Hearts: Ayla Kell of Make It Or Break It

RED Hearts are guests posts on I Heart Daily from the authors of RED: Teenage girls in America write on what fires up their lives today. Today's RED Hearts post is from Cindy Morand, 21, of New York, New York, who interviewed Make It Or Break Itstar Ayla Kell:

Olympic dreams, dieting, rigid routines and dedication are a big part of the lives of teen gymnasts trying to make it. ABC Family’s hit show Make It or Break It (which returns on March 28), winningly represents the drama of being an athlete -- or anyone else, really -- of this age.

We can’t take our eyes off Ayla Kell’s complicated character Payson Keeler, a great example of a young lady who strives to perform amazing routines, regardless of her challenges -- most of all, her recovery from a tragic accident.

So we were thrilled to interview Ayla, who’s as motivated and inspiring as the character she portrays. She’s a big fan of always “doing your personal best,” helping the local community, and mastering the uh, gymnastic balance of starring in a TV show and leading a life of friends and family.

Cindy Morand: We heart Payson. What makes her a fun character to play? Ayla Kell: I personally love how driven and caring Payson is. And you get to experience with her the new things she's experiencing herself, like her first kiss, and when she learned what it was like to go to a normal school.

CM: She’s so much about conquering obstacles and fear. What advice do you have for girls out there on doing the same? AK: Overcoming the worst is Payson's game. After the broken back, she improved her gymnastics against all odds. For girls out there with any type of obstacle, keep everything in perspective. It's not about what other people think; it's about who you are as person and your true aspirations.

CM: You’re a dancer, too, and Payson’s a gymnast -- two fields where the pressure to be thin is particularly intense. How does a young woman cope with this? AK: Body perception is something that women struggle with their entire lives, and it starts when you’re young, seeing all the models out there who are super thin and labeled as beautiful. But there is so much more to being beautiful than being a double zero. There's your health and being fit, not sick. Don't compare yourself to anyone else. Love your own skin, bones, and body.

CM: Tell us about your involvement with Imagine LA. AK: Imagine LA is an amazing non-profit that helps get the 8,000 homeless families with 18,000 children in Los Angeles off the streets. Every day these people struggle to even exist. Imagine LA offers a helping hand and a partnership to a better life, a life where the children are educated, the parents have jobs, and there’s a roof over their heads. It's so easy to see poverty around the world, but what about right outside of Beverly Hills? I love this organization.

CM: What else are you “hearting” these days? AK: I just finished reading The World As I See It by Albert Einstein, and I loved it. I’m pretty big on music, from Radiohead to Patsy Cline, Jayson Rose to Karkwa, David Berkeley to the Rolling Stones. I just like good music. And you know what? I heart my family. Some of my favorite time is spent with them.

RED Hearts guest poster Cindy Morand is an author of RED: Teenage girls in America write on what fires up their lives today, which is out in paperback.