Secret Life of the American Teenager is coming to an end on June 3 after five dramatic seasons, but Ken Baumann's life is just getting started. While the 23-year-old actor is sad to say goodbye to a cast and crew he considers family, he's excited to embark on a whole new journey … as a writer!
Wetpaint Entertainment caught up with the actor, who plays Ben Boykewich on Secret Life, a few days after the release of his debut novel, Solip (now available on Amazon), for all the scoop.
Wetpaint Entertainment: Congrats on the book!
Ken Baumann: Why thank you!
In the description blurb it's referred to as a "non novel." What exactly does that mean?
That's the wonderful publisher copy. I've been very careful with my words about the book. I don't know if I'd describe it as a "non-novel," but I'm down for whatever angle they want to push. But it's definitely a weird book. When I finished writing it, my only criteria for publishing it was if it felt unfamiliar and strange enough to not feel like a knockoff. It still feels strange to me, so I was like, "OK, this is worth publishing."
What's the book actually about, without giving it away?
Oh boy, that's also where I've been sort of a little sh— and been very evasive. I do want to keep the plot a mystery, but the entire book is 1st person and the narrator is … peculiar. I'll use that word.
How long did it take you to finish?
I wrote the first draft in maybe four or five months and then I revised it for over a year. I put a lot of time into it — maybe too much time! — but it's a short book so people may not get the hours of not blood, but certainly sweat and tears of self-delusion.
You worked on it while simultaneously filming Secret Life?
Yes, I did.
So you really had your plate full!
Yeah! It was good though. It was a nice little other thing I could go home and be excited about.
Do you ever feel like you have to choose between acting or writing? Would you ever choose?
It's interesting. I don't know if that day will come. I'm one of those people that I try not to think much of the future. I'm like a hedonist. I'm like, "This feels right, I'll do it!" But I hope I never have to choose one or the other. That said, in the last — I think since I got sick [with Crohn's disease] and I got my novel accepted — those two things happened and I was like, "No, I'm going to own up to being a writer as much as an actor." I've been doing both simultaneously since I was a kid, and now I feel like I can finally be confident about it. But I have no idea where I'll be in the future.
You recently got married. Did getting married on Secret Life prepare you at all for saying "I do" in real life?
I think that getting married on the show, the one or two times prior to getting married in real life, what I tried to do performance-wise when I was fictitiously marrying a beautiful woman was just be as emotionally wide open as possible. Just be incredibly sensitive and have the entire pantheon of emotions running through you. I don't know if I did it successfully on the show acting-wise, but I damn well did it on my wedding day because I couldn't control it.
I think no matter how good-slash-mediocre of an actor I am, I am not so good as to replicate what happened on my wedding day, because I had just gotten ill and gotten better. So not only was I getting married, but I was getting married to the girl who nursed me back to health and almost literally watched me die. So that was a fun extra boost of, "Yep! This is the big thing."
Editor's note: We're obsessed with this adorable video of Ken and his wife Aviva dancing in their backyward. We dare you not to swoon.
Has there been talk of babies yet?
I foresee some children down the line, but that said, we've also been like, "Hey we're two unemployed actors. That would be a perfect time to get pregnant and have kids!" I know that we're in some capacity either going to have children or adopt. My younger sister was adopted, and that can be a wonderful process. Well the process can suck, but the end result of bringing in a new family member can be pretty incredible. But not right now. Now is both us staying healthy, working hard, and seeing where our careers take us.
To purchase Ken's novel, head over to Amazon. And stay tuned for more of our chat where Ken dishes on the Secret Life series finale!