December 21, 2012 at 05:00 AM EST

I had been living in New York for 15 years, doing primarily theater. Then this opportunity came. My agent called and was like, ”Amy Sherman-Palladino wants to sit down with you.” I was like, ”What? Oh my God, that’s so awesome.” She’s my No. 1 favorite. I remember we met at this café in Manhattan on a rainy Wednesday. I was doing Anything Goes on Broadway and was between shows, so I needed to eat. She wasn’t eating, so I was just sitting there, asking her questions about Gilmore Girls — which she created — and eating chicken fingers. I totally geeked out on her. I think she thought, ”Okay, this girl is really weird and interesting.” About two weeks later, I got a phone call from my agent that Amy had written this pilot and she wanted me to star in it.

It was a dream come true because my favorite show of all time is Gilmore Girls. If I could have made a wish on a genie bottle, it would have been to work with Amy. Doing television is just a totally different pace from theater. You can’t even compare. For Bunheads my call would be, like, 5 a.m. I’d be like, ”What?!” I was going to sleep at 7:30 p.m. It’s a different life than what I was used to, and every single day is a new challenge. Once you do a scene and everyone’s happy with it, you move on and you never go back, which at first threw me off because I’m so used to having the opportunity the next day to improve upon what I’ve done the day before. I feel like I’m in college again. And I’ve learned so much. Now, coming back and shooting the final eight episodes of the first season, it feels like second nature, which is really cool. —Sutton Foster

Season 1 of Bunheads returns to ABC Family on Jan. 7.

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