"I've been really lucky because this past year has taken me down some very different paths," Sara Paxton tells PEOPLE

By Patrick Gomez
July 27, 2017 04:15 PM
Showtime/REX/Shutterstock

Sara Paxton is looking to defy expectations.

“I’ve been acting for a really long time and sometimes I feel like when you’re a child actor you can get stuck in a box,” says the star, who broke out as a panelist on the game show Small Talk in 1996 before going on to star on Summerland, Darcy’s Wild Life , The Beautiful Life: TBL and more. “But I’m 29 and I want people to see me in all these different ways.”

So entering 2017, Paxton was ready to shake things up.

“After a couple of years of a lot of drama and horror, which is great I run and I scream and I cry and all that, it was hard for me to show my comedic side,” she tells PEOPLE. “I was looking for something freeing and fun.”

Paxton found exactly what she was looking for after becoming friends with actor and writer Chris Baker, whom she met in an acting class. As their friendship developed, he sent over a script for season 3 of his webseries Baker Daily, which stars Baker as a narcissistic news anchor. Heading into season 3 of the series, Baker brought on co-writer Pat Cauley and decided to expand the world of the series to address the current political climate. The result was Baker Daily: Trump Takedown, and Paxton was in love with the idea.

“I thought Chris was really funny and talented and he sent me over the script and the link to past seasons and I just thought this is a really smart, funny guy and concept and it’s so relevant right now,” says Paxton, who plays a producer who helps Baker navigate a twitter feud with Trump as they attempt to track down a scoop that would lead to his impeachment. “There’s obviously there’s been a funk in the air and people — including myself — are kind of down. I thought, ‘Wow here’s an opportunity that’s pointed but we’re laughing through the situation and it’s done in a smart, funny intelligent way.’ It felt cathartic to, while filming it, kind of just be able to laugh at it a little bit.”

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Not that Paxton has been shying away from drama in recent months. In the March season finale of This Is Us Paxton guest starred as Katherine, a friend of Mandy Moore’s Rebecca from before she met Jack (Milo Ventimiglia).

FROM PEN: Milo Ventimiglia Talks Jack’s Death On ‘This Is Us’

“My character is a WASPy bitch, which is so funny because I’m a Mexican Jew,” says Paxton. “It was a smaller role but I’m told I’m going to come back. It’s This Is Us, so there are always flashbacks.  I’m excited to see where that goes in the future.”

Paxton also currently stars in the long-awaited return of Twin Peaks.

Twin Peaks
Suzanne Tenner/Showtime

Twin Peaks was so cool,” she says of shooting the Showtime series. “I’m a huge fan of [creator] David Lynch, so it was a dream come true. I remember I got the call and I was just thrilled. David Lynch directed and I’m so grateful for that experience.”

“I’ve been really lucky because this past year has taken me down some very different paths,” she adds. “It’s all been great and I’m having a lot of fun.”

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