APTOPIX 2016 Teen Choice Awards - Arrivals"Modern Family" star Sarah Highland says she prefers to live her career in the moment, and, from the looks of her schedule, her moment is right now.

With the premiere of the eighth season of her hit sitcom a few weeks away (Sept. 21 on ABC), the actress is also enjoying stepping out of her comfort zone for some new challenges: bowing on Aug. 26 is her Netflix film "XOXO," which she also produced, playing a young woman whose ambivalent outing to a raucous music festival promises to alter her life path significantly; a stage musical veteran since childhood, she also co-stars in the ABC musical adaptation of the beloved 1987 dance film "Dirty Dancing," playing Baby's sister, Lisa; and she's taken on the dual roles of spokesperson and creative director with shoe brand Candie's on their fall and spring campaigns.

It's a full plate for the 25-year-old, who sat down with Moviefone to discuss the many roads that recently have opened up for her, from real-life music festivals to the state of the Hayley/Andy romance to learning and re-learning to play the ukulele.

Moviefone: So what was the first thing about this that got you interested in being part of "XOXO"? What was the thing that first attracted you to it?

Sarah Hyland: I liked the idea of a music festival film. EDM is really big right now. It showed a really authentic side to the culture, which I really appreciated, and I thought that was very progressive, so to speak. I loved Krystal's character. She's like "the innocent" in the film.

A lot of people don't really think of innocence when they think of EDM. It shows all different types of people in this film, and that's what I really, really like about it: kind of these interwoven stories.

What were the things that you wanted to do with her to make her feel real?

Yeah -- she was really, really, kind of uncomfortable. She's on her phone the entire time. I thought it was really great. I mean, I like to be close with cast members. She's kind of very aloof for the entire time, so I didn't want to kind of be aloof myself because the girls were really great.

The cast was all really great: Medalion [Rahimi] is amazing, and I've known Graham [Phillips] for at least 10 years. I've known Brett DelBuono since I was 18. I've known Chris [D'Elia] for a couple years. I've known Hayley [Kiyoko] since I was 18. This cast really came together to where it's like I've known these people for a really long time. So I didn't really do a lot of research in being aloof like Krystal would be. If you could say I was on my phone a lot, then yeah, I'm on my phone a lot!

I also like the fact that she learns through this piece; it's kind of like a metaphor. When she finally puts her phone down, she's really just able to enjoy herself for once, once she puts the technology down, which I think maybe as a society we have to focus on a little bit more as well.

Did you have a say in her rave-y look at all?

No, I didn't. But I thought it was really interesting. The Marc Jacobs material was really great, it's a great piece of fabric, and I like the two-piece. It's definitely not something that I would wear, but it was nice because it put me in her shoes. It put me into this character.

Honestly, it's not that I was uncomfortable wearing it, but I definitely felt like I wasn't in my own skin, which I feel like Krystal didn't feel like as well. I was just really excited I wasn't wearing a bathing suit top and like short shorts. That's all I cared about!

And that's fine for like a couple days at a festival, but for a whole movie shoot...

But for a whole movie, no thank you! Oh gosh -- no pasta, it would be the worst!

Have you been to a lot of thee types of festivals? Either EDM or different kinds of music?

I've been to Coachella. I don't really have a lot of time for festivals. I've always wanted to go to Glastonbury. I've always wanted to go to Bonnaroo and Lollapalooza, something like EDC -- Burning Man, I would love to! I mean, Burning Man isn't even really a music festival. It's just like, Outside Lands, things like that.

I love music and I love music festivals. I really like the vibe and energy of it, but, unfortunately, Coachella's really the only one I was ever able to go to. So I think it was really fun for me to do this, because we filmed at like four different music festivals. I don't even remember what they were called. But that was really fun. I really got to experience it from a working, sober side, which was nice to do.

What do you like about the ones you've been to, and what are you like, "Okay, that's enough of that"?

I'm a very tiny person, so being in the middle of it is one of the most anxious feelings I've ever had in my entire life. I thought I was like Simba in the gorge! I love music festivals when there's just love and light everywhere.

Sometimes Coachella doesn't have that. I feel like Coachella's kind of turned into this place where people go to be seen more for their outfits, and to get drunk, or what have you. And I go for the music. I just go for the music. I love the music and I love dancing barefoot in front of the main stage and just like being with friends and really enjoying moment and letting go and being free. So that's the only thing that I don't like about Coachella. I feel like Coachella's turned into a place for people to be seen.

So that's why I wanted to try and expand my horizons to different music festivals. I just heard of this one that's in England that looks amazing. They have, like, yoga classes and all these like crazy things. I don't know. It just looked amazing. I can't remember what it was called. But my friend showed it to me, I was like, I have to go to that.

As far as expanding your horizons, this is a good time for you to be finding all kinds of different projects to work on and stretching your range. What's in your head, career-wise, away from "Modern Family"?

Oh yes, this past summer, this was great to do. I mean, we filmed in LA, so it was super-easy to be a part of, because it was just, "I can still go home at the end of the day and be with my dogs," and have stuff like that.

I shot "Dirty Dancing," the musical, this summer, and it was so much fun. We were in North Carolina -- we couldn't do anything about the [anti-LGBT] bill that was passed; so many people would have lost their jobs, we couldn't do anything about it. But the people there were actually really amazing, and they came up to us and they were like, "Thank you so much for not pulling out the production from this state, because we're not for this. This is not our kind of people." So we became really close with the people of Hendersonville. They were really amazing.

I had the time of my life there, pun intended. It was so much fun. I made lifelong friends. I'm really excited to see it. I haven't seen it yet. I have ADR tomorrow, so I'll get back to you on that one. But I think it's going to be really fun, and really great. I had to learn to play the ukulele for it, so that was really awesome, and we sang and danced. It was just the ballroom and the singing, I just, I love musicals. It was a lot of fun.

What was the big, unexpected challenge of that role for you?

The ukulele, for sure! For sure! Three days before we filmed the scene where I'm singing and playing the ukulele at the same time, they changed the strumming pattern, and I was like, "You've got to be kidding me. I'm going to die." So they were like, "You can fake it." So I just ended up having to fake it, but apparently it looks real, so hopefully that'll be good.

Yeah, it was a lot of fun. We recorded the songs in a recording studio, and that was really great. The dancing was the easiest thing, honestly. It was so great. I loved it.

Did you have a special connection to the original? Or was it more of a discovery for you?

I grew up watching it. It's one of my mom's favorite films. So I don't remember a time in my life where there wasn't "Dirty Dancing," honestly. So I grew up with it even though I wasn't born when it came out. It's just always been a big part of my life, so I'm just very grateful to be a part of it in general.

Something that's been great with "Modern Family" is how much attention your storyline with Haley and Andy has gotten. People are really invested in that.

They're really invested. I'm really invested.

What you can tell me about what's coming up with that this season?

I don't know. Adam [DeVine's] so busy -- I really don't know. We haven't touched that yet.

The next storyline's still coming? I know the show's going to New York for an episode.

We went to New York. Yeah, we're going to New York next week to shoot, so yeah. I'm not sure. I think they're trying to focus more on Haley's career right now. But yeah, we're going to New York next week to film some exterior shots for the season premiere. It's going to be taking place in New York for the Dunphy family.

While I'm there, I'll also be having production meetings, because I'm the creative director at Candie's right now. So that's really fun. I get to see some samples have come in from the factory of designs that I've made, so I'm really excited to see them.

What do you love about that professional relationship?

Oh my gosh, it's amazing. The whole Candie's team and Kohl's are so amazing and supportive. It's their first time bringing on a creative director that's also a spokesperson, so to say. But it's really great. They've given me a lot of liberties. I'm very vocal about what I like and what I don't like.

At first, I don't think they even asked me to design, but I just started, like, rambling in a production meeting, and they were like, "Oh, that's great!" So now I'm kind of designing clothes and putting, like, little Easter eggs of things that are very personal to me into the designs.

I love it. I think it's so much fun. I'm learning so much about it because I've always loved fashion, but I've never learned the ins and outs in creating it, like, on a big scale. I've co-designed a dress with Marchesa and Christian Siriano and Carolina Herrera, but I've never designed anything big scale, Kohl's/Candie's level. So I'm learning all of that, and I think it's really fun. It's very, very fascinating for me.

Do you want to keep building out your fashion interests and brand?

I might. I'm having a lot of fun. Who knows what the future holds for me?

Are there other areas that interest you in showbiz? Do you have writing aspirations? Directing aspirations?

You know what? Right now, I don't have any directing aspirations at all. I have no screenplay writing aspirations. I always have ideas, and then as soon as I try and put it on a paper, I'm just like, "This is the worst." I love producing. I've always liked producing. I'm an executive producer on ["XOXO"]. It was really fun.

I like producing, and I love music. There will be a day where I go back to Broadway and go home into my welcoming theater arms. But I don't know when. I don't know when I'll have the time for that right now. I really miss musical theater a lot. That's why doing things at the Hollywood Bowl means so much to me, because I'm able to still be here and do "Modern Family" at the same time while doing that. I love musical theater.

I write music a lot, but I don't know if I'm ever going to do anything with that. I just like having a lot of different outlets for my craziness inside my head.

What's been great about having that steady sitcom gig for so long, and having the luxury to explore things, especially at your age?

The luxury has been having a roof over my head and food on the table! [Laughs] But it's really great. I mean, there's always going to be a give and take for things like that: "You can't do this film because it is during the schedule of 'Modern Family,' but you can do this"; or "You can't do that because of this" -- and "Thank God I can't do that because of "Modern Family" because I wouldn't even want to touch that." You know what I mean?

There's always going to be a give and a take. I think it's really just about being grateful for what you have at the moment. I don't know. I always like to ride the wave instead of try and predict it.
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