Bianca Santos

The sizzling star of Happyland and the upcoming film The Duff, Bianca Santos, is driving Hollywood wild.

Inspiration comes from the most unexpected places. Bianca Santos was a senior at a tiny West Coast college studying psychology, eyeing a career far from the limelight, as a therapist, when a chance encounter with one of the gods of her chosen field changed her path forever.

World-renowned psychologist Albert Bandura—“the Sigmund Freud of this generation,” Santos calls him—came to her school to lecture. “I got to sit near him during a lunch. So I asked him, ‘What’s the one piece of advice you could impart to us?’ I was on the edge of my seat, ready for him to change my world.” And did he? “Yes! He said, ‘You regret in life the things you didn’t do.’ It was in that moment when I thought, I’m going to act. Like, what do I have to lose?”

Now, in a crazy-short time, the 24-year-old, who grew up in and around Los Angeles, has morphed from would-be shrink to girl-on-the-verge. Santos stars in the MTV series Happyland, about the weird world of theme-park employees, and had a recurring role in ABC Family’s teen drama The Fosters. And this month she’s costarring in The DUFF, a coming-of-age comedy about the viciousness of high school cyberbullies.

We caught up with the starlet in a West Hollywood café, where she showed us her tats (full sleeves, faux, for an indie thriller) and more.

Photos by Photographed for Maxim by Sigurd Grunberger