'Modern Family' Star Rico Rodriguez Talks Growing Up in Hollywood

The hit ABC comedy returns Sept. 21.

ByABC News
September 13, 2016, 6:15 AM

— -- Rico Rodriguez, known as one of the cute kids on "Modern Family," isn't a cute kid anymore. He's 18.

The child star -- who plays Manny Delgado on the hit ABC comedy, returning Sept. 21 for its eighth season -- is in his senior year of high school. But it's nothing like your high school.

Rodriguez' classmates at his independent study school in Oak Park, California, are other famous actors you may know and even some teens who were training for the Summer Olympics in Rio.

Still, he maintains he has a pretty normal high school experience even though he's taught mainly by his on-set teacher.

"It's funny because you still get the whole social aspect because you’re on set hanging out with your friends and then you go to school [on campus]," he told ABC News. "All [of] the curriculum is the same; it’s just a different scenery."

In between school and acting, Rodriguez is an avid reader -- his favorites are Jeff Kinney's "Diary of a Wimpy Kid" book series, Stephen Crane's novel "The Red Badge of Courage" and George Orwell's 1945 classic "Animal Farm."

That love of books is why Pizza Hut, along with its partner, the nonprofit organization First Book, tapped him to help launch The Literacy Project, a campaign dedicated to encourage reading globally.

While most high school seniors already have a short list of where they'd like to attend college, if they wish to go, Rodriguez told ABC News he may follow in the footsteps of Malia Obama and his "Modern Family" co-star Ariel Winter and take a break.

"I may probably take a year off and ... weigh my options of what’s coming up next; if 'Modern Family' continues, to finish that off," he said. "Before I even start thinking about college, I want to finish off senior year on the right foot and do the best job that I can."

And like other high school seniors, will Rodriguez go to prom? Is he driving? Is he dating?

The word is still out regarding prom, but the actor did reveal he's single. "Still single and ready to mingle," he added, blushing.

As far as the car, he's not in a rush to get behind the wheel but he does have a dream car: "I fantasize ... [about] cruising down Hollywood [Boulevard] in my 1949 Chevy."

Growing up in Hollywood's ultra-bright glare, Rodriguez has managed to keep a low profile. He credits that to his family.

"They really kept a solid ground underneath me and they kept me down to earth," he said. "When [I'm] acting, I'm putting on a character, but when I’m home I’m Rico -- Rico that still has to take out the trash, do my chores around the house and then do schooling and stuff like that so I really credit my mom and dad. They’re great parents."