A month before graduating high school in 2006, Ambyr Childers gave up a scholarship to play golf at the University of California, Riverside, for the role of bratty teen Colby Chandler on All My Children. She spent nearly two years on the show, exploring car theft, a pregnancy scare, and the consequences of crashing your father's yacht. It's not exactly the training one would expect to be helpful in landing a part in Paul Thomas Anderson's The Master, the director's closely guarded follow-up to There Will Be Blood (2007) about a religion founded in the 1950s that is "not Scientology," starring Philip Seymour Hoffman as the titular master and Joaquin Phoenix as his close disciple. Childers won the role of Hoffman's brash daughter Elizabeth. "I did not believe I was doing the movie until after the first take, until I knew it was locked down," admits the 23-year-old Childers one afternoon in April at a café in Los Angeles's Studio City, having just left an audition for Martin Scorsese's stockbroker drama The Wolf of Wall Street. Clearly she has been busy—she plays a Hollywood ingénue in another of the year's most sought-after showcases, director Ruben Fleischer's L.A. mafia period drama Gangster Squad, and recently shot the Showtime pilot Ray Donovan, about a Hollywood fixer (Liev Schreiber), in which she plays a tortured Britney Spears-type who needs plenty of fixing. "It's so weird," says Childers. "I've been thinking about it all day. Who knew that in 2012 I would be auditioning for the dream cast or the dream director?" Even in her personal life Childers hasn't wasted much time—she's already the mother of a 2-year-old daughter named London with her husband, film producer Randall Emmett. When asked about her striking resemblance to another of Hollywood's busy actress-mothers, Reese Witherspoon, she gladly takes the compliment. "She looks like she has balls," Childers says. "And you definitely have to have balls in this male-driven industry."