Ariel Winter Decides to Take Break From UCLA to Focus on Career

Ariel Winter is taking a break from the books. The 20-year-old Modern Family actress started classes at UCLA in September but revealed Thursday that she's taking some time off from college.

“I do love UCLA, but at the moment I’m taking a break from it so I can continue to pursue my career and also try to have a little bit more of a life because I’ve been so busy,” Winter told Entertainment Tonight at the premiere for her new film, The Last Movie Star. “That’s really it at the moment. But I think education’s really important. I love being there. I love learning. I will continue to keep learning.”

With Modern Family ending after its next season and with Winter taking time away from school, she hopes to focus on a film career.

“Really anything that comes my way that speaks to me or feels rights, something, a new character I haven’t done before,” she explained. “I’m pretty open. I like doing different things. I like trying things, so for me, it’s really whatever happens.”

She says that as of late she's been intentionally trying to stay out of the spotlight except when necessary.

“I think the key to doing that is to try to stay out of the spotlight as much as possible unless you’re doing something that you want people to see,” she said of navigating Hollywood. “Having every little aspect of your life in the public eye is really hard because it leaves more room for criticism and I just want to live.”

While most of Winter's fans know she's head over heels for boyfriend Levi Meaden, 30, she played coy when asked about their matching peanut butter and cheese finger tattoos on their ring fingers.

“It means something that in a few years would be great,” she said.

Winter has defended the 10-year age difference between herself and Meaden as well as their decision to move in together last summer.

"I'm happy, and whatever people want to say, they can say. I don't understand why someone would even comment on our situation at all. There are tons of people of all ages that live with their boyfriend," she told Refinery29 in May 2017. "There are tons of people that live with their girlfriends, [and] tons of people that don’t live together and are super happy. But I’m super happy in the arrangement that we have. We love living together. It’s just great.”

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“I have to say he is the most incredible person I’ve ever met and that I’m so lucky to be with him,” she added. “He’s always complimenting me and making me feel special and beautiful. We went grocery shopping today, and I was in, like, a weird T-shirt that I kind of hate and my semi-pajama pants, and he still took the time to tell me that I look pretty. Even when I do feel bad about myself, he’s just there to support me and pick me back up when I’m feeling down.”

The Last Movie Star premiered exclusively on DirecTV Feb. 22 and will be in theaters March 30.