In our Q&A series Last Call, we get down to the bottom of every last thing with some of our favorite celebs — from the last time they were starstruck to the last song they listened to. This week, Lola Tung takes our call.
Lola Tung wants to set things straight — she’s not Team Jeremiah, Conrad, or Cam. “I’m Team Belly,” she tells POPSUGAR. “I think that is the only right answer. But I very much believe that she should follow her heart, and I believe in her going on her own journey and discovering that by herself.”
Tung stars as Isabella “Belly” Conklin in “The Summer I Turned Pretty,” the new series from Prime Video. Season one features seven episodes and covers book one of Jenny Han’s Summer book trilogy. Another of Han’s book series also inspired Netflix’s hit “To All The Boys I Loved Before” film series.
“So by the time we started filming, we already had this sort of bond established, and it felt like we had known each other for a little while. And then I think as we continued to film, those bonds only got stronger.”
In “The Summer I Turned Pretty,” Belly — along with her mom, Laurel (Jackie Chung), and her brother, Steven (Sean Kaufman) — head to Cousins Beach for another vacation with the Fisher family. But this year is different, because Belly is finally coming into her own, and people are starting to notice — people like her long-time crush, Conrad (Christopher Briney); his brother and her best friend, Jeremiah (Gavin Casalegno); and her middle school friend, Cam (David Iacono).
But for Tung, the show isn’t just about the love triangle. One part of the book that the show expands on is Belly’s relationship with her best friend, Taylor (Rain Spencer). “That’s such an important relationship, and I have so many friends like that — the Taylor to my Belly — who are in my life and are some of the most important people to me,” she says. “And it was really cool doing that with Rain, who plays Taylor, because the first scene we filmed, which is essentially the first scene in the show, was also the first day we met in person.”
Over the course of filming, the pair became very close as they played fictional BFFs. Tung says, “I remember our last night of filming together was so much fun, and we were just laughing hysterically, I don’t even know what we were laughing about.” She adds, “And I’m very excited to keep exploring that relationship in season two.”
Tung had more time to foster relationships with other members of the cast before filming started. Two and a half weeks before cameras rolled, most of the main cast went down to Wilmington, NC, where the show was filmed, to get to know each other. “We started to form these relationships before we started filming,” she says. “So by the time we started filming, we already had this sort of bond established, and it felt like we had known each other for a little while. And then I think as we continued to film, those bonds only got stronger.” And filming at the beach was a lot of fun. “It really was just like getting to hang out with your friends on the beach and then jumping into these little scenes and these little moments,” Tung says.
Tung was in her freshman year of college at Carnegie Mellon when her manager let her know about the audition for the series. She filmed her audition for the part in her “little college apartment.” After many rounds of auditions, Han, who also serves as the series’s showrunner, let Tung know over Zoom that the part was hers. “I was thrilled and shocked, and I called my mom afterward crying. And we celebrated together over the phone,” Tung says.
Tung’s mom bought her the whole book series after she locked down the part. “I read all of them, and I remember finishing the third one on my roof in my building,” Tung recalls. “And I had a very emotional moment, like a one-tear moment. . . . I was so excited to bring Belly’s journey to life.”
Tung admits she feels pressure leading a brand-new show (which has already been renewed for season two). “One thing that I have been very grateful for and very lucky to have is just an incredible support system in the cast, Jenny, and my family,” she says. “I just have so many wonderful people in my life who have made this process so smooth and so wonderful.”
She tries to make time to relax and recharge. “I like to sing and to play guitar a little bit. So that’s been a great de-stresser,” she says. Many of her high school friends are coming home from college now, so she can spend time with them in New York City, where she grew up and attended high school. And she’ll be spending a lot of time with her dog, Bodie.
Keep reading to see what else Tung has to say about filming the show, meeting Michelle Zauner, and more.
What was the last day on the set of “The Summer I Turned Pretty” like?
It was an emotional roller coaster. It was also the day after my 19th birthday, which was so much fun. And it was a really magical day because we were filming some really magical scenes for the debutante ball, and a large portion of the cast were still there. We all wrapped around the same time, and they called each person’s name as we wrapped. It was this incredibly emotional experience and a day of reflection on the past summer and then also a celebration of everything that we had accomplished. I was so proud to be a part of that production and that cast.
Who was the last “The Summer I Turned Pretty” costar you texted?
I think I actually texted Sean, Chris, and Gavin in a group chat about press today. [The chat] is called Conklin/Fisher Summer.
When was the last time you were starstruck?
I met Michelle Zauner from Japanese Breakfast recently. She’s the coolest person ever and also just so sweet, and I love their music. We had a great conversation.
What was the last song you listened to?
We were listening to music this morning in hair and makeup. I think the last one I remember listening to was a Lizzy McAlpine song. I think it was “In Agreement.”
What was the last album you bought or streamed?
It might have also been a Lizzy McAlpine album. I think it was her new album [“Five Seconds Flat”].
What is the last photo in your camera roll?
A picture of me in this outfit from this morning. My little press outfit. Or it’s a picture of the sunset last night. I love my sunset pictures.
What was the last show you binge-watched?
I’ve been watching “Russian Doll.” I’m on season two now, but I watched season one very quickly.
What was the last movie you watched?
The “Hannah Montana” movie. It was just on in the background, but I think it’s a super-cute movie. Makes me very nostalgic.
What was the last thing you bought online?
Might have been a birthday gift for Sean, actually.
What was the last thing you did for fun?
I watched the Tonys. That was fun.
What was the last thing you did for self-care?
I slept a lot this weekend. I had a lot going on. . . . My Mom was really on me about that, too. She was like, “Get your sleep.” And so I did.
What was the last book you read?
The last book I read was “The Song of Achilles” [by Madeline Miller].
What was the last trip you went on?
We went to LA for a work thing for the show in April.
What was the last piece of advice you received that changed your life?
With the show and everything, a lot of people have just been telling me to enjoy it and be in the moment and be present. I think that’s a great piece of advice.
“The Summer I Turned Pretty” premieres on Prime Video on June 17.
Hair: Dana Boyer, makeup: Misha Shahzada, and stylist: Britt McCamey.
Image Source: Misha Shahzada