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Lola Tung Is Ready For Her Close Up In ‘The Summer I Turned Pretty’

Lola Tung recorded her audition for the lead role in The summer I became beautiful, Isabel “Belly” Conklin, at the suggestion of her new manager. At the time, freshman Carnegie Mellon acting major was focused on her schoolwork; she hadn’t even read the bestseller Jenny Han book on which the series is based. She couldn’t have imagined that less than a year later she would be in a Wilmington, North Carolina starring a confident 16-year-old girl who would come into her own during her family’s annual beach vacation.

“The whole summer of filming was just a learning process,” says Tung Vanity Fair take the lead. Her entire audition process — including her first meetings with Han, who also created the series, and chemistry lectures with potential castmates — went through Zoom. The newcomer only met Han in person shortly before the shoot. After that, she had to quickly adapt to acting in front of cameras, also a first for the actress.

“I think we all got more comfortable as the summer progressed, and everyone was really… patient with us,” says the bubbly New Yorker, who smiles easily and often. Tung’s natural feat — she says she’s curious and headstrong, like Belly, but a little less spontaneous — can probably be attributed to the training she received at the Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts — aka as the Fame school – which includes recent alumni Timothy Chalamet, Jharrel Jerome, and Ansel Elgort. (That’s where Tung’s manager first saw her perform.)

“For me, everything happens right, everything magically happens between the months of June and August,” says a rose-colored, younger version of Belly in voiceover as The summer I became beautiful opens. The Prime Video series revolves around the now-blooming teen as she and her older brother Steven (Sean Kaufman), a hopeful Princeton, spend the summer with their divorced writer Laurel (Jackie Chung) at the beach house of Laurel’s college friend, Susannah Fisher (Rachel Blanchard), and her two handsome teenage sons. conrad (Christopher Briney) – whom Belly has always had a crush on – has become grumpy, stopped playing football and smoked weed. Easy going Jeremiah (Gavin Casalegno) secretly loves Belly, but isn’t happy that she’s following his mother’s idea of ​​becoming a debutante. The dynamics of the old friends and the potential love triangle between Belly and the Fisher boys is complicated by the disturbing news Susannah and Laurel are hiding from the kids.

By Dana Hawley/Amazon Studios.

“I knew that the most crucial part of the whole show really depends on Belly being on her journey, being invested in her story and watching her mature,” Han says. VF about her protagonist, who also acts as the series’ narrator. (Tung also recently re-recorded the three audiobooks that make up the trilogy.) While it was risky to cast a rookie, Han did so because “the character has a certain freshness to it and I really wanted to be sincere… .The first time I saw [Tung’s] tape, she just had this quality that made me root for her. And I felt like the character needed that too.” The production had an acting coach on hand for its inexperienced stars, but never had to call on them.

The first coshowrunner – she has most recently been to South Korea to oversee the upcoming To all the boys spin off, XO, Kittystarring Anna Cathcart— was also not limited by what she had written in her 2009 novel. Han has updated her characters to “reflect what 2022 looks like”. Belly is now Asian-American like Tung; Jeremiah is bisexual; and her characters are texting and using social media.

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