STELLAR Chats To The Summer I Turned Pretty Stars Lola Tung and Sean Kaufmann

Who’s ready for Summer?

There’s something about teenage summer series that gives us that nostalgic feeling we long for, giving us the ability to relive our teen years through the series main characters.

The Summer I Turned Pretty is the perfect example of teens who are still teens, but also have a wide range of life changes and issues thrown in their paths from love to grief to growth and everything in between. We’re ready to head back to Cousins Beach and feel that main character energy for the second season of the Prime Video series.

Here at STELLAR, we got to catch up with the cast to find out what fans can expect from the second season.

We spoke to brother-sister duo Lola Tung and Sean Kaufmann AKA Belly and Steven Conklin about their Asian-American heritage, what fans can expect and of course Taylor Swift…

Hi guys, how are ye? So, what can fans expect from this season?

Lola: I think they can expect a lot of growth from all of the characters because it’s been a little while since we’ve seen them and they’ve all matured and their relationships have definitely changed and they’re dealing with the newness of those really long or older relationships that have completely shifted now after major events have completely changed their lives. [laughs] I’m trying to be super vague but specific.

Sean: Lola took this one because she knows I would spoil everything.

Lola: I think even in the way Steven is going off to college soon, he’s graduated high school, that’s a major milestone in his life and Belly is going to have to be on her own the following year and is sort of on her own in a sense now.

Sean: I think there’s just a lot of stuff that the characters have never been presented with before and I think there’s a lot of new challenges that come with just growing up and becoming a young adult and specifically the circumstances that they are faced with.

Lola, which scene was the most fun to film and which was the most challenging?

Lola: Oh boy. I feel like most of them are fun just because we have a good time on set. I think this season there were a lot of fun scenes at home between the two of us or just with our family that you don’t get to see as much of  [in season one] Belly and Steven during the school year and sort of removed from Cousins beach and that was really fun to film and to be on set with Sean all the time. There were definitely some more emotional scenes that I felt I put a lot of pressure on myself for, just because they’re such iconic moments in the book. Those were a little bit daunting at first but I still enjoyed filming them and I hope people enjoy watching them!

What’s it like to be part of a show that was already loved by so many fans?

Lola: It’s really really special. There’s a very loyal fanbase already that was sort of scary to begin to approach the scenes that were so iconic in the books, that people love so much; these characters that people have loved for so long. You know, you really want to be able to do them justice and to give the fans the characters that they love and have known for so long. I think they [the fans] have been kind to us for the most part. It’s really special to bring that to life in the way that we are now, almost 15 years after the first book came out.

Sean: It’s special and it’s intimidating. You just want to make the people who were fans of the books, when I was 5 years old, happy and you want to give justice to them. At the same time, we have to bring what we can to the characters, so it’s intimidating but a fun challenge I think. Again, everybody has been so supportive, everybody’s been amazing.

We see a typical sibling relationship between Belly and Steven in the first season with their bickering but how has their relationship changed in season two?

Sean: I think it’s actually very beautifully written. I think the natural progression that siblings go through, especially when you’re at home together and you’re younger and there’s just so much fighting; you know you’re sharing a house together and you’re constantly doing everything together. I think the moment that two people reach adulthood and there’s a realisation that one of them is going off to college and another one is starting their own life. There’s almost like a realisation ‘Oh, I’m an adult, you’re an adult, let’s try to repair and mend and work towards forming a bond that could last a lifetime instead of just bickering all the time’.

Lola: I think, in that same idea, once you become an adult, you’re actively making that choice to keep that relationship with your sibling, in a different way to when you’re under the same roof. Also, I think again they have been facing many things that they have never been faced with before and I think it’s a little bit like distance makes the heart grow stronger. They’ve had time apart for a little bit. They’ve just kind of realised how much they do mean to each other and how nice it is to have each other during this time because they understand their experiences more than anyone else could.

Being both Asian-American, how do you feel being part of the representation on screen and how has your Asian heritage influenced your acting?

Sean: I think it is one of the most, if not the most beautiful parts of being on this show. I think Jenny [Han] has done a wonderful job of giving Asian-Americans a voice, especially a voice where their race and heritage is not the forefront of the show. They can simply exist and be Asian-American without it being even commented on. And I think that’s absolutely beautiful you know?

Lola: It’s very special to get messages from fans and from young Asian-American actors who really felt like the show resonated with them, who are appreciative, and I think it’s all you could ever ask for and wish for as an actor. The fact we also have a creator who is Asian-American who is on set all the time along with an Asian-American director, and Asian-American deputy producer. It’s the coolest thing ever and I feel very very lucky.

If you could give your characters any advice based on what they’re going through this season what would you say and could you put it into a Taylor Swift song?

Lola: I think for Belly I would just say, allow yourself to feel the things that you’re feeling but don’t let it completely consume your life. Lean on the people around you who love you and don’t push people away.

Sean: I think if I had to give any advice to Steven it would be that… Now you’ve got me thinking about lyrics and I can’t think. I don’t know Taylor Swift like that! [Lola] You’re going to laugh at me but the only thing I can think of is Vienna by Billy Joel. I would just tell him to slow down, you’re doing fine. You can’t be everything you want to be before your time.

Lola: I really want to give a Taylor Swift song and the first one that comes to mind is You’re On Your Own Kid but I feel like the advice I was giving to Belly was sort of the opposite to that like ‘you’re not alone’. I guess in a sense she has sort of grown and is beginning to be on her own and she’s the one who is initiating the repairing of all these relationships. So you’re on your own but you’re not on your own.

The Summer I Turned Pretty season two launches with three episodes on Friday 14th July, with new episodes following weekly until the season finale on Friday 18th August on Prime Video.