Lola Tung is poised to be Hollywood’s next babe – a vibe you get immediately just by talking to her. The 19-year-old actor from New York City is fresh, unfiltered, charismatic and friendly — the kind of energy you often see from someone starting out in show business. She made her acting debut The summer I became beautiful (an Amazon Original series adapted from Jenny Han’s popular book series) as the beloved protagonist Isabel “Belly” Conklin and now Tung is apparently on everyone’s radar, including one of the world’s biggest fashion houses.
Her most recent It-girl activity included heading out East to celebrate Chanel’s Ephemeral Boutique, located in East Hampton. Tung, along with Han, dined with fellow foodies at The Baker House 1650. The next morning, even in the wee hours of lunch, the actor was bright-eyed and ready to chat with TZR about life since got Belly’s first role. .. and, the rollercoaster of emotions that fame can bring to a young actor.
“I think [fame] it can be overwhelming at times, but I’m really grateful that, for the most part, there’s been such a positive response [to the show]”, says Tung for TZR. “When the fans come up to us on the street, it’s really nice and they’re very sweet. Having an amazing support system, from my parents to Jenny to the cast, has also helped a lot, in that you’re never alone when you’re feeling overwhelmed or stressed. It’s good to feel those things while feeling grateful and happy.”
To go back, Tung was a freshman studying at Carnegie Mellon University in early 2021 when she auditioned for the show on the advice of her manager. Although the actor recalls that she was too focused on her college education at the time, the opportunity to work on a project directed by Han was too good to pass up. (Tung notes that she was a big fan of Han For all Boys series.) “I sent my audition tapes from my apartment and, right after that, they told me they wanted me to test for the role, which was a really wonderful surprise. That was the first step, the first time I was like this, Oh, this [role] it can happen and change my path“, she remembers.
The life-changing call followed, with Han and the producers delivering the good news: she landed the role of Belly. Tung says she immediately called her mother crying, and later that night, she told her roommates. (They always celebrated inappropriately while watching Zootopia together.) Tung dropped out of college later that year to spend the summer filming in Wilmington, North Carolina.
“Most of the cast went to Wilmington about two and a half weeks early to start bonding and creating those really close relationships that you see on the show,” Tung says. “We all connected straight away which was really nice and I was excited for the first day [of filming] and definitely nervous because I had never done any film or TV work [prior to The Summer I Turned Pretty].” The actor shares that the first scene she filmed — the one fans will remember from Episode 1 — was the “belly drop scene,” where Belly (no pun intended) is playfully thrown into the pool by her brother Steven (played by Sean Kaufman). ) and love interests Jeremiah and Conrad Fisher (played by Gavin Casalegno and Christopher Briney, respectively). “It was a really fun scene and it was just us playing and having a really good time. I knew from that moment, it would be one of the best experiences,” she says.
Tung, and the rest of the cast, are currently filming Season 2, but in addition to her acting duties, Tung — as a newcomer to the Hollywood space — is now landing invitations to the often-who’s who of fashion. This includes intimate dinner parties, much like the Chanel party, where the rising young actress could flex her fashion skills and show off her personal, off-duty style. At the event, Tung chose a black cashmere dress from the Fall/Winter 2022/23 RTW preview collection. The LBD featured various signature motifs for the fashion house, from a perfume bottle to the double C logo down the front of the dress for a playful yet sophisticated attitude that suits Tung. The party attire was dressy and elegant, but not too serious like the actor.
She then accessorised with delicate jewelery – an 18K yellow gold ‘Coco Crush’ bracelet – and accessorized with a black bag and matching heels from the luxury fashion house. With the help of Chanel makeup, Tung mastered that enviable aesthetic of natural, flushed makeup. “Chanel is such an iconic brand and everyone was so nice at the dinner. I wear a lot of jeans, sweaters and glasses [normally], but I also like to dress up and look nice,” she says to TZR. “I loved how simple yet special the black dress was and every piece from Chanel is beautiful and tasteful.”
The actress describes herself as somewhere between a minimalist and a maximalist dresser, while her eye for fashion has always been part of her identity. “Growing up in New York allowed me to find my own sense of style while admiring other people’s. You can really create your own look and I feel like I’ve always had a bit of an edge in my personal style,” she says. “When I was younger, I used to design my own sneakers too – the Converse website lets you do that and I’ve always loved that.”
Her experimentation with clothing and accessories continues to this day, as she recognizes that she is still in the exciting process of discovering refinement and defining her personal style. “I’m working with a stylist, Britt McCamey, and she’s so amazing,” shares Tung. “I feel very lucky to be able to collaborate with her and just be able to try things on and have an open dialogue about how I want to look and present myself. She is so supportive [me having an edge to my style] and encourages him. It was good to try different ones [outfits] also for different events.”
As our Zoom call is winding down — Tung has to catch a flight to North Carolina to continue filming season 2 of The summer I became beautiful — One might wonder how, between juggling her film schedule and fancy fashion parties, she finds time to mentally reset. “I sleep whenever I can,” she says with a laugh. “I like to spend time outside and I like to play the guitar, but I’m not very good at it. I also enjoy journaling, writing poetry, and listening to music. I love Lizzy McAlpine – I’ll just put her music on mix and listen to it for hours.
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