Pack your swimsuits. This summer, we’re taking an unforgettable trip into the world of The Summer I Turned Pretty, heading straight to the sunny shores of Cousins Beach — home to breathtaking sunsets, debutante balls, and beautiful boys.
Prime Video’s new coming-of-age series The Summer I Turned Pretty is based on Jenny Han’s 2009 book trilogy. The show centers on Isabel “Belly” Conklin, a 16-year-old Asian-American girl who lives for summers spent at the beach house of her family friends, the Fishers. But this summer is different. When Belly “turns pretty,” abruptly exiting her awkward stage, everything seems to change. This summer, she’ll experience new love as she navigates her intertwining relationships with Conrad and Jeremiah Fisher — brothers and her best friends for as long as she can remember — and learn lessons about her family, heartbreak, and friendship. This summer, she’ll experience magic.
Industry newcomer and New York City native Lola Tung, who plays Belly, will charm audiences instantly with her take on the beloved lead character. Teen Vogue sat down with Lola to learn more about her journey as a rising star, the experience of her first on-screen role in The Summer I Turned Pretty, the importance of young Asian-American representation, and of course, Taylor Swift.
The Summer I Turned Pretty premieres today, June 17, and is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.
Teen Vogue: Congratulations on landing your first on-screen role! You attended LaGuardia High School and are now studying at Carnegie Mellon — what led you to pursue acting?
Lola Tung: I started acting in my school musical in 6th grade. I was the Tin Man in The Wizard of Oz. From there, I was like, “I really enjoy this and I want to keep doing it!” At LaGuardia, I studied drama and I think that’s when I realized that it was something I wanted to do for the rest of my life or make a career out of it, hopefully.
TV: What was it like getting the call that you booked The Summer I Turned Pretty?
LT: It was unbelievable. They said [the call] was to get to know me. So I was like, “All right. It’s going to be a low-key type of thing after all of the Zoom auditions.” And Jenny Han was the one to deliver the news. So that was really, really wonderful and amazing and crazy. And I was in shock and first and then I called my mom crying on the phone and we freaked out together a little bit, but it was super exciting.
TV: I’m a fan of the book series, and I read and loved all of them. What was your creative process behind bringing Belly to life from page-to-screen? How do you relate to Belly, personally?
LT: After I got the part, I read all three of the books. I think I was trying to find that balance of… like Jenny with creating the screen adaptation, keeping Belly from the book alive and then bringing myself to her a little bit. She’s 16 and I’m 19, so we’re pretty close in age and I think she’s a really emotionally-driven and loving person. She cares a lot about what her friends and family think, especially her family… [she] wants to make them proud. I feel the same way, especially with my mom. I loved that I could relate to her a lot because then it was so much easier to do the work and bring her to life… There’s an understanding there of that experience.