Lola Tung Had Olivia Rodrigo Jam Sessions With "The Summer I Turned Pretty" Cast On Set
*Spoilers for The Summer I Turned Pretty season 1 below!*
The Summer I Turned Pretty has turned into a cult-classic YA novel since it was released in 2009, so it's only fitting for it to be adapted into a Prime Video original series in 2022. Based on the book of the same name by To All The Boys I've Loved Before author Jenny Han, The Summer I Turned Pretty is a coming-of-age story about 16-year-old Belly, who has spent nearly every summer of her life at Cousins Beach with her mom Laurel, her brother Steven, her mom's best friend Susanna, and her two sons Conrad and Jeremiah. This summer is different, though, as Belly is growing into her own and suddenly gets caught in a love triangle between her lifelong friends. If that wasn't enough, she's taking part in a debutante ball at Cousins Beach, which calls for tons of preparation. While the pressure is on, it will still be a perfect summer at Cousins... right?
On the show, newcomer Lola Tung has taken on the lead role of Belly and given the beloved character a whole new life. The breakout star sat down with Seventeen and dished all about what we can expect from The Summer I Turned Pretty, the transition from being a college student to starring in her first major TV series, and — of course — "This Love (Taylor's Version)," which was teased in the first trailer for the show.Related Story17: Were you a fan of Jenny Han and her books before landing the role of Belly?
Lola Tung: I was a fan of Jenny, a little bit. I hadn't read The Summer I Turned Pretty until I booked the role, but I was a fan of the To All The Boys movies and I did often Netflix party them with my friends because they were so wonderful. It's unbelievable, I can't believe [I'm part of The Summer I Turned Pretty]. Jenny's also the best, so it's really wonderful and wild that I've formed that relationship with her too.
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LT: I auditioned completely over Zoom and I was in my first year at Carnegie Mellon. So I was living in Pittsburgh and I sent in tapes for the role that I recorded with my roommates at home. Then I did the entire callback process on Zoom for Jenny and some of the producers. It was really wonderful to work with or to get to read with so many different actors and to read for Jenny. They made the audition process so smooth.
I had gotten a call saying that they wanted to Zoom with me and just sort of get to know me a little bit better, so I got on with Jenny and some of the producers. A couple of minutes in, Jenny delivered the news that I got the role. It was very exciting and I called my mom crying afterward and we celebrated together, and then I celebrated with my roommates that night.17: In the opening scene of the series, we hear Belly listening to “Cruel Summer” by Taylor Swift in her room and singing her heart out to Kim Petras on the way to Cousins Beach. Which artists would make your dream summer playlist?
LT: Oh my gosh. I mean, Taylor Swift's music was in the show. That's pretty high on my list, or anyone's list. I had a Belly playlist that I used when I was prepping for a bunch of scenes and getting into character. There was a bunch of Taylor Swift and Olivia Rodrigo. I love Japanese Breakfast, Lizzy McAlpine. They filled up most of my playlist for sure, and some Jasmine Sullivan. I mean, Taylor Swift's music being in the show was unbelievable and such a magical thing to have because I think she and her music just fit so perfectly into the show.17: Did any of the cast know that the show would be an avenue to tease Taylor Swift’s “This Love (Taylor’s Version)”?
LT: We did not know. Jenny knew and I think a very small amount of like, high-level people at Amazon knew. Nobody in the cast knew, I didn't know. I just knew that there was this big top-secret thing happening, and that's why we couldn't see the teaser. And then all of a sudden, I opened my Instagram and Taylor Swift posted the teaser and it was an awesome moment. It was incredible. It was also, somehow, just the perfect song. I couldn't imagine a better song to fit the show. I did freak out for that whole day, probably.17: What was it like preparing for the debutante ball — did you ever do this in real life, or were you new to the scene like Belly?
LT: It was a very new thing for me. I really didn't know anything about debutante balls except of what I'd seen in that episode of like Gilmore Girls where [Rory] goes to either a cotillion or a debutante ball. I think that was the one reference that I had. It's not something that many people would've initially expected [for the shoow], but talking to Jenny about why she included it, she really wanted this representation of Belly growing up and not being presented to society, but sort of having her moment of stepping out and actually having a representation of this growth that she's experiencing over the summer. It was really, really cool to film it.
We got to be in some really cool costumes, which was really fun. I think it actually ended up working out so well, because even though it's something like you wouldn't necessarily expect from Belly, you see the reason she does it is because she's kind of rebelling against her mom and the boys and doing it for herself in a strange way because she is trying to make her own decisions. She's also, of course, doing it for Susanna, who she loves so much. It was really cool getting to sort of learn about it and wear a beautiful white dress at the end.17: While she may be stuck in the middle of a love triangle, this story is really about Belly discovering who she is and growing into her own. Is there anything you’ve learned from playing Belly?
LT: I learned so much from her and I'm really grateful for that. She's a couple of years younger than I am, but I still very much remember feeling all of the things that she was feeling at 16 and still feeling some of those things now at 19 and trying to figure out who I am and what finding that sense of independence looks like now in my life. She's a very loving person; she's got a lot of love in her heart, but she does make a lot of mistakes and I think it's so important to learn from those. [By playing Belly] I learned to sort of just go easy on myself a little bit because I think especially as a teenage girl, she's very hard on herself. I'm very hard on myself and she's going through so much and making mistakes and that's only natural. We all make mistakes and that's how you learn and that's part of growing up. I've very much tried to just take a little bit of the pressure off myself and just be more present and enjoy things as they come.17: How did you balance being a student at Carnegie Mellon and filming your first major TV series?
LT: I did not. I did take the year off to film because it would've been a lot to balance both. I got to finish my first year, which was really great and I have this incredible community there of teachers and friends who have been so supportive and I'm very thankful for that.
I feel like a lot of people — especially Gen Z — put so much pressure on themselves. We wanna do everything all at once and it can be hard to do that. It's good to take care of yourself and make sure you have the energy to make one thing great and not put, you know, 50% into more than one thing.17: The majority of this series was filmed on the beach. Are there any beauty or wellness essentials you swore by on-set?
LT: I mean, sunscreen. They really had us reapplying sunscreen all the time out in the sun because, it would be terrible [otherwise]. I burn very easily and water was very important to hydrate on set. Being out in the sun all day and especially when we had those big beach scenes. Those were pretty much the two really essential things that I needed. I don't know if sleep counts as wellness, but sleep.Related Story17: Do you have any favorite on-set memories with the cast?
LT: There are so many because this cast is genuinely amazing and we all became very close. In those first couple of weeks — I think it was maybe the first day that I met a bunch of them — I play a little bit of guitar and sing a little bit, so we were all just sitting together near where we were staying in Wilmington and I started playing. I think it was some Olivia Rodrigo, it might have been "Happier." I started playing and the guys kind of didn't know the lyrics, but they all pulled it up on their phones and we all started singing together. And I was like, "This is really cute." It was very fun. On set, there were so many incredible moments of filming, like filming the debutante ball scenes with everyone. They were so magical and my birthday was the second to last day on set, and that day was so special for me to just be surrounded by so many people that I had grown to love so much.
Parts of this interview have been edited and condensed for clarity.
Sam is the editorial assistant at Seventeen, covering pop culture, celebrity news, health, and beauty. When she isn't draping her cheeks in blush, you can probably find her live-tweeting awards shows or making SwiftToks.