The Script of Life (feature film) interview with leading actress – Erica Long

Erica and Callum in fruit shop - The script of life *

ABOUT Leading actress – ERICA LONG (who plays Lana Ong)

Erica Long is a Chinese/Taiwanese Australian actor who graduated from UNSW with a law degree before deciding to dive into the industry. She has been in such films as Pearl Tan’s “The Casting Game” and Joy Hopwood’s “The Script of Life”. She has also appeared in Tsu Shan Chambers’ digital series, “The Wild Orchards”, which generated 9 award nominations at LA Web Fest 2018 and is also one of the Executive Producers of Serhat Caradee’s latest feature film, “A Lion Returns”.

Q.1. What made you want to break into acting as a career?

I was terrified of drama in high school and always got a nose bleed whenever I had to perform. I was so filled with dread that one time, I hid in the toilet until my drama teacher came to find me. These memories from high school were like stains that refused to go away. Once I finished my law degree, I decided to challenge myself by taking a short screen acting course at NIDA. And gosh was I surprised – it was extraordinarily fun, I got along really well with everyone in my class, and I felt like I could give a voice to multiple people and live multiple lives in one lifetime. That was when I caught the bug!

Erica Long by Kathy Luu

Q.2. Who were your role models when growing up and why? 

I love Ang Lee – his films, his story and his perspective of the world. As a Taiwanese artist who studied in and later struggled for years in America, each piece of his work is incredibly different yet at the same time, they all explore the idea of repression and being an outsider (outsider in society, outsider to oneself, outsider to one’s family and culture etc). I find his work fascinating, universal and reflective. I also find his persistence inspiring – to me, he is the embodiment that our journey as creatives is a marathon, not a run.

Q.3. What was your last big acting job? (The Script of Life)

I was cast as one of the leads in Joy Hopwood’s feature film, The Script of Life. I’d worked with Joy previously and she asked me to go in for a read with the lead, Callum Alexander. At the time, I thought she just wanted to watch Cal’s performance live (he had auditioned via self tape) and wanted a reader in the room so she could focus on his performance. As it turned out, the read was part of my audition for the role of Lana Ong. It’s funny how the universe works sometimes – unbeknownst to Joy at the time, Cal and I are good friends and I was Cal’s reader when he put together his self tape! After that afternoon, we had a few more script reads together and Joy decided she would keep me on. I was over the moon when I heard this.

In terms of being on set, I loved working with the whole cast and crew. Everyone was always relaxed, playful, professional and happy – we had blunders here and there but we always managed to straighten our faces, stop laughing and keep going. The film is set in Spring but we shot most of the film during winter and I distinctly remember all of us trying to keep each other warm by finding random blankets / jumpers (seemingly out of nowhere) and passing it to each other! It was like we were one giant happy family.

Q.4. What changes have you seen in the last few years in regards to diversity?

The past few years has seen an abundance of conversations regarding diversity in the industry. In addition, the successes of movies like Crazy Rich Asians, Black Panther and Always Be My Maybe has demonstrated that there is a huge audience for a diverse cast. I think major studios, networks and streaming services are finding themselves increasingly incentivised by the audience from the bottom-up and senior management from the top-down to write and produce projects that more accurately represent society, whether that be in terms of gender, race, disability, sexual orientation etc.

We are also starting to see a similar movement in the Australian industry. Shows such as Hungry Ghosts, Chosen, Pulse and Cleverman (just to name a few) and plays such as The Big Time, Chimerica and Australian Graffiti indicate that there are now more diverse people who occupy roles both behind and in front of the camera and stage and that the industry is now trying to reach a position where representation is no longer talked about because representation is the norm.

Erica Long in demin Jacket - The script of Life

Q.5. How can we maintain diversity in the entertainment industry?

I think it is important for people to continue to challenge the traditional image of who should be cast in a particular role and ask “what if” a person of colour or a person of a different gender or sexual orientation played that role instead? By doing this, I think we will be able to distribute more opportunities across the field and ensure that creatives across all fields are able to develop. By ensuring that the talent pool is able to upskill and be recognised by the industry, we will be able to prevent talent from dropping out of the game prematurely. Ultimately, if we remain open to new voices and trying new things, beautiful stories and voices which have hitherto been unheard or unseen will start to emerge.

Q.6. What quote do you live by and why?

At the moment, I’m living by Will Smith’s quote “Don’t chase people. Do your own thing, be yourself and work hard. The right people – the ones that really belong in your life – will come to you. And stay.

Q.7. What do you find doing in your spare time other than acting to maintain wellness?

I love to spend time with my cats (Creme Brûlée and Souffle). I also love to travel and often find myself daydreaming and researching about my next destination. Lastly, I go to boxing sessions with my friends – nothing too serious, more boxercise than anything but it’s great fun! I have a love / hate relationship with this last one but I find that it helps me deal with any stress or pent up frustration / anger I may have at the time.

Q.8. Who is your favourite actor/ actress and why?

Peter Dinklage, hands down. He’s just such an inspiration – he’s an animal rights’ advocate, he’s extremely talented and charismatic and he’s someone who has made it in the entertainment industry without ever compromising his own code. I was listening to a speech that he gave and he said “Don’t search for defining moments, because they will never come. The moments that define you have already happened, and they will already happen again. Don’t wait until they tell you you are ready. Get in there. I waited a long time out in the world before I gave myself permission to fail. What did Beckett say? “Ever tried, ever failed, no matter, try again, fail again, fail better.” The world is yours. Treat everyone kindly, and light up the night.” I love this.

Q.9. Where do you see yourself in 10 years time? 

Gosh, that’s a long way away! I would love to be a series regular on a science fiction / speculative fiction or courtroom drama show (along the likes of Rake, The Good Wife and The Handmaid’s Tale). I’d also love to be spending time with my future family and my fur babies (my two cats).

Q.10. What advice do you have for the next generation?

As actors, we often don’t even hear the word “no”. Instead, we battle through a lot of silences. There are a lot of days when I feel inadequate and I’ve recently realised that the only way I’ve managed to drag myself out of these days is to live life. Life is happening all around us – make friends, spend time with family, travel and delve into a hobby that’s not acting. Love yourself, love others and love life.

The Script Of Life has won best Romance Comedy at Amsterdam International Film Festival, Finalist – Best Cinematography Awards, World Film Fair Finalist 2020 and is set for release 14th February 2020 through Leomark Studios L.A. (distribution)

Erica and Callum in fruit shop - The script of life * ABOUT Leading actress - ERICA LONG (who plays Lana Ong) Erica Long is a Chinese/Taiwanese Australian actor who graduated from UNSW with a law degree before deciding to dive into the industry. She has been in such films as Pearl Tan’s “The Casting Game” and Joy Hopwood’s “The Script of Life”. She has also appeared in Tsu Shan Chambers’ digital series, “The Wild Orchards”, which generated 9 award nominations at LA Web Fest 2018 and is also one of the Executive Producers of Serhat Caradee’s latest feature film, “A Lion Returns”. Q.1. What made you want to break into acting as a career? I was terrified of drama in high school and always got a nose bleed whenever I had to perform. I was so filled with dread that one time, I hid in the toilet until my drama teacher came to find me. These memories from high school were like stains that refused to go away. Once I finished my law degree, I decided to challenge myself by taking a short screen acting course at NIDA. And gosh was I surprised - it was extraordinarily fun, I got along really well with everyone in my class, and I felt like I could give a voice to multiple people and live multiple lives in one lifetime. That was when I caught the bug! Erica Long by Kathy Luu Q.2. Who were your role models when growing up and why? I love Ang Lee - his films, his story and his perspective of the world. As a Taiwanese artist who studied in and later struggled for years in America, each piece of his work is incredibly different yet at the same time, they all explore the idea of repression and being an outsider (outsider in society, outsider to oneself, outsider to one’s family and culture etc). I find his work fascinating, universal and reflective. I also find his persistence inspiring - to me, he is the embodiment that our journey as creatives is a marathon, not a run. Q.3. What was your last big acting job? (The Script of Life) I was cast as one of the leads in Joy Hopwood’s feature film, The Script of Life. I’d worked with Joy previously and she asked me to go in for a read with the lead, Callum Alexander. At the time, I thought she just wanted to watch Cal’s performance live (he had auditioned via self tape) and wanted a reader in the room so she could focus on his performance. As it turned out, the read was part of my audition for the role of Lana Ong. It’s funny how the universe works sometimes - unbeknownst to Joy at the time, Cal and I are good friends and I was Cal’s reader when he put together his self tape! After that afternoon, we had a few more script reads together and Joy decided she would keep me on. I was over the moon when I heard this. In terms of being on set, I loved working with the whole cast and crew. Everyone was always relaxed, playful, professional and happy - we had blunders here and there but we always managed to straighten our faces, stop laughing and keep going. The film is set in Spring but we shot most of the film during winter and I distinctly remember all of us trying to keep each other warm by finding random blankets / jumpers (seemingly out of nowhere) and passing it to each other! It was like we were one giant happy family. Q.4. What changes have you seen in the last few years in regards to diversity? The past few years has seen an abundance of conversations regarding diversity in the industry. In addition, the successes of movies like Crazy Rich Asians, Black Panther and Always Be My Maybe has demonstrated that there is a huge audience for a diverse cast. I think major studios, networks and streaming services are finding themselves increasingly incentivised by the audience from the bottom-up and senior management from the top-down to write and produce projects that more accurately represent society, whether that be in terms of gender, race, disability, sexual orientation etc. We are also starting to see a similar movement in the Australian industry. Shows such as Hungry Ghosts, Chosen, Pulse and Cleverman (just to name a few) and plays such as The Big Time, Chimerica and Australian Graffiti indicate that there are now more diverse people who occupy roles both behind and in front of the camera and stage and that the industry is now trying to reach a position where representation is no longer talked about because representation is the norm. Erica Long in demin Jacket - The script of Life Q.5. How can we maintain diversity in the entertainment industry? I think it is important for people to continue to challenge the traditional image of who should be cast in a particular role and ask “what if” a person of colour or a person of a different gender or sexual orientation played that role instead? By doing this, I think we will be able to distribute more opportunities across the field and ensure that creatives across all fields are able to develop. By ensuring that the talent pool is able to upskill and be recognised by the industry, we will be able to prevent talent from dropping out of the game prematurely. Ultimately, if we remain open to new voices and trying new things, beautiful stories and voices which have hitherto been unheard or unseen will start to emerge. Q.6. What quote do you live by and why? At the moment, I’m living by Will Smith’s quote “Don’t chase people. Do your own thing, be yourself and work hard. The right people - the ones that really belong in your life - will come to you. And stay.” Q.7. What do you find doing in your spare time other than acting to maintain wellness? I love to spend time with my cats (Creme Brûlée and Souffle). I also love to travel and often find myself daydreaming and researching about my next destination. Lastly, I go to boxing sessions with my friends - nothing too serious, more boxercise than anything but it’s great fun! I have a love / hate relationship with this last one but I find that it helps me deal with any stress or pent up frustration / anger I may have at the time. Q.8. Who is your favourite actor/ actress and why? Peter Dinklage, hands down. He’s just such an inspiration - he’s an animal rights’ advocate, he’s extremely talented and charismatic and he’s someone who has made it in the entertainment industry without ever compromising his own code. I was listening to a speech that he gave and he said “Don’t search for defining moments, because they will never come. The moments that define you have already happened, and they will already happen again. Don’t wait until they tell you you are ready. Get in there. I waited a long time out in the world before I gave myself permission to fail. What did Beckett say? “Ever tried, ever failed, no matter, try again, fail again, fail better.” The world is yours. Treat everyone kindly, and light up the night.” I love this. Q.9. Where do you see yourself in 10 years time? Gosh, that’s a long way away! I would love to be a series regular on a science fiction / speculative fiction or courtroom drama show (along the likes of Rake, The Good Wife and The Handmaid’s Tale). I’d also love to be spending time with my future family and my fur babies (my two cats). Q.10. What advice do you have for the next generation? As actors, we often don’t even hear the word “no”. Instead, we battle through a lot of silences. There are a lot of days when I feel inadequate and I’ve recently realised that the only way I’ve managed to drag myself out of these days is to live life. Life is happening all around us - make friends, spend time with family, travel and delve into a hobby that’s not acting. Love yourself, love others and love life. The Script Of Life has won best Romance Comedy at Amsterdam International Film Festival, Finalist - Best Cinematography Awards, World Film Fair Finalist 2020 and is set for release 14th February 2020 through Leomark Studios L.A. (distribution)
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