A Conversation with Brianne Tju

Kate Anderson-Song Head Interviewer

Introduce yourself! 

Hi! Hello beautiful readers! I’m Brianne Tju. I’m Chinese/Indonesian and use the pronouns she/her. 🙂

How did you get into acting and filmmaking? 

My siblings and I started doing commercials and print when I was six. There are five kids in my family and my parents wanted us to have money for college. I started doing television when I was eight and I fell in love. I haven’t stopped since. I feel lucky to have found my passion so early in life.

How has your heritage and culture influenced your storytelling?    

Early in my career it felt like my heritage was a hindrance. I hate to say that, but it’s truly how I felt back then. Asian-Americans were extremely under-represented and stereotyped. They still are, but we’ve come a long way. I thought my whole career was going to be me always playing the “best friend”, the “nerd”, or the “foreigner”. I accepted that because I just wanted to act, and I assumed that that’s just how this world works. It definitely took a toll on my self-esteem. I’ve grown to realize that I don’t need to change, the industry needs to change and be more diverse on and off screen. As story-tellers it’s our job to reflect the real world in our work. My heritage and culture isn’t a fault, it’s an asset because my unique experience is something I bring to every character I play.

I strive to embrace and celebrate my heritage and culture through my work.

I want Asian men and women to feel represented through me.

The YA-thriller series “I Know What You Did Last Summer” premiered this October (2021).  How was your experience making this series?  How has the response been since?   

It was so incredible to shoot that show. I fell in love with Oahu and our cast and crew. It was challenging at times, but I enjoyed the struggle. Margot is unlike any character I’ve ever played. She’s extremely layered and complicated and I had to do a lot of work in order to make that come across on screen. It was a joy. I was nervous to be taking on such a beloved story because the fan-base is massive, but the response I’ve seen has been mostly positive. I’m very aware that you can’t please everyone. Our intention was to make something fresh and contemporary and I feel like we achieved that while still honoring the original book and franchise.

Where do you find inspiration?  When approaching a new role, what are your first steps?  

My first step is to create an intricate backstory. I feel like I am the way I am because of my upbringing, my parents, my heritage, and my experiences. So I try to cultivate that for the character. I think it’s important to have a strong foundation that justifies their actions in the project. I make a chart for the whole script so I can have a piece of paper that lays it all out in front of me. Helps keep me on track and sane because most of the time we’re shooting out of order. I find inspiration through music, TV, clothes, and movies. Sometimes I reference people I’ve met or know. I feel like a detective when I prep, looking for clues and hints to who this character is and why.

How has this time of COVID-19 affected you and your work?  How have you been coping? 

I was filming in Atlanta right when the first major quarantine hit. It was a shock and very scary to be so far from home. We got shut down and I spent six months at home wondering if the project was lost all together and if the world was ever going to be okay. Luckily we were able to finish the movie eventually. In a way the quarantine was beneficial. It forced me to do some work on myself, seek out inspiration, and focus on my screenwriting. The racial injustice and riots made me realize that I am a part of a community and that I want to be more active in pursuing change in my personal and professional life. It inspired me to pick my projects more carefully because I want to lift up people of color and tell stories that feel true to us.  

What does self care mean to you?  How do you take care of yourself? 

Sometimes it means a face mask, bath, and a pizza and other times it means checking in with myself, taking a break, and communicating. Sometimes it’s speaking up and other times it’s shutting up and listening.

Self-care for me is doing things that help make me be the best version of myself.

It’s acceptance and love for who I once was and who I am currently.

Is there anything you wish you knew when you began in this industry?  Any piece of advice you have for aspiring creatives, especially creatives of color? 

I wish that early on in my career someone had told me that the industry is flawed, not me. That I am enough as I am. I don’t need to be skinnier, taller, whiter, or prettier.

Diverse and marginalized stories are valid and should be celebrated and told with nuance and accuracy.

I advise people to be true to themselves and lead with authenticity. Follow your instincts and if something feels wrong, it very well may be. A supportive community is also extremely important. 

 

Here are some rapid-fire questions: 

Your go-to coffee shop order? 

Medium vanilla latte with oat milk.

Your favorite season (Fall, Winter, Spring, or Summer)? 

Fall.

Any special or secret skills (i.e. wiggling your ears, etc.)? 

I know all the words to Ass by Big Sean and Nicki Minaj.

Any good movies/tv shows you’re into right now? 

I loved Scenes from a Marriage. It wrecked me, but in a good way. Squid Games was obviously incredible and I’m currently catching up on Succession. 

Ultimate comfort food?

Indonesian food. I love some mi goreng and beef rendang.

What has been the highlight of your day today? 

Working with amazing people like Joey King and seeing so many women behind the scenes.

What is upcoming for you in your work and your life?  What are you looking forward to?

I’m currently working on Uglies for Netflix. It’s been super fun and action-oriented and has an interesting commentary on self-image and self-worth in our society. I have a few movies that will be released next year that I’m really excited to share with the world. I’m looking forward to coming more and more into my own as a person and actor. I hope to be working on interesting projects with inspiring people and developing my own projects. 


Brianne Tju is an Asian-American actress based in LA. A veteran in the industry known for Scream, Light as a Feather, 47 Meters Down: Uncaged, and I Know What You Did Last Summer. She is currently working on Uglies and has three other films slated to release next year. An avid napper, snacker, and online shopper. 

Instagram: @Briannetju

 

Head Interviewer

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