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A.J. Edwards Talks First Love, High School Movies, and Transition from Editing to Directing



Like A.J. Edwards, I’m a big fan of the high school genre. As a recent college graduate myself, there was a lot that I related to with First Love. As Edwards reveals in this interview, the film is not merely about high school “puppy love,” it’s a look at two opposite ends of the love spectrum: the high school “first love,” and an adult relationship that is likely that couple’s “last love.” First Love is an honest look at both and is a surprisingly good film from this year.

In this interview, Edwards reveals some of the high school films that inspired his film, working with young up-and-comers Hero Fiennes Tiffin and Sydney Park and established stars such as Diane Kruger, and some of the challenges that the came during the production of First Love. Additionally, Edwards spoke about his desire to, as Bono once said, “dream it all up again” with his next film.

Coastal House Media: Since this film is your baby — you wrote and directed it — could you give me an elevator pitch for the film?

A.J. Edwards: I think what makes it different is that it’s a first love, sort of last love story in that it’s not “puppy love” solely in the high school narrative, but comparing that with a marriage 20 years in that was started in first love.

That title isn’t just to be cute, it’s really diving into the truth of it — or even questioning the truth of it — seeing how far it can go and how far it can be stretched; the elasticity of that idea, especially in today’s world where it becomes more and more uncommon and some of those notions are maybe considered sentimental or old-fashioned.

CHM: Where did this story come from? And was there a particular reason you chose to focus on a first and last love, as you put it?

Edwards: I love teen films, but specifically teen films that are more honest. When you say teen films, sometimes you think cutesy Disney stuff, but I was just talking with Jordan Raup at the Film Stage about how one of my favorite films is Running on Empty by Lumet. [I enjoy] teen films that are more honest about the experience and respectful of the feelings, instead of being ironic about them, crass, or mocking to take seriously, the feelings of these young characters as they’re experiencing them for the first time. And [then] when an older viewer does see them, there’s a lot of pathos in that because it brings you back to those kinds of initial experiences and emotions. I’m very appreciative of what you said at the beginning about — I don’t know when you graduated or how old you are — but that you said that you were a young person and that you found a certain relate-ability in the film and that it spoke to you.

(L-R): Jeffery Donovan and Diane Kruger in First Love. Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment.

And I haven’t shown it too much to people, but that pleases me the most when I hear that because I’m 36 years old and I graduated in 2003 and the film is set during the recession in 2008, so I’m always glad that the film has a timelessness to it in that way, no matter how old you are.

CHM: Could you name a couple more of the teen films that you really love and that influenced the film?

Rebel Without a Cause for sure. We [also] looked at the young performances of [Leonardo] DiCaprio. I wouldn’t say that he’s in exactly any “teen films” per se, but, in terms of actors, I was looking at River Phoenix and [Leonardo] DiCaprio. But what are your favorites? If you had to name one or two.

CHM: I don’t know if these could be classified as “honest,” but I’m actually wearing a Fast Times at Ridgemont High shirt. I was hesitant to say it, but I was also thinking of Dazed and Confused.

Edwards: You know, I was hesitant to say that because I thought it might confuse people entering into this film, but that would definitely be way up there on my favorites [Dazed and Confused].

I just watched Richard Linklater’s commentary of that film the other night, which is really great in terms of how he made that film. And there’s even like a book on the making of that you can read [Alright, Alright, Alright: The Oral History of Richard Linklater’s Dazed and Confused]. He’s [Richard Linklater] is just such a resource for filming and his commentary [is] just amazing in terms of how he made the film, despite such a difficult pushback in every way, and then the film’s a masterpiece.

CHM: Is it the commentary that’s on the Criterion Channel?

Edwards: I don’t know. I watched it on YouTube. That’s where I watch commentaries. I usually just think of a film, I hope [it] has a commentary, and I’ll just search for it and sure enough, that was on YouTube. So that’s how I saw it.

CHM: You mentioned some younger actors you looked at, and I was curious about the casting process for this film because you have a couple of established actors in Diane Kruger and Jeffrey Donovan, but then you also had some young up-and-comers like Hero Fiennes Tiffin and Sydney Park. I’m just curious as to how this cast came together.

Edwards: Diane [Kruger] was a part of the project from the beginning, she was the first one that had the script, even before anybody producers. And she was a real creative partner all the way and Hero [Fiennes Tiffin] was next to commit. I had known him from some of his previous work and just in reading about him, he has such a large fan base. Then when I met him, well, I didn’t meet him first, but I had a Zoom with him and he came up and he had just gone for a run or something, and he just looked very athletic and sporty and it just immediately transported [me] back to a high school friend you might have. He was just very transparent, easy to talk to — no games, no politics — and so right from the first second he popped up and I heard his voice and saw him, I thought he was so, so excellent. Sydney Park was cast because my wife recommended her. She had seen her work with Amy Poehler [Moxie] and thought that she was hilarious and charismatic.

Diane Kruger in First Love. Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment.

CHM: You’ve gone from being an editor to director, was that transition at all hard for you?  

Edwards: I think it’s a helpful transition. And when other people have asked me, “How can I get on a film set? I’d like to write this and shoot it,” or “I want to be a director” or whatever, I always recommend working in post [production] first so that you can not only learn technically how to put a film together, but then you can learn from the mistakes that you see in [the] editorial [process] that require problem-solving.

And then you also learn from the politics of it, all the different personalities, not only between editor and director, [but] director and producer, director and distributor, a distributor and exhibitor festival relations, so you learn a lot in a way [as opposed to] if you’re just a gopher on a set or an assistant to a cameraman that you won’t learn.

Problems are even punted on set. Sometimes you just know that you didn’t get it or it’s not going to work and then you’ll go, “I wonder how they’re going to solve it in editing,” and then you have to move on. So it’s just about capturing rather than actually sealing the deal in terms of what you want to accomplish. I don’t mean to knock being on-set too much, it is important, but I’m just speaking from my own experience.  

CHM: Has directing gotten easier over the course of your three directorial features?

Edwards: [I was talking to my] producing partner, Henry Kittredge, just the other day, I was whining about something and he said that it will never get easier. So I don’t think it gets easier, but you get more confident and start to enjoy it more, the little things and the big accomplishments because hopefully your anxiety goes down and the butterflies in your stomach and all that. It can remain a little bit, but it can go down a little bit as you get more used to things and start to remember to enjoy it.

So it’s not easier, but it becomes more fun, I guess.

CHM: Are you able to enjoy it then when the film is finally screened to other people or are there still butterflies?

Edwards: I’m not too nervous, no. But I do love hearing what others think of the film and the different ways that it’s interpreted, for better or for worse. I like hearing criticisms, I want to improve and I know that the film can be better, so I love hearing feedback in that way.

CHM: Is there anything that you learned during the production of First Love that you know, now you can apply to your future projects?

Edwards: I had to shoot this movie and edit this movie faster than anything else that I’ve done, [including] anything else that I’ve done in post [production], so the quick thinking that was required really told me how important your peers are and crewing up in the right way. And I was lucky to once again have the cinematographer, Jeff Bierman, [as] a partner I can rely on. I knew that before, but now know how truly important that is because I would have been sunk without it. [Jeff would] know that we’re only going to have two hours to shoot a specific scene or [that] the location fell through the night before and suddenly we’re being handed a location that we’ve never been to before and we’re arriving on it and shooting it in the same moment.

(L-R): Sydney Park and Hero Fiennes Tiffin in First Love. Photo courtesy of Vertical Entertainment.

It’s the same thing working with producer Henry Kittredge, co-producer Tyler Glodt, or the editor Alex Styborski in post [production], he just is such a cool-headed guy. We had to work quickly and he was able to find the heart of a scene, protect it, build around it and before you know it, have a sequence that’s watchable as opposed to kind of hemming and hawing and not being sure like some people were in post [production]. He was able to commit and know what was strong and what was not. And that was helpful to me when I might be blind or less sure than him.

CHM: I imagine that you were presently there in post-production, but was it hard to give up the reins of editing to somebody else?

Edwards: No, I love working with editors and I love post [production]. And I cut alongside Alec [Styborski] — he [would] take a chunk of the film and I take a chunk — and then we [would] switch.

CHM: You mentioned some of the difficulties, you know, whether it was with the shooting location or whatnot, but were there any particular days you can remember it could be whether it was a day of shooting where that happened or a scene that was particularly hard to shoot?

Edwards: The scene where Hero [Fiennes Tiffin] and Sydney [Park] go on their first date, when they’re looking out over the water, that was a difficult location to find, and we didn’t [even] find it — that was what I was referencing. We didn’t find it until the day before; it was found by our producer Henry [Kittredge] out in Malibu, and it was not at all what I was even imagining. I was just thinking something very simple, dumb, and prosaic, and he found this just very glorious, poetic spot, which I was still grateful for because Jeff [Bierman], the cinematographer, kept saying, “We need to find a place that they’re going to remember the rest of their lives in a place that was going to live with them and encourage this kind of blossoming romance,” and that place certainly does. It almost looks like they’re floating above the ocean, so it’s very romantic in that way.

CHM: What’s coming up next?

Edwards: I’m always writing. I’m casting my next feature right now and hope to [begin production] later at the end of this year [or the] beginning of next. It will be something quite different than this.

I was talking with another fellow about these three films I’ve made now involve coming of age stories, so, we’ll have to either put a spin on that or do something different.

First Love will be released in theaters and on demand on June 17 by Vertical Entertainment.


Andrew is an entertainment journalist and film "critic" who has written for the likes of Above the Line, Below the Line, Collider, Film Focus Online, /Film and The Hollywood Handle among others. Leader of the Kaitlyn Dever Fanclub.


Charlie Michael Baker: Journey of Autism, Social Media and Working with Kylie Jenner (EXCLUSIVE)



Charlie Michael Baker and Kylie Jenner

At just 17, Charlie Michael Baker is giving his all to change the world. Baker is a renowned author, entrepreneur, actor, and journalist and he is on a mission to help millions of people suffering from autism. Charlie Michael Baker previously told Costal House Media he raised over £400,000 to help people with autism. He faced many challenges since childhood but his determination and perseverance were the key to his success.

Baker is a Social Media sensation with over 1.2M followers on Instagram. Charlie Michael Baker is one of the many influencers being bullied on social media every day. He receives 300-500 rape and death threats daily!

Charlie Michael Baker

Charlie Michael Baker

We had the honor to connect with Charlie Michael Baker. You can read our conversation below.

Nikita Pahwa: Congratulations on launching your new book! What can you tell us about it?

Charlie Michael Baker: So my new book is about social media, specifically, the dangers of social media. All young kids now want to grow up and be ‘famous’ but don’t know the bad side of it all. I was one of those kids, I’d always wanted to be famous, it’s something I’d always dreamed of!

NP: How do you deal with death and rape threats?

CMB: The short answer is, I don’t, really. I stopped reading my DMs a few months back because of it all. I don’t deal with negativity and there’s too many trolls to block each and every one, so they all just get ignored.

Charlie Michael Baker Social Media and I

Charlie Michael Baker Social Media and I (Photo: @kaybeephotography2 on Instagram)

NP: What advice would you give to people in similar situations?

CMB: I’d say don’t listen to them, do what I do and just don’t read them. It’s better that way. What you don’t see can’t hurt you!

NP: If you could say one thing to people sending you threats, what would it be?

CMB: Without ruining my career *lol* I’d say just to be a bit kinder. If there’s something going on in your life that you’re not very happy with, ask someone for help. Speak to someone you trust rather than swaying to a life of being a keyboard warrior. It’s not nice!

NP: Is your new book related to Charlie Baker: Autism and Me?

CMB: It is! It will be written in the same – ish way BUT Charlie Michael Baker Social Media And I will be exclusively E – book sold on my website

NP: Are you currently working on a new venture with Kylie Jenner?

CMB: I am! We’re working with the same brand – glow beverages. We’re working alongside an NBA star too whose name I cannot remember for the life of me – oops lol.

Kylie Jenner and Charlie Michael Baker

Kylie Jenner and Charlie Michael Baker

NP: Are you planning to collaborate with more celebrities in the future?

CMB: I love working with celebrities. Mostly just to see what they’re like to be honest. Kylie is so nice though honestly I keep messaging her life updates!

NP: Last question, is it true that you’re working on the Charlie Baker: Autism and Me movie? Are we going to see it on the big screen?

CMB: Yes, it is! I’m filming something very very special this year with Creation Media 22 which should appear on Netflix and Prime Video which is so exciting! It will be my first time in front of an actual TV camera so it’s a bit different to daily vlogs!

You can get your Charlie Michael Baker Social Media And I E-copy on March, 1 for £0.01 (yes, a penny!). Get your Charlie Baker: Autism and Me copy on Amazon.

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INTERVIEW | ‘The Tiger’s Apprentice’ Stars Brandon Soo Hoo and Leah Lewis Discuss Representation, Positivity, and the Power of Belief



Tiger's Apprentice
Tiger's Apprentice (Paramount+)

Paramount’s latest animated flick ‘The Tiger’s Apprentice’ has finally been released and garnered positive response from everywhere. Adapted from Laurence Yep’s beloved children’s book series, ‘The Tiger’s Apprentice’ brings to life the thrilling journey of Chinese American teen Tom Lee (portrayed by Brandon Soo Hoo). He is suddenly thrust into a realm he once believed existed only in bedtime tales. After a tragedy strikes his family, the young man discovers his identity as a Guardian. Subsequently, he is mentored by the mystical Tiger Hu (played by Henry Golding) to confront the evil Loo (portrayed by Michelle Yeoh). In between all this chaos, he develops a special friendship with a girl named Rav (played by Leah Lewis) who helps him in defeating the villain and saving the world.

It is one of those films that you can enjoy with your family. It is tender, beautifully crafted, and encourages you to think about how traditions play a crucial role in everyone’s lives. In this exclusive interview, Brandon Soo Hoo and Leah Lewis share their perspectives on the film’s themes, the significance of Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) representation in media, and the impact of portraying multi-dimensional characters. The actors delve into the importance of maintaining positivity in the face of adversity, believing in oneself, and breaking stereotypes in the entertainment industry. From challenging outdated narratives to normalizing cultural heritage, Brandon and Leah express their excitement for viewers to experience the film’s adventurous and tender journey of self-discovery.

Tiger's Apprentice

A still from ‘The Tiger’s Apprentice’ (Paramount+)

Aayush Sharma: ‘The Tiger’s Apprentice’ is a mixture of so many great things love, care, culture, and family. But for you guys, what was the one thing that made you relate to this story and made you proud? And why do you think that particular thing is so important for people to see?

Brandon Soo Hoo: One of the favorite things that I related with my character was Tom has uncanny ability to maintain a positive outlook when things get really tough. And so, you know, he’ll drop in a humorous little quip here and there in the face of adversity. I think that’s such a powerful way to confront anything challenging because life isn’t that serious. And, if you really lean into the negative, and if you really lean into the dark side, I feel like it can really corrupt and taint you. I believe maintaining that light and positivity around you is like the ultimate protection that you have, from the dark stuff when life kind of gets you down. Because if you let life get too dark, then you won’t let enough of your inner light kind of radiate outwards and do what it needs to do. So, you know, hold on to your light, hold on to the positivity. I feel like it’s contagious. It’s very, very healing.

Leah Lewis: I think, for me, one of my favorite things about this film that I would take away, is really learning how to believe in yourself. And I know that’s such a simple statement, but it’s a big loaded one for me. I really feel like when it comes down, to believing in yourself, it’s the things that you care about, the people you care about, where you came from, where you’re going. You see this character, Tom, struggle with believing in himself in any aspect. I think that’s really important too. And I think, when you can believe in yourself too and present yourself, honestly, and vulnerably, that’s also when you find other people who are right for you in your life. You see Tom eventually learns how to be himself, and because of it, he fits into this Zodiac and kind of ends up finding a community that he never would have expected. So, I think that aspect is important for me.

AS: So, you know, besides showing so many great things, this is also an Asian story. The characters, the cast, the makers, and most of the people involved in this project, have an Asian background. But you know when we see the entertainment industry, we still see a lot of talented Asian actors stuck in a kind of stereotype. And they are cast in one kind of role. For you guys, how does Asian representation in movies intersect with a broader discussion about diversity and inclusion in the entertainment industry?

BS: I mean, it’s 2024, we’re past the era of having Asian people playing just submissive roles or playing like the tech support. I think that right now is like a renaissance for Asian entertainers and Asian artists to showcase that we are multi-dimensional people, that we can be the hero, we can be the cool guy. It’s all that stuff is like, we’re really seeing Asians being at the forefront of stories like that. And it’s so important because growing up, if you don’t see all of those things represented in media, it’s kind of hard to feel like, you can see that in yourself. So, it’s almost like this conditioning that we received from a really young age. So right now, we’re trying to reverse engineer all of that by showing you can be the hero of your own story, you know, you can save the day. And you could be more than just like whatever aesthetic or face that people want to put on you. You can kind of step out of those boundaries and as a human being, you can do whatever the heck you want. So, I think that it’s so important for us to be able to share with you all.

Brandon Soo Hoo (@brandonsoohoo/Instagram)

LL: I agree, I think, we’re living in a day and age where we’re moving towards a place where representation isn’t such a flashy, flashy thing. It’s a necessary and needed thing that should already be kind of embedded into our society. So, it’s a huge win for the AAPI community any time there’s an API lead or like, especially something like this film where it’s completely eccentric. But I also think the more and more we start to see those projects, like, it’s important to be able to normalize the difference in all these characters. You know, when I also look at, the list of like, Caucasian actors, I can think of an actor for every kind of character. I’m like, oh, yeah, I know, this actor played that, and this and that. But you know, for Asian, that’s been a long time coming, where it’s like, oh, it’s only Michelle Yeoh, who plays that or like, you know, we have the designated person who plays the geek or the kind of hero or like the dark character. And what’s so cool about this film, too, is like, Tom is just, he’s a cool, regular guy who hails from Chinese American culture. This film shows heritage and culture in a way where it’s so normalized, and just so kind of nuanced. I feel like that sense of representation is so cool for the people at home who are like, hey, casually, I like this guy, or I know those kinds of traditions, and I love the way he builds in this theme because I feel that way. I don’t know, I just, I also wish I had something like this growing up too. But like, now is the best time to see people that look like you, speak like you, or act like you on screen. It really recovers that belief in yourself that things are possible for you. Like we all watch TV. We all care about these characters to feel seen and feel like you know, you have a voice out there somewhere. There’s nothing better than that feeling. So, I hope that this film does that for a lot of people to me.

AS: You guys are working with such huge stars. Michelle Yeoh, Lucy Liu, Henry Golding, and more. What was your reaction when you heard these guys will be in the movie?

BS: Man, I mean, the reaction was and still is just like, almost like a surreal disbelief. I was like, these are people that I watched growing up when I was little, I was like, dang, these are some huge Asian names. They are the biggest names in our community. So yeah, I told my parents immediately about, like, who’s going to be in the project, and we all just like giggled about it together. So, I think just immense pride. It’s such a celebration, and it’s such a win, not just for me and my career, but it’s such a celebration for the Asian community. It’s like, man, look at all of us, like, together just being badass Zodiac warriors.

LL: I felt the same way. I mean, honestly, I tend to do this thing to where if someone tells me like this person is who you’re working with. I’m just like, wait, what? And I’m still like that, you know, like when we were able to even see Sandra Oh, at the premiere of like, let’s go, oh, my God, like, that’s really freakin’ cool. It’s also just like, I think it’s a really proud moment to finally see all different generations of AAPI actors coming together on one screen and to be able to see that there is space for more than just one or two. This whole cast is like a chock filled with it. And everyone is so talented, it’s been an honor. I’m really proud to be a part of it.

Leah Lewis and Sandra Oh

Leah Lewis and Sandra Oh (@leahmlewis/Instagram)

AS: The film has finally been released and it has opened to great reviews. If anyone hasn’t seen the movie, what’s your advice to them? And why should they watch ‘The Tiger’s Apprentice’?

BS: What do you what are you waiting for? Get in there. Watch this movie. It’s special, it’s beautiful. There’s something in there for everybody. And yeah, I think you’re really missing out on something that’s, that’s really beautiful and important. So go check it out. I hope they get to watch it with your family because there are a lot of beautiful lessons in there to share. So, go go check it out. You have to.

LL: It’s like, it’s a cool, like, genuinely cool. It has Steelo to it. Adventurous, tender film about finding yourself and I know we all want to do that. So, you should totally watch it and I hope you find a bit of yourself in this cool tender film.

‘The Tiger’s Apprentice’ is currently streaming on Paramount+.

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INTERVIEW | Sarayu Blue Dives Deep into ‘EXPATS’ Journey with Cultural Authenticity and Emotional Depth



Sarayu Blue stars as Hilary Starr in Lulu Wang's 'EXPATS' (@sarayublue/Instagram)

After taking the world by storm with ‘The Farewell,’ director Lulu Wang is back and this time, she has taken her storytelling prowess to the small screen. Her series, ‘EXPATS,’ is a story mainly about three women trying to overcome guilt and grief in the most authentic way possible. The very first frame of the series encourages viewers to take a remarkable journey into the lives of characters that are connected in one way or the other. Nicole Kidman portrays Margaret in the series while Ji-young Yoo plays Mercy. Both stars have given spectacular performances in the six-part series, but one actor who has managed to nab all the attention is none other than Sarayu Blue, who plays the role of Hilary.

At first, Hilary seems to be a no-nonsense woman who has moved to Hong Kong to make strides in her professional life. She does brilliantly professionally, but her personal life is in a bit of turmoil. Her marriage is not going well, her best friend seems to have lost almost everything, and she is overburdened with the pressure of becoming a mother. Wang knows how to extract a powerful performance from an actor and Sarayu is no different. Sarayu’s portrayal of the character is truly magnificent, capturing Hilary’s frustration and compassion with authenticity on screen. I sat down (virtually) with Sarayu Blue and discussed several aspects of her character in the Prime Video series. The actress opened up about how she learned Punjabi to make her character more authentic and also, how South Asian parents show love most uniquely.

Sarayu Blue in a still from ‘EXPATS’ (Prime Video)

Aayush Sharma: Congratulations on the series. It’s getting such beautiful reactions. Your character is written so beautifully, but Lulu Wang made some alterations to your character’s journey in the series, particularly regarding her approach to motherhood. So, how, as an actor, approached the shift in your character’s arc? And what kind of discussions have you had with Wong regarding these changes?

Sarayu Blue: Actually, the changes had already happened before I came. Because in the book, Hillary is not written South Asian. And so that was one of the changes. And so, when I auditioned, it was already South Asian, of course. I think when I got on board, I was able to read all the scripts, and I just devoured them. I mean, in one sitting, it was like, you know, I couldn’t get enough. It was such an exciting experience to see this South Asian woman who’s so human, she’s so layered and complicated, and messy, and real, and beautiful, and funny and vulnerable, and raw and hurting. And so, then it just became the biggest gift I could ever imagine.

AS: One of the best things about your character was her backstory, and showing the kind of Sikh family she was born into. But what was that one thing that you wanted viewers to see in your character to understand why Hillary sees the world in the way she does? Also, how challenging was it for you to learn the Punjabi language to make your character sound more authentic?

SB: I’m so thankful to our team and our wonderful consultant, Inder, who was like the most patient and kind human. I kept reciting it repeatedly, because somebody who speaks Telugu, and I’ve tried to teach people Telugu, pronunciation is everything. It’s everything, along with the accent, and every emphasis that matters so much. So, I was so thankful for that support. Also, Sudha (Brinder) speaks Punjabi, so I had Masters constantly working with me, and I was so thankful. Meanwhile, I think as far as the view that Hillary has, or what was important to me, it was important to see the hurt for both Brinder and Hilary. You know, what I love about the dynamic you see in Episode Four is you really see that they’re both hurting, and there’s aggression because that’s how we speak to each other. (laughs) I mean, that part is so universal, because my mother and I have a very contentious love. But, you know, that hurt underneath, and the vulnerability underneath is why it feels so real. And that representation of that specific dynamic was very important to me.

AS: Yeah, I mean, I can understand as an Indian, I know the kind of relationship that we share with our parents. I mean, they would just bash us, and then say that’s how we show our love for you. That’s, that’s our love. (laughs)

SB: I said to my dad, my dad was calling. I was FaceTiming with him, and he said, ‘So what are you doing? Are you doing anything interesting?’ I said, ‘I’m just doing a lot of press for this show. Remember that show? I did EXPATS? And he said, ‘I remember that.’ He added, ‘So nothing. You’re not doing anything.’ (laughs) But I get it.

Sarayu Blue with Sudha Bhuchar and Jennifer Beveridge (@sarayublue/Instagram)

AS: Your Punjabi was so amazing in that scene because I’m a Punjabi and when I was hearing that conversation, I had to pause the episode and go to the internet to see if you had any Punjabi roots because your accent was so authentic.

SB: Let me tell you how much that means to me because it’s the most important thing for me. Because Telugu is not easy to speak. It’s not, and I was raised by a Telugu professor and a Telugu short story writer. Also, I’ve tried to teach Telugu to somebody, and if it doesn’t sound right, it won’t feel good. That’s why it’s all I wanted to show. You must speak the language with the right pronunciation. That’s very important.

AS: Now that EXPATS has premiered three episodes on Prime Video and receiving so much love. But for those who haven’t started the series, what would like to tell them and why they should be watching this show?

SB: I am so honored to be in this show. I really am. I get goosebumps even talking to you right now, seeing you smile, and having this conversation. I want people to watch the show for everyone. There’s so much good talent in this show. You know, Sudha who plays Brinder is extraordinary. Kavi Raz, who plays my dad in Episode Six, is brilliant. You know, all these actors, Ruby Ruiz, Ji-young Yoo, Brian Tee, there’s so much brilliance that I hope people just watch and realize how many actors of color are getting to do amazing work. It feels like a dream. But, of course, there’s so much to see in this show, you know.

Cast of ‘Expats’ with director Lulu Wang at the premiere. (Getty Images)

The first three episode of ‘EXPATS’ are currently streaming exclusively on Prime Video.

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