Interview with Jacky Lai of “A Sugar & Spice Holiday” on Lifetime by Suzanne 11/24/20
Some people are very easy to talk to… Jacky is one of those people! I enjoyed chatting with her. This movie that premieres tonight is a fun confection. One thing I liked about it is that it’s funny. I laughed out loud in parts. Also, unlike many of these Christmas movies, the ending is a little more satisfying and less stereotyped than many of the others. You’ll have to watch it to see what I mean. Of course, it almost goes without saying that it’s very refreshing to have a holiday movie starring an Asian actress.
Sorry about the sound quality of the audio file because I was having trouble hearing her. There was some problem with the phone line or something.
Here is the audio version of it.
Suzanne: So, tell us how your role in the movie came about.
Jacky: I got the audition. I read the script. I was very pleasantly surprised by the storyline and kind of very deep ending compared to a lot of other romantic comedies. Then I got a call back. This was all during COVID, so everything was through Zoom, and it was probably the most extensive callback I’ve ever had. It was 19 pages; it was an hour and a half with our executive producer, Nancy (Bennett), and our director, Jennifer (Liao)…But shortly after that, I got the offer for the role.
Suzanne: Oh, that’s cool. Did you know any of the cast and crew already?
Jacky: No, no, not at all, but I was very lucky. Tony (Giroux), who plays [Billy], we’re with the same agency, so we got to connect a little bit beforehand and [unintelligible].
Suzanne: That’s good. And how long did it take to shoot the whole movie?
Jacky: Fifteen working days.
Suzanne: Oh, wow. Quick.
Jacky: Very quick. Yeah.
Suzanne: Yeah, I heard they they do that now.
Jacky: Right. I mean, if they can, they will.
Suzanne: And where was it shot?
Jacky: It was shot in Vancouver but about an hour away, the Abbotsford Langley area.
Suzanne: Okay, great…There were a lot of sweets in this movie. Were any of them edible, or were they all fake?
Jacky: They were all edible, but they were touched by a lot of people, so it wasn’t advised to eat them, but the baked goods were all real baked goods.
Suzanne: It’s tough to watch these Christmas movies, because they’re all filled with all those things. You know, they all have the eggnog and the hot chocolate and the cookies and the gingerbread and oh my gosh.
Jacky: Exactly. You pretty much named everything that was in the movie.
Suzanne: It seems that they all do that. They’re all sweets, and it makes my blood sugar go up just watching the movie!
Jacky: That’s good; then you don’t have to go eat it!
Suzanne: It’s hard though, because when I see it, I want to eat it.
Jacky: I know. I know what you mean. You’re stomach starts making room for it, right?
Suzanne: Yeah. So, do you do any baking in real life?
Jacky: No, not at all.
Suzanne: That’s okay.
Jacky: I don’t think I’ve ever made anything that wasn’t burnt!
Suzanne: Oh, no. Well, here’s the trick – at least if you want to make cookies, because they don’t usually take very long – stay in the kitchen and watch them, because if you try to go do something else, then they will burn.
Jacky: Okay, yeah, that’s what I need to do.
Suzanne: Now, please let me know if this is too personal or not, but your character Suzy is of Chinese descent. What about you?
Jacky: I am Vietnamese. My last name is Lai, which I’ve been told is a Chinese last name, but I’m not that close to my dad’s side of the family, so I don’t really [unintelligible].
Suzanne: Okay, well, that’s interesting. You should do one of those DNA things one of these days. I did one; it was really exciting.
Jacky: Oh, did you? Did you find it was a good thing? Something I should definitely try?
Suzanne: Yeah, it was different than what we all thought. We all thought we were very Irish, and we’re actually only about 10% Irish, because my original last name was Irish, and I’m a quarter Jewish, which we had no idea.
Jacky: Oh, that’s amazing. I’ve seen this YouTube video where they did that just to show everyone that we’re so connected; we’re not just one thing. Yeah, I’m definitely into that.
Suzanne: Yeah, it was fun. I mean, we always knew we were Europeans of some kind or another, but we didn’t know all the little bits and pieces. So yeah, it’s fun. It’s really easy, because they just send you a little kit in the mail, and you do a swab, and you send it back. So it’s simple.
Jacky: I’ll definitely look into that.
Suzanne: Yeah, then you can find out where your ancestors come from. It’s exciting.
So, what was the most challenging part of doing this role?
Jacky: It’s the karaoke scene. Oh man, I am not a singer, and [my] character is not a singer either. So, it wasn’t like I had to be, you know, good, but when you don’t sing, and you’re singing in front of people from set, knowing that this is going to be seen by North America – So, I would have to say that was probably one of the most challenging things for me, just mentally.
Suzanne: So, did you just sing the best you could, or did you try to make it sound bad, because she’s not supposed to sound good?
Jacky: It was a transition. So, the scene is about a transition. So, there was both. There was me being the real me, which is not good, and then me trying really hard, which I hope doesn’t kill your ears. But we did it again in the studio just to get it more clear, and I mean, I guess there’s some magic to that
Suzanne: I haven’t seen that one yet, because they sent me the one – I mean, I guess it’s cut, but it’s not completely done, and it says that they’re substituting a different song, so I don’t think I’ve heard the finished one yet. So, I’ll have to watch and see how you sound. I’m a karaoke person. I know how you feel, though. A lot of people don’t don’t like to sing. But, you know, the good thing about karaoke, though, is that is that nobody cares really how you sound as long as you go up there and act like you’re confident and put on a fun show. That’s all they care about.
Suzanne: Yeah, exactly, because they’re all amateurs; they don’t care, but don’t do a Christmas song.
Jacky: I’ve heard that’s the trick.
Suzanne: Yes, exactly.
Jacky: Fake it until you make it.
Suzanne: Yeah, exactly, because they’re all amateurs; they don’t care, but don’t do a Christmas song.
Jacky: I wish you were there!
Suzanne: Yeah, right? That song was too high for you. You need to do a lower song definitely.
Jacky: So, I mean, on top of the talent, there was that.
Suzanne: Well, they were trying to make you sound like you weren’t a good singer, so it was okay.
Suzanne: So, what was the most fun part of doing the movie?
Jacky: The most fun part I think was just working with everyone. I feel like every time we had a break, I would sit outside and just bask in how grateful I am to be able to work with the people I got to work with. Everyone was so kind and friendly and talented, and I just had so much fun on set. You know, it was fifteen working days, so very extensive, but I never felt truly drained.
Suzanne: So, I know you said you’re not close to your dad’s family, but were you able to relate to how close Suzy is to her family? Especially your grandmother?
Jacky: Yes, my family is very close. My mom had me when she was really young, so we have a very great friendship relationship. My sisters [too]. Yeah, we’re very close.
Suzanne: Okay, good. So, she wasn’t one of those scary moms that you hear about sometimes.
Jacky: No, no, but she is definitely one of those – Honestly, Lillian (Lim) who plays my mom actually reminds me of someone who’s [unintelligible] like my mom.
Suzanne: So is there anything else you have in common with Suzy?
Jacky: I think I’m very hard on myself as well. I think we’re both very passionate. We love our jobs, and I think that sometimes makes us a little crazy about how badly we want things to be great and perfect, and that’s something that I constantly have to remind myself: it’s the journey, not the destination.
Suzanne: Okay. And I liked your name, since my name is Suzanne, and when I was younger, my family called me Suzy when I was younger. I don’t let anybody else call me that though. What have you been doing to keep busy during the pandemic?
Jacky: I’m learning to sing. That’s something I’m doing. I [write in] a journal. I meditate. I write a lot. I’m starting to read a lot more; I feel like it’s a great exercise for the brain.
Suzanne: Okay, great. Do you have a voice teacher that you take lessons from virtually or in real life?
Jacky: Not yet, because I feel like I’m not I’m not good enough yet to train with a vocal coach. I want to be able to understand pitch and tone and know where it comes from within my body [before I] invest in a vocal coach. So, I made it a thirty day challenge where I would YouTube like twenty minutes of vocal exercises every day for thirty days, and after that, I will definitely search for one.
Suzanne: Okay, good, because even if you just find someone like at a local college or something like that, they can help you a lot, even as a beginner. They can show you if you’re breathing right and those kinds of things, and your posture, and you’ll probably have good posture being an actor. So, I recommend that, definitely.
Jacky: You’re so right, yeah. It’s posture and breathing. Definitely. Thank you so much.
Suzanne: Yeah, I mean, I started taking lessons when I was in high school, and it was just an older lady who had been a singer and retired, and she taught kids or whatever.
…Last question. Do you have any other projects coming up you can tell us about?
Jacky: No, right now I’m just auditioning.
Suzanne: Okay, good. Well, I hope he gets something; I’ll be rooting for you.
Jacky: Thank you.
Suzanne: You’ve done so much already and all your series that you’ve done; I’m sure you’ll find something.
Thank you. I’m manifesting. I kind of want to play the opposite of Suzy. Manifesting that.
Suzanne: You’ve been in quite a few sci-fi type things. Do you like doing that kind of thing?
Jacky: I do. I love it. I think, you know, there’s a great calling for it, and I think it’s a great way to expand our imagination, but I’m really excited for my for my family to be able to watch A Sugar & Spice Holiday and be able to understand what’s going on. Sci-fi is not very easy for them, being English is their second language.
Suzanne: Oh, okay. Yeah, this should be pretty easy for them to figure out. Alright. Well, thanks. I really appreciate you talking to me.
Interview Transcribed by Jamie of http://www.scifivision.com
Jacky Lai is a stunning beauty whose contagious smile and warm personality on and off-screen have landed her countless opportunities. Jacky took a leap of faith in 2014 to uproot her life in Toronto and move to Vancouver to pursue her dreams of acting. Jacky always knew her true calling was for the arts and her body of work in Film and Television since is a testament to her belief being more than just a hunch. Jacky’s upcoming leading role in Netflix’s vampire series“V-Wars” will continue to demonstrate her rising star power and enigmatic presence.Jacky is a Toronto native who had everything she needed on the east coast, supportive friends and family and a stable and growing career in developing small businesses. But she knew that her passion for acting was too great to set aside as a hobby. In the summer of 2014, Jacky made a quick and swift decision to move across the country to Vancouver, leaving everything and everyone she knew behind. Since relocating, Jacky has appeared in The CW’s “The Flash”, and CBS ’ “Ransom” and had recurring roles on Freeform’s “Beyond”, “Shadowhunters” and ABC’s “Once Upon a Time”. Jacky has also appeared in the feature film SILENT HILL: REVELATION. Jacky’s latest project, which will be released on December 5th, is already receiving a lot of buzz. Jacky co-stars alongside Ian Somerhalder of The CW’s “Vampire Diaries” fame and Adrian Holmes of Bravo’s “19-2” in Netflix’s horror, scifi series “V-Wars” which will bring to life the beloved graphic novels by Jonathan Maberry and Alan Robinson. Jacky will also appear in the indie feature FALL BACK DOWN which will have its world premiere at the Whistler Film Festival on December 5th.
A Sugar & Spice Holiday is about Suzie (Lai), a rising young architect, returns to her small hometown in Maine for Christmas where, her Chinese American family runs the local Lobster Bar. Following the loss of her beloved grandmother who was a legendary baker in their community, Suzie is guilted into following in her grandmother’s footsteps by entering the local gingerbread house competition. Teaming up with an old high school friend Billy (Giroux), who grew up to be a catch, Suzie must find the right recipes and mix of sugar and spice to win the competition and perhaps find some love in the process. The movie stars Jacky Lai, Tony Giroux and Tzi Ma.
Proofread and Edited by Brenda