NEW YORK (AP) — The new Amazon series “ The Summer I Turned Pretty ” is a coming-of-age story about a teenager who finds herself in a love triangle while on summer vacation. For its star, 19-year-old newcomer Lola Tung, along with creator and co-showrunner Jenny Han, filming during the summer of 2021 was an equally memorable time filled with new experiences and life lessons.
Both relocated to Wilmington, North Carolina, to film the show's first season. It was Tung's first acting job and Han's first time as a showrunner. (She shares a co-showrunner title with co-creator, Gabrielle Stanton.). Han wrote the book the series is based on and also is the author of the “To All the Boys" trilogy, which was adapted into films for Netflix.
“The Summer I Turned Pretty,” debuting Friday, follows Isabel “Belly” Conklin who — along with her mom and older brother — spends every summer at the beach with family friends, the Fishers. Belly is the only girl in the bunch and has always been treated as the tagalong little sister. This summer, however, she's more mature and arrives at the beach as a pretty teenager, turning heads wherever she goes. Soon Belly is in a love triangle with the Fisher brothers, Conrad and Jeremiah, played by Christopher Briney and Gavin Casalegno.
Tung says she and her younger castmates arrived in Wilmington early to get comfortable with the location and one another.
“We got used to being in Wilmington, we got used to being together and were able to form this bond that was similar to the bond with your childhood friends and that we needed to have for the show.," she said.
Showrunners aren't always present for filming, but Han wanted to be there for the duration to match the tone she created for the book.
“It's not a super-high concept show in that it’s not a big mystery to be solved or like a procedural or fantasy. It’s really this little moment in one girl’s life, and to me that’s personal. And I wanted to it to feel personal.”
Han's presence gave Tung the confidence she needed to play Belly.
“I always had access to her if I had any questions about scenes or questions about character," Tung said. “She always knew how I was feeling and how to comfort me and be there for me.”
As a showrunner, Han also learned on the job and says the most difficult aspect was becoming a problem solver-at-large.
“Everyone looks to you for answers all day long, and you are holding the whole story in your hands. You have just a million different problems to solve. It used to be as a novelist of just solving my own problems and my character’s problems, but on a show, you have a lot of other people’s problems to figure out.”
Amazon has already ordered a second season of “The Summer I Turned Pretty," and Tung says she's not picking a favorite between Conrad and Jeremiah Fisher. “I'm team Belly,” she laughs.