Tung is not far off from the 16-year-old she plays on-screen. It wasn’t that long ago that she, too, was longing to find her true self and searching for her path in life. “I still feel that sometimes,” she says with a smile. Tung was a shy, introverted kid before she found her love of performing while playing the Tin Man in a middle school production of The Wizard of Oz. Growing up in New York City, she was surrounded by live theater and musicals, which further invigorated her love of the arts and honest storytelling. “I always say one of my favorite shows is Fleabag, and I love I May Destroy You, these stories centering women and written by women that make you really think and make you feel so many different emotions,” she says.
Hearing about the projects that have had an impact on Tung, it’s easy to see why she’s drawn to Han’s writing and her ability to capture the authentic teenage experience and all the emotions, feelings, and confusion that come with it. “I think she does such a beautiful job of creating these worlds,” Tung says. “Specifically in The Summer I Turned Pretty, you really feel like you are a part of it and really feel like you are going on the journey with these characters and experiencing the emotions that they are experiencing.” The actress has long counted herself a member of the Han fan club and knows firsthand how special these books are and the deep connection people have to them—a realization that comes with some weight.
There’s a certain amount of pressure that comes with any adaptation, especially around casting. However, when news broke of Tung’s attachment to the project, the response online was very positive, allowing the young actress to breathe a sigh of relief. “When you first read a book, you picture whatever you want, and that’s the wonderful thing about reading,” she says. “You get to imagine and create this whole world. I know that everyone has a different image in their head, but I hope that people can really see the world that they fell in love with brought to life. And I’m excited for everyone to see it because we’re very proud of it.”