Sydney Viengluang Saves the World from Zombies on Z Nation
Interview with Actress Sydney Viengluang
PHOTOGRAPHER: RIKER BROTHERS PHOTOGRAPHY
From crunching numbers to slaying zombies, sometimes your career can take an unexpected turn. Such is true for up-andcoming actress Sydney Viengluang. With a degree in International Business and a Masters in Economics, Viengluang originally foresaw herself running a studio and working behind the camera every day. Instead, Viengluang is breaking into the acting business and making a name for herself on screen.
Currently, actress Sydney Viengluang plays Dr. Sun Mei on SyFy’s resident zombie-based series Z Nation. Logical, intelligent and determined to help others, Dr. Sun Mei is perhaps the key to saving the world on the SyFy cult series. She plays a researcher from Laos who survived the original zombie outbreak and took shelter in the Forbidden City in Beijing. Using her brains and quick-wit, Dr. Sun Mei has the weight of the world on her shoulders—the survivors of the zombie outbreak look to her for both a vaccine for the ZN1 (zombie) virus and (hopefully) an eventual cure. Below, actress Sydney Viengluang explains the importance of Dr. Sun Mei, her personal background working in Hollywood and her dream acting role.
What can you tell us about Dr. Sun Mei and how she’s about to save the world?
My character is sent by the last remaining survivors of Pan Asia as Asia’s last hope. I first get introduced with the Pan-Asian forces as an antagonist to find and capture Murphy in order to collect his blood and create a vaccine to bring back to the Forbidden City. My team ends up getting killed, and I’m the sole survivor, which leads me to join Operation Bitemark as their resident doctor.
In many of your roles, you’re trying to solve a problem with the world, playing characters from Dr. Sun in Z Nation to guest roles as FBI and police officers in Jane the Virgin and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders. Are these your favorite types of roles?
I would say I have a natural inclination to be a leader and solve problems. I guess that comes from being the eldest of three and having a type-A personality, so strong roles tend to come easier for me.
You worked as an accountant for a movie studio and learned the ins and outs of the business. How has this helped your acting career? Does it make acting easier because you know what is expected from producers and writers?
Yes, knowing the behind the scenes of how the business side works definitely works in my favor. I’ve learned that there are so many factors in getting cast that it makes it a bit easier to not take it personally when I don’t get a part. There are so many moving parts in making a TV show or movie that the only thing you can really control is how much work you put into a character and audition—you just have to leave the rest up to the universe.
You’re also a producer (The Letter, 2016). Is there a difference between being behind the camera instead of in front of it?
Yes, [while] a producer you’re wearing many hats and making sure the whole production is going smoothly, from set dressing to directing. As an actor, I get to focus solely on my performance, so that’s nice. I enjoy both since they require different skill sets.
Finally, what’s your dream role?
I kind of already am playing my dream role. Sun Mei is smart, strong, multi-dimensional and has her own mission... I don’t think there’s a dream role; I just love playing multi-faceted characters, which aren’t frequently written for Asian-American women. As for now, I’m focused on advancing my acting career, booking more strong roles and positively representing the Asian-American community as a whole in 2017.
Z Nation recently wrapped its third season. The series is currently available on Netflix and on DVD, with season 4 tentatively scheduled to bow in fall of 2017.
Hair: J Michael
Makeup: Anton Khachaturian
Stylist: Lo Vonrumpf
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