Interview

“Wrecked” And “Dear White People” Star Ally Maki Talks Diversity In Hollywood

As the star of Wrecked and Dear White People, Japanese American actress Ally Maki is used to embracing the small screen. Maki starred as the adventurous Jess on the TBS comedy series Wrecked, and also played Ikumi on Netflix’s Dear White People. The gorgeous and outspoken star was born in Seattle, but now calls Los Angeles home. Although Maki seems to stand out effortlessly on the screen and makes it look easy, she is also aware of a greater need for diversity in Hollywood. The actress is passionate about more exposure and recognition when it comes to actors of Asian descent. We spoke to Maki about her most recent role in Wrecked, diversity and inclusivity in entertainment and her favourite celebrity icons.

Real Style: Tell us more about your role in Wrecked.

Ally: We shot in Fiji this year and just got back from three months there, which was amazing and beautiful. Season 2 was pure insanity. We elevated the stakes by a thousand percent, and it’s a lot more of the action and excitement that fans love.

Real Style: How would you describe your character Jess?

Ally: Jess is the fun, feisty hopeless romantic of the group. She’s been in a long term relationship with her boyfriend Scott. Last season was about her getting her groove back a little, and finding her voice. This year, you got to see why these two people are still together and what makes them good together. It’s kind of fun to see the hilarious adventures that they got into.

Real Style: What sets Wrecked apart from your other roles, such as Dear White People?

Ally: Wrecked was exciting because it was one of the first major roles that I did. When I auditioned, it didn’t have anything to do with my race or anything in particular. It was a role that I felt I was meant to play, in a way. I’m excited, in terms of where we are headed in the industry. Roles like this (that could be any girl) are exciting to me, and it’s also an ensemble comedy, which I really love.

Real Style: Do you have any cool upcoming projects?

Ally: If you haven’t seen Dear White People on Netflix, you should check it out. It’s groundbreaking, and has created such a hilarious yet heartbreaking and very real show.

Real Style: A lot of your characters are racialized roles. What are your thoughts on the current state of diversity in the entertainment industry?

Ally: I feel like we’re making amazing strides in the past few years. I definitely think we have a long way to go. Especially with Asian Americans, we’re starting to find our voice. I think in the past, we have been too afraid to speak up or point out when we see something that might be wrong, in terms of whitewashing or cultural appropriation. We’re telling the industry when something is not okay, and they are finally listening. The more and more we see that, the stronger we are going to be, and the more we are going to make our presence known.

Real Style: Do you have any Hollywood role models?

Ally: I think Sandra Oh is so incredible. When she was on Grey’s Anatomy, she was playing this amazingly strong and hilarious character and was so inspirational to me. Steven Yeun is killing it, and I’m so happy for him. He’s setting such a good example of what it is to be out there. I also love Chrissy Teigen, because she’s not afraid to speak her mind.

Real Style: Tell us how you discovered acting.

Ally: I grew up doing musical theatre in Seattle, Washington, where I grew up. I was scouted when I was 14, by this manager, and I ended up moving to Los Angeles and started my acting career.

Real Style: If you could work with any actors, directors or producers in Hollywood, who would be on your dream team?

Ally: I would say Patty Jenkins [Wonder Woman] as the director. I would love to be directed by her in anything, because she is fantastic.

Real Style: Where do you find your creative energy and inspiration?

Ally: I always like to bring a little bit of myself to every character. Of course, I can only bring my experiences in the way that I see the world. I love to watch people. When I was younger, I was really shy and quiet, so I would be the one who is listening, as opposed to talking a lot. That has really helped me to character study, because I have been able to watch people’s quirks and the way that people react. I’m a listener.

Photo: Ryan West on IMDB 



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