Interview

Frankie Drake Mysteries & Fahrenheit 451 Star Grace Lynn Kung Discusses Her Roles, Fashion And Michael B. Jordan

From starring with Jessica Chastain in Miss Sloane, to being a part of the latest film in the cult classic Chucky horror series, not to mention starring on TV in series such as Mary Kills People and InSecurity, Canadian actress Grace Lynn Kung has made quite the name for herself. Now with Frankie Drake Mysteries having been renewed for season 2, and an upcoming role in the HBO film Fahrenheit 451, Kung is set to get even more exposure. Real Style had a chance to chat with the rising actress.

Real Style: How did your role on Frankie Drake Mysteries come about?
Grace Lynn Kung: My agent and I make a push to get our foot in the door for all period pieces whether they ask for us or not. It is a passion project of mine to create a story with a people of colour focus that weaves through previous iconic eras. For some reason, as soon as we shift timelines, people of colour are erased. I understand why it happens, we haven’t always been great teachers in this line of work. There was an exhibition called The Missing Chapter: Black Chronicles in the UK that presented photos of Black Victorians that had never been published before. The photos were truly impactful to me because too often these images and ideas are absent or overlooked from our telling of past stories, absent from our ideas. For me, it is rewarding to see Whiskey Wendy in the world of the 1920s. It is rich to see the inclusivity of our background performers too because Quon’s Cafe is a regular setting.

RS: Your highly-anticipated film, Fahrenheit 451, premiered at Cannes, and airs this weekend on HBO. Can you tell us a bit about your character Chairman Mao and how you got the part?
GLK: Chairman Mao is part of a network of tomes, dedicated to embedding literature in the mind and becoming human books. We are the Resistance. When I first got the breakdown, my character was a 50 year old man whose book was James Joyce’s Dubliners. By my last audition, Ramin [writer and director Ramin Bahrani] had rewritten one of the tomes into Chairman Mao’s Quotations from Chairman Mao Tse-tung aka The Little Red Book. And a most apropos line of Mao’s is now in the movie. Ramin had done this several times in the casting process. He would look at the actors and the energies they had and weave who they were into the story. A lot of names and books changed and the actors brought their own lives and histories into those roles. This is an epic bit of listening from a director and makes the characters vivid and bespoke.

RS: What was it like working on Fahrenheit 451?
GLK: Acting is kind of like a vacation. Getting to travel is great, it’s a lot of fun and a wonderful privilege. There are days it can be tough, you’re in unfamiliar territory and out of your comfort zone, but overall, it’s a real treat. Then there are those days on your trip when you had a meal that was so good it made you want to cry, or you asked for directions and met people who became your friends for life, or you went looking for a coffee and stumbled upon a random city-wide water fight that you’ll never forget. Fahrenheit 451 is like that. The combination of powerful material with big ideas, a brilliant director who is collaborative, to actors that you admire – and the bonus of having them be awesome humans (yes, Michael B Jordan is as awesome as you think he is) – well, that’s winning the lottery. I had that feeling with Miss Sloane as well, where I knew that it was something I was going to put in the ‘ol’ box of memories’ to look back on when I can’t remember anything anymore. I love any project that continues to ask us to resist and rethink and think for ourselves. 

RS: You are a strong supporter of Canadian fashion and art. Have you always had an interest in fashion?
GLK:  I have. Part of what fascinates me the most about acting is psychology, character. Life diverges in the little details. And fashion is an interesting part of our social psychology even when we choose to do ‘nothing’ with it. Our bodies are a creative Etch-A-Sketch. Literally put on your friend’s shoes when you’re at their place and see how your body changes. See what happens in your brain when you wear a hat (for the non-hat wearers out there). Tattoo art is also part of fashion and expression. Fashion is the banner we wave as a two second summary of ourselves as we walk among others in the world (presumably a part of expectation and why employers make up their minds about us a few seconds into an interview). It gives us many indicators about our society. Aliens studying North American fashion from our film and television could make all sorts of conclusions about how we treat gender, how we separate ourselves from society or signal community, our draw to dopamine/newness from the turnover of how much fast fashion we have, what high heels tell us, what indicators it has for socio-economic status and then the system of commercialization – sometimes I really like to explore what stories I’d make up about humans as an alien.. I’m not though. I swear.

Photo: CBC



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