Liliana Inouye plays Brandi in the Apple TV+ series Amber Brown, which was released worldwide last month, with her character being the friend of the titled character played by Carsyn Rose. Amber Brown was created by Bonnie Hunt and is an adaptation of the Paula Danziger book series of the same name, and Brandi marks Liliana’s first series regular role. For her screen debut, Liliana was in the cast of the 2018 short film The Slows, which was written and directed by Nicole Perlman. Answering our questions, Liliana told us about the recent release of Amber Brown on Apple TV+, playing Brandi in the series and being in the cast of short film The Slows.
You star as Brandi in the recently-released Apple TV+ series Amber Brown, what is the character like to play?
Brandi is the funniest character to play. She’s quirky and bubbly and eccentric and mischievous but also a really good, true friend. The coolest thing about Brandi is that she’s so comfortable in her skin. She doesn’t try to conform. She’s happy with who she is and sees what makes her different as a strength and not a weakness. She has a way of putting a positive spin on everything. It was fun playing Brandi opposite Amber because the two characters really complement each other and balance each other out. Amber is more introverted and helps Brandi think of things more deeply, and Brandi is more of an extrovert and helps Amber lighten up and have more fun.
Can you tell us about the show and your character and do you have a favourite aspect of playing Brandi?
The show is about a girl (Amber Brown) who’s just starting middle school. Her parents have just divorced and her dad has moved to Paris. Her best friend and next-door neighbour Justin has just moved away, and she’s going through a lot of difficult changes. But then my character Brandi moves into the house next door and makes everything a little better!
Brandi is an independent spirit. She’s fun and a little eccentric. She’s bubbly and quirky but also deeply sensitive and loving.
What I love most about Brandi is that she has this way of turning everything into a positive. Like if someone tells her she’s weird, she’ll smile and say “thank you!”.
I also LOVE her wardrobe!!
How much did you know about the Paula Danziger book series of the same name before booking your role?
I wasn’t very familiar with Paula Danziger’s books but when I came back to Vancouver after filming Season 1 in Utah, my grandma had one of the Amber Brown books on my bedside night table and it was so fun to see and read it.
Was there anything that originally drew you to the show and what was it like meeting the rest of the cast for the first time?
As soon as I read the audition sides for the role of Brandi, I felt immediately connected to the role and the relationship between Brandi and Amber. Brandi just felt so “me” and the relationship between the two friends in the script was so full of humour and kindness and fun. There’s something about Bonnie Hunt’s writing that’s just so real and authentic and captures so much humour and truth.
Meeting the cast for the first time was super exciting. I met Carsyn (Rose) by the hotel pool even before the first day on set because we were both staying at the same hotel. From the moment we saw each other, we were giggling and had so much fun together. By the time we arrived on set, we already had our special signature handshake!
The other actors I met on set, and I remember, my first impression was that they were all so nice. And funny!
What do you enjoy most about working with the cast and crew and did you have a favourite episode to film?
The best thing about working with the cast and crew was seeing how nice and fun and humble everyone was. It was so cool seeing the adult actors be silly and goof off and also be totally ready to work and be professional at the same time.
As for my favourite episodes to film, I have a couple. One was the avocado mask scene where Carsyn and I smear avocado dip all over our faces and then eat it! My other favourite scene was when Hollywood comes to town. There were so many additional actors in that scene so it was fun meeting new people, and also the main adult actors (Ashley Williams, Darin Brooks, Sarah Drew, and Michael Yo) were so funny in that scene and cracked me up as they improvised parts of that scene.
Who do you think the show will appeal to and why would you recommend watching it?
Amber Brown is a perfect show for the whole family. It captures both the perspective of the middle-schoolers but also that of the parents in trying to navigate change and new relationships. I think both kids and parents will relate to the way that the characters stumble and figure things out. They’re all just trying to do their best.
I think the show can help people realise that while change can be hard it doesn’t need to make you miserable, you can get through it with humour and love.
I also hope people watching can learn from Brandi and Amber that it’s ok to be who you are, you don’t have to be anyone you’re not, and the right people will love you for who you are.
How does it feel having the series shown worldwide on Apple TV+?
It’s so exciting. I have family in different parts of the world so it’s so fun that my family and friends in different areas of the world can also watch!!
What was it like seeing the finished series for the first time and how is it seeing the response to the new adaptation?
Oh my gosh, it was so amazing seeing the finished series for the first time. I am in LOVE with how it turned out. And the animation feature is so fun. I never could’ve imagined it would turn out so good. It’s so exciting to hear from people about how much they love the show, how they’re totally hooked, and how truly genuine and heartwarming it is.
What are some of your stand-out highlights from filming as Brandi and working on set for your first series regular role?
My biggest highlights from filming Amber Brown all have to do with the people. Everyone in the cast and crew was just so nice and fun to be with. Bonnie Hunt is the warmest, kindest person who always makes you feel special. It felt like family. And there were so many playful moments. I loved playing “would you rather” with the hair and makeup people in the trailer, I loved goofing off with Carsyn, and just making friends with everyone on set. Shooting the school scenes with Hannah and her entourage was fun because all of us girls got to hang out and play in the auditorium in between scenes.
One moment I’ll never forget was when we wrapped the season on Brandi and everyone clapped and cheered and gave me a clapperboard that says Amber Brown as a gift.
Do you have any favourite memories from working on the short film The Slows?
Yes! That was such a fun project to work on. First of all, it’s written and directed by the brilliant Nicole Perlman, who was just so down-to-earth and so kind. The shoot was outside in a forest just outside of Portland, Oregon, and as it was a typical northwest coast day, it was pouring rain. The fun thing was that the character I played (one of the wild children on the only remaining “slows” compound) got to be dirty and messy and just run wild and play. So I and the other two child actors got to run around in the forest freely and play in the mud without worrying about having to stay clean and proper. The other thing from that shoot that will stay in my memory forever is that Krafty (catering) had a school bus filled with candy!!!!
Where does your love of acting come from and how did you start?
I’ve always loved performing and being in the spotlight. When I was five, I was in a commercial where I was a little ballerina girl and I had so much fun dancing around. My mom saw that I loved to express myself freely (and loudly!) and put me in acting classes when I was around five or six, and I loved the classes. It was just all about play and togetherness and expression and discovery.
As I’ve grown as an actress, I’ve really started appreciating the challenge of playing different characters with a range of personalities and emotions and getting to tell their stories.
What are some of your favourite TV shows and films to watch?
I absolutely love Schitt’s Creek!
Some of my favourite films are The Florida Project and Train to Busan.
We understand you have a love for athletics and gymnastics, can you say about this?
Yes, I love gymnastics. I trained twice a week for about five years. My favourite move is a round-off, back tuck. I loved tumbling and floor stuff the most. I have a lot of energy and I feel like I end up doing some form of gymnastics everywhere I go, including on set.
How do you like to spend your time away from your career?
I love to spend time baking, shopping, and travelling with my family.
What are you hoping the upcoming year brings for you?
I hope the upcoming year has me filming Season 2 of Amber Brown with the most amazing cast and crew ever!!
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