ABC’s new series Take Two is everything you’d want in a crime show: it’s gritty without being too somber, suspenseful and exciting, and it stars both a familiar face in Hart of Dixie’s (and can't forget her in The O.C., of course!) Rachel Bilson and fresh new talent in Alice Lee.
The 29-year-old star, originally a stage actress and NYU alumna, plays Monica, a celebrity assistant who’s getting her Ph.D. in psychology and has undeniable spunky charm. Her Campus got the chance to speak with Lee about her role in Take Two, Asian representation in the media, her unusual major and minor, and more.
Her Campus: We first meet Monica as Sam’s (Rachel Bilson) new assistant, but in her first episode we also get to see her rescue Sam and Eddie when they’re trapped in the closet. Will we get to learn more about Monica in future episodes and will she get to have a bigger role in the action as the season goes on?
Alice Lee: Yeah, definitely! I think that in the second episode [Monica’s first appearance], it’s kind of an introduction to what she’s going to do for all the cases. She definitely has a bigger part … and her and Berto kind of team up to help Sam and Eddie solve the cases, so we’ll definitely see more from Monica and her stuff.
HC: What I really love about her too is that the show deals with some pretty dark themes, obviously, surrounding crime in Los Angeles, but she actually gets to be part of the show's comic relief. What appealed to you about getting to play that kind of comedic role and having that dynamic with the other characters?
AL: Well, I really love comedy—I just love that genre in general. This character is a bit different because she’s very deadpan and dry, so that was cool because my humor is more loud and expressive, so I like that she can be funny but she doesn’t have to be, like, crazy.
HC: On the show, you spent a lot of time with Rachel Bilson. She’s been in huge shows like The O.C. and Hart of Dixie, so what was it like working with her, since she’s such a veteran at all of this?
AL: Rachel is awesome. She’s so sweet and down-to-earth, and very fun to work with and act with. She’s super funny, and I love her. We’ll just like get into laughing fits sometimes, but it’s super fun. She’s dope.
HC: Did you and the cast have natural chemistry or was it something you worked at as you got to know them better?
AL: I think in the beginning of a show, everyone’s still getting to know each other, but we all definitely hit it off. We all got along really well. I’m very lucky to have a chill cast, for sure.
HC: You’re also one of the only Asian characters on the show, and on TV as a whole. Asians and Asian Americans are still extremely underrepresented in movies and TV, so what is it like to be able to be one of the few Asian characters on such a major network show?
AL: I feel very lucky and honored to represent, for sure, and grateful for the opportunity. We’ve come a long way, so I’m hopeful for the future that there will be more opportunities for Asian actors and actresses, but I’m happy to be a part of it.
HC: You attended New York University, which many actors have attended in the past, but I noticed that neither your major nor minor were actually related to acting. You majored in music business and minored in religious studies. When did you decide you wanted to pursue acting as a career?
AL: Well, ever since I was young, I loved to perform—my dad’s a singer, so I would always sing and do all of that stuff, but I didn’t realize I could do it professionally until [I was] in college. I went to NYU for music business, but then I went to this open call for a Broadway show, and just happened to get it. So once I got that, it was easier to get an agent, and then I realized, “Oh, I can actually do this as a career.” [That’s how I went] from college to actually performing, and making money. [laughs]
HC: And how did you decide on music business and religious studies? Because even those are not related to each other at all.
AL: Yeah, well, I did a lot of music in high school, and so I knew I wanted to be a part of that industry, but at the time, all the music majors were mostly musical theater and classical singing, and that wasn’t really my thing. So I was like, “Hey, music business, that sounds good. Also, it’s New York; that sounds great.” So I just went with that.
And with religious studies, I kind of fell into it. I noticed that I was taking a lot of religious courses, so I was like, “Oh, I must be interested in this.” And then I realized I had enough credits to actually minor in it, but I’ve always been interested in that.
HC: As far as music goes, outside of acting, you’re also a singer-songwriter. On your Instagram, you’ve posted little cover videos before. In the future, do you think you’ll ever put out original music, or your own album, or are you focused on acting—at least for right now?
AL: I definitely would love to in the future. I’ve tried before, but it’s a whole thing, the music industry and getting into it. But I would love to, for sure, come out with some songs. But right now, yeah, I am focusing on acting, [though] I would love to do it all at some point!
HC: Do you have a favorite genre of music that you love to listen to or write, or any artists that inspire you?
AL: Honestly? I love Top 40 shit. [laughs] Like, I love my pop. I love Rihanna. [It’s] just fun, good stuff. I’m a Top 40 girl.
HC: You did stage acting originally; that’s how you started acting. What was the transition like from stage acting to acting for TV? Are they very different, or are they actually pretty similar?
AL: I guess they are different, because obviously for the stage, I feel like everything’s a little more exaggerated … you have to communicate with the people sitting all the way in the back. Also, you do the same show eight times a week, which can be a bit repetitive, obviously, or really good because you really get to know the character.
But with TV and film, I feel like there’s more subtleties, it’s more realistic. I like that there’s something new every day. There’s always a new scene.
The transition, I would say, was pretty good. Having done musical theater prepared me, also, for that transition.
HC: Do you prefer one over the other, or do you love them both for different reasons?
AL: I think I love them both for different reasons! They’re like apples and oranges. One day, I would love to go back to theater, I would love to do another show but I also want to do movies, and keep doing that TV thing, and music! Why not?