Sherry Cola can’t wait for everyone to know who she is. It’s a reality that might not be too far off given the actress’ steady stream of upcoming projects. Fans of Freeform’s Good Trouble already know Cola as Alice Kwan, the coterie building manager who has tended to her stand-up comedy dreams over the course of three seasons and has found inch-by-inch success the more she has found confidence in her identity and talents. Ahead of the Season 4 Good Trouble premiere, LA Confidential chatted with Cola all about Alice, Pixar’s Turning Red and Adele Lim’s directorial debut— a comedy that is “the first of its kind.”
Thanks for taking the time to talk. You were on set really early this morning, right?
I was on set. You know, when you're waking up at 4:30 a.m., it is actually interesting how early we wake up to make TV, but it's such a blessing. You work these long days and you drive home and you're like, “I wouldn't want to be doing anything else.” So I'm super grateful.
Let’s talk Good Trouble Season 4. What’s in store for the coterie this time around?
We got cliffhangers, we got flashbacks, we got sexy stuff. That’s what Good Trouble Season 4 is all about. The coterie is a family and they're going through all sorts of things. I think what's beautiful about our show is that all these characters are really just trying to figure it out. They're trying to discover who they're meant to be.
We have our love triangles of course, we have the drama and we have some new characters as well, which I'm very excited about. They just got announced. Booboo Stewart, Bryan Craig and Priscilla Quintana are now series regulars, so the family is expanding.
My character Alice, you've definitely seen her grow in the past three seasons and Season 4, you'll see her struggling with a new journey and going through something traumatic and rising from that. She's close to her comedy dream and something unexpected happens and we watch her figure it out and re-find her voice. Life isn't perfect and I think Good Trouble really, really displays that.
I'm actually really excited to see Alice and Sumi’s dynamic. They’re best friends through and through who have a shared history of romance and they'll be trying to figure out how to be in each other's lives moving forward. I think something about the coterie and something about Good Trouble, you're constantly reminded of the chosen family. The support of friends really goes a long way. The coterie, we have each other's backs no matter what and that's a really beautiful reminder in Season 4, for sure.
Do you have a favorite joke Alice has done?
You know what? It's in Season 4. There's a joke that Alice tells that surprised me. She can be bashful in her way, but she's slowly getting more and more outspoken. She's getting more and more candid and outspoken in her comedy and there's a joke that is cunnilingus-related in Season 4 that I was really pleased to deliver. Alice is a person of many identities. She's a woman, she's queer, she's Asian, so you definitely see that reflected in her comedy in Season 4.
Has playing Alice shaped or changed your relationship with comedy?
I think playing Alice has changed my perspective in general… 50 episodes have aired and being on the show has really taught me the importance of being an ally or speaking up for my own community or just how marginalized communities, we're stronger when we have each other's backs. I think in general, like the last two years, I've evolved as a comic.It kind of made me rethink my material. Comedy is such a powerful thing. It's not just punch lines and knock knock jokes. It has the power to teach, in a sense. People walk away laughing, but they actually learn something. Their perspective on something might change. Their view of a queer Asian woman might be different from the moment they walk in and the moment they walk out. I think I'm trying to learn to just tell stories and jokes that do have intention. It can still be the dating stuff and the observational stuff, but I think Good Trouble and Alice’s comedy has taught me to have a message in everything.
What can you tell us about your character in Pixar’s Turning Red?
I play an auntie to Mei, who is a 13-year-old that turns into a red panda when emotions run high. It's kind of a symbolism for puberty, which is really fun. It is centered around an Asian family, which is really beautiful to see because I grew up watching Pixar.
It's an absolute dream to share the screen with Sandra Oh, essentially, and to be in a Pixar movie. This is the dream. Pixar changed the game for animation. To be a part of it, it's really just a bucket list item for sure.
Pixar knows what they're doing. The movie is phenomenal from beginning to end. It's fun, it's goofy and it has a lot of heart. It's all about putting cultural specifics into TV and film, but also telling a universal story of just being a teenager. We all know what that's like and those ups and downs and trying to figure out who you are and trying to figure out what you tell your parents and what you don't tell your parents. Trying to figure out how to go to this boy band’s concert, how to figure out who are your friends and who do you trust? I think these are all universal themes in this movie that everyone can relate to, which is why Pixar is just so good at storytelling.
Are you in the middle of doing voiceover work for The Tiger's Apprentice?
I've done a few sessions, but it doesn't come out until 2023. I believe I will still have a couple more sessions. That movie is also going to be epic. It’s Sandra Oh, again, Michelle Yeoh, Bowen Yang, Henry Golding. The cast is just so cool. It's so funny how under wraps all of it is. But the story is based on a trilogy of books by Laurence Yep. It's about a kid who goes on this mystical journey with the animals of the Chinese zodiac. I'm the year of the snake and I celebrated the lunar calendar my entire life. It's really cool to be able to tell this story and do all these projects that center around the Asian experience.
You have so many great projects coming up. Can you tell us anything about Adele Lin's upcoming comedy for Lionsgate?
This movie is the first of its kind. Truly never been done. Point Grey, Seth Rogan's production company, so you already know it's gonna be hysterical. Lionsgate, this big studio, believes in a movie like this— this R-rated raunchy comedy that has Asian leads with so many layers. Every single character has an arc. Every single lead is Asian and we've just never seen a movie like this. It has like a Hangover, Girls Trip, Bridesmaids-vibe, but all the leads are Asian.
It was truly a dream to be able to work with Adele Lim, first and foremost. She wrote Crazy Rich Asians and Raya and the Last Dragon, so to be in her directorial debut is an absolute honor.
We're just showing Asians a way that they've never been seen before. I think that for so long, we've been put in a box and now we get to see multiple perspectives, multiple identities within the Asian community all at once.
The movie is messy, it's insightful, it's sexy, it's hilarious. It’s everything you want and more and everything you didn't realize you were missing from the big screen, so I'm just I'm so thrilled for the world to see it.
Do you want to get into doing more film after that experience?
100%. The dream is to be a movie star. The goal is to be a movie star. That is on the to do list, so I absolutely want to do more film. And hopefully I get to do more film after this movie. As a community, I think we've been fighting for representation for a long time and we haven't been given the opportunities we deserve. Hopefully after movies like this, we’ll be taken seriously as people who can lead a movie, people who can carry a storyline and for us to exist on the screen more than one person at a time. I'm really hoping that this changes the game.
Also, I am a stand up comic in real life and I've been at it for a handful of years. I'm really hoping this year that I'll get my own comedy special. I'm more than ready and I just can't wait for everyone to know who Sherry Cola is.
This interview has been edited and condensed.
Photography by: Jonny Marlow