By Ela Sathern By Ela Sathern | July 12, 2022 |
Fans may recognize her from Nickelodeon’s Alex & Me, Disney’s Upside-Down Magic, Netflix’s No Good Nick or blockbuster Fast and Furious 9, to name a few, but on July 14, Siena Agudong takes on her most challenging role to date in the Netflix’s Resident Evil horror series. Here, the Filipina American actress who was born and raised on the island of Kaua‘i shares her favorite hot spots in Hawai‘i and her journey as an actress so far.
Where are your favorite places to eat in Hawai‘i? I don’t think I’ll ever get over my love for acai bowls or vegan pancakes. My family and I all have go-to orders whenever we go to Aloha Aina Juice Bar or Russell’s by Eat Healthy. When I go to Aloha Aina Juice Bar, I almost always order the Aina Bowl but substitute the poi drizzle for vegan coconut drizzle.
What’s your go-to order? A few months ago, I was having an off morning, so I went to the library to borrow three books, and then I took myself out to read and eat at Russell’s pancakes. I loved it!
Where are your favorite places to shop in Hawai‘i? My favorite stores on Kaua‘i are Mahina and Salt + Sea. The clothes they sell remind me a lot of the clothes I used to borrow from my sisters over the years.
What are your must-haves on a daily basis? I’m almost always wearing comfy baggy clothes that are neutral in color. I think growing up in Hawai‘i led me to wear and own an abundance of comfy beach clothes and bathing suits.
Where are your favorite places to see a sunrise in Hawai‘i? I love the North Shore of Kaua‘i. In 2020, when the islands were pretty much shut down because of COVID, I would pick up a coffee every morning from Trilogy Coffee and watch the sunrise in Hanalei. Polihale is another cliche spot to say, but I don’t think I could ever get used to how gorgeous that beach is. I made some of my favorite memories down at Polihale whether it be camping or sunrise shell scouting.
Where is your favorite place to pause and have a Zen moment? Across the street from Small Town Coffee in Kapaa, there is this little parking lot right by the ocean. For some reason, I get such a rush of peace sitting in the back of my parked truck next to the rocks. Another spot that I love is a little wind tunnel at the top of the Sleeping Giant hike in Wailua Homesteads. It has a stunning view, though it can feel a little sketchy because of its extreme height.
When did you know you wanted to be an actor? My first job was playing Nagana in South Pacific for a dinner theater company at a hotel in Kaua‘i. I was 6 years old and was so in love with acting. I couldn’t wait to get up onstage and perform. I was so incredibly nervous, but it’s all I could think about. My older sister used to get auditions to send in on tape, and I remember picking up her sides (part of the script) the moment she finished, and I would film the scenes on my own for fun. I have a bunch of my mock self-tape auditions sitting in dusty memory cards at home.
What has inspired you to become an actor? Watching my sister perform onstage growing up was incredibly inspiring for me. It awoke my eagerness to perform and my desire to be onstage or in front of the camera. When I started theater, I became someone different onstage. I was a very hyper and excited kid, but I was so focused when it came to acting. I have never lost my excitement for acting and have always had immense respect for the art. It is so important to me to never take acting for granted.
Who have been your mentors to note? It is safe to say that my family, my team in Los Angeles and all of those I’ve worked alongside over the years have had such a huge impact on me in regard to personal and career growth. I consider my manager, agents and PR team a part of my family. I feel so lucky to grow up surrounded by so much love, support and guidance. From the age of 8, the cast and crew around me became teachers and caretakers. I learned my greatest lessons about the industry and professionalism from those I have worked with as well as an overall sense of wellness. Some names to mention include Amber Horn; Suzanne Goddard-Smythe; Jim Klock and Eric Champnella (Alex & Me); Jason Shipman, Sean Astin and Melissa Joan Hart (No Good Nick); Michael Feldman (Nicky, Ricky, Dicky & Dawn); and so many more.
Tell us about the new series, Resident Evil, on Netflix this summer and the character you play. Resident Evil is the first live-action series in the Resident Evil universe. The series takes you through two timelines to fully uncover the secrets involved with the Umbrella Corporation. I play Billie Wesker. In 2022, Billie struggles with a school bully and fears the anger growing inside her. After learning that Umbrella is secretly conducting animal testing, Billie takes her sister with her on an ill-fated mission to free the caged test subjects. However, she gets bitten by an infected dog and given a virus that changes the course of her life.
What are you most excited about with this role? This role is everything that scares me and everything that excites me as an actress. Playing Billie Wesker was by far the hardest and most challenging role I’ve ever had to play, and it gave me so many opportunities to grow as an actress. I’m so humbled to be a part of this project and proud of what we accomplished in this eight-episode series.
What’s next for you? I have always felt such excitement when it comes to college, and I’m crazy grateful to have gotten accepted into NYU. My dad always taught me to value my education and I feel very blessed. I plan to major in business and minor in screenwriting. My hope is to continue my acting career while I am studying at NYU.
Photography by: Krissy Saleh