Pop-Culturalist Chats with Lulu Antariksa
Lulu Antariksa is an artist who is all about her craft—whether that be through music, acting, or dance. With each new project, she’s proven she’s mastered the art of creating work that not only resonates but connects with any audience. She’s currently starring as Rowan on the addictive series, T@gged. And Pop-Culturalist was lucky enough to chat with this triple threat about the show’s representation of strong female characters, the dangers of social media, and the message the show is trying to convey.
P-C: What were you most excited to explore about your character in Season 2?
Lulu: That’s a great question! The thing that I love so much about Rowan is that she has an incredible capacity to love and a want to protect those around her. When dealing with the aftermath of what happened with Dunbar, she’s had a huge disconnect, she’s really struggling with a form of PTSD and the fact that she couldn’t protect someone that she cared so much about, and she was the reason why he was so broken at the end. Having a disconnect from the one that she feels the most closest to, to then at the end being able to protect them was very fun and the fact that I got to explore different relationships with different characters in the show was really exciting.
P-C: Talking about those relationships, how are they affected now after everything that’s going on?
Lulu: I feel like when something so prominent happens in a young person’s life, it becomes a matter of justifying and reconciling in your head why this terrible event has happened. People are going to justify and reconcile that in different ways, and, so, you find yourself closer to people who are going to justify and reconcile in the same way that you do—which is not always the people you are closest to at the beginning of the situation. The three girls—Rowan, Hailey and Elisia—are either very close or very far apart at the beginning of Season 2 because they have reacted so differently, so vastly different from one another because of what has happened.
P-C: Do you share a lot of similarities or differences with your character?
Lulu: There are similarities between myself and Rowan. We’re both highly-sensitive people; we have a really huge capacity to love others. We definitely are both protectors, but there are differences as well. I’m a lot older than my character. She is younger. She’s more impulsive, and she lets her anger cloud her sometimes. She becomes very myopically focused on what she needs to do rather than what is happening around her, and ,unfortunately, sometimes it’s in her own detriment.
P-C: The show features three really strong female protagonists. How important was that for you when you signed on for this role?
Lulu: It was incredibly important, and it was such a joy to be able to work with Hannah Macpherson, who wrote and nurtured these three amazing and different female characters. Working alongside Katelyn Nacon and Lia Marie Johnson as well has been an absolute joy just because our characters are so varied that we get to play different strong women. It’s cool to see that there is not one stereotype of a strong female woman in this show. It’s just so varied and so different, and you see that even with Claudia Sulewski’s character in the coming season; she has a strength to her as well. That has just been an utmost joy to be able to portray that and to be able to nurture these characters alongside Hannah.
P-C: How did you and Katelyn and Lia build that bond?
Lulu: Lia and I actually worked together years ago, when I was 16, on a show called Side Effects for AwesomenessTV. When I met her, I just instantly fell in love with her. She’s a couple of years younger than me, and she just has this joy and vibrancy. I just loved being around her. We got really lucky when we met Katelyn. She’s just such a kind and fun person so the three of us clicked very easily because of how different we are and because we were all there to make a wonderful collaborative authentic piece of art.
P-C: One of the most important messages about the show is to be mindful about what you share online. Do you ever find yourselves censoring what you post on social media?
Lulu: For me, social media has a lot to do with my job. When I share something on social media, it’s mostly like, ‘Hey, here’s what’s going on in my professional life.’ You are absolutely entitled to know everything that’s going on in my professional life because I am an artist, I am here for you guys. This is all for people to experience it alongside someone. That’s why we’re artists; this is for other people. For my personal life, that is very private. That is my own. You are not entitled to that. I love sharing things with people, like, ‘Happy Birthday to my brother!’ or whatever it may be, but my personal life is my own, something that I need to deal with on a personal private level and so, I’m more than happy to work with everyone around me, but my personal life is mine.
P-C: Great answer!
P-C: The first season featured a lot of bite-size episodes, ranging from 12 to 13 minutes. Season 2 is going to move more to the traditional 30-minute episode. Was that a big adjustment?
Lulu: It actually wasn’t. I was very excited to learn that we have so much filmed in our very short amount time, but it wasn’t a huge adjustment because the fact that we filmed in New Mexico, alongside so many artists who were just there to work hard and to work exceptionally made it so easy for all of us to do our job. It was like a well-oiled machine. Everyone was just like, ‘Work and be respectful to those around you.’ It didn’t feel difficult to do a long 16-hour day—or whatever it may be—because everyone was there to work hard, and everyone was kind. That is so rare. It’s something that I treasure deeply.
P-C: What was the dynamic like on-set because you have returning cast members and then you have some new cast members joining this season?
Lulu: It was actually so much fun to have these new characters come on. We have Noah Centineo; we have Rajiv Dhall; we have Emma Dumont and Braeden Lemasters. Those people worked so well into the dynamic that we had already created on-set and the mindset that ‘We’re all here, and we all like each other, but we’re here to work hard. We’re here to make something exceptional.’ The four of them are so vastly different that it just created this great dynamic between not only the cast, but the crew. That was really exciting, and, like I said before, very rare. It just makes it such a treasure and such a joy to be able to work on the T@gged set because of these amazing people.
P-C: What do you hope viewers take away from watching T@gged?
Lulu: I hope that when people watch the show, they realize that social media and what is happening—or what can happen on social media—is very indicative of a generation that has lost empathy and has lost a lot of honesty. So I would hope that when people watch it, they step back, be introspective and say, ‘How am I presenting myself and how am I treating other through the scope and through the apparatus of social media?’ My character, Rowan—and I am speaking from personal experience of playing this character and in my own life—she had a lot of bullying happen to her, and it was very easy for people to do that because they were hiding behind masks and hiding behind a screen. I hope that people can step back and look at themselves and see what they are doing themselves and what they’re okay watching other people do.
P-C: How has the fan reaction to the show? Have you had a moment that sticks out to you, a fan interaction?
Lulu: I’ve had fan interaction, yes! Having a lot of people love the show—which is so exciting to me because we all created it together, and the best thing you can hope for is for people to be into it—it felt to me like a lot of people resonate with what is happening with three girls. That is such a cool thing to see: different people resonating with different characters. That’s why we have such various leads as well. I’ll meet someone new like, ‘I love Elisia,’ ‘I love Hailey,’ but I get so many people coming up to me and saying things like, ‘Hey, I love Rowan because I feel like I am her. I feel really sensitive and I feel like a sensitive person in a very hurtful world sometimes,’ and we just get to talk and interact with one another and that is more than I could ever ask for from my job—to be able to interact with people who have resonated with something that I helped create. It’s completely out of this world – a blessing!
P-C: How do you think brands like go90 and AwesomenessTV have really changed this industry and how we consume media?
Lulu: AwesomenessTV has just been an absolute power-house when it comes to new media and bite-size contents that are not only very interesting, but they’re so well-made. Working with them on Side Effects was such an interesting experience because we were making very small episodes with production value in them; it was unparalleled to anything I’ve ever done. It was really outstanding to see the work and effort and detail that they put into their media, and the same thing with go90 and the fact that you can watch something on your phone – it’s so accessible now to all of us and you can just see how entertainment is becoming more and more accessible to those people who are commuting and are working 9 to 5 or are in college or high school and they don’t have time to watch an hour long show, but they want well-done quick content. I think the two companies together have just been incredible in making well-produced smaller shows if that makes sense.
P-C: Do you have maybe a favorite scene or episode in the upcoming season that you’re excited for fans to see?
Lulu: That is an excellent question! I think that there is a friendship that forms in Season 2 that I don’t want to give away quite yet, but I have a lot of scenes with this person. It is a friendship that no one saw coming. I was reading the Season 2 script, and I was so excited that I get to work with this person. We get to build this friendship together, and it is really rooted in what has happened with monkeyman and the death of Dunbar and the two people, like I said before, reconciling and justifying in the same way. I think I have four or five really long scenes with this person, and I’m really excited for the fans to see that and see the dynamic between those two characters.
P-C: That’s a great teaser! How did you get started in acting?
Lulu: I was 4 years old, and I watched the movie The Parent Trap. At a young age, I didn’t have a lot of friends. I also didn’t really understand myself, but when I watched this movie I just felt joy and happiness and fun. I felt like I belonged to something; this was something that I needed to do. At a young age, I didn’t realize it, but I wanted to make genuine authentic art that resonated with people in that same way—whether it makes them feel joy or fear or whatever emotion that resonated with them and stays in their heart—that movie did with me. And so, I tell my mom, ‘Hey, this is what I want to do.’ She’s like, ‘Alright, let’s see if you can do it.’ That and math have been the only things I’ve ever been good at!
P-C: Do you have a dream role that you’d like to play?
Lulu: That is a great question! I’ve always been interested in theater, but there are a lot of theater roles that I would love to play. There’s a lot of musicals that I like as well, but, really, what I’m looking for in a role is not a specific person or persona, but a character that tells a story that is prominent in our day and age.
P-C: Do you have any upcoming projects that you can chat about?
Lulu: I do. I just did a pilot called Impulse which is based on the Jumper series, which is really exciting. I have to play the antagonist for one of the first times in my life, which is really fun! I have that coming up soon, God willing, and I also did a movie called What Still Remains and that hopefully, that will be released soon.
P-C: We can’t wait to see it!
Pop-Culturalist Speed Round
P-C: Guilty pleasure TV show?
Lulu: New Girl. I watch New Girl all the time. I think it’s the quirkiest funniest show.
P-C: Guilty pleasure movie?
Lulu: Pride and Prejudice, 2005. Keira Knightley is just gorgeous.
P-C: Favorite book?
Lulu: Harry Potter — all of them, but I really like Prisoner of Azkaban because of the way it deals with the abstract concept of time.
P-C: Favorite play or musical?
Lulu: Probably Les Miserables because that was the first musical I ever saw. It brought me to tears.
P-C: A band or artist fans would be surprised to learn is on your playlist?
Lulu: I don’t know if people would be surprised this person is on my playlist but I really like Hozier and Young the Giant. I’m a very folk-americana-rock person.
P-C: Favorite social media platform?
Lulu: Instagram. I love seeing how people use it.
P-C: Hidden talent?
Lulu: I can play the cello—not well, but I can do it!
P-C: Go-to karaoke song?
Lulu: “Living on a Prayer”
Photo Credit: AwesomenessTV