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Interview with actor
Jodi Long of "Sullivan & Son" 5/24/13
Recently I had the chance to speak with actress Jodi Long
from the TBS's comedy Sullivan and Son, and during the course
of our conversation, I discovered a lady not only extremely
talented, but smart and gracious as well. Star of her one
woman show 'Surfing DNA', Long will return to the small
screen beginning on June 13th, 2013 with the premiere of the
second season of Sullivan and Son.
Mendie: Season 2 of "Sullivan and Son" is premiering on TBS
this June. For those who may be tuning in for the first time,
what can you tell us about your character?
Jodi: Well, I'm the tiger mom, Steve's mom, the main
character's mom, and she's a bit of a tiger mom and a bit of
a wild card in that anything and everything comes out of her
mouth, whether it's appropriate or not.
By the way, I love that because I have perpetual stick-my-foot-in-my-mouth problem. Whatever I think of, I
automatically say, and then later think to myself, "oh, sorry."
Jodi: Unlike you, Ok Cha has no remorse for what she says.
Sometimes you have to admire that about somebody who just
lets it all out there. Now, I know your character is based off
of Steve's real mom, so do you ever feel pressure to do right by
her in your portrayal of the character?
Jodi: No. You know, it's funny I met her when we did the pilot,
and she's a diminutive woman, and I'm taller than she is, and
she was so thrilled. She meets me and she goes, "Oh, you're
so pretty. I'm so happy you're playing me." We kind of hit
it off from the beginning, and she's an amazing dancer.
What's funny is after we did the pilot, we hung out on the
set and put the jukebox on. She came up to me and asked, "Do
you want to dance?" So we were dancing together, and she's a
So no, I don't feel pressure at all because I know that what
I'm doing is a take-off on what Steve wrote about, and his
mom really is that blunt. But I've kind of taken it, and the
writers, I think, have taken it in to another place. So I
think she realizes that it's a lot of fun. I mean, when I
said in the pilot to him (Steve), I hadn't seen him in
months, and I look at him, and the first thing I say to him is,
"You look fat," and Steve told me that was actually what his
mother said to him 5 minutes before he walked down the aisle
to get married.
Mendie: Oh, no! Ok, that's kind of awesome. Now, is there anything
you can tell us about the upcoming season? Are you looking
forward to the viewers seeing any specific storylines?
Jodi: Oh, yes. First of all, the premiere, I think it's still
going to be the premiere show, Ken Jeong, from The Hangover,
and Community, he plays my son-in-law.
Mendie: That's going to be interesting.
Jodi: Yeah, and it's a really funny episode. So I think people
who follow The Hangover, which, oh my god, it's one of the
biggest hits, and they're coming out with The Hangover 3 soon,
so I think they will get a big kick because Ken does a great
job. And then we have another episode coming up a couple of
episodes later, that I get a lot to do with Dan (Lauria who
plays Ok Cha's husband Jack) when we run against each other
for a neighborhood council position. It's really a fun, fun
Mendie: I'm looking forward to seeing both of them. Especially
the one with Dan. I've adored him forever, so I'm really
looking forward to that. You guys seem really comfortable
Jodi: We are. We have a great cast and a great executive
producer. Dan and I both come from the theater, and after we
finished our episode, and it just kept getting better in
terms of the writing as we went along in the week, and I
looked at him, and I said "We've just done a little play in
24 minutes." And it was true, we had run the gamut in that
particular episode between the two of us, and I think you see
a side of Steve's mom and dad that you haven't yet seen. So
it's really fun. We have a huge fight and then everything
else that ensues. It's great when the writers are really
writing for you.
Mendie: You can tell when the writers and the actors are
starting to discover the voice of the show and it starts to
come together. You've carried the title of actress and
writer of your short film "Long Story Short"- are there any
others that you wouldn't mind adding to your collection? Are
there any other things that you are hoping to accomplish in
Jodi: I also wrote a one-woman show called "Surfing DNA", and
I'm reviving that this year in the summer in LA. Someone
wanted to produce it, so I was like, "great," so I'm kind of
revisiting it because I was nominated for an Ovation Award
here in 2006 when I did it, so its been 7 years since I did
the show, so I'm revamping that. I think I do have another
movie in me, but I'm just really busy now with a lot of other
things, so a movie in terms of writing and producing it... So
I'm looking forward to the right thing. You know, movies take
a long time, and it's a huge commitment, so you had better
really want and really love your subject and your material.
So I'm just musing around a bunch of different ideas from
the personal, creative level. But me as an actress, I'm
hoping there's a good and interesting part in a Broadway
show in the future, and hopefully a good film.
Mendie: Now what made you decide to bring back your one-woman
show "Surfing DNA"?
Jodi: It really came about because someone saw "Long Story
Short" and then asked me about it, because in LSS you see it
kind of hangs on the one-woman show. It's like a close line,
and he said "what is that?" and I was like "oh, that's my one-woman show that I just used as a little bit of an outline
for the movie." So he asked me if he could read my script,
and he really liked it, and it was actually a
producer/director friend of Dan Lauria's, and Dan had given
him my movie because he loved it. Actually, he gave everybody
the movie. He just kept passing it around the cast, and so it
was because of Dan kind of being my agent, pushing the movie
around, and this guy got really interested in it. So he asked
my for the script. I said, "Well, if I were to do it again, I'd
cut it because it was 93 minutes without an intermission, and
that's a lot for an actor and it was a lot for me 7 years
ago." So we've just been working on it-- it's been a lot of fun
because you have a different point of view 7 years later.
Even though a lot of it will stay the same, I think the way
into the story is going to be a little different.
Mendie: Now, where will people be able to see this?
Jodi: It will be at the Working Stage Theatre in Los Angeles,
and we don't have our exact opening date, but it will be in
Mendie: I know that you were in the movie "A Picture of You"
by J.P. Chan, which was partially backed through Kickstarter.
What do you think of this new way of providing funding for
Jodi: Well, I think it's a great tool. I don't know how
anybody could be against it because a lot of times these
projects wouldn't get done at all. I wish when we were doing
"Long Story Short" we had had that tool. I mean, we had
started the movie in 2004 and didn't finish it until 2008,
and that wasn't an option to do it that way then. We raised
the money independently. So, yeah, I think it's great, and I
know J.P., the director on it, he got a lot of support and
raised the money to help support it. The movie got in to the
Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival, but he pulled it
because he was going to get funding for some more stuff
through another organization, so he had to pull it because
they wouldn't even consider it if it had already had a
premiere somewhere. So anyways, the movie will be out there,
probably in the next 6 months or so.
But I think it's great, I really do. Any way you can get the
money as opposed to funding it...a lot of people in the old
days used to mortgage their house themselves, and I don't
think that's a good idea because if the film doesn't make it,
then you are out a house. So I always say, as a producer,
use someone else's money if you can possibly help it. So Kickstarter is not like a big drain on your pocket- you can
put anything in, $5, $20. You can ask your cousin for the $20
or $100, $200, whatever. So I think it's a great tool, I
really do, and they don't just do films on it. A friend of
mine sent me something about an album he had made.
Mendie: I think a lot of the complaints are coming from people
because they may not really understand how the financing of
stuff like that goes. They only really understand the
finished product. They don't understand that it's not just
all movie premieres and magazines. That you start off at
the very beginning with nothing.
Jodi: Well, you have to start somewhere, and it's really a
test. I started that way, too. I mean, I had a little bit of a
head start because my parents were in showbiz. But I think
it just shows your determination that if you really want to
do it, you have to really work for it, and network, and it's
just a process like anything. People say to me all the time
that, "Oh, it's so hard being an actor," this was years ago when
I was first starting out, and I was like, "Look, to do anything
well is hard. But you find exactly how much you want it by
being rejected, by working in a little theatre for no money.
If you really want to do it, then you are going to find a way
to do it." If you really want to produce a film, you are going
to find a way to get the money. I think it's part of the
Mendie: What can you tell us about your character in "A
Picture of You"? What's the movie about?
Jodi: This movie is about this young girl and her brother who
go back to their mother's house to clean it out after she's
died, and they don't really get along, and they're not really
on the same page. But they have this task at hand, and I
don't know if you've been in that position of having to
clean out a close relative or parent's house after they've
died, but there are a lot of things that you find out in the
process. This actually came out of JP's real life because
his mom had died and he had had to do a similar thing. The
movie kind of starts out as this sad drama, and then what
happens is they find some pictures of their mother on her
computer that kind of throw them in to a complete tailspin.
So it becomes a bit of a comedy after that.
Mendie: Are you thinking that's going to be coming out in the
next 6 months?
Jodi: No, it will probably start hitting film festivals maybe
at the end of the year. There's a couple of film festivals
at the end, so it probably won't come out until next year.
Mendie: I just want to thank you again for taking the time to
speak with me today, and I'm really looking forward to the
return of "Sullivan and Son". I wish that I could see
your one-woman show "Surfing DNA".
Jodi: Well, you can actually see "Long Story Short" on
You can rent the movie for like a dollar, and it's only 56
minutes, so it doesn't take your whole day.
Mendie: So fans can find it on Amazon?
Jodi: Yeah www.amazon.com, just type in
"Long Story Short"
and you can rent it for a couple of bucks. Well, it was good
to talk to you Mendie.
Mendie: It was great talking to you, Jodi. Thank you again.
Read our review
of "Sullivan & Son"!
Best known for her role as ‘Patty,’ “the “power lesbian” in
HBO’s hit series “Sex & and the City” and her hilarious line
“Ling Ling! You forgot your bling bling!” as the
enthusiastic, yet socially inept Korean mother in THE HOT
CHICK, beautiful and talented award winning actor and
filmmaker, JODI LONG, stars
as ‘Ok Cha Sullivan,’ the frugal Korean immigrant mother of
‘Steve Sullivan’ (Steve Byrne) in the TBS hit comedy
series, “Sullivan & Son” (Season 2 premieres on Thursday,
June 13th at 10/9pm
CT). Created and executive produced by
Rob Long (“Cheers”), Peter Billingsley, Vince Vaughn and
Steve Byrne, the series centers around Steve Sullivan
(Byrne) who surprises his parents when he leaves his
prestigious job as a corporate lawyer in New York to take
over his multi-generational family business bar ‘Sullivan &
Son’ in Pittsburgh. ‘Ok Cha’ is the kind of mother who takes
tough love to the extreme while always making sure to tell
everyone exactly what they are doing wrong, and she is
Going back to her roots, Long wrote and co-produced the
short documentary LONG STORY SHORT, her
personal family story of sacrifices and perseverance which
tells the tale of her vaudevillian parents ‘Larry and Trudie’
(her father was Chinese and her mother was Japanese), a
popular husband-and-wife nightclub act of the ‘40s and ‘50s
Directed by Academy award-nominated Christine Choy, the
documentary went on to play numerous film festivals,
including the Hawaii International Film Festival and won the
Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival’s Audience Award for
Best Documentary. LONG STORY SHORT was also voted one
of the top ten documentaries by UCLA’s Asia Institute. The
documentary is available for rent and purchase at
This coming year, Long can also
be seen in A PICTURE OF YOU, a heartfelt drama
centered around estranged siblings ‘Kyle’ and ‘Jen,’ who
travel from New York City to rural Pennsylvania to pack up
the home of their recently deceased mother (Long).
Additionally, Long will also reprise her one-woman play
SURFING DNA, in which she opens up her biological
journey growing up with Vaudevillian parents, at the Working
Stage Theatre in West Hollywood this June/July. SURFING DNA
garnered an Ovation Nomination for Best Solo Performance
when it played at East West Players in Los Angeles.
Born and raised in New York, Long studied acting at Purchase
College (SUNY) where she received her BFA. Long embarked on
her illustrious theater career as she made her first theater
debut at the age of 7 in the notable Broadway play,
NOWHERE TO GO BUT UP, directed by Sidney Lumet,
and since then has performed in several Broadway
productions: LOOSE ENDS, THE BACCHAE,
GETTING AWAY WITH MURDER and the recent revival of
Rodgers and Hammerstein’s FLOWER DRUM SONG in which
she garnered an Ovation Award at the Mark Taper Forum in Los
Angeles. Her television credits include co-starring with
Valerie Bertinelli in “Café American,” playing
Margaret Cho’s mother in “All American Girl”, Alicia
Silverstone’s secretary in “Miss Match” and has had
recurring roles on “The Cosby Show”, “Michael
Hayes”, “Eli Stone” and “Law and Order: LA”.
Among her most notable roles are ‘Patty’, the power lesbian”
in an episode of “Sex in the City.” Long has also
been featured in several films including BEGINNINGS
with Ewan McGregor and Christopher Plummer, PATTY HEARST,
STRIKING DISTANCE, ROLLOVER and THE HOT
Born and raised in New York City, Long attended Purchase
College (SUNY) where she earned her BFA. In her rare free
time, Long enjoys cooking “California-Chinese” food,
Australian rissoles, dumplings and steamed fish. In addition
to healthy eating (Long is a vegetarian), she regularly
practices the art of Kundalini Yoga known as the “yoga of
awareness” in which she is a certified trainer. Long’s
embrace of the Kundalini Yoga lifestyle cultivates the
creative and spiritual potential of a human to uphold its
values, truth and compassion. Long also is a huge animal
lover and loves spending time with her dog, Bodhi, and cat,
Sita Tarra. Long takes pleasure in serving as a board member
on the Board of Hollywood Orchard, a non-profit organization
that deals in education, sustainability and harvesting a
virtual orchard in Beachwood Canyon in Hollywood donating
fresh fruit to those in need. She also serves as a member of
the National Committee of the Screen Actors Guild, a board
member of the President Counsel of the Arts at her alma
mater SUNY, and a board member of Visual Communications, the
first on-profit organization in the nation dedicated to the
honest and accurate portrayals of the Asian Pacific American
peoples, communities and heritage through the media arts.
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