“It’s been a little out-of-body — did I already use that phrase?” asks Cathy Ang on a recent Friday, the day after new episodes of “And Just Like That” have been dropping. The actress has yet to use that specific phrasing in conversation, but the messaging is consistent: Being part of the latest “Sex and the City” chapter makes for one hell of a breakout role.
Ang plays Lily Goldenblatt, daughter of Charlotte York and Harry Goldenblatt, in what is her first major job after finding acting only recently while studying music at New York University. The San Francisco Bay Area native is still pinching herself about the whole experience.
“I feel like I don’t belong — it’s weird to be on such an iconic show and have people already be fans,” she says of the immediate social media onslaught that she received. “It’s really exciting, people’s response to the show, whatever they are, it’s because they care about the show. And I think it’s exciting to see everyone just engaging in the conversation. This is a show people want to talk about right now.”
Ang grew up a music die-hard, eventually moving to New York to attend Steinhardt for vocal performance. While there, she fell in love with theater and discovered the world of Broadway, taking advantage of her proximity to some of the best shows in the world.
“I have always turned to music for expressing myself and wanting to connect to some piece of art,” she explains. “I wasn’t sure though that I could actually make a career out of it, but I made a deal with my parents [to let me try it]. Like many immigrant families we made a deal and I was lucky they let me try it out and it led to me kind of working. So we’re still on that track.”
She watched “Sex and the City” for the first time after getting the audition for Lily. (In fact, she didn’t know who the character was initially as they kept any specifics under wraps, but she was able to take a strong guess as to who it might be. “I wasn’t sure who this other Asian teenage girl would be,” she says). She first watched the movies to get a quick sense of the SATC world before diving into the series, and, as expected, became obsessed.
Being a SATC newbie had its benefits as she was able to approach the audition like it were any other project and without the added sense of trying to match an existing show.
“Because I knew so little about the show at that point I really just got to kind of be myself,” she says.
She instantly saw herself in Lily and was drawn to the mother-daughter relationship the character has with Charlotte.
“I think as a mid-20s person everyone can remember how difficult it was in those teenage years, with your parents,” she says. “And I think something that was just so true and it felt like those words I was sent, I felt like they were my own. I connected with what she was saying. I think that desire to have a good relationship with your parents was so clear, even from the audition.”
Once she got to set, the nerves set in.
“I’m not gonna lie, I was pretty starstruck. And I don’t think that’s terrible, but maybe I was a little too anxious about it and in my head,” she says. “This is also just one of my first TV jobs, and I just felt the pressure to do well, since first of all a bunch of people — extra people, even — were watching, but also because I have so much respect for [these women]. They’ve been playing these characters for a couple of decades now, and are powerhouses in the industry. They’ve created their own brands, they’re directors, they’re artists in so many different ways. And it’s exciting — but nerve-wracking — to meet people who you hope one day could be your mentors.”
Those mentors are now texting buddies who have been sending her memes about how Lily ruined Carrie’s wedding. “And so that’s kind of fun,” she admits with a grin.