Name: Sherry Cola
Notable past credits: Cola stars as Alice Kwan in the Freeform series “Good Trouble.”
Sundance project: Cole leads Randall Park’s feature directorial debut “Shortcomings,” a coming-of-age comedy.
Feeling the festival vibe: “There’s Coachella energy in the air,” Cole says. “People are scurrying from one corner to the other, just coming together for the love of art.”
Paying homage to the trailblazers: “I thank the trailblazers who allowed me to use my voice today,” she says. “I think about the Jet Lis and Lucy Lius and Ming-Na Wens; the Sandra Ohs and Michelle Yeohs — the absolute icons that have been holding it down and staying strong so that now we can continue that. I just wanna create that ripple effect for the generation behind me, too.”
How she got the role: In 2017, Cola auditioned for hip-hop improv game show “Wild ‘N Out” — and wasn’t cast. But last year — her career boosted by several seasons starring in “Good Trouble” — the show reached out to invite her on as a celebrity team captain. Cola hit up her friend Randall Park, an alum of the show, for advice.
“I hit him up and I say, ‘Randall, can you believe that I’m gonna be on ‘Wild ‘N’ now? What a full circle moment. It’s just so exciting.’ And then I said, ‘P.S. congrats on ‘Shortcomings.’ You’re gonna direct the hell out of it,’” Cola says. “He replies and says that I’m one of his top picks for one of the roles.”
What “Shortcomings” is about: That coleading role was Alice, the gay best friend of slacker Ben, played by Justin H. Min. Cola describes “Shortcomings” as a slice-of-life dramedy — and one that was long overdue for its nuanced depiction of Asian American characters. Based on a graphic novel, the film depicts its young adult protagonists as flawed and in flux, navigating relationships and identity.
“There’s so many themes in this movie — growing apart, change, complacency and being stuck in your ways, finding where you belong. And I think that’s so relatable,” Cola says. “It felt nostalgic — this is a movie that should have existed in 1992. Because I so badly wish it existed.”
She credits recent mainstream hits centering on Asian American stories like “Minari” and “Everything Everywhere All at Once” for opening the possibility for a film like “Shortcomings” to exist. “Representation is so lacking for [AAPI characters], that we just simply need more,” she adds.
What’s next: Cola is in the middle of filming season five of “Good Trouble” for Freeform, and this summer she’s gearing up for the release of a feature film costarring Ashley Park and Stephanie Hsu, directed by “Crazy Rich Asians” writer Adele Lim. “It’s a comedy. Think ‘Hangover.’ Think ‘Girls Trip,’” Cola says. “So also that first-of-its-kind energy.”