Brenda's Song: Homecoming Warrior
Packed with spectacular martial arts action, adventure and laughs, "Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior" is the story of an all-American suburban girl who learns to accept her warrior destiny and embrace her ancient heritage. Packed with spectacular martial arts action, adventure and laughs, "Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior" is the story of an all-American suburban girl who learns to accept her warrior destiny and embrace her ancient heritage.
I just did a promotion for Disney where I'm talking about my heritage, just setting things straight. It's really nice because a lot of questions do come up about it (heritage) and a lot of people don't know where it is.
Wendy Wu is an average, popular American teenager and then suddenly, her life is turned upside down by a visit from a young Chinese monk who claims she is the reincarnation of a powerful female warrior -- and the only person who can prevent an ancient evil spirit from destroying the world. But when she receives this news, Wendy is already locked in mortal combat... in a no holds barred battle for Homecoming Queen with her high school archrival, Jessica Dawson. Faced with these two underhanded opponents, Wendy has no choice but to take a stand.
Starring is Brenda Song, best known to fans of Disney Channel's hit series "The Suite Life of Zack & Cody" as London Tipton, the hotel owner's spoiled daughter. She also starred in three Disney Channel Original Movies: "The Ultimate Christmas Present," "Get a Clue" and "Stuck in the Suburbs" and in a recurring role as Tia on Disney Channel's "Phil of the Future." Song is joined by Shin Koyamada ("The Last Samurai") as Shen, the young monk whose responsibility it is to prepare Wendy Wu for the ultimate battle.
According to Shen, Wendy is a reincarnated Yin Warrior, the only person who can defeat Yan-Lo, an evil spirit who attempts to conquer the world every 90 years. Popular high school student Wendy Wu is a shoo-in for Homecoming Queen until her longtime nemesis Jessica Dawson throws her hat in the ring. If it isn't bad enough that she must compete with a girl who's been stealing her moves since second grade, Wendy now must grapple with the fact that her fate is to save mankind.
Shen begs Wendy to don a powerful amulet that will protect her from evil until he can train her in kung fu. Appalled by his obvious lack of fashion sense, Wendy is too busy campaigning for Homecoming Queen to be bothered with rescuing civilization.
Wendy's traditional grandmother knows that Shen is speaking the truth; after all, her mother was the previous Yin Warrior who 90 years earlier defeated Yan-Lo in China. But Wendy, her brother Peter and their parents have lost touch with their Chinese heritage. Faced with the choice between fighting evil and going shopping, Wendy is off to the mall in a heartbeat with her best friends Tory and Lisa.
But Yan-Lo soon materializes and sets out to destroy Wendy before she can attain her full warrior abilities. In quick succession, the dark spirit possesses Wendy's brother, her principal, her dog, her girlfriend, her teachers and even (as if she weren't evil enough already) Jessica Dawson. As Shen's martial arts training unleashes Wendy's inner heroine, the malevolent apparition steps up its efforts and forces a final showdown with Wendy - ” during Homecoming! (Disney)
ASIANCE Magazine spoke with Brenda as soon as she returned from New Zealand where she was shooting Wendy Wu!
ASIANCE: Last time we spoke your mom was battling Breast Cancer. How is everything?
Brenda: She's good! She's doing a lot better. She's good now.
We just moved right before we went to New Zealand, so my mom and I are still furniture shopping and doing all that fun stuff. I haven't really had any time off. So this is kind of my time sitting at home watching TV. I'm getting headaches from watching so many re-runs. Going out, buying CDs because I felt I was so out of the loop. I'm just trying to get back in the hang of things. And it's nice to just be back at home and not have to wake up early. Just be a teenager and be on the phone for hours and do nothing..oh and do my makeup for no reason.
ASIANCE: How was it filming this movie?
Brenda: We wrapped it in the beginning of March. It was so much fun! It was definitely a different side for me. A part of me that a lot of people didn't know about is that I do martial arts. It's something I've done for a long time. It's a passion of mine I love. It's just something for me to learn and grow into. Every shot is beautiful. It's tranquil. The crew was wonderful. It was so nice to get out of LA for awhile since I'm such an LA girl. We had so much fun!
ASIANCE: Did you identify with Wendy?
Brenda: I did. I actually learned a lot from her. Just playing her and seeing how a 16 year old girl kind of lost her heritage because she got caught up in everyday life. It just made me think twice. And when people ask about my heritage, I truly want them to know. Playing Wendy I thought, "Oh my god? Have I done that?" I know the basic gist of all the times my grandmother was telling stories and we'd say, "Oh grandma not another one!" For me, the Hmong people, we don't have a written history. It's all been word of mouth. We don't have anything written down. All I have are stories that my grandma tells me, that my grandpa tells me, that my uncle tells me. For me, I really identified with Wendy because I don't want to not know where I came from. Wendy for me was a real character. She wasn't exaggerated like the other characters that I played. She was going through what I go through. She's having a hard time prioritizing her life, understanding what's right and what's wrong, getting caught up in peer pressure and at times she is so miserable and at other times so happy. She's just going through life. That was fun for me to pull a different part of me, not the fantasy part of me, the shopping part of me but a part of me down in the gut and use that towards what I'm doing. It was a nice change of pace.
ASIANCE: How was it working with Shin?
Brenda: Working with Shin was amazing because he was so wonderful in The Last Samurai. The funny thing is I've never actually seen the movie until I was in New Zealand. It was almost the last day and I had to watch it. I watched it and Shin made me cry like three times. It was really, really fun. It's great where there's a movie not so focused on the acting but the martial arts part of it. It took up so much time. We shot an action film in 24 days. It was insane. I learned so much from it. I learned a lot about myself and about what I can do and what my limitations are and how far I can push myself. But it was a wonderful experience and if I could do it again I would. I am a black belt in Tae Kwon Do
ASIANCE: Shin kept up with you?
Brenda: OMG we both trained once or twice a week about 3 months before the movie. We learned each others strengths and weaknesses. We really learned to trust each other. It was really nice because if Shin knew I was uncomfortable about something he would always make sure my ankle was ok because I have a really bad ankle. I actually sprained it prior to the movie. Shin was always watching out for that. We would always stretch together and make sure that we were ready. We were in this together. It's great to have someone watch your back and to know there was someone that was going to be there to drag me along the way.
ASIANCE: Did you bond with anyone else on the show?
Brenda: We had such an amazing cast. Ellen Woglom, who played my rival was really sweet. She was really, really sweet... so refreshing. Shin did become like my older younger brother. He is older than me. My little brother came with me and they totally bonded and I thought, "Oh my gosh he reminds me of my 15 year old brother!" It was really nice. It was truly a big family there. We did a lot of night shoots. We did a lot of work and a lot stress but when it came down to it all, it was great to have a support team.
ASIANCE: Are people more aware of your Hmong heritage?
Brenda: I just did a promotion for Disney where I'm talking about my heritage, just setting things straight. It's really nice because a lot of questions do come up about it (heritage) and a lot of people don't know where it is. I'm proud of where I come from and who I am because it is who I am and I wouldn't be here without all that. The people before me came here and I wouldn't be here without them. I'd be happy to answer any questions that come along.
ASIANCE: Is there something in life that you want to do but haven't done yet?
Brenda: I'm so laid back and I really live life day to day. I just want to live life to the fullest whether that's skydiving one day or learning how to ride a motorcycle or going to Italy for a year.
ASIANCE: So you skydived?
Brenda: Ha. I want to someday. It would be really fun and something totally crazy and out of character. I'd be scared out of my mind but I want to try it. I want to overcome my fear because I don't want to live a life in fear.
ASIANCE: What are you going to do now since you are done shooting?
Brenda: I'm actually right back on The Suite Life! I did the Suite Life, I left for 5 weeks and then I came back. I'm actually on hiatus right now. It's so wonderful to come back to The Suite Life and it's so wonderful to come back to your family. You just feel so wonderful to come back to people who care about you and you care about them. No matter what happens they are always behind you and support you. I'm so lucky because that's what I have over there... . A big Suite Family!
ASIANCE: What's going to change for London this time around on The Suite Life?
Brenda: Well she's grown so much. The Suite Life has become much more of a family. We have a lot more story lines for Ashley and I. It's been really fun. We just did a health and fitness episode which was so much fun and focused in on a lot of insecurities that girls have. She's grown. She and Maddie don't really have a love hate relationship anymore. It's more as a sister relationship. She's created a stronger relationship with Carey who's now kind of become her mother and she's made the tie with Mr. Moseby stronger who has clearly become her father figure. In a sense she's grown up a lot in this next season?
ASIANCE: Is the last season?
Brenda: Oh we don't know yet. This is the last season that we're scheduled for but who knows?
ASIANCE: Everyone is getting so big!
Brenda: Yeah oh my goodness the twins are getting so tall. They doubled their size. They're almost as tall as me so that's pretty scary.
We've been so lucky. I've put so hard work in London that we've been fortunate that it's done so well. Whether it bombed or did well it really didn't matter to us because we worked so hard. We really enjoy what we do. We have a wonderful team of writers, producers, crew, hair, makeup, everybody. We have so much fun and that's all that really matters to us.
ASIANCE: Are you going to school?
Brenda: Actually I took this semester off. Everything is just so much right now. I want to put everything into it and not overwhelm myself. I'd rather be really great at one thing rather than just ok at everything. I'm already ahead.
ASIANCE: You're going to go away right?
Brenda: Yes well it won't be four years but it will be nice to go somewhere and explore a different side of myself.
ASIANCE: Any plans to get into Hollywood movies?
Brenda: Well right now Disney has been so good to me. To give me my starting role in this movie is so wonderful. I'm taking it one project at a time. I don't like to jump too ahead of myself. It was so hard to one day focus on London and the next day quite literally get into this whole mentality of Wendy and then back to London. So I just want to worry about each day doing my best and not worry about what I'm going to do 6 months from now. Who knows what the future holds? I hope to get another job after. I enjoy it so much.
ASIANCE: So you're a pioneer!
Brenda: It's definitely changing. It's still very hard and very limited. It's so much more open than it was 5 years ago, even 2 years ago. People are starting to get the idea that people come in all shapes and sizes and it doesn't really matter. They want to be able to relate to who they are. Growing up I never saw any Asians on TV and that could be discouraging in so many ways to wonder, "Why am I not good enough?" or "What's wrong with me why can't I be on TV?" So that pushed me and drove me harder to do what I do. All I want to do to keep working!
Wendy Wu: Homecoming Warrior premieres June 16 at 8 pm on The Disney Channel