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Exclusive Interview with Beyond’s Jacky Lai

Photo Credit: Vai Yu Law
Photo Credit: Vai Yu Law

From being bitten by a genetically enhanced spider, to excess gamma radiation, to simply wanting to avenge the death of the parents, we’ve seen a variety of origin stories over the years. Each hero comes into their abilities in some big way. Now, Freeform is spinning a new origin story.

Coming in 2017, the network is introducing a brand new slate of programming, including a new show called Beyond. The drama series tells the story of Holden, a young man who wakes up from a coma after 12 years and discovers he has new abilities.

Jacky Lai plays Riley, a bubbly party girl who helps Holden navigate his new life. According to Lai, Riley is a bit different than her real self. We got the chance to ask Jacky a few questions about her character, and found out what she nerds out over.

How would you describe Riley? What part does she play in Holden’s life?

Riley is like popping a bottle of champagne. She can turn a casual night into a celebration and loves seeing people happy, which inevitably makes her the party mascot. As for the role in Holden’s life, Riley helps guide him through his transition from being in a coma into normal life.

What attracted you to the role of Riley?

The fact that I got to play a bad kid in college. I cant wait to see what my parents think!

Riley is described as a “passionate party girl with a wild streak.” What kind of effect will she have on the rest of her friends?

Riley likes to push the limits, which can be helpful for those who need to come out of their shell, but detrimental to those who care about her.

What’s your favorite part of the character/show so far?

I got to work with some really great people! The energy on set was always positive no matter how late or long we’ve been filming. I felt I was a part of a family.

How is this role different for you from your previous characters?

Riley allowed me to explore my craft. She became a mix of what I’ve wanted to be and what I feared to be. The role tested my courage and gave me the opportunity to play.

If you were to wake from a coma with supernatural abilities, what abilities would you want?

I have yet to define what this superpower is, but I want the power to make people believe in themselves or in others. If more people can do things with their hearts, our world would be so much fuller.

What was the chemistry like between cast members?

Beyond had such an amazing collection of humans. I was surrounded by passionate and kind-hearted people who took the pressure off of ‘work’.

What makes “Beyond” different from other supernatural dramas on television?

It’s based in modern day about a young man who awoke from coma, not a born superhero. The supernatural aspects of Beyond are very realistic, which makes it relatable and accessible to audiences.

We have a signature question here at TNWU that almost all of us end our interviews with. As our name implies, we are all nerds and we let our nerdy flags fly!  What do you think qualifies you to ‘Talk Nerdy With Us’?

What qualifies me? Well, I did just type nerdy with you. *Wink* I think my obsession with food makes me pretty nerdy to talk to. I go goo-goo over daily features and drool a little when the waiter is describing them. FOOD IS LIFE.

Beyond premieres on Freeform in 2017.

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