Born in Vientiane, Laos in Southeast Asia, actress Sydney Viengluang spent the first two years of her life in refugee camps in Thailand and the Philippines after her family escaped a country riddled by insurgency and military conflict. Once her family was sponsored, they settled in Wichita, Kansas, where she was raised as well as attended high school and college. After graduating from college, Viengluang relocated to Los Angeles to start a career in accounting and financing at a movie studio. Nevertheless, after sitting behind a desk for a year and learning more about the entertainment industry, she decided that she was going to pursue acting.
She launched this new stage of her life by taking acting classes and absorbing everything she could about the craft. As a result, she has quickly become “one to watch” in the entertainment business, bringing to life a plethora of dynamic characters. Her credits include the television series Scorpion, Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders, Jane the Virgin and the film Isle of the Dead. Now, she’s lending her immense talent to the hit Syfy show Z Nation, in which she plays Dr. Sun Mei, a biological researcher sent from Beijing to track down the Murphy and stop him from creating his new “blend” race and finding a cure for the Z virus. I recently had the opportunity to ask Viengluang about her role on Z Nation, what fans can expect in the upcoming episodes and her love of Game of Thrones, Westworld, and Star Trek. Check it out below!
What inspired you to go into acting?
I always felt like my calling in life was much bigger than myself. After graduating college, I landed my first corporate job in accounting and finance at a movie studio. After a year behind a desk, I decided that maybe my calling was in front of the camera. I took my first acting class and fell in love with it. Growing up, I never really saw any Asian faces on screen or in pop culture, so what inspired me is to somehow represent the Asian American community.
What do you enjoy the most about working on “Z Nation”?
I love that I get to be a bad-ass. Yes, I play a doctor, but I get to play someone who has both the brains and brawn. I get to kill zombies and do my own stunts. It’s a blast.
When you were first introduced to the character Sun Mei, what was your first impression of her? Has that impression changed at all?
When I first read the scenes for Sun Mei, I knew that she was a very strong person. To have lost her family and friends to the zombie apocalypse, and still, have the courage to lead a team into an unknown area to save her people as their “last chance”… I don’t think that impression has changed. If anything, she’s much stronger for being a survivor as one of the new members of Operation Bitemark.
In what ways would you say that you are like her and how are you different?
We’re both very logical, practical people. We’re very analytical and think things out. As far as differences, I would say she’s more formal and straight-laced than me. I definitely have a goofy, laid-back, crazy side to me.
What has been your favorite scene to film so far?
I don’t think I can pick one favorite scene. Any day I’m on set, I genuinely enjoy the entire process and just feel so grateful that I get to call this my “job.”
In “Little Red and the Wolfz,” we saw that Murphy’s mission has not been deterred by Dr. Merch’s sacrifice after all. Now that he can understand and interpret her notes, will we see things start to escalate?
Oh, the season will definitely become more intense and escalate and come to a head. Time becomes of the essence and Murphy is very unpredictable and smarter than we think, so the team will have some big obstacles to overcome in the upcoming episodes.
What’s in store for the group next? Can you hint at any of the upcoming obstacles that they will face in the next few episodes?
I can’t say much but let’s just say; we haven’t seen the last of the Red Hand Gang and The Man, other adversaries of the group.
Can we expect to see the Red Hand again and will we learn more about Hector’s relationship to them?
Yes, you will definitely see more of the Red Hand and learn more about Hector’s relationship with them in an upcoming episode.
You are also going to be starring in the upcoming films “Project Purgatory Beijing” and “Scumbag.” What can you tell me about those projects?
Unfortunately, “Project Purgatory” stopped production so it probably won’t be released. I had a small supporting role in “Scumbag,” but that is currently going through the film festival circuit, so you can probably check that out soon.
What shows, books, movies, etc. bring out the nerd in you?
I binged all six seasons of “Game of Thrones” this past summer and loved it. The writing, the acting, the production is just top notch. I’m currently watching “Westworld” and love it as well. Basically, anything that HBO produces, they knock it out of the ballpark. I can’t wait to see the movie version of “The Devil in the White City,” since I loved that book. I tend to nerd out on books and shows that interweave historical events and facts into the storyline. Movie wise, I love the “Star Trek” franchise.
A new episode of Z Nation airs Friday night at 9:00 pm ET/PT on Syfy. Also, make sure you follow Viengluang on