In the Season 3, episode 303 of NBC’s “The Night Shift,” entitled “The Way Back” which airs on Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at 10:00PM, Elizabeth Sung guest stars in the role of Sumei Zia.
“The Night Shift” focuses on a team of doctors and nurses at San Antonio Memorial’s emergency room that are anything but ordinary. The risks they take to save lives straddle the line between heroic and impulsive, but are always worth it.
The series stars Eoin Macken as T.C. Callahan, Jill Flint as Dr. Jordan Alexander, Ken Leung as Dr. Topher Zia, Brendan Fehr as Dr. Drew Alister, Robert Bailey Jr. as Dr. Paul Cummings, JR Lemon as Kenny, Tanaya Beatty as Dr. Shannon Rivera and Scott Wolf as Dr. Scott Clemmens.
In this episode, Drew returns from deployment in Afghanistan and can’t seem to shake off the stress of being back from overseas. Things get crazy right away as he, Jordan and Kenny treat a bride and her wedding party who have been injured during the festivities, as well as her father, whose presence is not making things easier. Meanwhile, TC helps Topher entertain his demanding mother, whose extended visit is putting stress on the family.
Click here to watch the episode. Ms. Sung returns to “The Night Shift” on July 13, 2016.
In Albuquerque, where “The Night Shift” is shot, Ms. Sung was delighted to be reunited with Ken Leung, having worked with him on “The Sopranos” as his mother and in Fay Ann Lee’s indie film “Falling for Grace”.
Elizabeth Sung was raised in Hong Kong and is fluent in Cantonese and Mandarin. From 1994-96, she was a series regular in the 1st Asian American storyline on the daytime soap “The Young and the Restless” as Luan Volien Abbott, and is memorable as the second wife in Wayne Wang’s “The Joy Luck Club”.
Other roles on film include “Memoirs of a Geisha,” “Lethal Weapon 4,” “Pali Road”, “The Unbidden”, “Fallen Stars”, “Front Cover,” “Falling for Grace,” “Ping Pong Playa,” “The People I’ve Slept With,”” House Under Siege,” “Go for Sisters,” “ Tango and Cash,” “China Cry,” “Death Ring” and “Yes, And. ” Her television credits include “NYPD Blue,” “For the People,” “Crossing Jordan,” “House M.D.,” “E-Ring,” “Desperate Housewives,” “Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip,” “The Sopranos,” “The Forgotten,” “NCIS: Los Angeles,” “FlashForward,” “Bones,” “CSI: Crime Scene Investigation,” “Hawaii Five-O,” “Awake,” “The Suite Life on Deck,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Mike & Molly,” “Shameless,” and “Elementary”.
She has appeared in the short films “Godlike,” “Woman in Fragments,” “Nuptials of the Dead,” “The Boxer,” and the webisodes “Who’s in Charge,” “Miss Guidance” and “Meet the Kayak.”
Ms. Sung was in the Directing Workshop for Women at the American Film Institute where she made her first award winning film, “Requiem” (1995). Her graduate thesis film, “The Water Ghost” (1998), earned Sung an MFA in directing from the AFI. It was aired on Lifetime channel’s “Women Directors Series”. She garnered the 2013 Golden Angel Award for Best Supporting Actress at the 9th Annual Chinese American Film Festival, and the 2013 Asians on Film Festival for her mother’s role in Steve Myung’s “Anita Ho,” one of her favorite projects to date.
Sung also has a BFA in Dance from The Juilliard School and was a member of The Alvin Ailey Repertory Dance Company. Her current projects include the pilot “Lees of LA,” and the indie feature “For Izzy”.
In the wake of her whirlwind schedule, we had a moment to chat by phone about “The Night Shift” and her latest film projects.
Lia: What was it like on the set of “The Night Shift”?
Elizabeth: My first day was a party scene. I really felt like I was being swept into a family. I found the cast and crew to be extremely welcoming. The episode was written by Janet Lin, who I worked with on “Bones.” It was wonderful to reconnect with Ken and Janet. The director, Tara Nicole Weyr, is great. I was very inspired to see two women helming key positions. This says a lot about “The Night Shift” production, a female friendly set, with a lot of women on the crew.
Lia: What are you working on?
Elizabeth: I am currently shooting “For Izzy,” with an Asian American indie director/writer named Alex Chu. We worked together on his indie debut, “Yes, And”. Our cast features “Fear the Walking Dead” star Michelle Ang (we worked together on “Fallen Stars“), Jim Lau (we worked together on “Ping Pong Playa” and “Yes, And“) and Jenny Soo (we worked together on “Yes, And,” and “Godlike”). It’s fun to be working with friends.
Alex is a very creative director, a risk taker, and is interested in tackling subjects that are important issues. The film is about addiction, family, autism, but, most of all, second chances. He’s written a story for Asian American characters – two sets of dysfunctional families.
I play the mother of a recovering drug addict photojournalist, from Hong Kong. I’ve left my job as a banker in Hong Kong to come help my daughter in LA clean up her act. We move next to a family with a single father who has a 28 year old high functioning autistic daughter. As time passes they can’t help but influence each other’s lives, giving and getting a second chance!
Lia: What are your favorite projects?
Elizabeth: “The Night Shift” and my work on indie films has instilled in me the belief that by committing to each role, making them personal and truthful, I grow as an actor in my ability to portray three dimensional characters that have compelling and universal stories. It is also heart warming to see there are an increasing number of budding Asian American filmmakers, making ground breaking stories. What I can contribute is my experience through acting. For me, it has always been challenging and rewarding to work on independent project, where the script comes to you and it’s not quite complete. The filmmakers that I choose to work with are open-minded enough to welcome input. The smart ones will listen, consider, then implement at least some of the ideas. Then you see your character and the script evolve into a fuller and more complete story.
Other indie films that I enjoyed working on were “Pali Road,” (currently in theaters), “Go For Sister,” “ Front Cover ,” (in film festivals and will be released in August) “The Unbidden,” (will be released in June) , “Fallen Stars,” (will be released in September) And currently, “For Izzy”.
PALI ROAD by Jonathan Lim
Jonathan Lim’s powerful drama Pali Road starring Michelle Chen, Sung Kang, Tzi Ma, Henry Ian Cusick, Jackson Rathbone and Ms. Sung was the closing feature at the LAAPFF and is currently in selected theaters across country. Click here to see where it is playing in a city near you.
Pali Road is a mesmerizing and chilling journey into the mystery of the human psyche and the power of love. Lily (Chen), a young doctor, wakes up from a car accident to discover she is now married to her boyfriend’s affluent rival, Dr. Mitch Kayne (Kang), has a five-year-old-son, and an established life she has no recollection of.
Everyone around her, including her parents (Elizabeth Sung and Tzi Ma), deny that her boyfriend, Neil (Rathbone), ever existed, sending her on a desperate search for the truth. Determined to reclaim a life everyone insists is nothing more than an illusion, Lily eventually begins to doubt her own sanity. Struggling to overcome her seemingly hopeless situation, Lily endures a series of unexplainable and haunting incidents while bravely making her way to an ultimate mind-bending truth about the power of true love.
THE UNBIDDEN by Quentin Lee
“The Unbidden,” Quentin Lee’s female driven supernatural thriller starring Tamlyn Tomita (“Teen Wolf,”” The Joy Luck Club”), Julia Nickson (“Rambo,” “Double Dragon”), Amy Hill (“50 First Dates,” “Lilo & Stitch”), Elizabeth Sung (“The Joy Luck Club”) and Michelle Krusiec (“Saving Face,” “The Invitation”), Jason Yee, Karin Anna Cheung, Kimberley Rose-Wolter, Akemi Look and Hayden Szeto, had the world premiere screening at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival in April.
“The Unbidden” is directed by Quentin Lee (“White Frog,” “The People I’ve Slept With”) with a screenplay by NaRhee Ahn (“Purity”). North American distribution rights were acquired by genre visionaries Viva Pictures and international rights were acquired by Korea’s hers Entertainment.
Synopsis: Mystery novelist Lauren Lee (Tomita) is haunted by the ghost of a tortured, bloodied man. She tries to forget the apparition’s terrifying warnings and her unstable mental state by hosting dinner with her best friends (Nickson, Sung, and Hill). Each of the women has her own idea and opinion to make Lauren feel better. In the midst of a séance that Rachel believes will exorcise Lauren’s demons, a mysterious young man (Szeto) arrives brandishing a gun. He holds the women hostage in order to get to the truth of the whereabouts of his missing father.
Elizabeth: I’ve known Quentin since 1996. Working on” The Unbidden” was a fun journey and a chance for me to work with friends over 12 days that I don’t have many opportunities to work with.
FRONT COVER by Ray Yeung
Ray Yeung’s “Front Cover” starring Jake Choi and James Chen has been having great success on the film festival circuit and is slated for
national distribution by Strand in August. The film also features Ms. Sung, Ming Lee, Jennifer Neala Page, Sonia Villani, Li Jun Li, Benjamin Thys, Rachel Lu, Kristen Hung, Wayne Chang, Peter Benson, Ben Baur, Tom Ligon, Brian Knoebel, Shennell Edmonds, Chris Kies and John Cramer.
“Front Cover” tells the story of Ryan Fu, a gay Chinese American who detests his Asian heritage and through talent and hard work, has attained his dream job as a celebrity fashion stylist.
One day Ryan’s boss assigns him to style Ning, an actor who has just arrived from Beijing for a top magazine photo shoot. Ning dismisses Ryan’s initial Western styling and demands Ryan creates an image for him which represents the power of the new China. Their egos and opinions clash resulting in a strained and difficult working relationship.
Over the following days, they slowly discover that they have a lot in common, and a mutual attraction begins to develop. As they become closer, Ryan reveals that he rejects his Chinese heritage because he is ashamed of his impoverished upbringing. Ning opens up and confesses that he is in the closet.
After a night out on the town together, a Chinese tabloid magazine exposes Ning as gay. Terrified of the impact it will have on his career, Ning implores Ryan to help him deny the story. Ryan must now decide to help Ning or stay true to himself.
Elizabeth: I play Yen Fu, the mother of Jake Choi’s character, Ryan. I was recommended to the director by associate producer, Min Ding, and shot in New York over a five day period. I got on board this film, because I believe it is important to support people, whatever their sexual preference. Love has no borders.
Tune in NBC to see Elizabeth and Ken on ” The Night Shift” on Wednesday, June 15, 2016 at 10:00PM ET. (Check your local listings).
Lia Chang is an actor, a multi-media content producer and co-founder of Bev’s Girl Films, making films that foster inclusion and diversity on both sides of the camera. Bev’s Girl Films’ debut short film, Hide and Seek was a top ten film in the Asian American Film Lab’s 2015 72 Hour Shootout Filmmaking Competition, and she received a Best Actress nomination. BGF collaborates with and produces multi-media content for artists, actors, designers, theatrical productions, composers, musicians and corporations. Lia is also an internationally published and exhibited photographer, a multi-platform journalist, and a publicist. Lia has appeared in the films Wolf, New Jack City, A Kiss Before Dying, King of New York, Big Trouble in Little China, The Last Dragon, Taxman and Hide and Seek. She is profiled in Examiner.com, Jade Magazine and Playbill.com.