Warning: This story contains spoilers from season 1 of The Summer I Turned Pretty.
It is not summer without her! Lola Tung made quite a splash as Belly Conklin — the main character from The Summer I Turned Pretty.
During the first season of the Prime Video series, Belly finds herself on a journey to find love as she catches the eye of childhood friends Conrad Fisher (Christopher Briney) and Jeremiah Fisher (Gavin Casalegno). The brothers begin to compete for Belly’s affections — which leads to romance, miscommunication and drama. In the end, Belly chooses her crush Conrad in the final moments of the first season.
Jenny Han, who penned the books and serves as executive producer and co-showrunner for the TV series, revealed that bringing the story to life was “a long time in the making.”
“There has been quite a lot of interest in The Summer I Turned Pretty over the years, but it never felt like the right fit because deep down I realized I wanted to do it myself,” she told Variety in June 2022, ahead of the show’s debut.
The author pointed out that bringing her books to life meant making changes on screen. “To me, the essence of the character is still the same,” she added. “It’s just, how would I write this person in 2022 versus how I wrote them 13 years ago?”
At the time, the Virginia native referred to her showrunning experience as “a baptism by fire.”
“Here I was corunning a room and corunning a show, and I think one of the biggest surprises is how much it is basically being air traffic controller, and people come to you all day with problems to be resolved in a very managerial way,” Han recalled. “You’re in charge of the story, and you have a lot of people who are coming to you for answers.”
Amid the challenges, Han noted that her biggest concern was pleasing the fans who have been on this journey with her since the beginning. “As long as original fans feel satisfied, I will feel like I’ve done what I set out to do,” she shared.
Tung, for her part, previously revealed that she was a fan of Han’s writing before being cast in The Summer I Turned Pretty. “I think she does such a beautiful job of creating these worlds,” she told Who What Wear in June 2022. “Specifically in The Summer I Turned Pretty, you really feel like you are a part of it and really feel like you are going on the journey with these characters and experiencing the emotions that they are experiencing.”
Ahead of the show’s premiere, Tung opened up about what she hopes viewers will think of the world they built.
“When you first read a book, you picture whatever you want, and that’s the wonderful thing about reading,” she added. “You get to imagine and create this whole world. I know that everyone has a different image in their head, but I hope that people can really see the world that they fell in love with brought to life. And I’m excited for everyone to see it because we’re very proud of it.”
Scroll down to learn more about the actress bringing the lead character to life: