Erika Tham, Megan Lee and Louriza Tronco star in MAKE IT POP | © 2015 Nickelodeon

Erika Tham, Megan Lee and Louriza Tronco star in MAKE IT POP | © 2015 Nickelodeon

In Nickelodeon’s comedy/musical series MAKE IT POP, in first-run every weeknight at 7 PM through May 1, Megan Lee plays Sun Hi. Sun Hi is a prep school student with a vlog and dreams of stardom. To this end, Sun Hi enlists her roommates Jodi (Louriza Tronco) and Corki (Erika Tham), plus their composer classmate Caleb (Dale Whibley), to join her in forming a pop music group called XOIQ.

A Southern California native, Lee has been acting since she was ten, performing in a slew of commercials, as well as TV series (DISNEY GET CONNECTED, CRASH) and feature films (ANITA HO, PROPHECY OF EVE).

On a hot day in Los Angeles, Lee sits down in a pleasantly air-conditioned room at Paramount Studios to talk about MAKE IT POP, what she has in common with Sun Hi and performing in Korea with Jason Mraz.

AX: You act, you sing, you dance. Which one of those did you start doing first in real life?

MEGAN LEE: Ever since I could remember, I loved to sing, dance and act all at the same time. I grew up singing and dancing at church and things like that, but I started professionally in acting. I had a huge passion for it. I went out for talent shows and school musicals and community musicals as well, so that I could do all three.

AX: You never wanted to be a fireman or something else?

LEE: Oh, no. At a young age, I was very blessed to find out that I had a huge dream for entertaining other people, so nothing really made me stop to think about other things.

AX: Do you feel like you have anything in common with Sun Hi’s approach to performing?

LEE: Oh, my gosh, totally. She’s such an ambitious person, she’s a huge dreamer, a little crazy at times [laughs]. But the fact that she’s an overachiever and that she goes over the top and she goes all-out, I can really relate to that. I try to do the best that I can and even if it takes a little risk, I like to go for it. And the fact that she’s a very clumsy person and that gets her into a lot of trouble – physically, she falls a lot in the show and she gets into a lot of different stunts. Me, I always trip and fall and the cast members always laugh at me.

AX: Is it true you tripped and actually bit a piece out of a desk while you were working on MAKE IT POP?

LEE: Yes, that was me [laughs]. It happens to me so much now that I’m kind of used to it. Of course at that time, it was a pretty big accident, but luckily, I didn’t get hurt at all. Of course, kids, be aware of your surroundings – make sure you don’t do anything crazy. It was an accident that happened during rehearsal. I just banged my teeth on a desk, but nothing broke, everything’s fine, that’s the most important thing. But I’m all good now. But definitely now, it happens so much – I slip a little bit or I break something or lots of things happen just to me. Louriza was saying, “You know what, Megan? All these things happen to you. Maybe you should get saged [a ritual to ward off evil spirits],” because there are so many things that happen to me. I’m Christian, I’ve never done that, but I’m just so used to [slipping], I just laugh about it.

AX: In real life, are you older than Sun Hi and, if so, are you trying to remember what it was like to be fifteen?

LEE: Yes. I’m nineteen right now and I’m supposed to be playing a fifteen-year-old. I still look like I’m twelve. I still feel like I’m thirteen at heart, but it didn’t really take much to think like a fifteen-year-old. I still think I’m pretty young, but it’s all about, no matter what age you are, no matter what ethnicity, it’s all about just following your dreams and that’s what Sun Hi’s main goal is.

AX: Had you been part of a pop band before doing MAKE IT POP?

LEE: Not an actual, legitimate pop band, but when I was young, when I went to this dance studio, I actually did form a girl group, and one of the members was Becky G, and we performed together in community parades and festivals, we performed at the House of Blues and performed at Universal Citywalk. We just performed covers and sang and danced together. I definitely enjoyed being in a girl group, or a girl plus one boy group. It’s fun to sing and dance at the same time. So I do have that little Sun Hi determination – “Let’s form a band, let’s do our best, let’s be awesome and harmonize!”

AX: How would you describe the style of the songs the group performs in MAKE IT POP?

LEE: I think that’s what makes our show very unique, that a lot of songs are very pop-based – EDM [electronic dance music], even some pop R&B, pop ballads – it’s very diverse, our show. It’s basically American pop, but of course when it comes to the lyrics, sometimes we have to change it up to make it Nickelodeon-friendly, so it’s general audience, and change it up to match our characters’ personalities.

AX: Were these songs that you knew before you got involved in the show?

LEE: No. They’re all original music. We had some really great songwriters to write the songs for the show. I hear that some of them were saved somewhere in their song bank and our music producers for the show just found the songs, they changed the lyrics to match the show, and that’s how it happened. The songs that are presented on the show will be released on iTunes and other music platforms. It will be distributed everywhere. The songs are so catchy, we find a lot of the cast and crew singing along, or just humming as we walk past them.

There’s a lot of talk about how this is a K-pop [Korean pop] show and I just want to clear up the fact that it is not a K-pop show. It is K-pop-inspired, but the producers of the show took the really fun and quirky, colorful parts of the K-pop industry from certain K-pop groups with that concept and just sprinkled it on top of the show, using fashion and hairstyles. Because it’s always fun to see really fun and eye-popping colorful outfits and shows on TV, so they definitely took that inspiration from K-pop. I just want to clear up the fact that we’re not trying to represent K-pop in any way and that the show is not a K-pop show.

AX: Do you prefer performing songs for the camera, where you can perfect it in take after take, or do you like performing for a live audience?

LEE: When we shoot the production numbers, it’s in front of a camera. But we actually performed together live as XOIQ recently at the KCA pre-party. And there’s definitely a hugely different vibe. I love performing live in front of people more, because of the fact that we get to feed off the audience’s energies and we can enjoy our time together, whereas when we perform in front of a camera, it’s all about just us and it’s very technical. But onstage, we get to be more free and just enjoy the moment, live the moment, and have fun. But I love both, definitely.

AX: Are you and your cast mates going to tour in real life as XOIQ?

LEE: That’s actually in the works. We’re not sure what’s actually going to happen when it comes to a tour, but that’s definitely one of our goals.

AX: A couple of questions just about you – do you drive yet, and if you do, what’s your car and what’s your dream car?

LEE: [laughs] I don’t drive yet. I went to Korea when I was fifteen, so I barely was able to get my permit. One of my goals right now is to learn how to drive. My dream car is actually nothing fancy, but I would love to have the Kia Soul, just because it’s so cute and compact. I went to the Auto Show recently and I just saw that car, and I was like, “It’s perfect for me.” I really would like that car [laughs].

AX: Any hobbies when you’re not performing?

LEE: Well, I’m currently really into photography. I just got a Polaroid camera and I’m taking lots of pictures. So I’m really into taking pictures and trying to make a scrapbook. And I love to vlog, just like Sun Hi does. That’s why I can really relate to my character. Everywhere you go, you see me with my camera or my phone, I’m just vlogging. In my spare time, I try to edit the videos and upload online to share with my fans.

AX: Do you have any music that you really like or that inspires you, and/or actors who you really like or inspire you?

LEE: As an actress, I definitely look up to Meryl Streep, because she is a chameleon – she is the queen of all chameleons [laughs]. She can blend into any role, and I would love to become an actress who can change herself just like that.

As a singer/songwriter, I definitely look up to Jason Mraz, not only because he’s an amazing singer/songwriter, but also as a person. I competed in a YouTube cover contest for the event of him coming to Korea and having a concert. So of course, I’m a huge fan, I entered the contest and I won first place. I actually got to meet him and got to sing with him when he came to Korea, so I found out that he’s such a genuine person and something I really remember that he told me was, “Megan, be love.” And it really touched me in so many ways. He was telling me how he wants to give back to people with music [because] when he was struggling before he became famous, a lot of people were helping him. And so that really inspired me to use music or just use entertainment in general to impact people’s lives in a very positive way.

I was vlogging. I received a guitar as a present for being first place, and he was signing my guitar, and I took the courage to ask him to sing a duet with me, and we sang “Lucky” together, and actually posted that on YouTube, and it’s just so amazing, because he was so nice to sing with me, without knowing who I am or how I sing. It was a magical moment for me.

AX: Do you have any other projects going on?

LEE: Currently, I don’t have other projects. I’m focusing on promoting MAKE IT POP and hopefully, cross my fingers, to have a second season. But I hope people will watch MAKE IT POP and be inspired to follow their dreams.

Related: MAKE IT POP: Erika Tham discusses new Nickelodeon show – exclusive interview

RelatedDale Whibley on MAKE IT POP – exclusive interview

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ArticleMAKE IT POP: Megan Lee discusses new Nickelodeon show – exclusive interview

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