She’s not from Hawaii, but Brenda Song was right at home while on Oahu to shoot a movie for Lifetime. The star of Disney Channel’s The Suite Life of Zack and Cody made the most of her island stay and sat down with MidWeek to chat about her career, leaving her teenage years behind and on which famous actor she has a secret crush.
“Since I’ve been here I’ve gone on a dolphin excursion, I went whale watching, I went hiking, we went into a shark cage, which was so amazing I recommend everyone to do it,” says Song excitedly. “There were like sharks swimming around us. We were hyperventilating, suffocating the first 10 minutes. So once it calmed down, it was so beautiful and so surreal.
“I really can’t believe I did it, but it was amazing, amazing. It’s one of those things, like the top 20 things you do before you die. I have it checked off,” she laughs.
Song’s mother, Mai, who came with her to Hawaii, accompanied her to some of Oahu’s hot spots, including Waikiki, the Waianae coast, Haleiwa and Sandy’s and Kailua beaches.
“I love having my mom with me,” she adds. “It’s nice, because she’s also like my best friend, so it’s really cool. It’s cheesy, but it’s true.
When she wasn’t playing the part of a tourist, Song was shooting scenes at Turtle Bay for Special Delivery, a Lifetime movie that will air this Christmas.
“It stars Lisa Edelstein from House and Robert Grant, who’s on Queer as Folk. It’s a great film - she’s a courier, a special courier, and she has a job with a businessman in China, (and) he has something that he wants her to deliver, and it’s me, “Song explains.” She has to deliver me to my mom in Hawaii. There’s a whole lot of twists and turns. I can’t say too much about it, but let’s say that my dad, he hasn’t been completely honest, and there’s some people after us.
“It’s fun; it’s a movie about forgiveness,whether it’s forgiving yourself or a friend or a parent, and it kind of shows two versions of that, which means her story and mine.”
Song spent about a month on Oahu working on the movie, leaving to return to her life as a TV star in California.
Song shot her final scenes for The Suite Life of Zack and Cody when the series ended its run in the summer of 2007. She spent a lot of her young life on the show.
While it was sad to leave the original series behind, Song’s character, London Tipton, will live on in the Suite Life spin-off, Suite Life on Deck, which went into production in March.
“Disney wanted to do a spin-off, and so now the Suite Life instead of being in a hotel, will be on a boat. We’ll be traveling different places.
It opens a lot of new doors for a lot of new characters and a lot of new settings. It’ll be really, really fun. I’m really excited,” Song exclaims.
One of the most exciting moments Song had while on the set of the original Suite Life was when Matt Damon stopped by the set.
“His stepdaughter came to watch the show, and I almost died when I met him. Like, I almost died. He’s not just gorgeous, but such a great person. He’s so sweet, so nice and down to earth. He was so nice and he talked to me, I was like ‘ohmygod, I love you. Will you marry me?’” she recalls.
When this self-proclaimed geek isn’t working, you might find her cooking, reading or zoning out - but don’t sneak up on her, because she might just kick your butt.
“I’ve been doing (tae kwon do) for nine years, 10 now, but I’ve had to stop it because of bad injuries. I learned how to do wu shu and Shaolin Kung Fu. So it’s been really fun. It’s great self-discipline, and I really learned what my body can do and what it can’t do,"she laughs.“I’m such a geek, you have no idea. I like to sing in the shower and I like to dance in the mirror,” she adds.
Had she not become an actress, Song says she’d be leading a life in academia. She had to be home-schooled during her years on Suite Life, but since then she’s enrolled in UC-Berkeley Internet courses, majoring in psychology and minoring in business.
“You know, I love school and I want to go back to college. I love psychology. I’d love to go and just take classes for fun.I’d love to someday speak French because I’m horrible (at it). I did it once in high school for a year, and I don’t remember anything. Maybe I’ll get it the second time around,” she laughs."I hope to go to Pepperdine or even just take classes at a community college. You just take the opportunity where you can get it.”
Whether it’s acting or academics, Song’s positive, hard-working attitude is sure to take her places. She attributes her success to being surrounded by the right people since the beginning of her career. At age 4, Song was noticed by a modeling agency that, it turned out later, wasn’t a legitimate operation. However, that short-lived experience didn’t deter her.
Being pushed in that right direction has brought Song to a pretty good place in life. She takes her image seriously, especially when it comes to being a role model for younger generations.
“I try to set a good example for my brothers and my cousins, and do things that I can be proud of. It’s the way that I’ve always said that I want to live my life. For me I just want to make good choices that I can look back on and say I’m glad I did that,” reveals Song.
So, what does the future hold for this bright young talent? Well, Song says she’s excited for whatever comes her way.
“I really love to work, whichever way the wind blows, I mean, always keep my options open. Disney’s been very good to me. I just hope that I’m working and that I’m a little bit older and a little bit wiser, hopefully. Let’s cross our fingers.”