The second season of the Netflix zombie series Black Summer is currently available on the streaming platform. The first season of this gritty series became a breakout hit for Netflix. One of the reasons for the success of the series is the work of actor Christine Lee.
Christine plays Sun, a North Korean woman whom throughout the entire first season didn’t speak a word of English, which obviously caused issues when trying to communicate. Although her character didn’t speak any English, Christine was still able to convey every emotion you could think of and became one of the show’s most popular characters.
We had the chance to sit down with Christine to talk about the new season of Black Summer. We talked about the language barrier possibly still being an issue for Sun, what it was like shooting the series during the pandemic and what fans can look forward to with the second season of Black Summer.
Pop Culture Principle – The first season of Black Summer was a huge hit for Netflix. Did the popularity of the series surprise you at all?
Christine Lee – Yes. It always is a nice surprise when a show does well. When you are on set, the only people you talk to or interact with are the cast and crew. You are in this tiny little bubble. We might think the show is great, but the audience may think otherwise. It’s always a really nice surprise to have positive reception.
Maybe it’s the jaded actor in me, but I never do a show thinking that it is going to be a homerun. To be honest, all I had in mind is that if I survive this season, that’s great! That’s all I had in mind because everyone was dying around me. 😊
Pop Culture Principle – Do you think the way the Black Summer is told with the disjointed, non-linear storytelling is one of the reasons for the uniqueness and success of the show?
Christine Lee – Absolutely. I am personally a really big fan of this kind of storytelling because it does really demand the audience’s attention. It’s just nice for an audience to put those puzzle pieces together because it feels like you are an active participant of the show. It’s not just a sit back and relax and take in whatever we are giving you, we are saying you need to really pay attention in order for the next segment to make sense.
Pop Culture Principle – Black Summer was the first Netflix series to start shooting during the pandemic. Did the fact that you were shooting Season 2 during an actual pandemic in real life help inform and strengthen your performance?
Christine Lee – Yes and no. When I am on set and working on a show, I literally cut myself off from the world. I knew that people would think that it was surreal or meta that we are watching a show about an apocalypse in the middle of a pandemic. That was in the back of my mind, but I don’t know if it necessarily informed Sun’s journey or my performance If I am being honest.
Pop Culture Principle – For the start of Season 2 of Black Summer, do we pick up right after the events of the Season 1 finale or is there any sort of time jump?
Christine Lee – Yes, there will be a bit of a time jump. 😊
Pop Culture Principle – Compared to the first season, it seems that Season 2 of Black Summer will focus more on the human relationships and conflicts. Would you agree?
Christine Lee – Yes. In Season One, everyone in the show is dealing with what is happening in the world for the first time. No one really knows what is going on. In Season Two, that is already established, now we live in a society with that element already engrained in us. What does that do to human psyche? What does that do to community? I think what the creator of the show thought is that the world would be dog eat dog with much higher stakes.
Pop Culture Principle – Obviously, the language barrier for Sun in Season One was a huge thing for her. Will that continue to be an issue for her in the second season?
Christine Lee – Yes. That was the main obstacle for her in Season One, but Season Two will have another main obstacle for her. The language barrier was a bit of a challenge for her, but I think what we came up with in the final product is pretty awesome and I am happy about it.
Pop Culture Principle – In the first season, it was a very demanding and physical role for you and the other actors. Constantly running, hiding and shooting weapons. Will we see that physicality continue in Season 2 and did you do anything else to prepare for the second season knowing how physical the first season was?
Christine Lee – Oh yea! Once we got the Season Two renewal, I started running again. It was back to the treadmill to prepare for the second season.
Pop Culture Principle – Initially fans and critics were comparing Black Summer to The Walking Dead. Now, many of those same fans and critics are now saying Black Summer is what The Walking Dead use to be and is definitely changing the game in this genre. How does that make you feel being a part of this project?
Christine Lee – I mean, that is a huge compliment. The Walking Dead is such a staple of zombie genre, so to hear that is amazing. I think it’s great that the show Black Summer is providing a different kind of format of storytelling. At the end of the day, it really isn’t about zombies, it’s about humans facing hardships and incredible danger and how they respond to it.
Pop Culture Principle – Your character Sun definitely grew during the first season and was someone who became a bit of a bad ass. As an actor, how did you enjoy her growth over the first season, and will that growth and development continue in Season 2?
Christine Lee – She has definitely changed. I never really decided whether she changed for the better or the worse, I just decided that wasn’t going to be something I was going to think about because that would pre-determine her journey.
In the first season, she’s kind of a get it done and take the matters into her own hands’ kind of person. In Season Two, to be held back that much and to be forced to be dependent on the enemies around her, I think really humbled her. Because of what she went through in Season Two, the ending is earned.
In Season One, yes, she would survive because she’s fast, she’s smart and she knows what is going on. In the second season, she doesn’t have that advantage.
Pop Culture Principle – In the trailer for the second season, it says the greatest threat to humanity is humanity itself. It seems in these types of shows, humanity reverts back to its basic level to survive. Would you agree?
Christine Lee – Absolutely. Not that they have time to slow down, but if people in Black Summer just slowed down for a moment and worked together, then I feel like the world would have been a much easier place to live in, but that doesn’t seem to happen in the second season.
Pop Culture Principle – What do you think is Sun’s biggest weakness and biggest strength?
Christine Lee – I think her biggest “weakness” with Sun is that she refused to play the game and because she refused to play the game, she suffers the consequences. She should have done a lot of stuff for herself. Also, her quality of wanting to do the right thing is a double-edged sword. Also, maybe her persistence and her hope in humanity because I feel that she wouldn’t survive if she didn’t believe in anything.
Pop Culture Principle – Do you feel the episode count for Black Summer is the right number of episodes to tell the Black Summer story?
Christine Lee – There are some characters where we show the backstory in this season, but the main aesthetic of the show is that we aren’t going to stop, and spoon feed the audience. We don’t do that in this show. Also, we don’t have the same length for each episode which is pretty cool. It’s like a novel where a chapter could be twenty pages long or it could just be a page and as a reader, you are going to go along with what the author gives you. I think that is kind of the inspiration for Black Summer.
Christine Lee – I liked that we weren’t trying to romanticize female heroes in this show. I mean, it’s such a dreadful situation that there isn’t really anything romantic about it. I think that is kind of rare. We all aren’t angels or saints. We are just human beings who try to do what we try to do, and our motivation is pretty strong. If you see women in war torn countries, they do whatever they have to do. They don’t have the time or space to depend on someone else to save them. I mean, if you look at Jaime King’s character Rose, she is strong. Mothers are so strong and there aren’t a lot of television series today that show how tough mothers can be.
Pop Culture Principle – Why do you think Black Summer is resonating so well with its audience?
Christine Lee – I think it’s all about building that suspense and just constantly shocking the audience so that they always have to prepare for the worse which is what these characters go through. You just never know what’s going to happen minute to minute.
Pop Culture Principle – What can fans look forward to with the second season of Black Summer?
Christine Lee – They can look forward to really cool new characters. I think we will demand more engagement from the audience because we are telling a story that is more non-linear than the first season. Also, knowing that there are a lot of surprises from the very beginning until the absolute end. I don’t really want to give anything way, but I feel like viewers should just get ready!
A huge thank you to Christine Lee for taking the time to talk with us. The second season of Black Summer is now available on Netflix!
**Main photo courtesy of Mike Tan**
**Black Summer photos courtesy of MICHELLE FAYE FRASER/DANIEL SCHAEFER/NETFLIX © 2021**