When you are in the presence of Pia Mia – at least for us – two things come to mind. Strength and beauty. The woman has a presence that commands and yet doesn’t take herself too seriously.
P: I just love a love story, and I really connected to Hardin and Tessa and the After books. I just think of my first love, and my first experiences were somewhat similar to theirs and yeah, whether or not I booked the role when I auditioned for After, I fell in love with the book. I was kind of addicted.
Had you read the books before you got the role?
P: No. I got the audition and then I looked for the books.
And did you just binge read them?
P: Yeah, even my auntie who… she’s like a little bit older than me, and when I told her I was doing After she went out to check out the books, and she literally stayed up until like 3 am every night and she read all the books in like four days. Yeah, and she’s like everyone who’s read the series, like the same stories.
Ah, that’s amazing. So Tristan in the book is male. With the change of Tristan being a female in the movie you have this opportunity to really develop a new character. Can you tell us a little bit a about Tristan and how do you describe her?
P: Yeah – Tristan is Steph’s girlfriend. She’s edgy, she likes to party and go out, she’s into fashion but at the same time she’s smart and has a good head on her shoulders, you know. She has a good heart, she’s not gonna get involved in drama and stuff like that, she’s just gonna have fun.
Can you talk about Tristan’s relationship with Steph, you know, what is it that you like about the dynamic and you wanted to bring to the screen?
P: Well, I think when everyone see Steph and Tristan’s relationship they’ll just gonna fall in love, I mean, they’re so cute and they really have so much passion for each other, and are so sweet to each other and I just can’t wait for everyone to see that, cause Khadijha and I really love each other in real life too, so getting to play Steph and Tristan was so fun, and you know they’re just cute. It’s a really nice relationship to look at.
Anna was there on set. How influential was she in shaping this new version of Tristan?
P: I loved having Anna on set. I remember one day she just like came to my trailer and we were just taking about the movie and everything, you know, she was giving a little more inside information on Tristan, what she feels Tristan’s character is and how, you know, just like the deeper parts of Tristan, and that really helped me bring the movie character to life, so Anna was very helpful and she’s got such a good vibe too, she was always in a positive mood when we came to set, you know, without the pressure and the cameras, changes, stuff like that, she makes you feel very comfortable.
After is a big worldwide phenomenon as a book series before even the movie. What was the pressure like, taking on a role that so many people knew and loved and bringing it to life?
P: I think the fanbase for After really helped to motivate me to shoot the movie, and the direction to play Tristan, and the vibe, because they’re so involved and in love with these characters. All you have to do is go online and you can see the collages they put together for Tristan. You know, they have so many different opinions and they just know the characters so well, so being able to come into a fanbase that has so much information and so much love to give you, really helps when you’re on set and just, you know, trying to capture the right vibe for your character. So, the fact that the book series has over a billion reads, I think that it helped us all in with our characters.
Have you ever had any fan experiences yet? Like with fans from After?
P: Yeah, I was in a movie theater maybe a couple months ago, just watching a random movie and I noticed that there were fangirls, they’re kind of like giggling, doing something and I’m like “oh that’s weird, maybe they’re just, you know on their phone, I don’t know” and so we watched the whole movie and we came outside 2 hours later and they’re like “oh my god, you’re Tristan, we love you so much, when is After coming out!” they were just so excited that I thought it was so crazy that they noticed me in a dark theater and like “Tristan! Just come here!”
What has this entire experience been like for you, since you were cast and then filming and obviously now the premiere coming up tomorrow. What has this ride been like for you?
P: It’s some kind of rollercoaster, there’s just so much going on in this time period – becoming an independent artist, you know, making my new label which is Cherry Pie, shooting After and being in Atlanta, and to, I know not only shooting but making music down there too and coming back to LA, seeing the movie in different stages like going in for ADR and seeing that version of the movie and seeing another cut … Like here’s so many different stages that I got to experience and I think I’ve learned so much.
With Bitter Love, what inspired the song? And how did it come to be on the soundtrack and to be the theme song?
P: Bitter Love is inspired in my life and my love life, and it’s kind of my love letter and I had chosen it as my next single at the same time I was working on After, and the producers asked for me if I had any music that could fit and when I sent Bitter Love in, it just worked so perfectly for the movie, and I think that’s why it’s the theme song because it feels like Hardin and Tessa’s love story, and I think it feels that way because my first love was very similar to theirs. I got the same reactions too, like the one that had heard it like “Oh my gosh this is so Hessa!” so yeah, I feel happy that they’re connecting to it too because this song means a lot to me. And as an independent artist you have to find the right platform for your music because you have all these different outlets picking your song like it’s you, and it’s your fans, so they have really been carrying me and pushing it, and it makes me really happy.
After has been described a story of sexual awakening. Do you feel that this best describes this story? How would you describe it?
P: Oh yeah, it’s for sure sexual awakening, you know, finding your first love and falling in love and, you know, being thrown in a completely different experience than you’re used to, and like you know people with different lives, it’s a total different experience that you have no idea of what to expect, but going to college is so hard, specially you know when you’re leaving your family behind and you don’t know anyone, it can be very uncomfortable. But I think Tessa is so lucky to have Steph, and you know, to find Hardin, and she has a bumpy situation but I mean, you know, if you’ve read the book!
After already had that built-in fanbase with the books, but one of the great things about these movie adaptations is that it kinda opens the door for new audiences to come and experience and fall in love with this story. What would you tell people that have not read the books, why they should go see the movie?
P: I mean, don’t we all just love a good love story? I think we watch… when you see Hardin and Tessa’s relationship it’s not perfect, and no one’s relationship is perfect, you see the ups and downs, it’s a disaster one day and it’s amazing the next day, like it’s a realistic love story, I think. So everyone is gonna be able to relate to it. Whether you had your first love or whether you’re haven’t had yours yet, you’re gonna watch the movie and you’re gonna get it. These books are a thing, and this movie existing… I don’t know about one person that has not read the After books.
Can you talk a little about filming, what was it like filming in Atlanta?
P: I was so happy that we were filming in Atlanta, cause I just love the vibe down there and I’ve done such great music down there, I also love the foo,d but filming was really fun. I think on our off days we had the opportunity to do bonding activities that would help us connect better, so as when we go on screen everything would look natural, which it is. The cast gets along really well, I think, you’ll definitely see that when you watch the movie. I love being in Atlanta, I could go to Atlanta just for no reason. Because I like it.
What did you learn about yourself while filming this movie?
P: I think I just learned I can adapt to any situation, and I can take direction really easy and I’m a very shy person. I think I just learned to come out of my shell a little bit more, and I think the cast really helped me to do that because everyone is so welcoming.
What would you hope happens for Tristan over those next few films?
P: I think I’m just excited for everyone, Tristan is an interesting girl and kind of navigates the group, but I think I want to see more or her and Steph’s relationship.
If you weren’t playing Tristan, who else would you like to play? What other role would you like?
P: I’m loyal to Tristan, girl! I think all the roles fit perfectly, I don’t see it being any other way.
What was your favorite scene to film? What scene are you excited for fans to see?
P: I’m really excited for everyone to see the party scene where the bet happens, because first of all, just the set design is so dope, I was like “damn this looks like a real frat house party, I would come here to party every week.” So I’m excited for them to see that, before the real drama happens, and then I mean that’s a crucial part of the movie, I mean, by the book. We killed that scene! When they go see that they’ll be like “uhuh, they got this one right”.
What was it like to work with Jenny, the director?
P: It was really great working with Jenny, she is very was hand on, she walks into the set and gives you direction. Before I shot the movie she had me come to her house, Khadijah came too, we only just talked about what was gonna happen at our first scene, what to expect so she was very helpful. I think she was great!