Jamie Chung: She’s Not Blinking

Previous PostBally's New Collaboration With Swizz Beatz
Next PostThree Charity Events To Attend In Palm Beach County
Chung wears an Issey Miyake skirt and shawl, A.L.C top, Giorgio Armani vest, the stylist’s personal belt, O2 by Oxygen White Tassel earrings, A.V Max silver joops, and a Dana Rebecca White gold bracelet.
Chung wears an Issey Miyake skirt and shawl, A.L.C top, Giorgio Armani vest, the stylist’s personal belt, O2 by Oxygen White Tassel earrings, A.V Max silver joops, and a Dana Rebecca White gold bracelet.

Photo Credit: Frankie Batista

Styling: Jeff K. Kim    Hair: Castillo Bataille    Makeup: Kirin Bhatty • Shot On Location At Sofitel Los Angeles

When it comes to television shows, Jamie Chung has had bad luck. The pretty, 34-year old actor has starred in over 10 different series, but her characters never last more than a handful of episodes. She played Mulan on ABC’s hit fairy tale fantasy, Once Upon a Time; yet, unlike other cast members, the warrior princess doesn’t get a happily ever after ending. On Gotham, Fox’s prelude to Batman, Chung’s journalist Valerie Vale is shot and written off after six episodes. However, luck in Hollywood can change in the blink of an eye. At least that’s what Chung is hoping for when her new television show, The Gifted, premieres on Monday, October 2. “I’ve never been on a show for more than 13 episodes, so I consider myself to be a bit of bad luck,” Chung told Haute Living on a recent sunny Saturday afternoon. “I really hope this show changes that luck around for me. Because you never know.” The Gifted is a live-action X-Men-inspired television show written for Fox by Matt Nix and produced by 20th Century Fox Television in partnership with Marvel Television. Chung plays a mutant named Blink, a popular X-Men character with teleportation powers. “Blink is a character that a lot of people are familiar with because of X-Men: Days of Future Past. Blink was originally played by the wonderful actress, Bingbing Fan,” Chung explains. “In that storyline, there’s a small group of mutants left, and they’re also being hunted. It takes place in the future, and their version of Blink is very different from our version of Blink.”

The Gifted is not a natural extension of the X-Men movie series. While the characters are the same, the story is set in an alternate timeline and a world where the X-Men have disappeared. “It takes place within the X-Men universe, within the Marvel universe, but it’s its own thing…much like all of the comic series, and how they branch off and make a different series. You have the Uncanny X-Men, you have Phoenix Rising, or you have all these different branches of the characters that you’re used to, but in different stories. Ours is very much like that,” Chung clarifies. “Our X-Men world takes place in a contemporary time where the X-Men are nowhere to be found.” Along with Nix, the television series is being produced by the same team that created the films: Bryan Singer, Lauren Shuler Donner, and Simon Kinberg. Singer directed the pilot, which is edgier and darker than the movies. It tells the story of two families coming together as they fight for survival.

Chung wears a Valentino dress, Wolford bodysuit, Giuseppe Zanotti boots, Fluer du Mal belt, VRAM earrings, and David Yurman necklace and bracelet.
Chung wears a Valentino dress, Wolford bodysuit, Giuseppe Zanotti boots, Fleur du Mal belt, VRAM earrings, and David Yurman necklace and bracelet.

Photo Credit: Frankie Batista

In The Gifted, a government agency called the Sentinel Services is plucking mutants off the street and putting them in detention centers. The Sentinels are trying to keep the public safe from mutants, even if the mutants do no harm. Stephen Moyer plays a prosecutor, Reed Strucker, who is in charge of detaining the mutants. After a dangerous incident involving a high school dance, he realizes that his two children are mutants. Family comes first and they run from the government.  At the same time, there is an underground group of mutants, similar to the underground railroad, that shuttles and transports mutants across the border, down to Mexico. The Struckers appeal to this group of mutants for help.

Blink, a runaway since she was 15, is being hunted by the Sentinel Services when she meets the underground group of mutants. They help Blink, but in doing so they lose a member of their team. Blink feels immensely guilty and this adds to the complexity of the role. “There is a negative stigma towards mutants,” Chung says. “The pilot finds these two families in precarious situations and they end up meeting each other in order to escape the Sentinel Services, because now the Strucker family is being chased. It’s kind of cool. It’s a tale about two families—one very conventional family, another unconventional family made up of these mutants—depending on each other in order to survive.” Although there are “crazy awesome stunts” and action sequences, Chung warns that the series is “nothing like the movie.” The Gifted’s mutants don’t wear latex costumes, destroy buildings, or have epic battles. It’s a more grounded look at the mutant lifestyle; saving the world is not on the agenda. “They’re just trying to survive. It is a very different storyline, and it’s quite interesting. It’s a take that we haven’t seen yet.” The biggest distinction is probably that these mutants are not superheroes.

Chung as Blink in 'The Gifted,' which premieres Monday, October 2 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.
Chung as Blink in ‘The Gifted,’ which premieres Monday, October 2 at 9:00 p.m. ET/PT on Fox.

Photo Credit: ©2017 Fox Broadcasting Co. Cr: Ryan Green/Fox

“Blink doesn’t want to be a hero. She grew up in a world where people are bullied for being mutants. They’re outcasts, they’re teased, they’re beaten up. They’re living in a time where it’s not cool to be a mutant. People are terrified of you; they think you’re a freak. There are mutants on our show like Thunderbird and Eclipse who don’t have markings on their face, or green skin, or red skin. They can hide the fact that they’re mutants and live among everyone else peacefully.” With pointed ears, unusual facial birthmarks, and bright green eyes, Blink is unable to hide that she is a mutant. “She has a troubled past. She was kind of a loner. She never really had a group to call her own or a family. She’s quite different and she’s far from being a hero. She’s only known how to survive and fend for herself, so she really doesn’t want to think about anyone else but herself. She doesn’t feel very useful. It’s fun to try to find her place, find her place amongst the mutants.”

To find her place in the mutant universe Chung immersed herself in all things Marvel. She and other cast members were given unlimited access to its massive database, a collection of thousands of comic books. “It was really quite cool, and I got familiar with the comic series Exiles—that’s where Blink is extremely heavy in the comics.” To physically transform into Blink, Chung wore “prosthetic ears, contacts, you know, the whole nine. It was really fun transforming into this character.” Blink is still learning how to control her power at will. She is able to open two portals at one time. One is an entry portal and the other is an exit portal. The entry can be anywhere, but the exit has to be a place that is somewhat nearby and a location that Blink has seen before. “I can’t transfer myself to Cuba. I’ve never been to Cuba.  It’s more like I can transport myself here, and then transport myself four or five feet away outside, or in the middle of the street, or in someone’s car. You know?”

Chung in a Preen dress, Dana Rebecca earrings, and Angora coat.
Chung in a Preen dress, Dana Rebecca earrings, and Angora coat.

Photo Credit: Frankie Batista

Two episodes have been shot, but a total of 13 were commissioned. Chung admits that she was intimidated when she first auditioned for the role of Blink, but that working with Singer put her at ease. “He’s a delight. He knows his X-Men universe; he knows it very well. That’s why they have entrusted him with it. Then you also have someone as incredible as Matt Nix, who grew up reading the comic books as well, someone who’s very familiar with this universe for The Gifted. We have a strong team behind the vision and the show and our world. We’re in really good hands.” With the stellar production team and a base of loyal X-Men fans, Chung and the rest of the cast and crew involved with The Gifted are optimistic about the future of the show. “You just pour your heart and soul into a project, and everyone pays their dues, and everyone on the crew, everyone works so hard. Then you just don’t know how the show ends up. You just hope that it turns out great, and you hope that people respond to it, and you hope that the network accepts a season two. It’s just so finicky, and so challenging. You just never know what’s going to happen to the show. You just hope that it lasts.”

One thing Chung is sure of: that fans will be interested in tuning in. “I think the fans are going to be really pleased, because you have a lot of characters from the comics, but they’re characters that haven’t really been featured yet. You know? You have Polaris, who is Magneto’s daughter—that’s pretty rad.” The Gifted was well-received and labeled a success at Comic Con, which is where Chung realized she was shouldering the big responsibility of pleasing the massive X-Men fan base. “I think we have to have the fans behind us, because we’re making it for them. It really is a different universe, like a universe that they haven’t seen before. It’s a huge responsibility.”

A post shared by Jamie Chung (@jamiejchung) on

It’s a task that Chung is more than up for. She’s played fantastical characters in the past and is thrilled to play another nuanced, interesting, female role. “The female characters in the show are extremely powerful, and quite independent, and strong, and sassy. You have Polaris who helped start the organization of the underground mutants, and she’s one of the leaders, and she’s fearless. I do think that they took notes in terms of how successful Wonder Woman is, how she’s a great role model.” What makes The Gifted distinct from Chung’s other projects is the exceptional writing. “The thing is all of the writers on the show have a great sense of humor.  If you met Matt Nix, well, he’s very sarcastic, very witty, and very clever.  I feel like a lot of that is implemented into our show.”  When she’s not on set filming upcoming projects like this one, Chung has a side hustle where she doubles as a fashion blogger. ‘What the Chung is the petite star’s personal blog and creative outlet. On What the Chung, she shares pictures of her latest outfits, fashion and home decor tips, and even the occasional recipe, like her mom’s Doenjang Jigae, a traditional Korean soup. “I started three years ago. I was in between gigs, and I found myself wanting some sort of creative outlet. I just started taking pictures on all my trips. I wanted it to be some sort of guide for my fans to go to. If they were like, ‘I live in Vancouver: where are some of the cool places to eat or up-and-coming bars or great tacos?’ I started to do that, but then the focus changed to more fashion. Certainly people are looking at it, which makes me really happy, but it also makes me happy that they’re saying that it has also inspired them. You put on clothes and it makes you feel a certain way, and as long as you have confidence, that is the most important thing.”

Stephen Moyer and Chung at ‘The Gifted’ panel at the 2017 Fox Summer TCA at The Beverly Hilton Hotel, Tuesday, August 8 in Beverly Hills, CA.
Stephen Moyer and Chung at ‘The Gifted’ panel at the 2017 Fox Summer TCA at The Beverly Hilton Hotel, Tuesday, August 8 in Beverly Hills, CA.

Photo Credit: Frank Micelotta/Fox/Picturegroup Connecting with her readers, fans, and followers, inspiring them to feel more confident or empowered is something important to Chung. Instead of simply posting beautifully styled photos of herself, Chung invites her tribe to the occasional exclusive giveaway in a series she calls #instantkarma. “There’s so much bullying, and there’s so much negativity on social media. I wanted to do something that kind of counteracted all the negativity. I wanted to do something that made people feel good, like send appreciation, send shout outs to your friends and tell them how much you appreciate them. #Instantkarma is a way to just feel good. It’s a way to give back to my readers and my followers, and it gives them a nice little treat.” Fans reacted positively to the campaign and Chung has kept it up partnering with brands like Kate Spade and Marriott. To Chung, social media interactions are priceless. “You get real feedback on your work, whether it’s solicited or not. You get a lot of people who send you love when you’re having a bad day, and vice versa. I get to meet the people who are behind my fan pages, and get to know a little bit about them. I don’t know. It’s a two-way street, but it’s also so intriguing to know the people who support me in my career. I want to do something with them, supporting them and what they’re doing in their lives. I think it’s cool.” She acknowledges that her fanbase, at just one million Instagram followers, is “a manageable amount of fans.”

Chung sitting pretty in an Issey Miyake skirt and shawl, A.L.C top, Giorgio Armani vest and, Liudmila Boots. She holds a Mark Cross purse and is wearing O2 by Oxygen White Tassel earrings, A.V Max silver joops, and a Dana Rebecca White gold bracelet.
Chung sitting pretty in an Issey Miyake skirt and shawl, A.L.C top, Giorgio Armani vest and, Liudmila Boots. She holds a Mark Cross purse and is wearing O2 by Oxygen White Tassel earrings, A.V Max silver joops, and a Dana Rebecca White gold bracelet.

Photo Credit: Frankie Batista While she isn’t afraid to mingle with her masses, Chung’s biggest fans are her family. The San Francisco native, who grew up near City College and attended Lowell High School, frequently returns home to spend time with her siblings and parents. “One of my favorite things to do with my dog, and my sister’s dog, and my mom, and my sister is to go for these really long walks. One of our favorite spots to go is Fort Funston with the dogs. It’s beautiful.  It’s like doggy heaven. It’s got amazing views. There’s dogs everywhere, but it’s the best.” When asked about growing up in SF, she is excited, almost childlike, and enthusiastic—eager to share her San Francisco world with whomever will listen. “I try to come back as much as possible, like there’s no place like home, you know? I just love the city so much. It’s still the best city in the world, I think. The older I get and the more I travel, the more I realize how beautiful our city is;  how unique it is in terms of its history, how it’s built and what’s taken place there. I don’t know. I’m just so proud to be from San Francisco and to have a family history there. It’s only two generations back, but still, it’s two generations in San Francisco. I love it. I’m so proud of it.” One thing she’s not proud of is SF’s insane cost of living. “A lot of my friends or their families are being pushed out of the city, and they’ve been there for decades. They’re getting pushed out because of the cost of living, and the companies that are moving into the city, which is great, but it’s conflicting. It’s great for the city, but it’s also bad for the city. I think it’s bad for the locals. It certainly makes things more challenging. I have noticed that growing up, the city’s always been kind of laid back, and people are pretty chill, but I feel like it is changing a little bit, in terms of the working class, especially the Millennials who are living in the city, and kind of changing up the scene, and the vibe. It’s different, but I think I miss the old city.”

Chung poses in the garden wearing a Delpozo dress, Tadashi Shoji jacket, O2 by Oxygen Blue Tassel earrings, EF Collection huggies, and Dana Rebecca huggies and ring.
Chung poses in the garden wearing a Delpozo dress, Tadashi Shoji jacket, O2 by Oxygen Blue Tassel earrings, EF Collection huggies, and Dana Rebecca huggies and ring.

Photo Credit: Frankie Batista She waxes nostalgic about the Sutro Baths, taking the #23 bus to Ocean Beach, walking up to the Cliff House, and getting ice cream near Mission Dolores. She remembers spending summer break at Indian Springs up in Calistoga. When she was in Napa for a wedding over the Fourth of July, she was stunned to see its recent upscale renovation. “My parents would rent a cottage for a week at Indian Springs and it was so janky. Like they used to have stand alone cottages. They were painted mint green. They were quaint. They weren’t run down or anything like that, but I saw pictures of it, and I was like, ‘Oh, let’s go there. I grew up staying there.’ It was so fun, and they have this really big pool, and it’s gorgeous, and you can rent these silly little bikes that can seat up to four, and they have a little canopy. It’s so fun! We stopped by downtown Calistoga. They were having their Fourth of July parade, so we stayed and watched that.” Although she does a lot of her personal shopping online, when she is in SF, she loves to explore the boutiques in Hayes Valley. On her next trip to the luxe shopping neighborhood, Chung plans on looking for layering pieces. Fall is her favorite season and she is excited to cover up. “I love a lot of layers, like layers of denim, or silk chiffon with shearling. It’s knee-high boots with metal details, or elaborate lacing. Fall is my favorite season of the year, and I think the shots that we did, the looks that were shot today, really showcase why I love fall. It’s all these layers, and different textures, and bold colors. It’s so fun.”

  A post shared by Jamie Chung (@jamiejchung) on

Is her love for the season and dressing up the reason why she decided to host her wedding to actor Bryan Greenberg on Halloween weekend in 2015?  She laughs and explains that no, it was a normal bride’s dilemma of her preferred venue’s limited availability. “It was the only weekend available for the venue, because it’s quite a popular venue.  We were like, ‘You know what? Screw it. It’s Halloween weekend; let’s ask everybody to come in costume for the welcome dinner.’ It was 273 people dressed up for Halloween, meeting each other for the first time. It was a great way to break the ice, and merge our two groups and two families together. It was just so fun. It got a little out of hand, and people got a little too crazy on the first night, but it certainly helped break the ice.” For their first anniversary last October, Greenberg and Chung decided to have a quiet night at home and hand out candy to trick-or-treaters—except the evening ended up being a little too quiet. “We didn’t realize that people don’t trick or treat in our neighborhood. It’s just not well lit. We live in the hills in LA, and no one really comes up there. We had two people stop by the house, and it was so sad, and we were left with all this candy.” Does the couple’s desire to spend Halloween at home translate to wanting to start a family soon? Not just yet. The duo are still enjoying each other.

In fact, spending time at home with her husband, chilling in her pajamas, is when the down-to-earth actress is most happy. She also is incredibly content when she’s out exploring the world and visiting new places. “The greatest luxury is the freedom to travel. The best advice that I’ve ever been given was travel as much as you can. A lot of people can’t afford to travel, or they cannot travel because of political reasons and different constraints. It’s quite the freedom to travel as much as you can.” A quick glance at her blog and you’ll see that Chung has recently visited Atlanta, Paris, Bali, and Hong Kong. For the holidays this year she’s heading to St. Louis. “The Greenbergs are in St. Louis, so we’re going to St. Louis, like my entire family. My mom, my dad, my sister. It’ll be fun.”

Chung isn’t slowing down. Here she walks the roof at the Sofitel as if it were a catwalk in a Michael Kors blouse and pants, Milly top, Max Mara belt, Lady Bird earrings, Alchima di Ballin shoes, and Zues and Dione purse.
Chung isn’t slowing down. Here she walks the roof at the Sofitel as if it were a catwalk in a Michael Kors blouse and pants, Milly top, Max Mara belt, Lady Bird earrings, Alchima di Ballin shoes, and Zeus + Dione purse.

Photo Credit: Frankie Batista

She’ll be shooting the rest of the season of The Gifted through December. “After that, we just have a month and a half of more shooting, and then fingers crossed.  I’ll be able to go on a nice tropical vacation. My next trip will probably be to Peru, Machu Picchu.” She and Greenberg want to hike into the stunning ruins and camp along the way. In an ideal world, when she returns home to Los Angeles, her show will be a hit and renewed for a second season. “I’ve been on a lot of TV shows, but particularly with this one, you don’t know what’s going to happen. It’s not a procedural show where you have a new case or a new villain every episode. It’s like Christmas every time I get a new script, and it’s going to be really great. I’m so looking forward to everyone seeing The Gifted.” Blink all you want, but you don’t want to miss her. Chung is a class act whose luck is about to change. . . for the better.

connect with haute living San Francisco
Loader