TV

Sherry Cola on Coming Out and Her Big Queer TV Love Triangle

The "Good Trouble" actress finds herself in big trouble in Season 2.

When it comes to The Fosters spin-off Good Trouble, we’re big-time stans of lesbian character Alice Kwan. Portrayed by bisexual actress-comedian Sherry Cola (who also co-starred in the Amazon series I Love Dick and TNT’s Claws), Alice is an aspiring stand-up comic who works as manager of The Coterie apartment building where Callie (Maia Mitchell) and Mariana Adams Foster (Cierra Ramirez) live. Over the course of the show she has come out to her parents, stood by her love interest Joey (Daisy Eagan) as they’ve transitioned from female to nonbinary, and maintained a friendship with her ex-girlfriend Sumi (Kara Wang), all the while making sure there’s toilet paper for The Coterie residents.
 

Good Trouble’s Season 2 midseason finale promises a few cliffhangers, including what may be the start of a love triangle for Alice. NewNowNext called up Cola to get more details, and find out what’ll happen when the show (which was co-created by Queer as Folk’s Peter Paige) returns.

How would you describe Alice and her journey so far?

Alice is definitely someone you root for. Whether emotionally or career-wise, you want her to have something to celebrate. In Season 1 you saw her being taken advantage of, finding her confidence, questioning when people gave her a compliment, bottling emotions with jokes, and not feeling comfortable in her own skin. She finally comes out to her parents, and cut to Season 2 and her parents are telling her to still keep it hush with her family. It’s cool to have everyone on board with her evolution.

Did your own coming out parallel Alice’s?

I’ve been bi my whole life, but only had the conversation with my mom when I booked the role of Alice, so she’s influenced and inspired me to live my truth. The scene where Alice came out to her parents, it meant the world, because I never saw that growing up. There’s a stereotype around Asian families or immigrant parents: that they’re close-minded folks that might not accept their LGBTQ kids. The fact that this is on TV screens will open minds. The fact that she had that scene on prime-time TV meant the world to me and my community.

Sherry Cola.
Freeform/Christopher Willard
Sherry Cola in Good Trouble.

How are you and Alice most alike?

It’s such a fluid Venn diagram situation. When I first booked the role, I was like, “Alice is pretty much me.” But as we kept shooting, the more I learned about Alice and created characteristics for her… we’re actually very different. She’s apologetic and a people pleaser. I can relate to that, and like to keep everyone happy, but I’m more outspoken and wild in my personality and say what I feel a little bit too much sometimes. But constantly trying to be a good friend is something Alice and I do have in common.

 

What can you tell us about the midseason finale and what to expect when the show resumes?

The finale will have cliffhangers, and you’ll definitely be left wanting more. Season 2B will continue to dive deep. With Alice, the people she meets in the stand-up world, you can already see a mild love triangle, because she’s in a relationship with Joey but then Alice meets lesbian stand-up Lindsay Brady (Rhea Butcher), who she’s a big fan of and admires and maybe has a crush on. We’ve all been in that situation where you think you’re happy in a relationship and then meet someone you’re intrigued by and want to spend so much time with them to the point where you’re confused. That’s gonna be a roller coaster for sure, and with Joey admitting that Lindsay had history with her ex, that’s a whole other complication. The finale is going to leave Alice in more of a dilemma.

Sherry Cola
Freeform/Eric McCandless
Sherry Cola in Good Trouble.

What was it like playing special agent Lucy Chun on Claws?

That was so fun. I went to New Orleans for the first time ever. I have been so lucky being in such inclusive, diverse atmospheres on these sets. My very first TV show was I Love Dick, created by the one and only Jill Soloway (Transparent). Cut to Claws, which is girl power and diverse, with these badass women.

On your YouTube channel there are clips of you playing a butch hip-hop character named Lil’ Tasty. Is she queer?

It’s the wildest thing. I started that character on a whim for a friends’ web series called Luber, which is a parody of Lyft and Uber in which all the characters were drivers. This was before I ever professionally acted. So I figured she has to rap because I’ve been so passionate about hip-hop my whole life. Suddenly this video goes viral. We thought it would get 20 views. She has mentioned she’s “not fluid, but not solid.” There’s no label, and she’s living her best life.
 

In one clip Lil’ Tasty makes a prank call. Are you a born prankster?

I do like to prank. Little things. I was recently on Good Trouble’s set and one of my castmates kept taking off his shoes for no reason, so I ended up hiding them behind a tree. And I like to record reactions. I do this all the time—I open my camera’s selfie mode and hit record and say, “Did you see this? It’s insane!” and they look and it’s literally their face. They think it’s a video of them, and then realize I’m recording them. I’m clearly like an old auntie when it comes to pranking, but I do what I can!

Have you ever been offered a role that plays into racial stereotypes? Have we moved past the “Long Duk Dong” portrayals, or do you find they still come up?

It’s definitely gotten a lot better. I’ve been asked to do an Asian accent, which, to be honest, I’m not opposed to because that’s still a reflection of real life. I remember Jimmy O. Yang of Silicon Valley and Crazy Rich Asians saying how he has an Asian accent, so what’s the crime in the character having one? If it’s for the punch line, well… but if it’s telling a story and there’s a reason, I’m not opposed. For me it’s still a shock to see more than two Asian people on the screen at once. That’s why Kara Wang—who plays Sumi—and I were on cloud nine. Sumi is Alice’s ex, but the fact that they had an Asian lesbian couple? That is so incredibly rare.

Speaking of couples, are you single? Dating? What’s the status?

I’m out here living my best life. Let’s say that. New, now, next!

The midseason finale of Good Trouble Season 2 airs August 6 at 8 p.m. ET on Freeform.

Photograph by Shanna Fisher. Hair: Preston Wada. Makeup: Tiffany Lee

Lawrence is a New York-based travel and entertainment writer whose work has appeared in National Geographic Traveler, Time Out New York and The New York Post.
@LawrenceFerber