BY JOE MARVILLI
If you turn on the television or head to the movies this year, you will have a chance to watch one of Queens’ finest in action.
From the beginning of the 20th century to today, many stars have come out of Queens to leave their mark on the world of culture, a tradition that actress Jodi Long is continuing with a hit TV show, a new film and decades of memorable performances.
Long may originally be from Woodside, but nowadays, she is most known for her new home in Pittsburgh on the TBS series, “Sullivan and Son.” In the show, she plays Ok Cha, the Korean immigrant mother of Steve, the main character who takes over his parents’ bar. Ok Cha uses tough love to get her point across, often proving herself to be right in the end.
“I thought it was a really funny script and I recognized this woman,” Long said. “They’re willing to work with me and write to my strengths and ask what it is I like to do. They asked me and I said I like to do physical comedy. So they started writing towards that. What a gift.”
“Sullivan and Son” just started its third season on June 24, with an episode featuring Ken Jeong from “The Hangover” and “Community.” Although it moved from Thursday nights to Tuesday nights, the show will not be slowing down any time soon. This season will include special guests like Kunal Nayyar from “The Big Bang Theory” and comedian Margaret Cho.
Around the same time that “Sullivan and Son” resumed, Long’s latest film also hit theaters. Titled “A Picture Of You,” this heartfelt dramedy is about a brother and sister whose mother passed away. While they are closing up her house, they discover something about her that throws everything into a tailspin. Long said her manager believed the film offered something different for the actress and she enjoyed the script. She added that she was happy to see the film meet some success.
“We just opened last Friday at the AMC Loews 7 on 10th Street and 3rd Avenue and they just expanded us by another week to July 3. That means that the box office for the weekend was good,” Long said. “I’m so thrilled because it’s just a little movie and it got a little exposure in New York.”
Long’s love for acting came from growing up with the craft, thanks to her parents, who were vaudevillian entertainers. Long said she grew up backstage and did her first Broadway show when she was 7. While she was attending the High School for Performing Arts, Long was given a scene from the Natalie Wood film, “Splendor In The Grass.” From then, she was hooked.
The actress also spent some time behind the camera for “Long Story Short,” a documentary she wrote about her parents, who appeared on “The Ed Sullivan Show” in 1950 as the singing, dancing, comedy act, Larry and Trudie Leung.
“I went about trying to find the footage of it, which I did and I showed it to my parents, who had never seen themselves,” she said. “In those days, Ed Sullivan was live and no one had a VCR. It was really quite a gift to them, to be able to see themselves 50 years later.”
Although she learned a lot from the process of making a film, Long said that it was also a major undertaking that required a large amount of time and commitment to see it through to completion. The documentary also gave Long another perspective to her craft.
“I love acting but what I really am is a storyteller,” she said. “How do you tell a story? How do you convey it in the first 30 seconds or one minute of a film, that it’s going to compel people to not change the channel? That’s the challenge. And that to me is really interesting.”
Long said that perseverance and perfecting your craft are necessary to make it as an actor, particularly to deal with rejection and other challenges that come in the world of show business.
“If you really believe in yourself and you believe what you have to say is unique, go for it. You have to have that unrelenting drive underneath,” she said.
Reach Joe Marvilli at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 125, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @JoeMarvilli.