By Erin Chew
The things that go bump in the night is an iconic term and synonymous to scary stories for generations of teenagers who grew up reading R.L. Stine’s worldwide bestselling books – Goosebumps. Molding and shaping the identities and creative thoughts of teenagers all over the world, Goosebumps is now a Disney Plus and Hulu series.
This new series abandons the anthology format of the 1995 original TV series to focus on a serialized style of storytelling instead, while still featuring many of the existing Goosebumps monsters and items. The series stars Isa Briones as Margot and Ana Yi Puig as Isabella. In a recent interview with AsAmNews, Briones spoke about her half Asian heritage and how proud she is to represent and be visible in this series.
“Being half Filipino and half white American, my identity has always been up for grabs. I never felt accepted from both sides, so I feel it has been a journey to reach the state I am at where I am comfortable identifying as a mixed race Asian American. Playing Margot in this series has transformed me and it is so uncanny as to how similar she is to the real me. Both of us love the quiet and we are both observant – and that is important in this series as she keeps everyone around her safe and cautious”.
For Puig, playing Isabella was a challenge, as Isabella is the total opposite of Puig. However, Puig says in real life she can be spontaneous and it was this which she injected into Isabella in scenes where she was a bit more violent and was involved in fighting some of the monsters made famous by Goosebumps.
“Isabella is shy and I think struggles to connect and feel seen. In real life, I am more of an extravert and I am quite loud and make myself seen. In saying this, I am also spontaneous and together with the producer of the series worked to weave this trait into Isabella. This means in times of need, she can take the lead and fight the monsters.”
Both characters Margot and Isabella were written in as characters and could have been played by any actor of any racial background. The fact that both are played by Asians is a testament to how far the movement for better representation and visibility has come. More and more Asians are able to play any type of character and this is refreshing. For Briones, this is what authenticity means and she is glad to have this opportunity.
“Goosebumps is more about touching on the human experience and the plights on being a teenager still in high school, and this is a common life experience whether we are Asian or non-Asian. If we remove the monsters and the evil which makes the Goosebumps story exciting, what we have is young teens of different cultural backgrounds figuring themselves out and finding their footing. In this series both Ana and I play characters who happen to be Asian going through the same things as everyone else”, Briones expressed.
This idea of authenticity in story and characters became a reflection point for Puig. Being of both Chinese and Puerto Rican American cultural background, Puig stated that she wanted to play a character that is just like anyone else but at the same time showcase her Chinese and Puerto Rican heritage.
“I do like that the show doesn’t make it a major statement that both Margot and Isabella are Asian, but at the same time, it was cool that they both were. I wish I could see this when I was a kid, so I can imagine the impact it will make on young kids and teenagers who are Asian watching this show. So for me I like that my character is not ethnic specific, but at the same time, I think it is important that she is Asian.”
In addition to Briones and Puig, Goosebumps main cast includes Zack Morris as Isaiah, Miles McKenna as James, Will Price as Lucas, Rachael Harris as Nora and Justin Long as Mr. Nathan Bratt. The supporting cast includes Françoise Fong-Wa Yip as Victoria (Isabella’s mother) and Lexa Doig as Sarah (Margot’s estranged mother).
You can check out Goosebumps on both the Disney Plus and Hulu streaming platforms.
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