Tania Gunadi stars in the new Disney XD show Aaron Stone as Emma Lau. Emma's a computer-savvy tomboy who's Aaron/Charlie's next door neighbor. She's like a version of James Bond's Q and is behind most of Charlie's weapons. Emma's also a second degree weapons specialist. You probably know Tania best from her co-starring roles in the Disney Channel Original Movies Pixel Perfect and Go Figure. Tania also had a minor role as an alien Starfleet cadet in the movie Star Trek directed by J.J. Abrams. Ms. Gunadi was nice enough to answer a few questions via email about her new role.
Where were you born?
Java, Indonesia. Java is an island about an hour’s flight away from the more well known Bali Island.
As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Either a school teacher or a lottery winner!
Who were your childhood heroes?
My mom, my dogs, and Superman!
What are you most passionate about?
If you could be or do anything else – what?
An ambassador of some sorts — that sounds kinda cool.
What one word would you use to describe yourself?
What are you most proud of?
My ability to learn and speak the English language — it’s very difficult, you know!
What's the one thing about you few people know?
I love eating fake food! Fake bacon, fake cheese, fake BBQ ribs.
What's your process when you take on a role?
Depends on the role, but the basic stuff would be to gain an understanding of the script, the various relationships, maybe write out some back story, and have fun making choices as the character.
Was being an actress something you always wanted to do?
No, I didn’t know much about acting until I got to the United States after winning a green card lottery. I sort of fell into it, at a friend’s urging me to go to an audition.
What was the process of being cast for the role in Aaron Stone?
Well, first I auditioned for the casting directors, then got called back to read for Disney execs, then I did a screen test with Kelly Blatz (who plays Aaron Stone), then I heard the wonderful news of being cast for the role!
Tell us more about the show and how that idea came alive.
Aaron Stone is an action adventure series on Disney XD about a group of teenagers who love to play video games and through that, they end up being real life super heroes getting the chance to save the world. It’s really a lot of fun.
Tell us about your character. Is she a good girl or more on the bitchy side?
Emma kinda leads a double life: she’s the girl next door who goes to school like every other kid, loves to play video games, drinks boba tea. But when she comes home, she becomes Dark Tamara where she creates and designs new weapons to help Aaron Stone save the world. Occasionally or when needed, she goes into the field to kick some enemy butt, too! But she is definitely a good girl type with a bit of a fun, sarcastic quality to her.
Are you anything like your character Emma? It says you're more of a tomboy; is this true for you or are you more the girl in real life?
There are parts of me where I am like my character Emma, but definitely I am far from Dark Tamara, meaning that I know nothing about weaponry and likely won’t be able to save the world with my kickboxing skills.
How is it to play a weapons specialist/hacker? This character is nothing like your previous characters, right?
Right. It is so cool to play a character that I haven’t played before. When I tried, I was pretty smart in school, so I can lean on my “brainy” side and geek a little when need be for the part. It’s so fun.
Any neat “behind-the-scenes” stories you can share?
The best behind-the-scenes stories for me are hanging out with the stunt team, learning how to look cool handling different kinds of weapons, and how to fall properly so that I won’t have a million bruises on my body.
What do you typically do during your downtime on set?
Nap! Play with the kitties on set! Eat cookies! Nap! Eat fruit! Study my lines! Nap! Play with the kitties again! Oh, and did I mention nap?
Had any embarrassing moments on or off camera?
Well, in one of the episodes I was supposed to be eating some berries at a cafeteria, and the director told me that I can just pretend to eat so that I won’t have food in my teeth while talking to Aaron Stone about some serious life and death matter. But I said to myself, “Hmm, but that fruit looks so fresh and yummy, surely eating just a little won’t be a problem…” So I ate some right before a take, thinking I’d finish before the camera started rolling. Sure enough, I couldn’t eat ‘em fast enough and I had to start the scene talking with fruit in my mouth and pieces caught in my teeth. The director said, “I told you so!”
Can you give us any hints about what happens in the new episodes?
Well, there will be some kissing (but I can’t tell you who is going to kiss whom). And my character, Emma/Dark Tamara, who likes to do her weapons testing in her house, is going to blow up her kitchen, and maybe her room. So she’ll need to find a new place to do the testing. Anyone want to volunteer their house to be destroyed?
Do you tend to have more guy fans or more girl “tween” fans?
Do you prefer that people come up to you and say something when you’re recognized? That’s something fans always wonder.
It’s always nice to get to meet the fans. Come say hi!
Now that you are in the public eye, how do you deal with people speculating about your personal life all the time?
People can speculate all they want. It’s a free country. At the end of the day, I know what’s true and what’s not.
How has it been with the other castmates? Is there anyone on set that you happen to be closer with?
No one in particular. Since we shoot two episodes every eight days, I usually get very busy and don’t have time to hang out outside set after work. But I always enjoy the sense of humor that they boys bring while filming, as well as the various pranks that the crew seem to always have handy.
What do you have planned for the future? What does the future hold for you and what can you tell us about it?
Now that we have completed 35 episodes of Aaron Stone in Canada, we are all back in Los Angeles. I am now finishing my first short film that I produced with my friends earlier this year, so I’m having a lot of fun with it. My immediate future looks excellent for some planned relaxation and enjoying the city I love so much. And I’m always looking forward to the holidays.
Dating in Hollywood: how do you handle it?
I think dating in Hollywood is the same thing as dating anywhere else. Meaning there will always be people you vibe with and those you don’t. At the end of the day it’s all about what YOU make it.