As soon as Siena Agudong jumps on our Zoom call, she’s upbeat, cheery, a ray of sunshine, which is why her recent role in Resident Evil was such a change of pace for her. The actress was put to the test, as the eight-episode drama series inspired by the hugely popular horror franchise featured multiple timelines and creepy creatures — all a far cry from any of her previous projects.
Despite the challenges she faced, Agudong was excited to tackle the role of Billie Wesker, a 14-year-old who moves to New Raccoon City with her sister Jade. The Netflix live-action series also features four other young actresses. “It was super-cool; we had a wide range of actors from all over the world. It was so much fun getting to know each other,” the 17-year-old tells GRAZIA Gazette: Hamptons.
“I didn’t know anything about the franchise at the time, but I did my research and I knew it was huge, but I was so nervous,” she says of trying out for the role. “I auditioned in February 2020, but I didn’t hear back until October. By November, they officially booked me.”
The Hawaii native originally auditioned for Jade but was thankful that Billie landed in her lap, as she believes she relates to her more. “Jade is sharp and quick- witted; she is not trying to keep the peace, she is trying to entertain herself by doing the exact opposite all of the time, whereas Billie is constantly trying to keep the peace. She is very anxiety-ridden, constantly suppressing her emotions because she doesn’t want to be the trouble child,” Agudong explains.
Despite nabbing the role, the rising star was “very nervous for my mental health” when prepping to play the character. “Billie goes through a lot and every day is intense and emotional, but that is something as an actor that I have always wanted to learn and that is also what drew me to this project,” she notes. “All I want to do as an actor is grow. I would not be satisfied if I didn’t learn how to do it right. It excited me that I was able to put my heart and soul into each scene and not feel like it was taking something out of me.”
When not on set, Agudong spent time working out and allowing herself to be in touch with her emotions in order to decompress. “I would go to the beach or go in the water, and I became very self-aware, which I think helped me,” she shares. “I know I still have so much more to learn, but what I was able to gain from my time on Resident Evil excites me because it feels like, OK, there is movement, I am learning about myself.”
Agudong has now watched all of the episodes, though she admits having to close her eyes due to the content more than once. She’s still amazed that audiences will soon get to see her hard work on the small screen. “I feel so grateful. I can’t believe that I even got the audition in the first place, because this is something that I have always dreamed of playing,” she says.
Since performing in plays at the age of six, the brunette beauty always knew acting was in the cards. Fortunately, her parents were supportive and took her to Los Angeles, where she later met with her now manager and agents. The rest, as they say, is history.
“I love feeling something, and I love playing characters. I love putting myself in these situations that I might not experience in my personal life and feeling what that feels like. I have always been into storytelling,” she explains.
Though she starred in Alex & Me on video and Star Falls for Nickelodeon, her first big break came in 2019 when No Good Nick debuted on Netflix. Agudong starred alongside seasoned actors such as Melissa Joan Hart and Sean Astin, but “everyone made it feel like I belonged there, which I think as a 14-year-old actor who had never had a show on Netflix, was everything I needed,” she gushes. “It was unconditional love on that set, and they let me grow and play around with the character and everyone was so excited to be there.”
Agudong got great advice from both Joan Hart and Astin, as they knew all too well what it was like to grow up in Hollywood. Now, she gets to be a role model for others — something she is still getting used to. “It is a lot of pressure, but I remind myself the only job I have is to be real, and I think that is enough,” she declares, adding that when she goes home to Hawaii, people constantly ask her advice on how to get into the industry.
“That in itself is huge for me because I want people to know how to follow their dreams,” she adds. “I am still learning, and I hope I can inspire the community back home. I feel very blessed because I get to represent my community that I feel so proud to be a part of.”
In addition to getting involved with Coral Gardeners, an organization focused on preserving our oceans, her main focus is attending NYU in the fall. “I am going in undeclared, but I am planning to major in business and minor in screenwriting. I still want to continue my acting career. I don’t want to lose that, but I am hoping I can make both work,” she says. “I am hoping not to graduate in 10 years!”
Now that she has different genres under her belt, she’s eager to expand her horizons even further — and her dream role would be to star alongside Tom Hanks. “He’s brilliant, so that would be a huge blessing,” she says. “I have a few projects in the works, but my main goal is to grow as an actor, and I feel like in order to do that, I want to experience it all.”