Photo: Ricky Middlesworth
Having filmed with both Marvel heroes in Chris Evans and Tom Holland for the upcoming Gifted and Spider-Man: Homecoming respectively, young star Jona Xiao is certainly working with some incredible talent at current and, having also starred in Keeping With The Joneses most recently, she’s adding some impressive movies to her ever-growing filmography.
Talking to Filmoria about working with such incredible talents and also talking about her work in television, Jona teases us what to expect from the upcoming Spider-Man movie and so much more.
You’re involved in two very high-profile movies in the coming months, can you tell us a little about both movies and your roles in them?
One of my favorite actors of all time helped cast me in Marvel’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, which was such an awesome project to work on. It features Tom Holland’s endearing and snarky Spider-Man that was featured in Captain America: Civil War (starring Chris Evans).
I’m also a part of a drama called Gifted, starring Chris Evans, Octavia Spencer, Mckenna Grace, and Jenny Slate, which comes out April 12th. The story revolves around a single father (Evans) who is raising a 7 year old (Grace) who we quickly realize has an insanely brilliant way with math and is a prodigy. I play a smart college student named Lijuan and play a role in revealing how much of a child prodigy Mckenna Grace’s character is. I got to work with one of my favorite directors, Marc Webb (I fell in love with his filmmaking when he made 500 Days of Summer, the film that helped me recover after my boyfriend at the time cheated on me).
We noticed that both leading men in the films are from a very Marvel-based filmography, are you a comic book fan and is there a particular character you prefer?
Oh man, I love comics and superhero stories! From about age 7 through 11 or so, every birthday I wished for superpowers so I could be more like the superheroes I saw on screen. One of my favorite characters would have to be Supergirl.
Talking of particular characters, how was the experience on the set of Spider-Man: Homecoming? Can you give us a little tease on what we can expect as an audience?
It was an awesome production and I was so fortunate to work with such an amazingly talented and supportive group. We shot in Atlanta, and I’ve grown to really love that city.
Audiences will see a coming-of-age story of a much younger Spider-Man than has been seen in previous films since Peter Parker is in high school. He’s joined by Robert Downey Jr.’s hilarious Tony Stark. Fans of the comic will get to see a mix of comic book elements as well as surprise twists that Marvel has included and I think it’ll have an incredibly wide appeal.
You’ve worked with some really big-hitters in the industry in the past year or so; do you try to get some advice from these particular actors or are there specific things you have taken away from being on set with such individuals?
Some of the most well-known actors that I’ve been so fortunate to work with have also been some of the most down-to-earth and humble and supportive.
While working with Marisa Tomei, she was very complimentary of my performance and since she’s been an actress I’ve had so much respect for, it meant so much coming from her.
When I worked with Jon Hamm in Keeping Up with the Joneses, we connected about St. Louis since we both lived there for many years and I ended up helping him with his Mandarin since his character speaks some dialogue in Mandarin throughout the film. We ended up taking a selfie together on the last day of filming and he was so gracious.
Also, one of the most well-established actresses I worked with actually had her acting coach with her on set throughout the entirety of filming and it goes to show that no matter how successful you become, it’s important to surround yourself with people that you trust to challenge and continue to push you to grow. I’m a firm believer in having a coach or mentor in any area of life that you really care about seeing results in.
Aside from movies, you’ve been involved in some exciting television projects, can you tell us more about them?
I recurred as the hilarious Julie Yang in AMC’s critically acclaimed Halt & Catch Fire. I was the first female coder brought on Team Mutiny so I have to hold my own against the boys. I’m feisty as hell and when push comes to shove, I’m not afraid to throw a mean right hook. It was fun to showcase some of my physical comedy through the role as well.
Also, I’m currently recurring on BET’s Being Mary Jane and got to work quite a bit with the stunning Gabrielle Union. Gabrielle’s character gets hired on at the top morning news show this season and I play one of her co-workers, Natalie Wu. My character is fun-loving, ambitious, and will do anything it takes to get promoted. I use my sexuality as a weapon and I even try to get with one of the new producers Justin (played by Michael Ealy).
And finally, what have you got planned for the future? Any exciting projects in the pipeline?
Nothing’s confirmed so I can’t share just yet, but I will be putting some time and focus into working with children through the Boys and Girls Club. I think we as adults often underestimate children and I want to empower children to step into leadership roles and make an impact no matter how young they are.
Gifted is set for UK release on 16th June and Spider-Man: Homecoming is slated for a release date of 7th July.
You can follow Jona via the below social media links:-