Samantha Wan is a Toronto-based actor and filmmaker. Samantha found her passion for film and acting at a young age in high school. From there, she was accepted into the country’s top theatre school, the National Theatre School of Canada, which boasts a number of notable of alumni including award-winning actress Sandra Oh.
Samantha Wan recently received a 2019 Canadian Screen Award nomination in the category of Best Comedy Series for her sitcom Second Jen.
Second Jen is a buddy comedy about two second-generation millennials making it on their own in the big city. Season 1 aired on the major Canadian network Citytv and Season 2 was later picked up by OMNI Television. The show was produced by Don Ferguson Productions, the production company famously known for creating the Royal Canadian Air Farce. Samantha developed the series with actress and screenwriter Amanda Joy. The two became the youngest televisions creators in Canada.
Samantha is also known for her role as Zoe Chow in the comedy-drama television series Private Eyes starring alongside Jason Priestley and Cindy Sampson.
It’s been almost two years, but Second Jen‘s second season is finally here.
The sitcom, co-created by Amanda Joy and Samantha Wan, returns Saturday at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on Omni Television, once again telling the hilarious and heartfelt experiences of best friends Jennifer “Mo” Monteloyola (Joy) and Jennifer “Jen” Wu (Wan), two second-generation millennials who observe, reflect and react to the world around them.
Things have changed for Season 2 both in front of an behind the camera. There are new faces in Jen’s new friend, Marcus, played by Lovell Adams-Grey (Slasher); Mo’s new potential love interest, Diego (Oscar Moreno); and a whack of guest stars from Canada’s comedy elite in Mark Andrada, Jim Annan, Craig Lauzon, Patrice Goodman, Pat Thornton and Gary Rideout Jr. Second Jen‘s creative engine is run by showrunner and head writer Carly Heffernan, writer and story editor Joy and story editor and co-director Wan.
We spoke to Heffernan, Joy and Wan during a break in filming earlier this year.
How did this second season come together?
Amanda Joy: We work pretty quickly, but from the [Season 2 renewal] announcement to when we were shooting we had already done most of the writing. It just came down to polishing it, and Carly and I, we were working with the network and Sam and just trying to bring out the best elements of the scripts, and choose the best stories, and just make sure that the ones we were making were the most solid and strongest ones.
Carly, how did you end up being involved with the show this season?
Carly Heffernan: I was involved with the first season in a writing capacity as well as an acting capacity, so then I was brought back on for Season 2 in just a bit of an elevated writing capacity as head writer, which was great. I had a really nice time working with Sam and Amanda before, and I love getting into a writer’s room with them and hearing the stories that they want to share, and just being a part of figuring out how we’re going to tell those stories.
AJ: It’s actually amazing because Carly had worked with us in different capacities before, and then it just, there was an opening and she really felt like the right person to do the job, and everyone was in agreement with that.
Samantha Wan: Yeah, it’s exciting. It’s a full female writing room, and full female heads right now.
Does that make a difference?
CH: I think absolutely when you’re telling a female-centric story. It definitely helps to come from a female P.O.V. Not saying that someone of a different gender couldn’t tell the story, but it’s definitely made it easier. There are a lot of situations that Sam and Amanda shared that I could just relate to from my own past experiences as a woman.
The girls have moved into a new apartment, you’ve got new stuff going on in their lives.
AJ: When we were deciding which stories would make it into the second season and which ones we were really going to work, we decided that we wanted to bring it back to the girls, and make sure that that central relationship was key, and strong in every single story, even when they are separate from each other. It needed to really be about them and how they grow, and how they grow together. The boys who were in the original first season are not in this particular season, but in doing that we have the opportunity to show Jen and Mo outside of their relationships with these two men, and to really make a female-centric story and a friendship-centric story.
SW: In Season 1 I’d say there was a lot of focus on the girls and how they related to their family, and moving away from them. And in Season 2 it’s actually a lot more like ‘OK, now we’ve moved away from our family, how do we figure out our life on our own?’ Also, a huge thing I think this season, too, is seeing when you have a best friend, how you both start changing and you don’t change the same way. So Mo’s getting a lot of success right now, and Jen’s doing a lot of introspection right now, and that puts them in a very different place. In almost opposite places where they used to be this season.
AJ: There’s a lot of irony in that, too, because when you look at the two girls and you sort of predict who is going to be having more success, who is going to really be moving forward with their life, you think it is going to be Jen. And here we see that maybe life’s not as cut and dry as they made it seem in school.
What can you say about your cast?
AJ: In adding new characters and changing up the group a little bit, I’ve found that the dynamic from the ensemble is really speaking to the second generation experience. I believe every single lead now, in our show, is a person of colour.
And you also draw on your background with sketch because you’ve got a lot of talent like Pat Thornton coming in and, can you talk a little bit about some of the guest people you’ve got involved in Season 2?
CH: Absolutely. We have some fantastic people from the world of comedy. Pat Thornton, who is just a national treasure in terms of hilarity, you know, everyone’s seen him on their TVs for years. He’s amazing. Jim Annan, who’s another staple of the comedy community, has been so funny. Nile Séguin joins us again, who’s a fantastic stand-up from the sketch comedy scene. Sorry, from the stand-up scene. Gary Rideout Jr., Craig Lauzon, Mark Andrada. Yeah, a lot of sketch performers are coming in, which is awesome. Bumping up that comedy. Sam and Amanda do such a great job of providing us with so much heart, and staying really true and real and grounded in the characters that they are, so to have a bit of that sketch flair really ups our comedy value.
Let’s talk about some of these adult storylines. Wall squirrels.
CH: Oh, man. If you’ve ever had an animal in your house, it’s the worst. I once had a pigeon in my loft in St. Lawrence Market, I was just freaking right out. We love the notion of the girls sort of dealing with maybe their first break-in, which is always scary. It’s always coming down to firsts for these girls. What is it when you go on your first double date with your best friend?
You’re tackling some serious subjects like sexism and racism.
SW: We have a whole episode on sexual harassment in the workplace, which Amanda wrote and I’m actually directing, well, co-directing with Romeo [Candido], which I think is a very exciting thing.
Second Jen airs Saturdays at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on Omni Television.
Images courtesy of Second Jen and Omni Television.
Second Jen, the groundbreaking original scripted comedy series following the adventures of two second-generation millennials and their friends, returns this summer with an all-new season featuring fan favourites and fresh faces, beginning Saturday, Aug. 4 at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT on OMNI Television (check local listings). Co-created, co-executive produced, and starring Filipino-Chinese-Canadian Amanda Joy as Jennifer “Mo” Monteloyola and Chinese-Canadian Samantha WanasJennifer “Jen” Wu, the six-part, 30-minute episode season is inspired by their real-life experiences, as they sort through commitment issues, career challenges, and the awkwardness of dating.
Older, saucier, and no longer relying on their over-protective families, Mo and Jen are now grappling with the world of ‘adulting,’ as their childhood friends begin to establish successful careers and get married. Season 2 features an all-female creative team, with Carly Heffernan (Nurse Redelle, Second City), showrunner and head writer, at the helm. Amanda Joy has written three out of six episodes this season, including “Like A Girl,” “The Book of Jenesis,” and “Wall Squirrelly,” while Samantha Wan co-directs “Like A Girl,” alongside series director Romeo Candido.
Joining Amanda Joy and Samantha Wan as season regulars are Nile Séguin (Alister, The Beaverton), Lily Gao (Karen, Blood and Water), and new cast member Lovell Adams-Gray (Marcus, Slasher). Rounding out the culturally diverse cast are Janet Lo (Bunny, Diary of the Dead), Timothy Lai (Eric, How to Be Indie, Degrassi: The Next Generation), Caroline Mangosing (Maryjun, How to Be Indie), Carly Heffernan (Nurse Redelle, Second City), Patrick Kwok-Choon (Harrison, Star Trek: Discovery, Cardinal), Ho Chow (Mr. Hsu, Bad Blood, The Strain) and new cast member Oscar Moreno (Diego,Shadowlands). Buzz-worthy headliners from Canada’s comedy scene make special guest appearances, including Mark Andrada, Jim Annan, Craig Lauzon, Gary Rideout Jr., Pat Thornton, and comedic actress Patrice Goodman.
OMNI will air the season’s previous episode at 8 p.m. ET/PT, followed by a new episode at 8:30 p.m. ET/PT. Audiences can catch-up on Season 1 on the OMNI Television website, www.OMNItv.ca, and on Rogers on Demand.
Second Jen is produced by Don Ferguson Productions (DFP) in association with Rogers Media. Executive Producers are Don Ferguson, Lucy Stewart, and Kevin Wallis. Amanda Joy and Samantha Wan are co-executive producers. Carly Heffernan and Romeo Candido are co-producers. From Rogers Media, Nataline Rodrigues is Director of Original Programming, Hayden Mindell is Vice President of Television Programming & Content, and Colette Watson is Senior Vice President of TV & Broadcast Operations.
So, Private Eyes, fans, how do you feel about the way Angie and Shade’s relationship has shaken out so far? Clearly, Angie is still hurting from seeing Mel over at his house, hence the thinly-veiled jabs at him. For his part, Shade seems for the most part clueless, though he’s picking up on a certain vibe from his business partner.
In this Sunday’s new episode of Private Eyes, Angie and Shade head to Medieval Times. Here’s what Global says about “Long Live the King,” written by Thomas Pound and directed by Charles Officer:
Shade and Angie are hired by the “King” from Medieval Times after he believes he’s been poisoned. Initially doubtful of the King’s story – and weary of his refusal to break character – they soon get onside once they go undercover and see just how cutthroat the Middle Ages can be.
And, as always, a few more tidbits of info from me after watching a screener.
Samantha Wan kills with her comedy
Adding Zoe to Everett Investigations was the best decision Angie and Shade have made so far. Samantha Wan’s frantic portrayal of Zoe is hilarious and her comic timing is perfection; both are showcased this week. And her Sticky Note game is strong.
Rob Ramsay in a role fit for a King
I’ve been a fan of Rob Ramsay’s since I saw him on Blue Mountain State and then on The Thundermans. Here he’s super-annoying—and sidesplitting funny—playing Bob Sterling, a.k.a. King Lucien, the Medieval Times monarch who refuses to break character, frustrating Angie and Shade during their investigation.
Double entendres aplenty
This being a medieval setting, Thomas Pound’s script boasts plays on words, double entendres and discussions about men’s longswords. Yes, I laughed. Yes, I am 47 years old.
Private Eyes airs Sundays at 9 p.m. ET/PT on Global.