Interview with Fakes stars Jennifer Tong, Emilija Baranac

Did the Vancouver-born actors from a show about fake IDs ever actually use one themselves?

It’s no secret that the many big movies set in famous cities like Seattle and New York City are actually filmed in Vancouver.

But it’s not often that a film or show is not only filmed around Vancouver, but is set in the city too. That’s why for Vancouver actors Emilija Baranac (seen in To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before) and Jennifer Tong (seen in Grand Army) filming the new comedy series, Fakes, was a treat. 

The two young actors star in the upcoming series as best friends who “accidentally build one of the largest fake ID empires in North America,” describes a news release. The friends move into a penthouse before even graduating high school and, after earning a stupendous amount of money, they’re raided by feds. “This is the story of their ultimate betrayal, told from each of their unreliable POVs as they compete for the last word,” the news release details. 

The series, co-produced by CBC Gem and Netflix, will premiere in Canada on the CBC Gem on September 1 and will be available to the rest of the world on Netflix from September 2. 

Vancouver Is Awesome talked with the two co-stars about filming in their hometown, their characters, and fake ID stories. 

How would you describe your characters using only three words?

Jennifer Tong: Rebecca is confident, adventurous and sharp-witted. 

Emilija Baranac: Zoe is caring, stressed and exhausted.

Can you relate to your characters in some ways?

Jennifer: Absolutely! Rebecca always thinks she’s right and much to my loved ones’ detriment, that’s definitely also me. She’s also incredibly driven and passionate when she sets her sights on something and I’d like to think that’s me too. And she’s a bit of a boujee gal and I’m not going to lie, I do love dressing up and a bit of luxury myself. But the biggest and most important similarity between the two of us would be our love for FOOD, of course! Omnomnomnomnomnom…

Emilija: Yes, I connected instantly with Zoe when I first read the script. I think much like Zoe, I find myself either in the past or future, always over-analyzing things. Zoe needs to work on being more present and actually enjoying the moment and I can definitely relate to that.

What was it like to film in your hometown? What did you do on your days off or when you weren’t filming? Any food spots you love?

Jennifer: I always love filming in my hometown because it lets me see places that I’ve known forever, in a completely different light. Because the story revolves around Rebecca and Zoe so much, Emilija and I didn’t have too much time off but when we did, I’d be catching up on sleep, spending time with family and at the nail salon making sure Becca’s nails were always on point! As for yummy spots in town that I love, that list is endless. Most of our cast are also foodies so when we could get together on the weekends, we hit up some really cool places, like Lao Wei in Chinatown, Cuchillo in Railtown, Ophelia in Olympic Village and La Fabrique in Mount Pleasant, just to name a few. 

Emilija: Surreal because the show is actually set in Vancouver! I think I had one day off and I’m pretty sure I spent it sleeping and then preparing for the next day of work. The first day Jen and I met, and we went for bubble tea at a place called Teaspoons & Co. and subsequently that became our thing. We are truly blessed with lots of great bubble tea places in Vancouver.

What do you think about having the show not only being filmed but also set in Vancouver?

Jennifer: Fakes being set in Vancouver was one of the many things that hooked me right away about the project. It’s incredibly refreshing to be able to show off Vancouver as Vancouver. We were able to feature the seawall, Lions Gate bridge and many other local places that hold a special place in my heart. I’m so excited for locals to watch and hopefully, be proud of how the series shows off their city. 

Emilija: It’s about time Vancouver gets the representation it deserves. We shot at some popular and beautiful locations like Stanley Park and Ambleside Beach with a view of the Lions Gate Bridge. Jen and I felt really proud to be a part of something putting Vancouver in the spotlight. Hopefully viewers from Vancouver will feel the same.

What are your favourite parts and memories of (growing up in) Vancouver? 

Jennifer: Technically, I was born and raised in Richmond and spent a lot of time in Steveston Village where I went to elementary and high school (shoutout to McMath Secondary!). Some of my favourite memories would be buying fresh seafood from the fisherman’s wharf with my family, getting froyo at Timothy’s and fish ‘n’ chips at Pajo’s, and wandering around the playgrounds at night with my friends, a mickey of Smirnoff and a bottle of coke. Sigh.

Emilija: Vancouver is one of those rare places where you’re exposed to a metropolitan city, but you can stroll over to the beach pretty quickly, but also have access to some of the most beautiful mountains and trails. Being surrounded by nature helped to keep me grounded and connected. My favourite memories are almost always linked with nature, whether it’s ending up randomly at a park or beach, or biking aimlessly.

Have you ever had a Fake ID?

Jennifer: No. But my mom used to use her older sister’s ID to get into nightclubs when she was underage. Sorry mom!

Emilija: No. But I snuck into a club once because it was my best friend’s 18th birthday and there was no way I was missing that.

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