Tiana Le chatted about her series regular role as Destiny Winters, member of the Westbrook Sirens basketball team coached by Marvyn Korn (played by John Stamos) on Big Shot.
You may be familiar with Disney+ basketball dramedy Big Shot where John Stamos plays a newly appointed basketball coach at a private girls’ high school.
On the show, Tiana Le plays Destiny Winters, a member of the Sirens basketball team and one of the first to bond with Stamos’ bristly Marvyn Korn on an emotional level.
Read on below for Tiana’s interview with Courageous Nerd. It has been condensed for length and clarity, however, you can listen to the full version on our YouTube channel, linked below.
Welcome, Tiana and thank you for taking the time to do this!
Tiana Le (TL): Thank you for having me.
At the moment, you’re known for playing Destiny Winters on Big Shot. Before you landed this part, how far back does your journey in acting go? Was it always something you wanted to pursue?
TL: I’ve always had a love for performing arts in general. I grew up [as a] singer and then started in musical theatre, when I was in 4th grade. I’ve always loved being on stage, used to perform at any family function, all around Orange County where I was raised. When I got to 8th grade, that’s when I started professionally acting. I’ve kind of been lucky to keep going ever since. It runs deep in me. I find that if I’m not performing, acting or doing what I love, I feel kind of empty.
On Big Shot, you have the opportunity to work with well-known actors (John Stamos, Jessalyn Gilsig and Yvette Nicole Brown), as well as creatives (David E. Kelley). How familiar were you with who was attached and was there any added pressure from that information?
TL: When we auditioned, we had no clue who was going to be attached to it except David E. Kelley. That in itself was “Oh my God, it’s David E. Kelley.” It wasn’t until we were all about to hear whether we got the role that we heard John Stamos was going to be attached. It wasn’t until the first table read that we knew Yvette Nicole Brown was going to be attached to it. It was definitely a lot of building things, every time pinching like “No way, I’m going to be acting with these amazing people.”
It was definitely… “Wow”. You still don’t believe it, even after filming a whole season with them. That’s me on the same screen as John Stamos, oh my gosh.
As the actor playing Destiny, have you imagined how her life has unfolded before the events of the show? How long do you think she’s known the other Sirens?
TL: I think that Dean [Lorey], our writer, he did a really good job at adding in those little bits in the script. So, like, as an actor, you can pull from those those and get an idea of what’s authentic and what the storyline really is. She’s definitely got a lot going on in terms of her home life, things that have happened and other kind of factors.
It’s really great for me as an actor to be able to pull from and give really nice, rounded performances. You know, saying things that aren’t actually said. I think for sure it comes into a lot of what I chose to do with her, the little backstory.
When I spoke to your co-star Cricket Wampler recently, she discussed how almost all of you auditioned for multiple roles. From your perspective, how did you find the audition process for Big Shot?
TL: We all auditioned for Louise, which I think is kind of crazy now to see how Nell [Verlaque] does it, compared to how we all planned on initially doing it. The girl absolutely earned the part. The writers as well, once they booked us and put us into the show… as the season goes on, the writing becomes our actual personalities.
If you asked Dean about it, he’s like “Yeah, we kind of did that because you all have such distinct personalities in your real life. It would’ve been a shame to not bring that into the dynamic we already have.” Even just in our test for getting booked for the show, we all have so much chemistry immediately and I think it really showed. It probably played a huge factor in getting us the role.
Like many other productions, the ongoing pandemic affected Big Shot with a long break between episodes 4 and 5. Was it easy or difficult to tap back into Destiny and pick up where you left off?
TL: I think honestly, it was easier. It was easier because you spent so much time thinking about it. It was kind of helpful because we hadn’t seen each other for so long and were trying to find ways to reconnect, hang out or talk without actually being together. We did a lot of Zooms where we watched the episodes, which you don’t get to do a lot. Usually, you go through, make them and see them when they come out.
Because we had that quarantine, we got to see the episodes. I think just seeing the scenes you’re not in, how it’s being filmed, how the writing is coming off on the screen, it really helped all of us. We were all like, “Oh my gosh. I want to make completely different choices now.” You really get to understand your character a lot more when you see what takes are used, how they want the words and how the storylines are progressing together. I think it honestly really helped, just in terms of understanding the series a little more.
As the show focuses on a basketball team, a large number of characters are introduced the audience at once. Destiny stood out by helping to make Maryvn Korn more relatable to the team. How did you feel about that?
TL: I felt very honoured to begin with just because talking about body image and especially in the way that it affects you. Standing up, showing girls and saying “Hey, you can stand up too. You should stand up.” These are things that if someone says them to you, they’re not okay. I felt really proud to have been able to have that in my career.
Also, to have been able to be a part of that storyline that’s so important to the bones of Big Shot. You know, it’s a redemption story for Marvyn Korn, it’s a redemption story for all the girls to get to D2. I felt honestly… pretty important, I guess you could say. That’s the whole point, you know, it’s a story about taking the things around you and accepting the change.
I also recently interviewed another co-star, Jessalyn Gilsig and we briefly discussed life at Westbrook pre-Maryvn Korn. Unless it’s explored later in the season, how do you think the girls’ dynamic with their previous coach was, in comparison to Marvyn?
TL: Well, that’s an interesting question. I don’t think I’ve ever even thought about that, actually. I think it was definitely something that we felt very respected by him or her, whoever the previous coach was. The way that we respond to not being respected by Marvyn, I think it was something we were not used to. Especially with the models and principles of the school… “Strong, Empowered Females” who are essentially going to go and change the world.
I think him coming in being very brash, ‘my way or the highway’ type of person and us used to feeling respected as we should be was definitely a very stark change.
While of course Big Shot is centre stage at the moment, are there any other projects you are able to discuss at this time?
TL: Yeah, Big Shot definitely… I’m so excited for it to come out. We worked on it for so long and I’m glad it’s finally for people to see. In the meantime, I’m still making my own music, still love singing and really looking forward to developing that. I honestly feel like quarantine helped me a lot with my music too, because there was a lot of using it as an escape or as a way to relax at the end of the day.
Be like, “What am I feeling? Let it out.” I think I honestly developed a lot as an artist, so I’m excited for the new music I’m going to make. Looking forward to releasing that sometime soon, hopefully.
What would you like to say to the fans who have watched Big Shot and what can they expect as the season continues?
TL: I would say definitely keep watching, you’re going to be on the edge of your seat. Everything is not as it seems..
Professionally or personally, what do you hope to accomplish with the rest of 2021?
TL: Well, the music as I said. I’m really looking forward to working on my own projects. I really believe in diversity and representation. As a Blasian actor, something that I didn’t grow up with, I have a really special place right now to be able to help take that seat that we’re leaning towards. Showing diverse stories and showing accurate diverse representation kind of going away with the stereotypes.
I look forward to helping with that movement, producing my own stuff and trying to make my own little name in the industry.
Thanks again for taking the time, Tiana. Take care and stay safe!
TL: You too, thank you so much for having me.