By Andrew Hamlin
NORTHWEST ASIAN WEEKLY
The two stars of the new movie “I Hate New Year’s” grew up in America at the same time. Some of their experiences dovetailed. But others could not seem more different.
“The Filipino culture is all about family,” stated Ashley Argota, who plays Cassie Holmes in the new film, streaming wide starting Dec. 4. “I was super close to my family growing up. I never had any babysitters who weren’t blood related, and when I wasn’t working or in school, I was at my aunt and grandma’s house. My family was always very supportive of my career endeavors at a young age and were at every one of my performances, whether it was a national show or a small show in our hometown.
“That sense of family has been kept alive my whole life, and I’m so excited that now my family is expanding because I’m getting married next year.”
Dia Frampton, co-starring as country music sensation Layne Price, remembers her own upbringing quite differently.
“I don’t think [race] shaped me growing up as much as it has shaped me in the past few years,” said Frampton. “There aren’t a lot of Korean American faces on television right now, and that’s something I’m actively trying to change. I’m always looking to support Asian American films, music, and entertainers so that the younger generation can see themselves reflected in the world.
“As a Korean kid growing up in Utah, I tried to hide my ethnicity, not bring it out. I wanted to fit in. I wanted to look like my friends. I wanted to be Mormon. I wanted to be white. I was the only kid in my friend group who was not, and I grew up for years being ashamed that my family was not Mormon. I still went to church with my friends on Sundays though. I wanted to be like them, and I wanted to be, what I thought at the time, was ‘good.’”
Both of them act, of course, but both grew up musical. Argota remembers listening to Celine Dion non-stop and imitating every move Dion made, down to emotive chest-beating. She loved Barbara Streisand, The Carpenters, The Beatles, but also Britney Spears, NSYNC, and the Backstreet Boys. Frampton, taking it a step further, had her own working band in her teens called Meg & Dia, co-starring her sister, when Dia was 14 and Meg was 16.
Frampton’s accomplishments include being runner-up on the hit show “The Voice,” and collaborations with several DJs in the field of Electronic Dance Music. Argota starred on such TV shows as “The Fosters” and “Lab Rats,” plus a turn on Broadway in “The Lion King.”
“I Hate New Year’s” sets Frampton as the struggling country singer returning to her roots in Nashville, against Argota, as the singer’s best friend. Both characters date women, and Argota, as Cassie Holmes, struggles to tell Frampton’s Layne that her feelings have deepened into something beyond friendship. But distractions and mishaps—some funny, others sad—keep getting in the way as the clock counts down to midnight.
Both women bonded quickly with the film’s director, Christin Baker.
“I absolutely loved working with her,” said Argota. “Sometimes when you do a project, you get directors who don’t care about your opinion of the script or character, or who over-direct you. This wasn’t the case with Christin at all. She was so open to hearing our thoughts and opinions while telling us what her vision was as well. She was incredibly collaborative and kind and fun and the perfect leader.”
Frampton praised the director’s steadfastness.
“We were shooting a scene outside and a very loud baseball game just happened to be going in a yard not too far off—Christin just shrugged and waited it out. There’s a lot of directors out there that would get really mad, take it out on the crew, try to rush through it, etc. Christin understands that life happens. We took 20 [minutes] and came back focused, and shot the scene.”
Other challenges to the shoot included virus shutdowns, Daylight Saving Time, and a huge tornado that tore through downtown Nashville. They persevered with a lot of deep breathing and a lot of hand sanitizer.
Asked about going on, through the pandemic, each lady has her own plans.
“My fiancé, Mick, and I have been busy planning our wedding and continuing to host our podcast, Mismo,” said Argota. “Dia and Christin will be guests on our show around the time ‘I Hate New Year’s’ comes out! In addition to filming another movie this summer, I also finished co-writing my first screenplay with Mick. Our favorite part of quarantine so far is our new puppy, Didi. She came to our home in October and we couldn’t love her more.”
As for Frampton, the tours scheduled with her sister obviously won’t happen anytime soon.
“So my sister and I have just been writing new music. We’re hoping to release a new Meg & Dia album in the not-too-distant future.
“I’ve also been writing my own screenplay and that has been a lot of fun. This year has been full of yoga, learning to make new variations of blueberry muffins, Zoom hangs with my mom, and trying not to freak out!”
Andrew can be reached at email@example.com.