The Summer I Turned Pretty Breakout Star Lola Tung Is 'Team Belly'

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Summer I Turned Pretty https://amznstudios.app.box.com/s/by2c6x2x4boy1liwvr402ibrgfpol1aa
Summer I Turned Pretty https://amznstudios.app.box.com/s/by2c6x2x4boy1liwvr402ibrgfpol1aa

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For Lola Tung, playing The Summer I Turned Pretty heroine Isabel "Belly" Conklin was like playing another version of herself.

The 19-year-old New York native connected with PEOPLE to talk about her experience bringing Jenny Han's bestselling 2009 book to live in Prime Video's series adaptation, which premiered Friday and marks Tung's first major acting gig.

Tung tells PEOPLE she "really wanted to show the importance of this part of her life and how relatable it is to go through this period of figuring everything out, and growing up."

RELATED: The Summer I Turned Pretty: Everything to Know About the Amazon Prime Series

The show follows 16-year-old Belly during a formative summer at Cousins Beach as she vacations with her brother Steven (Sean Kaufman), Fisher brothers Jeremiah (Gavin Casalegno) and Conrad (Christopher Briney), and their mothers. Belly's been in love with Conrad since she can remember, and he seems to finally see her this year — just when Jeremiah does too.

"This was the summer that she was really discovering who she was and who she wanted to be and creating her own path and finding her independence," Tung says. "And I related to that a lot."

The Carnegie Mellon student says that being close in age to Belly helped her dive deeper into the character. "It's always inevitable that when you play a character, you bring a little bit of yourself into it," she says. "And especially with a character who's so close in age to me, whose experiences I could understand so well."

The Summer I Turned Pretty
The Summer I Turned Pretty

Dana Hawley/Prime Video Conrad (Christopher Briney) and Belly (Lola Tung) in The Summer I Turned Pretty

As the series progresses, viewers see Belly find new love with Cam Cameron (David Iacono), navigate the ups and downs of friendship with her lifelong friend Taylor (Rain Spencer) and even be introduced to society as a debutante — an addition to the story that Han introduced.

"Since the season is all about Belly growing up and coming into her own, I really wanted to explore that moment and just really just see it," Han tells PEOPLE. "I wanted to see that moment of her stepping across the stage and feeling really confident."

Tung is excited for fans to see the beloved story play out on screen, and says the additions to the story "have the same amazing vibe from the book and fit into the story so beautifully."

RELATED: Hear Taylor Swift's 'This Love (Taylor's Version)' in Amazon's The Summer I Turned Pretty Trailer

The Summer I Turned Pretty
The Summer I Turned Pretty

Peter Taylor/Prime Video Jeremiah (Gavin Casalegno) and Belly (Lola Tung) in The Summer I Turned Pretty

On top of lot of journaling and script analysis to prepare for her breakout role, Tung created a Belly-inspired playlist to help immerse herself in the world of Cousins Beach.

She tapped into her own experiences, too, "I'm in that period of my life where I'm figuring things out and I'm sort of coming into my own as well, so getting to do that in her shoes has been really cool," she tells PEOPLE.

RELATED: Why To All the Boys I've Loved Before Author Jenny Han Had to Fight for an Asian American Star

Tung says she most enjoyed filming big family scenes with Belly, Steven, the Fisher boys and their mothers, Laurel (Jackie Chung) and Susannah (Rachel Blanchard). "Getting to work with all the amazing actors on the show and create that world with all of them was really, really special," she shares.

The Summer I Turned Pretty https://amznstudios.app.box.com/s/by2c6x2x4boy1liwvr402ibrgfpol1aa
The Summer I Turned Pretty https://amznstudios.app.box.com/s/by2c6x2x4boy1liwvr402ibrgfpol1aa

Amazon Studios

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But while the family moment may have been the most fun, Tung's scenes with her leading men inspired her to really dig deep.

"I put a lot of weight on all of the one-on-one scenes with the boys, because those relationships are so important in the story and to Belly — her relationships with Conrad and Jeremiah and Cam," she says.

As for the debate over Team Conrad versus Team Jeremiah, Tung looks at it from a different perspective: "I'm Team Belly. I root for what she wants and what makes her happy."

The Summer I Turned Pretty is now streaming on Prime Video.