Sydney Viengluang Discusses How She Went from Refugee Camps in the Philippines to Starring in SyFy’s ‘Z Nation’

Photo courtesy of Riker Brothers Photography

From humble beginnings in the refugee camps of the Philippines and Thailand, to the sleepy Midwest, and then to the laid back, hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, this up and coming actress is one of the newest additions to SyFy’s highest rated original series, Z Nation, created by Karl Schaefer (The Ghost Whisperer, Eureka) and Craig Engler, and produced by The Asylum. Zombies and the survivors await her as she enters the world ravaged by the ZN1 virus. She plays a researcher from Laos who has survived the initial outbreak and moved to the Forbidden City in Beijing to continue her research.

She has appeared in several TV Dramas like Scorpion, Jane the Virgin, and Criminal Minds: Beyond Borders before entering the world of zombies. In this Interview she talks about her life, and moving around the country. Being on the show, and also being on a Zombie Show not called The Walking Dead, and advice for aspiring actors.

Be sure to read her full interview below to learn more about Syndey and her current projects.


You’re in one of SyFy’s highest rated series, Z Nation. Tell us more about your character and what we should expect from show?
I play Dr. Sun Mei. She’s a virologist sent from Beijing to track down The Murphy and collect his blood so she can create a vaccine for the zombie virus and save humanity. She’s Pan-Asia’s “last hope” for a cure. Without spoiling it for the viewers, I pretty much get stranded with the Operation Bitemark team and become their resident doctor. I end up joining them on a “new mission” to stop Murphy from creating his new army of half human/half zombie blend race. It’s a fun action-packed show that combines drama and comedy.

With The Walking Dead being such a huge hit on television, do you often hear comparisons about it versus Z Nation
Honestly, the only thing they really have in common are zombies. I think our show has a lot more humor and we don’t take ourselves too seriously. I think zombie fans can enjoy both shows for their unique styles without having to compare them. We have our own unique Z charm.

If zombies ever took over the world, where’s the first place you’d go?
I’d run to the nearest grocery store to make sure I have enough food to last me awhile. You don’t want to see me hangry (hungry + angry).

Do you share any similarities with your Z Nation character, Dr Sun Mei?
We’re both very logical, analytical, brainy types. We both like to weigh the pros and cons of situations and think things through before making any decisions. We’re both definitely type A personalities.

You spent the first 2 years of your life in refugee camps in Thailand and the Philippines. How does it feel to now play a major role in a SyFy original series? You undeniably overcame.
It still feels so surreal. I pinch myself every day and feel so grateful that I get to call this my “job.”

We know you grew up in Wichita, Kansas and relocated to Los Angeles, California after college. What was that transition like for you?
Other than navigating the huge city, multiple freeways, and crazy traffic, transitioning wasn’t too hard. I love LA because of the laid-back vibe and coming from the fairly slow paced Midwest, I felt at ease pretty quickly.

What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Z Nation hands down. Working up in beautiful Washington with such a great cast and crew was something I won’t ever forget.

What bit of advice do you have for new aspiring actors?
Study the craft, work your ass off, keep working your ass off. Train, train, train! Don’t make any excuses, so that when you’re given an opportunity, you’re ready for it, ‘cause all it takes is that ONE opportunity in this industry.