“I just want to make this very clear,” Cathy Ang says through a fit of laughter over the phone, “Growing up, I was not allowed to watch Sex and the City.” That didn’t stop her from eventually catching up with the HBO series that follows the exploits of Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte, and Samantha when she moved from the Bay Area to the east coast to study at New York University. “I have experienced a lot of the things that they experienced in the original show, and I don't think I would’ve understood a lot of those problems or how they navigate through their relationships until now, so I think I actually picked a great time to watch.”
Now, 26, Ang finds herself an integral part of the Sex and the City universe. She plays the role of Lily Goldenblatt, Charlotte and Harry’s adopted teenage daughter, on And Just Like That... the HBO Max revival of the original series. Fans of the franchise remember Lily as the one who ruined Carrie’s original wedding plans with Big in the first Sex and the City movie, when she hides Carrie’s phone in a cute little cupcake-shaped purse. The irony that Lily is, once again, somehow at the center of heartbreak between Carrie and Big in the first episode of And Just Like That... is not lost on Ang (who also says that her favorite Carrie Bradshaw boyfriend is Aidan Shaw, not Mr. Big). “I know,” she laughs. “Somebody sent me a meme about that. Maybe that’s Lily subconsciously putting out in the universe that I think Carrie can do better than Big! Maybe Lily is a bit devious.”
But even if Lily is a little “devious,” her mom would never notice. She’s the apple of her mother’s eye—a contrast to her sibling, Rose, who was born at the end of the first Sex and the City film, and is now questioning their gender identity. Longtime viewers will notice this is just one part of the many overcorrections And Just Like That... is attempting to make in this new chapter of the series. “For Lily, the matter of gender identity is not a big deal. Lily thinks that Rose gets to be whoever they wanna be, and of course, it’s difficult for Charlotte, the planner,” Ang says. “[Series creator Michael Patrick King and I] discussed Lily and her place in the family, and I think we’re very aware that Lily loves her family so much, and she is truly, really grateful to have been adopted. Harry and Charlotte are wonderful parents, and even when they’re experiencing something new, and they may stumble, they are trying. I think Lily is at a point in her life where she can appreciate that and help the whole family feel seen and heard, and also support her mom.”
Ang studied music at NYU, but with a concentration on vocals. “I’m Chinese Filipino and because of our Filipino heritage, we had karaoke at every single party and my whole family sings,” she says. But that means that Lily’s impressive piano recital scene in the first episode of And Just Like That... was no walk in the park. “I would not say that piano is my forte,” Ang jokes. “Preparing for episode one, I basically gave myself carpal tunnel because it was a really hard piece! I love playing the piano, I’m just not as strong as a classically trained pianist, but for me that was such a fun challenge.”
Naturally, Ang can’t say much about what the series holds for Lily, but as for that Oscar de la Renta gown she wears in episode one, the actress hints that “fashion will be a key thing in Lily’s storyline.” She can’t spoil, exactly, what big fashion moments there will be, but she does promise some Miu Miu, Zimmerman, Staud, and Chanel.
Ang has also found that working with television titans like Kristin Davis, Cynthia Nixon, and Sarah Jessica Parker has given her more of a crash course in making a show than anything she learned in college. “I just feel very lucky because when you get to work with women who've been doing this for so long, they wanna help the new generation,” she says of her time on set with the show’s lead trio. “If you have a question, you can ask them, and that can span a lot of different topics, but they’re open and they want to help.”
After lending her voice to the starring role in the Oscar-nominated animated film, Over the Moon, and her time as Lily on And Just Like That..., Ang will soon be seen in a horror film, My Best Friend’s Exorcism, with Elsie Fisher. “I like thrillers, but anything with demonic possession? Nope!” Ang jokes. “I was told that being on a horror set will make it easier because you understand how everything works. I’m definitely gonna have nightmares if I watch, but of course I’ll watch our movie.”