Another day, another ailment! Sandra may get endlessly ignored by her coworkers, but this time she’s not being shushed! Superstore’s Kaliko Kauahi, who plays the polo-loving Cloud 9 employee, opened up about her scene-stealing character in an exclusive interview with Us Weekly.
“I’ll tell you how she was described the first time I was introduced to her. All it said was, ‘Sad sack, plain Jane.’ And I was like, ‘Yes! What time do I show up for this audition? Like yea, I got her.’ So everything else has really been revealed even to me as an actor week by week. Like, oh she has this memory thing. She can tell a lie. It’s been interesting for me to discover things in the moment,” she tells Us. “I think she’s a multi-faceted, very strange character so I’m honestly wondering what’s next for her and what they’ll reveal about her.”
Indeed, Sandra is a mystery — yet an open book. One day she’ll be gushing over her fake boyfriend, while the next she’ll be yelling at Jonah (Ben Feldman). Oh, and remember that one time she almost let Carol die during the tornado?
“I’ll be honest, I can’t wait to see what happens with Carol and Sandra. Carol is just the worst towards Sandra. I don’t think Carol thinks she’s the worst. I think she’s just living her life and being honest and telling people I have a boyfriend or a fake boyfriend,” Kauahi says. “The funniest part is that Irene White and I are such good friends in real life. I’m hoping there’s some kind of showdown. I think the darker part of Sandra is going to come out again so I’m just hoping and waiting.”
The actress also hopes that more of her backstory will be revealed. “The crew and I have this ongoing conversation about her origin story because there are so many weird things about her,” she adds. “Like, why did she leave Hawaii? What kind of family does she come from? Is it a coming to America situation? Are they royalty? Are they gang-related? Why is she here working in St. Louis at this store? Because I think she’s actually really good at her job but no one seems to care.”
Despite her quirks, Kauahi believes that there is a little Sandra in all of us — inclduing herself. “But its the parts that we always are so conditioned to cover and to hide away and pretend that you’re together and you’re totally cool,” she explains. “Sandra just can’t do it so it’s all out there — all her ailments and insecurities. She overshares but they ask her. It comes up in conversation. And she’ll tell them all the things that are wrong with her.”
For more, read the rest of her Q&A:
US: What do you love most about Sandra?
KK: The way she can just take an opportunity that may seem like a negative and turn it into a positive. Like with Jeff [Michael Bunin] from the previous season. Anybody else might crumble by being singled out for something you didn’t do but she somehow turned it into a whole story for herself. An ongoing, fake relationship.
US: The other characters always talk over Sandra like when Glenn shushed her while she ate lunch with Dina. What’s been your favorite so far?
KK: I love it when they talk over me. It’s one of my favorite things where I cannot possibly finish a thought or sentence. And they all do it equally. It’s a unifying factor for everyone just to ignore me. Gosh, there are so many but that one in particular with the fruit and us just improvising. At one point he actually put his hand on my face and you just have to try not to break when you’re working with all of these guys. Mark McKinney in particular is just so funny. He makes it really hard to get through scenes.
US: The “Health Fund” episode was so funny. Was it hard to get through the scenes with Ben Feldman?
KK: I gotta tell you, I really try not to break. When someone else breaks though first then I’m like, ‘Oh gosh, I can’t possibly hold on.’ Not to throw anyone under the bus, but America [Ferrera] was laughing a lot and then Ben started laughing. So that’s what made it hard.
US: Are there any characters you would love Sandra to work with more?
KK: I recently had a chance to do an episode with Sandra and Glenn — they sort of spent the day together. He is one of the only characters that is truly sympathetic to her. I think everyone else puts up with her and blows her off. But he does listen to her and in moments understand each other. So I love that. I always love going back to a Dina and Sandra. Even though she’s treated like such garbage by her, I think Sandra really cares about her and thinks of her as a friend or wants to be a friend whether Dina wants to or not.
US: Speaking of Dina, we need to discuss you dressing up as her for Halloween.
KK: At some point I realized we were getting closer to that day and I was like, ‘I haven’t had a fitting!’ I know it was Halloween and everyone’s getting dressed and I didn’t understand. And then it was revealed to me that I was just going to wear my same clothes. Sandra is literally almost always in the same outfit. Even at the Golden Globes I was like, ‘Oh, I’m not going to change clothes? That sounds right. It would make sense for me to show up in work clothes and everyone else came for a party.’ And the Halloween episode was exactly the same. I just changed my hair. Dina was just so annoyed that Sandra would do something like that. That’s the dynamic that I love.
US: What’s your relationship really like with Lauren Ash off set?
KK: She is one of the kindest, warmest, most generous people I’ve ever met. But she’s also a really committed actor. So in those scenes she’s 100 percent laughing at me and in my face and putting me in. And afterwards we just laugh so hard because I know her as a person and she’s just so the opposite of that. But that’s what makes it fun. She’s the best.
US: If Sandra didn’t work at Cloud 9, where do you think she would be?
KK: The possibilities are endless for her. I think she’s a really good worker. She might be working with animals because they get her and they don’t judge her in the way people do.
US: Where would Sandra be if it was the series finale? Would she still be working at Cloud 9?
KK: I would love for Sandra to have a happy ending. But do we really think Sandra is the kind of person who would have a happy ending? I don’t know! I hope so. The odds, not so sure. I think as long as everyone else is there she’ll be there because they may not feel this way but she thinks they are her best friends. I think that’s why she’s there. This is her family. They try to ditch her constantly but she just keeps showing up. She’ll wear them down. It’s gonna happen.
US: What character in real life would drive you insane?
KK: Actually Sandra! Sandra is annoying, like stop! She doesn’t mean to be. The thing about her is you can’t hold anything against her because she doesn’t mean it but you’re just like, ‘Can you not! The rest of us are having a conversation. Stop!’
US: If you had to guess, how many things do you think Sandra has wrong with her?
KK: I think currently 47. We haven’t done her physical this year so who knows!
Superstore airs Thursdays on NBC at 8 p.m. ET.