Maggie Q

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Actress and model Maggie Q talks about growing up in Hawaii and shares some 80's favorites, from hair metal to hip hop. She drew acclaim for her starring role in the TV series "Nikita" and is co-starring opposite Kiefer Sutherland in the ABC drama "Designated Survivor". Hosted by Eric J. Lawrence.

1. HAPA - Lei Pikake
2. Peter Cetera - Glory of Love
3. Def Leppard - Pour Some Sugar on Me
4. Digital Underground - The Humpty Dance
5. Pink Floyd - Money

Eric J Lawrence: Hi I’m Eric J Lawrence. I am here with actress and model Maggie Q. She drew acclaim for her starring role Nikita in the CW’s action thriller. And also has appeared in all three installments of Divergent film series. She will co-star opposite Kiefer Sutherland in the ABC drama Designated Survivor this fall. But today, we are here to talk about some songs that have inspired her throughout her life as part of KCRW’s Guest DJ Project. Maggie, thank you so much for joining us!

Maggie Q: Thank you for having me!

Eric J Lawrence: So, what is the first track you got for us?

Maggie Q: I have a song that nobody will know. Hawaiian music was a really big part of growing up, because it’s just a huge part of our culture and when we were going to school we had to take Hawaiian, we had to dance hula, we had to count in Hawaiian, and do different things. It was just the way it was. Growing up in Hawaii, it was part of the curriculum. So, hula was, to me, a very elegant form of self-expression. And it was something that through its storytelling and elegance you were able to honor the culture that I was born and raised into in Hawaii. So Hawaiian music means a lot to me, and if there was one song growing up in terms of the Hawaiian music would be “Lei Pikake” and it’s funny because, it’s about a flower. Lei Pikake is a flower, a very small extraordinary flower. And Hawaiians have this way of taking this one small thing from nature and seeing a love song about it, it’s really beautiful.

Eric J Lawrence: Well here it is the Hawaiian group Hapa with “Lei Pikake.”

*Song: Lei Pikake by Hapa*

Eric J Lawrence: That was Hapa with “Lei Pikake.” What is the next track you got for us?

Maggie Q: You know, I’m an 80s kid and so for me, songs from movies were “it” at the time. You know, they don’t make as many movies as they do now, so the ones they did, really mattered. You know, all the John Hughes films and the young love stuff and…you know…you’re a young teenage girl and so these songs affect you and they stay with you forever. So my first pick is a Peter Cetera song from the “Karate Kid Part II” and the reason why this song always stayed with me and affected me was because in “Karate Kid part Part II” -- my friend Tamlyn Tomita is in -- he goes to Japan and he falls in love with this sort of Asian girl from Japan. And, you know, growing up as a minority, I never watched films where the “cute,” the “hot”, THE guy of the moment, fell in love with an Asian girl! That was just, that didn’t happen. It was the first time it did and, for me as a kid, I’m watching that thinking that’s so cool that the hot guy in school is in love with the Asian girl! So that never left me, that song. It always reminded me of that relationship.

Eric J Lawrence: Well, here it is, Peter Cetera with “Glory of Love.”

*Song: Glory of Love by Peter Cetera*

Eric J Lawrence: That was Peter Cetera with “Glory of Love” from the Karate Kid Part II soundtrack. What’s the next track you got for us?

Maggie Q: I sent in a song to you guys that I wrote as “Def Leppard” but it came up as “Defense Leopard” on my iPhone (laughs)? My mother was a bartender when I was growing up and we would always come and help her prep the bar and, you know, be there on weekends and things like that. So you know, there were juke boxes everywhere. There was one in the front, one on the side, one in the back, and “Pour Some Sugar on Me” was THE song in every juke box at that time. So we would play it over and over. And funnily enough, I never really listened to the lyrics of that song -- it’s the most ridiculous song ever written. I ended up doing a movie where that was the theme song to our movie. We actually sang it in the credit roll at the end of the movie and so I actually, finally, for the first time, looked at the lyrics. It’s a really dumb song! But it was very popular at the time (laughs).

Eric J Lawrence: What was Hawaii like in the 80s?

Maggie Q: It was wanting to be like the mainland, U.S. You know, we were getting all our inspiration from those movies I’m talking about, all of us. Except Hawaii was mixed, ethnic, you know the white girls in school were not the most “popular” but we were still always trying to look like them from the movies, so it was funny.

Eric J Lawrence: Well, here’s Def Leppard with “Pour Some Sugar on Me.”

*Song: Pour Some Sugar on Me by Def Leppard*

Eric J Lawrence: That was Def Leppard with “Pour Some Sugar on Me” from their huge album of 1987, “Hysteria,” selected by our guest, Maggie Q. What’s the next track you got for us?

Maggie Q: I fell in love with Hip-Hop with Digital Underground. I mean, I loved Run DMC and those groups at the time digital underground made Hip-Hop fun for me. I just really fell in love with their music when I was young.

Eric J Lawrence: How did you discover songs like this?

Maggie Q: My sister worked at -- do you remember a music store called Sam Goody?

Eric J Lawrence: Of course.

Maggie Q: So my sister ended up working for Sam Goody when she was a teenager and I was much younger and so, it was whatever she brought home, got free, or they had overstock of that we would be listening to so that’s how I started to fall in love with music, just through sort of the reject…the scratched things… you know…the tapes that were messed up.

Eric J Lawrence: Well here’s Digital Underground with the “Humpty Dance.”

*Song: Humpty Dance by Digital Underground*

Eric J Lawrence: That was Digital Underground with the “Humpty Dance.” Would you describe yourself as a good dancer?

Maggie Q: (laughs) I don’t know! That’s sort of a question you’d have to ask someone else. But I love to dance, let’s put it that way.

Eric J Lawrence: Fair enough. Well your last pick is sort of an old, classic rock favorite from Pink Floyd!

Maggie Q: Yeah, my brother, you know again, being the youngest of five, you just become inspired by your brothers and sisters and the things that they like, become the things you eventually like. My brother was a typical brother. He locked himself in his room and you never really heard from him but he was always playing Pink Floyd. He had great taste in music, but he really loved Pink Floyd. And I still remember “Money” playing over and over. It affected me and it made me fall in love with Pink Floyd at a very young age. He wouldn’t let me in his room because he didn’t want his little sister in his room so I would sit outside his door and listen to it from the other side of the door.

Eric J Lawrence: How did you catch the acting bug?

Maggie Q: I think it caught me. You know, I was a broke student who was on a scholarship but I was trying to pay part of my tuition that the scholarship didn’t cover and I wasn’t making ends meet. I ended up being taken on a contract to Japan to make some money to come back home because I was very desperate to sort of, finish my education and get out. But one thing turned into another and I ended up traveling and moving from Japan to Taiwan and ending up in Hong Kong. When I did land in Hong Kong, I was noticed by Jackie Chan’s management company. He was producing action movies for the new generation of action stars and that’s how I sort of, entered into the film industry. But, interesting enough, it wasn’t because I thought “I want to be an actress” or it was even interesting to me. I really just needed money (laughs). So to be very frank, I did it because, you know, I was making a substantial amount of money I could put away and get home…and that turned into another movie, and another movie and then I thought, “Oh my gosh, I’m really doing this.” And it was the fourth movie that someone said, “What do you think about your career?” and I said “What are you talking about. I don’t have a career? I’m just doing a bunch of jobs,” because I don’t think I ever saw myself as a performer and so, I think it was harder to digest when it did happen.

Eric J Lawrence: Well, here it is, Pink Floyd with their single “Money.”

*Song: Money by Pink Floyd*

Eric J Lawrence: That was Pink Floyd with “Money” from their 1973 album, “Dark Side of the Moon.” Well, Maggie, I want to thank you so much for joining us here at

Maggie Q: Thank you! I hope you enjoyed my weird mix.

Eric J Lawrence: For a complete track listing and to find these songs online go to





KCRW Staff