Will ‘Superstore’s Sandra & Jerry Tie the Knot in Season 5? Kaliko Kauahi Fills Us In
There’s been a promotion at Cloud 9. Kaliko Kauahi, who plays meek yet quietly mighty retail worker Sandra Kaluiokalani on Superstore, has been upgraded to series regular as the NBC sitcom enters its fifth season.
While the May finale brought shock and sadness when ICE agents detained Mateo (Nico Santos) after discovering he was undocumented, there was some good news: Sandra and boyfriend Jerry (Chris Grace) got engaged!
But will they make it down the aisle? Will it matter to Sandra’s coworkers whether they do or don’t? Fresh from taping Superstore’s Halloween episode, Kauahi talked to TV Insider about the surprise proposal, filming those breakroom scenes and the costar most likely to make her crack up.
Superstore’s Halloween episode is always lots of fun. What will Sandra’s costume be?
Kaliko Kauahi: I’m not supposed to say, but it’s very Sandra-esque. It’s never very exciting, but the other characters’ costumes are.
What’s in store for Sandra and the rest of the crew this season? Things are looking rough for Mateo.
I think it’s going to be a journey for Mateo, and all of us trying to work to help him. As far as Sandra’s concerned, her big news is that she’s engaged, which she’s really excited about. To be honest, I don’t know that anyone else seems to care. But that’s something I think is going to be carried throughout the season — her trying to plan her wedding and, fingers crossed, she’ll make it all the way down the aisle.
That might be a good finale for Season 5.
It remains to be seen what will happen. There’s still a lot of factors, including my nemesis Carol [Irene White]. It wouldn’t seem like things would go smoothly for Sandra.
It would be very un-Superstore if they did… Is it true that Jerry’s proposal wasn’t in the original script?
It was an alternative line. At the end of Season 3, we had a proposal that got cut. So at the end of Season 4, when [series creator] Justin Spitzer suggested, “Why don’t we do one take where Jerry proposes,” I didn’t think it would actually make the edit. When I finally watched the episode with everyone else is when I realized, “Oh, Sandra’s engaged!”
You didn’t know the proposal made the cut until the episode aired?!
Yes. That typically for me is the first time I will have seen the final edited episode. I have to watch it at least once just so I know what’s happening. [Laughs]
What is it about Sandra that you most relate to?
Sandra doesn’t have that filter that we have as adults, where we try to cover and hide all of our insecurities by just playing it cool and acting like we know what we’re doing. I definitely have those moments where I feel that I have a little Sandra in me.
So Sandra is the geek in all of us, fully realized.
Absolutely. I think people see that part of themselves that we generally try to hide, but she’s just living it out loud all the time.
Superstore’s breakroom scenes are always a high point. How much room do they give you to improvise?
We always get a scripted version. There’s typically “alts” — things that [the writers] came up with in the moment or in the writers’ room. Then on top of that, there’s letting us riff. Sometimes those breakroom scenes are hard to get through because we’re all there, we’re so happy to see each other, and everyone in there is so funny, you’re just trying to keep it together to get the take.
Which one of your costars cracks you up the most?
Jon Barinholtz, who plays Marcus, has made me break on more than one occasion. I typically don’t break and I certainly don’t break first, but there’s just been a couple of moments where he’s lost it, and then I lost it, and then forget it. [Laughs] Marcus is just off the wall. And Jon is not like Marcus but he plays him so well.
He’s a great character…but I’d be OK if we never again saw that terrible back tattoo of his mother.
That back tattoo [Note: see below] was amazing! There was a progression of it in the makeup trailer that we could see before they put it on him, and it was already so funny. I believe they used a picture of Jon’s actual mom, just to start, and then altered it for comedic effect, which I thought was a really nice homage.
This is the work of up-and-coming tattoo artist Cheyenne Lee. Twitter, do ya thing. 🙌 pic.twitter.com/f8OlBDyYjz
— Superstore (@NBCSuperstore) April 1, 2019
Like Sandra, you’re from Hawaii. When did you come to Los Angeles?
I came up here for college. I went to Loyola Marymount and I just of stuck around. I didn’t come here to be an actor and I didn’t study acting in my undergrad studies, but I always knew deep down that’s what I wanted to do. And I think going to college in L.A. was sort of a roundabout way to get where I’m at.
Did anyone ever suggest you change your name when you were starting out?
I actually was waiting for someone to say something, but no one ever did. I thought it would be really hard for people to pronounce, but this town really embraced me and accepted me as I was.
Did you ever work in retail?
I never worked in retail, but I did a whole bunch of other things. I’ve cleaned hotel rooms, I’ve done food service, I’ve worked with kids. I’ve done it all.
What was it like to be at Comic-Com with your castmates this summer? It was, to be totally honest, overwhelming and exciting. The fans were, and always are, so supportive.
Superstore, Season 5 Premiere, Thursday, September 26, 8/7c, NBC