Bowen Yang Teases 'Special' New Season of “Hot White Heist”, 'Crazy Journey' Making “Wicked” and More

While dishing on the 'hilarious' second season of Audible's 'Hot White Heist', the 'Saturday Night Live' star also opened up about his other exciting projects ahead

Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images Bowen Yang
Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images Bowen Yang

Bowen Yang has a lot keeping him busy these days. Aside from his high-profile gigs as a series regular on Saturday Night Live and in the hotly anticipated Wicked movie, he is gearing up for the return of his juicy role as Jude "Judy" Fink in Hot White Heist.

The Audible and Broadway Video series, created and written by Adam Goldman, follows Yang's Judy and a crew of misfits from across the LGBTQIA+ spectrum as they attempt to pull off a major heist. Cynthia Nixon, Abbi Jacobson, Jane Lynch, Margaret Cho, Bianca Del Rio, MJ Rodriguez, Shannon Woodward, Stephanie Beatriz, John Cameron Mitchell, Tony Kushner, Cheyenne Jackson, Jonathan Bailey, Peppermint and Brian McCook round out the all-queer cast returning for season 2 on Thursday.

"I love podcasts. I listen to so many, but in a scripted space, I'm not super literate, and so this is such a great way in for people who might also not have that media diet that seems to be missing. The fact that you don't have to face a television is a huge part of the appeal," Yang, 33, tells PEOPLE exclusively. "It's felt really eye-opening this season to do it through that queer lens of thinking about how meaningful it is to ... no matter who the other person is, even if they're in opposition to you, even if they're your closest confidant, there is something queer about two units interacting with each other that is very interesting."

Yang spoke to PEOPLE about his Hot White Heist's exciting new season, his many other projects and his love for Megan Thee Stallion.

Related: Bowen Yang Makes His Sexiest Man Alive Debut — and Reveals What Really Happens at 'SNL' Afterparties

<p>Bruce Glikas/Getty</p> Bowen Yang is pictured posing at the opening night of the Second Stage production of "The Thanksgiving Play" on Broadway at The Second Stage Helen Hayes Theatre on April 20, 2023 in New York City.

Bruce Glikas/Getty

Bowen Yang is pictured posing at the opening night of the Second Stage production of "The Thanksgiving Play" on Broadway at The Second Stage Helen Hayes Theatre on April 20, 2023 in New York City.

When it comes to the Hot White Heist, how does it feel to be a queer-identifying person a part of a project like this?

BOWEN YANG: It feels really special because if I think about it beyond myself, just the fact that we've been able to get these casts two seasons in a row is really remarkable. This season especially is about what the smallest unit is in that experience. The smallest quantum is between two people. You need one other person to relate to in any situation. Ironically, even though I recorded most of my lines solo, I felt that the entire time. It was just about connection. I got to do some scenes with Shannon [Woodward] and Bianca [Del Rio] again, and those were really fun. It's very thought-provoking in a way that you wouldn't expect an audio-only medium to be in a scripted sense.

What can you tease about how things expand in season 2? 

This season is more about these smaller heists that build up to this bigger thing in the end that takes the characters to these really unimaginable places. But it's bigger than season one in this way that I think it has a lot more meaningful things to say about what it means to have a shared goal and if that shared goal is incompatible with someone else's belief system. I think we're all coming up against that right now in the world, and it's a really nice allegorical thing. Every line is just so funny but yet suffused with all this meaning and weight. It is really a testament to how Adam writes and how Adam envisions this world. It's so elastic and fun and really makes use of the medium. It's hilarious. The talent is really unbelievable.

<p>audible</p> 'Hot White Heist' Season 2 cover art.


'Hot White Heist' Season 2 cover art.

Even though this is an audio-only show, are there ever moments for the cast to bond and interact with each other?

We were pretty siloed and we were all recording in different places, but anytime you see someone who's been involved in this on the talent side, it's really nice and special. I saw Shannon come to SNL the other week, and that was really nice. Anytime I see Cynthia, it's really sublime and she's incredible. But, no, that's the other very, very cool part of this, is that you don't know how it all comes together until you hear the episodes. I think it all congeals very nicely. You have a hard time believing that we all did our stuff separately.

Hot White Heist isn't the only project you've done that features an all-LGBTQIA+ cast. Your 2022 comedy Fire Island was a hit. Could we potentially see a sequel?

Oh my God. That would be so good. ... I think Joel [Kim Booster] has something in mind where maybe he's going to try out doing a thing where it's within the same cinematic universe. But I don't know. It's all up to him. I think, in lieu of a sequel, it would be a parallel story with different characters or something like that. I think he has pretty grand plans for the future that I'm not privy to totally, but I can tell [you] that he has a really interesting thing that he is envisioning. I'm very excited, too.

Related: Everything to Know About the Wicked Movie

Aside from season 2 of Hot White Heist coming out, you also have the first part of Wicked hitting theaters later this year. What was that whole filming experience like? Was there a lot of love on the Wicked set?

Everyone was on this really crazy journey to make these movies, and everyone had different journeys, but I feel like mine was pretty intimately with every other student at Shiz [University], and that included most of the cast. My wrap day was really emotional. I got to see Michelle Yeoh, and that was really special. I think that was her wrap day as well. There was just a moment right before we wrapped that I looked around, I was like, 'I can't believe I'm, one, in Oz, two, standing next to Ariana Grande and Michelle Yeoh, who are sharing a scene together, three, in this film version of this musical that I love so much.' All of it was just these different braids of surreal elements coming together as one. I'm really honored to [have] been a part of it and excited to see it.

<p>Mike Coppola/Getty Images; Bav Media / SplashNews</p> (L-R) Bowen Yang and Ariana Grande.

Mike Coppola/Getty Images; Bav Media / SplashNews

(L-R) Bowen Yang and Ariana Grande.

Given that Wicked is an adaptation of the beloved, long-running, Broadway musical, have you worried about the reactions from fans to the stage musical? Do you think this adaptation will live up to their expectations?

I think they'll be very happy. I think people internally have been very excited. I've never really been a part of something on that scale and on that emotional importance to people. It's like no one's bigger than Oz. No one's bigger than this concept that's really emotionally important in so many people's lives and throughout different generations. I think the fact that the people who are working on it are very excited means a lot. I think they understand the pressure they're under, the standard that has been set for them, but they seem to be very excited to blow past those, and I think it's really sublime. Two movies, I think, is very justified. Once you see it, it all makes sense ... I think we're doing everybody a service.

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As an SNL cast member, you get to work with some of the funniest comedians in the business. What can you tell fans about the cast's group chat? Is it just as funny as the show?

It's very fun. I think it really pops off on Fridays when we're doing pre-tapes. Friday's the wild card day for people. Everyone's day is different. Some people might be on the morning pre-tape. Some people might be on the night pre-tape. Some people might be working on the "Weekend Update" features. Everyone's in their own little siloed world on Friday, so the group chat is really nice to get everybody back to center or have everybody connect and check in. The group chats are usually pictures from set of, like, Mikey Day in a silly outfit or something. It's all the time. It's great. Right now, we have a really nice chemistry going with all of us. I think everyone is there to support each other. Not that that was lacking before. We've had the transition. I think we all appreciate just being there after the strikes, too.

Do you have a dream guest for SNL?

I would love if Cher were to do it. Cher would be amazing. She started off doing variety and doing comedy, so I feel like it's the perfect place for her to arrive at and to have everyone faint and roll out the red carpet for her and stuff. It's never too late. She'd be so good at it. She's one of our funniest people. On that same level, I feel like Dolly Parton, too, would be that same. Just, these two people who are indisputably good.

Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty 'Saturday Night Live' Season 47 Cast Shot.
Mary Ellen Matthews/NBC/NBCU Photo Bank via Getty 'Saturday Night Live' Season 47 Cast Shot.

Speaking of SNL guests, you got to work with Megan Thee Stallion not just on the popular sketch series but also in A24's Dicks: The Musical last year. What is it like getting to work alongside her?

She's a legend. I remember I was at SNL in 2018 when a writer, Sam Jay, was like, "You should listen to 'Tina Snow.'" I was like, 'What is that?' 'It's mixtape.' Then I was a Hottie ever since. What I have known for a long time is that she is so professional, shows up, does the work. It was true of when she hosted SNL, it was true of Dicks: The Musical. She had one day to learn all that [Dicks] choreography, and she was incredible. Then for Reneé Rapp's [SNL] episode, she showed up for the Thursday rehearsal, which if you're just coming in to guest, that's not something you necessarily have to do. But then, I remember Heidi Gardner knocked on my dressing room door. She was like, 'I can't believe Megan's here.' I was like, 'Well, yeah, but she's on the song.' She goes, 'I know, but she didn't have to show up on a Thursday.' That is so kind, professional, hard-working of her. Meg just has it all to me. She's going places. I love "Hiss." That's all I'll say. I'll leave it at that. But God, she's amazing. I can't believe I've ever co-worked with her in any sense. That's crazy.

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Season 2 of Hot White Heist premieres Thursday on Audible, Saturday Night Live airs Saturdays at 11:30 p.m. ET on NBC and Wicked hits theaters Nov. 27.

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