Avan Jogia has two very different new projects out. He’s starring in the light-hearted comedic-horror film “Zombieland: Double Tap,” in theaters Friday, and he recently released “Mixed Feelings,” a personal book about the complicated emotions surrounding race and identity. He opened up to International Business Times about both.

“I was a fan of the first [‘Zombieland’] movie and we need light stuff,” Jogia told IBT in a phone interview. “Light stuff is good. You know what I mean? The world's really, really [expletive] serious.”

“Zombieland” came out in 2009 and featured Jesse Eisenberg, Woody Harrelson, Emma Stone and Abigail Breslin’s characters meeting and fighting the undead together. Ten years later, the characters are still traveling through a dystopian version of America that has been destroyed by zombies, but they aren’t the only survivors. They’ll meet a few more new faces, including Jogia’s Berkeley.

“He is this like faux-hippie who pretends to sing,” the actor revealed. “He covers songs and like sort of like pedals them as his own and he's sort of trying to get laid. He’s basically everything that's fake… Mostly, he's a fun-loving guy who's trying to woo Abigail Breslin’s character, Little Rock, much to the chagrin and much to Woody Harrelson's hate.”

Avan Jogia Avan Jogia attends the world premiere of "Zombieland: Double Tap" in Los Angeles on Oct. 10, 2019. Photo: Apu Gomes/AFP via Getty Images

Jogia, who fans might recognize from “Now Apocalypse,” “Victorious” or “Twisted,” is excited to have a role in a franchise he enjoys.

“It's cool to be able to be a part of something that I really liked,” the actor said. “And you know, 10 years ago that was the beginning of the sort of zombie craziness… I hope no one minds me saying this, but I feel like the zombie craze has petered off a bit. And so it's nice to come back and observe what the last 10 years have been, poke fun at that and have a laugh at the same time.”

Off-camera, Jogia has been working on a more serious project. His book “Mixed Feelings” is about growing up mixed-race, as the son of a white mother and Indian father. He wanted to figure out if there was a culture that is specific to multiracial people.

“There's a lot of unity between groups empowering each other, which is amazing. But as mixed people, we fall through the cracks,” he said.

“Culture is based on shared experience. So if we have a shared experience, then we have a shared culture and then that means that there is a mixed culture. So I was trying to discover if mixed people have a shared experience and, if they do, what is it? And then how does that define us as a culture, as a group?”

“Mixed Feelings” includes lots of personal stories about Jogia’s life, from dealing with mispronunciations of his name and his grandparents’ reaction to his parents’ marriage to seeing television's first biracial kiss in “Star Trek.”

Jogia started out writing poetry about his own experiences but quickly realized that if he wanted to explore the question of a shared culture, he’d need to speak to other mixed people. The 27-year-old used social media to reach out and received an overwhelming response. His inbox overflowed with thousands of emails.

“I realized that there was a massive appetite for this conversation,” he recalled. “I was able to sort of communicate with these people, interview with them, sort of to take parts of their stories … and mash them up within the book.”

One of the major themes of the book is not being able to fit into one category. He hopes “Mixed Feelings” readers take away a message about labels.

“As empowering as labels can be, or as hurting as labels can be, they’re your labels and you can just get rid of them whenever you feel like from a personal standpoint,” Jogia emphasized. “You can't make people treat you any differently. But what you can do from the inside, in your interior life, is remove labels that are not serving you. So that's something I'm hoping that people take away from this book.”

Don't expect to put a label on Jogia's career either. The actor made it clear that he'll continue to take on vastly different projects in his career, like “Zombieland: Double Tap” and “Mixed Feelings,” as long as he feels they're good, even if that's not necessarily the most popular path. He'd rather follow his instinct. 

“My whole thing about my journey as an artist is say yes to a lot of stuff, but also only say yes to good stuff, if that makes sense... Just follow your heart and your truth about the thing that you actually want to do next. Like, I could have done probably two more movies instead of writing a book, but I wanted to write a book. I probably could do this television series that I know that's supposed to be really good instead of making an album, but I wanted to make an album. So it's just about following that as much as possible.”

“Zombieland: Double Tap” is in theaters now. “Mixed Feelings” is also available now.

Avan Jogia Avan Jogia is the author of "Mixed Feelings" and star of "Zombieland: Double Tap." Photo: Riker Brothers