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Kim's Convenience Teaches Through Authentic, Relatable Stories

September 16, 2019 00:00 AM UTC
- Updated February 18, 2020 14:15 PM UTC

Kim’s Convenience has developed a global following by offering authentic, relatable stories of immigrants and their families. The show’s matriarch shares her journey as an actress and what she thinks can be done to help more Asians and women of color

Well, let's start with one thing in one fact, Um, Kim's convenience was the one show that actually allowed my mother and I to bond. Um, she struggles to find a show that she could watch with me. And this was one show where Mama became her best friend in London. We watched a show on Netflix. We don't get CBC, but thank you, Netflix, for giving us Jeanne Yoon on Dhe. She kept telling me how it would be amazing that when she was living in London in the eighties, if she had a friend like Oma, how much of a difference do you think you've made, um, to the women and the immigrant families and the ability to have these conversations with their with their Children about all the things of the show talks about? It's really interesting the reach that Kim's convenience is hot. Um, and I think there's a lot of dialogue and discourse. It's happening in many directions, whether it's like from from first generation immigrant parents to their Children, to the Children, to their cousins back and forth in amongst friends. It's really interesting to me because I have no view, Um, because, uh, what? What I find really interesting. It is how broader reach it had whether in Canada, in the U. S. And the UK Australia, we get, um, once the show dropped on Netflix. See, the response around the globe was a little overwhelming. Pretty amazing. So it's gone from within a couple of years going in. It's weird, for me, is a Canadian and as an actor, is a minority actor to be recognized at all. So to go from going to the gym and being naked in the in the wind changes. Um, yes, I make it. You're naked. Let's talk after, um, Thio being in Seoul just a couple of weeks ago, and I was out getting dumplings with some with Andrea Bang, who plays my daughter. I wish he really were my daughter. She saw um, and being recognized there. But by because the show is also being broadcast in Korea, which I have to admit, as as a Korean Canadian as a hybrid Korean as a d a sport, Korean was a bit nerve wracking because obviously I'm I'm not really Mrs Kim. I just pretended to be Mrs came on. And you know my mom he tells me when I do it wrong. Well, I know my mother thinks that you are Mama, and she truly truly believed that you offer generation what have bean the experiences because you are more off Janet, who plays the character of the daughter and Kim's convenience. You are more of a Janet. Let's be honest on Dhe. My mother's heart is breaking as Lifestream is being done, and she is big daugher as all our mamas. Sorry, mom, and more me than you. But when you look at the reception or off Mama and Janet and the way it's being accepted even back home in Korea or in the West, what does that make you feel about your life's journey? Because at some point, you've got to kind of go. Was it about timing because you've bean trying to raise the ball fool actors. It's from minority groups for a long time, from the 80. Yeah, so yeah, yes, it's about timing, but I am also aware that I was aware when I when I I wanted to be an actor in the eighties, a teenager in high school, looking at all of my prospects, even my own drama teachers were saying, Don't pursue drones, Don't you don't have It's like it's going to be hard and, um, there really were not opportunities or past to performance for actors of color in Canada. And, uh, it would those that did sort of start then had lots that we all had lots of obstacles. But, um, my goal back then was to combine, um, career of writing and and, uh, writing and performance. And and my, I think my reason for being an artist is to try to understand who I was a Korean Canadian. Just understand. I really didn't know how it was that I would have landed here in Canada and, like, how come? How come my parents behave this way? Like what? They're so weird, you know, like everybody else's parents are okay with this. Like, why are my parents not okay with that? Um So even back then I was aware that I was at the forefront of a demographic wave that was going to eventually become what we're seeing now, which is maturing of Asian American voices and Asian Canadian voices. And way back in high school, I was telling my drama teachers well if I If I do stick it out, I'll just play all the mom and she did on. Did they? Yeah. So it started out and you know, that way I just playing Mom's in my thirties. But you ended up moving into television. Very simple reason. Was that transition easy begin A. As someone who was it in the television business for 18 years, I can say it's never easy being a person of color, Um, on television, especially if you are in Western television. What was that journey like? And did that really define the way you look at almost character? Um so my transition from theater into television was after a decade of of new place. I was I was running a theater company. I was doing a lot of advocacy. I was on. I sat on a number of committees and studies at various levels of government and different NGOs in terms of social equity. Um, and I was writing, um so that when I transitioned to film and television acting, I did it knowingly and knowing exactly what the environment was and also did it with partnership with an agent of color, who who, uh might. My agent Ishwar, if well, is he had been working in cultural equity along with me and decided to transition into into film and television at the same time that I was. And honestly, a big reason was that I wanted to have a child, and I knew that I could parlay my acting talent into whatever jobs I could get in film and television. I'd only have one day of working in film and TV was equivalent of a week to week and 1/2 of work in theater in the kind of theater that I was doing. And did they embrace you? Yes. So it meant that I could work a, you know, an audition audition audition shoot the day of and still have the flexibility to raise a child. So that that was my from 2003 onwards sort of laid the groundwork ahead of climate starting in front. I really wanna start acting for film and TV in the late nineties. And then there was one interesting thing that you mentioned to me before we came up on stage. Uh, when we were talking earlier was that you were actually asked to go back to school. When you joined television on there, Did you know how to write for TV? And did you know howto identify with the characters who were not? You don't look like you or didn't sound like you. How did you jump over that hurdle? How did you convince them that you could write for any one and play anyone? So I went to the Canadian Film Center Center for it was a TV prime time television writing program. Um, and I did that in 2000 to 2003. I did not convince them I was not successful As in terms of television writing. I did. D'oh! I did develop a pilot and, uh, and found a producer. And we were going from, you know, broadcaster's broadcaster. And I was literally told at the time we love this. We love this. We love this story. We need white. Me. We literally said that to me, like literally So, um and it was just that it was not. It was not the right time for that show. Is this the right time? Done. Full actors of a color are different ethnicities. Is this the right time and what's really changed. There has to be some kind of stumbling block Your is that it's gonna be smooth sailing going forward, that everyone's gonna accept everyone. And that's the new normal. It's the right time for artists of color right now in Canada and in the United States, um, to pitch project. And I think that it's very clear to broadcasters and advertisers that there is an audience that is not served, that is hungry for stories. And that's why we're seeing this big movement with whether it's in terms of the Asian community, Asian Representation, South Asia representation, Black film and television project. There's a huge market for it now that is underserved. So this is the time. This is the time for those projects to be successful. And I think that the talent pool in our community is maturing, and it's also a time for women like in. There's definitely a gente imbalance in on the other side of the camera in in terms of film and television. But it is in balance. It is being addressed, but it in within unions, within, within the industry itself. But, yes, do you find acceptance in the Korean community because the one thing that that comes across within immigrant communities on. Even for that, you mentioned you were in Korea and people were approaching you. How much of that acceptance is a stereotyping, and how much of that is looking at Koreans in Canada being accepted by people at home? I mean, how much of that balances there? I don't understand your question. So the question is, do you think the Korean community in itself has embraced Kim's convenience as a sign off the future? Yes, Creon community has definitely embraced show, which is raising the Korean community here and the Asian community here and in Korea. The responses really surprised me, but, um, the show just in August was given the a new award sole International Drama award for most popular foreign drama. But so, no, I mean any comedy or whatever, but yeah, it was very nice. Oh, that's what's next. I mean, you're filming your port season is run going to continue? What else are you going to do? How are you going to amplify the voice that mama has now given you? So, um, Season four is shot. Has we've been a shooting that in July and it will start to air in January. Um, and we're all it looks. It looks like all the signs are good for season five and, um, knock on wood beyond So, um, what I'm basically doing now, we've finished shooting at the end of July, and then since then I've been busy with a bunch of different things and then also been happening. But, um, I'm basically going back to writing now. My son is my son. Turns 16 today. She's here? Yeah. So, yeah, this morning I was baking a cake, but basically, it's like, here's your cake and I'm gone, and he's like, Fine. Bye. Um, so, uh, yeah, I'm at a stage now where I can actually focus on my own, writing in my own voice. And really, I just want a couple of months where I just can focus on going to the gym every day. One of the things about shooting is that you don't You know you're working 14 hour days and you don't get to exercise your goal, Vogel, But, um, but I just want to go for, like, a long bike rides and long sauna. Steam room Jacuzzi. That's my favorite workout. like that Work out a cold shower. Oh, yeah, that's nothing. Everyone's favorite work. Favorite work. So in that relaxation zone, what are you going to be writing about? Is it going to be about politics? Isn't going to be about gender issues. Is it gonna be comedy isn't gonna be about life or your 15 year old son right now. I think I'm going to I'm going to the next bit of writing. I've got a bunch of different ideas in my head, but I'm actually just gonna see which one. I'm gonna try the gladiatorial approach. Which idea? Win. Kill me. Really? Really. What I'm looking forward to now that school's started. Now that I'm done, the shooting is setting up a regular routine for me. A regular practice like coming back to my own practice, which involved, you know, keeping keeping my body in shape, keeping strong and taking the time and having the time to prioritize reading again, like a lot of times, months go by and I don't have time to read or watching things that if their shows that I don't think I should watch that, but it's like I don't have a brain powerful and then and then writing and just a regular practice without interruptions without it suddenly going haywire and then see which idea wins. Because, um, so, honestly, I I think I want to do a one woman thing. I don't want to do a one woman things, but we'll see what happens. We know one that worked in the past, so yes. Yeah. I mean, that is amazing story way. Hope that that one woman thing will be as successful as a previous one woman saying that we can old single and knowing you, you'll make it happen. So thank you very much for your time. We knew everyone.