In Her Campus’ series Next Question, we rapid-fire interview emerging talent about what it’s like to rule over the internet. This month, actress Gia Kim is in the hot seat to answer our burning questions.
XO, Kitty, which dropped on Netflix on May 18, offers viewers a new perspective on the To All The Boys I Loved Before franchise. Specifically, it highlights the youngest Covey sister, Kitty, as she travels to South Korea in order to attend KISS, the elite high school her mom went to when she was Kitty’s age.
There, Kitty meets the captivating Yuri, played by actress Gia Kim. Yuri is KISS’s self-proclaimed queen bee and popular socialite, who appears coldhearted at first glance, but gradually reveals her vulnerability and devotion to her friends. “She is someone who … because of her certain situation and her seeming to have it all, she’s miserable at the core. She can’t be free to express herself,” Kim shares in an exclusive interview with Her Campus.
It’s also revealed early on that Yuri is in a secret relationship with her best friend Juliana, but is forced to keep the relationship hidden for fear of tarnishing her parents’ reputation. “I had never seen [a] queer Asian queen bee [represented in media] before,” Kim admits, calling the experience of bringing Yuri to life “really exciting.” “She’s such a new type of character. … As an Asian girl, I’ve watched many K-dramas but it’s still not that common to see a queer person on screen in Asian or Korean content.”
Acting wasn’t always Kim’s destined path; in the past, she imagined infinite possibilities but particularly enjoyed any type of performance. “I always liked singing since I was a kid. I was never good at it, but I [also] loved dancing,” she says. Later, she eventually decided she needed to stick to a more attainable career goal. “Growing up as a Korean girl with Korean parents, it’s not like they would ever encourage [acting] to be my career path. I was always sensible. Get good grades, go to [a] good college, get a good job. That was the vision.”
As Kim grew older, she discovered a passion for storytelling in television and film. She dabbled in television journalism, but eventually became dissatisfied and began to doubt her chosen path.“I was in an unhappy place of [asking myself], ‘What am I really doing for myself? Am I really being true to what I wanna do for myself … or being true to someone else’s vision for my life?’”
After having that realization, she decided to go back to her initial dream of performing and set out to audition. “I Google searched for an audition near me and I found a musical for a community theater back when I was living in China. I took part in it and woke up something in me,” she recalls. Kim soon traveled to Los Angeles to apply for a conservatory to learn more about the profession of acting, eventually getting the role of Yuri by her graduation.
Aside from acting, Kim enjoys practicing mindfulness, painting, and sketching. She’s been especially into yoga and tarot cards lately. “Yoga I’ve been doing for a lot longer. Cards are relatively new to me. It’s only within the beginning of this year, actually, [that] it started as a habit for me,” she says. “I have to do it every day because they just help me so much with my introspection.”
Kim also appreciates meditation, but confesses it was difficult for her at first. “I’m an overthinker, I’m in my head a lot,” she reveals. “At the beginning, I [would think] too much even when I was trying to meditate.” She’s now become used to it, though, and meditation is a part of her morning wake-up routine. Below, get to know the XO, Kitty star as Kim dishes on what she’s manifesting right now, her favorite music, and more.
This interview has been edited for length and clarity.
What is your life motto?
Carpe diem. I know that’s so corny and like, “Oh, so original, Gia,” but that’s the first thing I thought of.
What are your sun, moon, and rising signs?
Sun: Scorpio. Moon: Aquarius. Rising: Scorpio. So I’m a double Scorpio.
What are you manifesting for the next stage of your career?
Honestly, I’m manifesting Season 2 of XO, Kitty. Also [acting in a] movie would be great because I feel like that in itself would be [a different] experience versus shooting a series. So that’s what I’m hoping for this year.
What is your favorite travel spot?
Hong Kong. I wouldn’t say it’s a travel spot for me as much as it’s my second hometown, but Hong Kong will always have my heart. When people think of Hong Kong, they think of a concrete jungle, high-rise buildings and skyscrapers — and it is that, but then there’s actually a lot of nature in Hong Kong too.
As for traveling, I personally loved Ghana because I just [had] never met so many people who were so happy and so nice to me. It was my first time going to Africa as well. It was just so different from everything that I’d seen before in terms of growing up mostly in Asia. It’s definitely somewhere I want to go back to.
What’s a song you’ve had on repeat lately?
Madonna’s “Back it Up” and Lizzo’s “About Damn Time.” I just get turned up in the car — I listen to them [while] I drive.
Go-to music artist?
Honestly, I’ve been listening to a lot of Miley Cyrus these days.
What is your favorite art sketch you’ve created?
My grandma. My mom showed [the video of my sketch] to my grandma, and apparently, she cried. So I was like, “Oh my God!” That makes me so happy. My brother’s gonna visit town and my mom said [to] send [the sketch] through him when he goes back so that my grandma can have it in her house.
What emoji do you use the most?
Heart eyes, or the laughing face that’s crying.
What’s your go-to coffee order?
I usually get iced americano. This is actually a running joke amongst Koreans, that it’s the drink of our nation because everyone has iced americanos all the time, even in the winter. There’s a saying [in Korean that] means, “Even if I’m freezing to death, I will still drink iced americano.”