interview | yunjee kim

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Talented actress and K-pop solo artist Yun Jee Kim is setting her sights on Hollywood with the debut of her comedy heist film Lift alongside Kevin Hart. The South Korean singer and actress portrays Mi-Sun, a hacker and member of the crew run by Kevin Hart’s character Cyrus. In conversation with Schön!, Kim shares her experience on the set, her upcoming project, Red Swan, and her views on the representation of Asian actors in Hollywood.

How does it feel to make your Hollywood debut in such a high-profile film opposite Kevin Hart?

It definitely feels pretty surreal. I always dreamed of being part of a Hollywood film but never thought it would be at this scale. I feel very lucky and grateful to be part of such a great ensemble.

What was your experience like working with F. Gary Gray and the rest of the cast on Lift?

I grew up watching F. Gary Gray’s work all my life, such as Italian Job and Straight Outta Compton. I couldn’t believe that I was in Venice, Italy filming a heist film with the director of Italian Job. I absolutely loved working with Gary especially because he gave us the freedom and the space to express freely. Every single one of the cast members of the Lift ensemble was an absolute delight to work with. We all became very good friends throughout the film which made it so much fun on set.

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Can you tell us a bit about your character and how you prepared for the role?

I play ‘Mi-Sun’ who is the brain of the crew. She overlooks all the technical data and is in charge of building any kind of apparatus that is needed in the heist. I watched different films with similar circumstances of working with visual effects and virtual reality. I tried to play with the props as much as I could during breaks so that my hands got used to them and looked natural handling them during scenes.

Lift combines action and comedy. What was the most challenging aspect of balancing these two genres?

I don’t think I had any big challenges in combining action and comedy. Working with Kevin Hart really made that part of the film easy and comfortable. We as a heist crew had really good chemistry on set which enabled us to have a natural vibe and fun while filming.

What was your favourite moment or scene to film in Lift and why?

Our last scene of the film, which was filmed in Cortina, Italy, is the most memorable moment for me. It was such a beautiful place, I couldn’t believe it was real. It was also our last scene together, so it felt more special and deep.

dress. Free People
dress. Free People

What was the atmosphere like on set while filming Lift? Any memorable moments or behind-the-scenes stories you can share?

We spent a lot of time together outside of filming. We all went out to eat, hike, walk, etc. We really got to know each other on a deeper level than just actors that work together on set, so the atmosphere was always full of energy and felt like a natural bond. When we were filming in Cortina, Italy, we all went out to dinner as a whole and had incredible food and wine.

If you had to pull off a heist in real life, what would be your preferred target and who would you choose to be on your team?

I liked the fact that our crew targeted people who were undeserving. So, I would do the same by pulling off a heist that is targeted towards criminals. I would choose Ursula to be on my team because I think we could pull off some badass heists together.

You’re not only a talented actress but also a K-pop solo artist. How do you find a balance between these two different artistic pursuits?

I personally think singing and acting have so many similarities. Singers use lyrics and actors use lines to draw emotion and sympathy out of the audience. Performing on stage and on set in front of the camera feels similar to me at times. It is fun to do both and I get to experience the differences. I was a solo artist, so I was always in charge of everything from recording, stage, and performing, but acting with other people and creating bonds and chemistry between characters has been my favourite part of acting.

dress. Free People
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Red Swan sounds intriguing with its mix of romance and revenge. What drew you to this project, and what can viewers expect from your character in the series?

Red Swan which is set to come out this year is full of surprises, revenge, love, and emotions. I was drawn to this project because it was very different from Lift. It has a lot of K-drama factors in it which I think the international fans will definitely enjoy. The character I play in the series is completely different from ‘Mi-Sun’ in Lift, from the looks, language, and mannerisms. I hope people will enjoy this new series sensation.

How do you hope your roles in Lift and Red Swan contribute to the representation of Asian actors in Hollywood and beyond?

I was very happy when I received the audition lines for Lift because the character was already named ‘Mi-Sun,’ which is a Korean name. I loved the fact that this international heist crew had a Korean member. This character could be played by any other nationality, which meant it wasn’t an atypical role that a lot of Asian actors are used to playing in Hollywood films. I hope that my roles in these projects can make positive contributions to the Asian community, specifically acting in Hollywood, and can’t wait to see what the future holds for us.

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Lift is out now on Netflix.

photography. Sopia K
fashion. Mi Ran Park
talent. Yunjee Kim
hair. Ha Jeong Lee
make up. Hyun Yoo Noh
interview. Alper Kurtul

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