Julia Cho is a performer, producer, and casting director based in Los Angeles. Finding a love for arts at a young age, she went on to double major in Rhetoric and Theater and Dance & Performance Studies at UC Berkeley and founded Artists at Play, a theatre-producing collective “that explores the Asian American experience” and provides both a platform and resources for artists in the Los Angeles community. Her recent credits include dubbing a leading role in a new Korean show on Disney+, the world premiere of Carla Ching's The Two Kids That Blow Shit Up, and guest starring on The Resident! As a creative that forged her own way without connections, Cho advises young artists against “[falling] victim to the notion that there are any ‘rules’ or a set ‘how to’ when it comes to a career in the arts,” and encourages them to find their own definition of success as they continue to learn and grow. Read on to learn more about Juila Cho and what makes her an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Name: Julia Cho
Heritage: Korean American
Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Current City: Los Angeles, CA
Current project: I just finished dubbing a lead role in a new Korean show for Disney+ and I'm producing a new play reading with my theatre collective Artists at Play – our first in-person event since the pandemic!
What are some of your favorite credits/projects:
I have a special place in my theatre-loving heart for every play I've ever performed in, including the high school production of Arsenic and Old Lace in which I played Mr. Witherspoon to Carla Ching's The Two Kids That Blow Shit Up, the world premiere presented by Artists at Play. My most recent TV credit, a guest star on the medical drama The Resident, was pretty memorable since it flew me out to Atlanta, Georgia after having been cooped up at home for the last two years!
Any advice for young people getting into the arts?
Don't fall victim to the notion that there are any "rules" or a set "how to" when it comes to a career in the arts. The only thing you can predict is that it'll always be unpredictable. And know that your definition of success can change along the way.
How did you get your start?
I always had a love for the arts. I was performing in school plays and musicals all the way through high school and just never stopped.
Do you have any favorite moments in your career that you'd like to share?
My TV gigs are for the most part great fun but also fleeting and not without high-pressure moments. In my theatre work, there have been many more opportunities to really delve into a character or a scene and when it's with a generous talented scene partner it makes it almost magical. My favorite career moments are linked to amazing theatre artists who I've been lucky enough to work with, including director Peter J. Kuo, actor Parvesh Cheena, and playwright Stephanie Kyung Sun Walters.
What have you found is the biggest challenge in your career?
The fears and anxieties and sense of competition that are bred in all actors. We're almost conditioned to compare ourselves to others, but everyone is on their own journey and the sooner we realize that the better off we'll be.
Do you have any organizations or non profits you work with you’d like to highlight?
Artists at Play is a theatre-producing collective that I helped found back in 2011. AAP presents theatrical programming that explores the Asian American experience, providing resources and a platform for underrepresented theatre artists while serving audiences within the Los Angeles community. For more information on our work and upcoming events: artistsatplay.org
Where did you study at?
UC Berkeley, where I double majored in Rhetoric and Theater, Dance & Performance Studies (TDPS).
What helped you most to rebound from what you considered your biggest failure or mistake in your career?
I think understanding that this is the nature of the industry and reminding myself of past successes and my own self worth have carried me through any perceived "failure" or "mistake." There are no rules to this business, and as someone who had no connections I've had to learn as I go pretty much this entire time. I've definitely spent a day of wallowing on the couch with a bag of Hot Cheetos, but if I let myself get bogged with every little thing that didn't go my way I'd never be able to get through life!
If you’ve crossed the table from performing to being on a creative team, what made you take the leap, and how did it change your way of thinking?
Before I founded Artists at Play, my first producing venture was actually with a ragtag group of actor friends. At the time, I thought I could direct and this show was supposed to be a showcase for my directing. Self-producing came about as a necessity, and after all was said and done I realized I wasn't much of a director but I discovered I wasn't too bad at producing – as difficult and challenging as it was. Working with Stefanie Lau, who later helped found AAP, was such an incredible learning experience as she taught me all the many logistics and factors that need to be in place to put on a show, alongside the artistry and creative aspects.
How do you think your creative process has changed over time?
I think I used to be much more hung up on what my process had to be or what it was supposed to look like. I would observe how other actors worked and try to find ways to emulate different methods or processes, eventually realizing they weren't right for me. As a very basic example, I don't always have to highlight my lines or bind them in a special notebook; I circle my lines in pencil and keep the sheets of paper loose and ready to be shuffled around. So instead of feeling like I had failed in some way by comparing myself to others, I've learned to embrace my process… and the fact that I'm a circle-in-pencil-er.
As a storyteller, how do you pick the stories you want to work on and what goes into putting a story together, whether on stage, page, or film?
As a theatre producer, I've learned that there is a wealth of stories out there that can speak to any one of us in the diverse AAPI community. As a young actor, I was not introduced to many writers of color and to know that so many actually exist in the world is inspiring. The words have to speak to me straight from the page, whether it moves me on a personal level or introduces me to a person/place/world that I am not familiar with but want to learn more about. I also oversee casting for Artists at Play, so when we produce a reading or a mainstage show I work to gather the right actors who can give voice to the characters. Assembling the right director and creative team is also crucial, with each individual offering different nuances to the overall project.
If you could name one point in time when everything changed for you, what was it?
Right before I started high school, my family moved to the suburbs. Having grown up in LA's Koreatown, it was a bit of a culture shock to find myself somewhere that seemed so much more homogenized. But it was that drastic change that forced me to get past my shyness, make new friends, and try out things I may not have in the past – like auditioning for a play.
To find out more about Juila Cho, please visit her at:
Full list of TV/film credits: https://imdb.me/juliacho
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