Kathleen Choe is an actor and writer based in New York City! She comes from a background in film production before transitioning into acting. Her work spans the stage and screen, as well as voice over work for audio books! Keep reading to find out more about what makes Kathleen an Amazing Asian in the Arts!
Name: Kathleen Choe
Hometown: Westchester, NY
Current City: New York City
Pitching a screenplay and a TV series that I’ve written, in the process of writing another screenplay.
What are some of your favorite credits/projects?
Maniac on Netflix, playing Belinda Blair in Noises Off at Two River Theater, and I recently started narrating audio books, which I’m loving. I recently narrated two books for Audible: the American translation of Kim Jiyoung, Born 1982 by Cho Nam-ju and The Golden Orchard, which is a YA novel by Flora Ahn.
Any advice for young people getting into the arts?
Be kind to your fellow actors and artists. Truly. That will get you so much farther in this business but more importantly, it will make you happier as you make your way through it. Talent is just one percent of the equation in having a successful career. Showing up, being kind and being professional is what’s going to make sure it’s a long, happy, and fruitful one.
How did you get your start?
I actually didn’t start out as an actor. I graduated from NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts with a degree in film production, then worked for a number of years in production and as an editor before I got burnt out. I started taking acting classes, spent a summer in London at RADA, and when I came home continued to take classes and started applying to MFA Acting programs. The first year I didn’t get in anywhere, the second year I got into the New School for Drama, and that’s where I ended up going.
Do you have any favorite moments in your career that you’d like to share?
Oh God, there are so many! I’ve been so fortunate to work with so many amazing, wonderful people. I just did a zoom reading of a play called “Dance Moms” that my friend Kat Yen directed, and earlier on I did a zoom reading of a wonderful play called, “Are You There, Truman?” by Garrett David Kim. The best is when you’re in a room full of people and everyone is just bringing it, throwing big bold choices out there. Those are my favorite moments overall, working on something where everyone is just going for it.
What have you found is the biggest challenge in your career?
Trying to just trust the plan. The systemic racism and misogyny in the industry—and the denial of their existence--can make it hard to retain an optimistic outlook, and it’s exhausting. You have to speak up, celebrate your wins and choose happiness, or you’ll go nuts. We face so much rejection in this business, and it can be real hard not to compare yourself to the “success" you think someone else is having, and just keep your eyes on your own path.
Interesting facts about yourself?
I can recite “The Empire Strikes Back” from beginning to end. Though I don’t know if that’s interesting or just scary! Libraries are and always have been some of my favorite places to be, I’m really looking forward to stepping foot in one again and just perusing the shelves once COVID is over.
Do you have any organizations or non-profits you work with that you’d like to highlight?
I don’t work with them directly, but AAPI Women Lead, She The People, The Yellowhammer Fund, and Fair Fight are a few organizations that are doing amazing work.
When did you know you wanted to have a career in the arts?
I think I always did, but I didn’t become vocal about it until I was about 15 and told my parents I wanted to study filmmaking. I still have to pinch myself sometimes that I actually have a career in the arts.
Do you have any other “special skills?”?
My filmmaking skills are still in use. I run a business called “Reels Right Now” which specializes in editing demo reels and video content for actors, artists, public speakers, journalists, and coaches. I still enjoy editing, and I love getting to show the best of people off via media creation…plus putting that BFA in Filmmaking to work!
What skills did you find to be the most helpful in your career?
Being organized and following through for sure. Being an actor/artist requires a certain proficiency with executive function skills: answering emails, time management, making phone calls, keeping all your contacts in order, maintaining databases, budgeting and bookkeeping. These was things I learned before I went to grad school to become an actor, and it definitely gave me a leg up when I graduated.
What are some goals you hope to achieve?
There are so many, honestly. I’ve always been a very goal-oriented person and the bar keeps getting pushed higher. I’d love to be a series regular on a TV show, and also am starting to produce and develop projects with diverse creative teams and women of color at the forefront.
What do you love most about what you do?
It means so much to me when young Asian Americans approach me after a show or to say they’ve seen me on TV. I didn’t see many faces that looked like mine represented in media when I was growing up, and when I did see one I know how much it meant to me. Being able to be one of those faces now feels really good.
What helped you most to rebound from what you considered your biggest failure or mistake in your career?
The mindset that there really are no failures. They’re just experiences to help you grow. Also, I’ve had family live through the Japanese occupation, a civil war and post-war martial law, and I saw what my parents and relatives had to go through to build a life in the USA. If they got through it and come out the other side, then I can do this. When I fail I owe it to them and myself to pick myself up and start again.
What inspires you?
People who do things instead of just talking about doing them. Optimism. Forward thinking. Kindness. Grit. Intelligence. Music. Art. Great performances. Walks in the woods. Swims in the ocean. A cozy chair with a nice cup of tea.
To find out more about Kathleen, please visit her at:
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