Home Estate Planning Kim’s Convenience actor: I’d love to see more Asians on London stages

Kim’s Convenience actor: I’d love to see more Asians on London stages

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Kim’s Convenience is a comedy drama about a Korean family-run corner store and the immigrants who have helped make Canada the country it is today. It has been getting brilliant reviews, including City A.M.’s, and is almost sold out for its entire run. We meet Jennifer Kim from the cast to talk about comedy, character and why London needs more East Asian representation

Hi Jennifer! You must be pleased by how well received this stage adaptation of Kim’s Convenience has been?

Hello! I am truly amazed by how the UK audience has received the play here already. It certainly speaks to the playwright Ins Choi’s writing. There’s something in this play that brings people from all backgrounds to have such a strong response, and I’m grateful to be part of this particular team. 

What appealed to you about taking on the show in the first place?

My parents were first generation Korean immigrants to the States, and I knew that this was our story. I pursued a career in the sciences before I decided that I wanted to become an actor, and was told again and again that I can do acting “as a hobby on the weekend.” So the struggles that Janet has in the play were my struggles with my parents. 

What is it about Kim’s Convenience that the London theatre landscape desperately needs?

I moved after graduating from drama school, and have only been in London for about a year. For a city that has such a long history of being a cultural hub in many aspects, the idea of having productions with full or at least majority East Asian cast is still relatively new. This goes the same for TV and film projects. Things are changing, and I’d love to see theatre shows and TV/film sets with more East Asian creatives in London. My hope is that Kim’s Convenience will also invite audiences who may not be the usual, regular theatre goers to come out to enjoy it because it tells their stories. 

How much were you inspired by the source material and the Netflix show?

During the pandemic, I watched the first few episodes of Kim’s Convenience with my mom. My mom, who’s a first generation Korean immigrant like Umma in the show, loved the show. After starting rehearsals, I considered going back to watch the Netflix show for more material, but I decided to wait till I finish the run. After I finished the run, I will definitely be binge-watching the series!

Were you a fan before this adaptation?

I can’t speak about the TV series, but I knew of the play many years ago when I was looking for audition materials from writers of East Asian background. I read the play for the first time when I first graduated from undergrad, and I stayed away from it perhaps because it was too close to home. And I don’t think I knew how much depth this play actually has from reading it. One needs to experience this play on stage to fully grasp the emotional effect of it. 

The show’s got some super funny moments. Any scenes you particularly love? I love the awkward exchanges between Janet and Alex when they are trying to flirt with each other. It’s something we can all relate to because we’ve all been there, and I have so much fun doing the scene with Miles Mitchell who plays Alex. There are so many scenes with Appa that I love because Appa has the most unexpected, raw responses to Janet’s logic because Appa has his own sense of logic and life wisdom. It’s a blessing to be working on a comedy during January.

Kim’s Convenience plays until 10 February at the Park Theatre

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