Women in the Entertainment Industry: Yeena Sung
We are asking women in the entertainment industry around the world some key questions about their life and career. Here is Yeena Sung based in New York, US.
1. In which part of the industry do you work?
Actor (Theater & Film).
2. Have you drawn professional inspiration from other women in the entertainment industry? How have they inspired you?
I’ve been very much inspired by actors, Marion Cotillard and Sandra Oh. They both have played strong female leads in film and tv productions, such as ‘La Vie En Rose’ and ‘Killing Eve’ and were able to portray their layered characters fully and truthfully. They have inspired me to have a higher standard for the craft of acting and to become an actor who is able to portray characters to the fullest; embracing the characters’ biggest strengths as well as giving light to their vulnerabilities.
3. What would you tell young women who are just starting out? What would you like them to know?
To love who you are and to be kind to yourself (and others) along the way. Being an actor or any kind of artist is not an easy path for a variety of reasons. I’m learning for myself that at the end of the day, there’s only so much I can control and in order to get through the hardships, I have to allow myself to listen to my body, be better about how I talk to myself, and better navigate expectations- whether they are expectations that are self-driven or from others. Though I know I’m in it for the long run, I often find myself comparing myself to others, rushing myself, and criticizing myself for not being “good enough” and that I’m not in the place that I want to be. But I have to constantly remind myself to trust that I know what’s best for me. And I work best when I go at my own pace and when I’m gentle with how I talk to myself; giving positive reinforcement and celebrating small victories along the way. This is not to say give yourself excuses to not work hard! I simply believe that there’s a way to keep moving forward without making yourself feel small. You’re all you’ve got at the end of the day!
4. What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?
“It’s not a matter of ‘If’, it’s just a matter of ‘when'”
5. Please share one of your toughest challenges in your career. How did you overcome?
The toughest challenges I’ve had to face as a woman and as an Asian in this industry is when I’ve had to speak up to “higher authority figures” to offer my thoughts as well as challenge what was considered to be the norm in the industry. Unfortunately, by doing so, I was often called off as “ungrateful”, “angry” or “complaining”. I care deeply for bringing more agency for actors- particularly female and BIPOC actors-and I will speak up when someone is being treated unfairly in my eyes. I think people, however, usually assume that I’d say yes to everything, that I’d be nice and obedient, and that I’d blindly follow others and their choices. So when I do say something, most people don’t know how to respond or know what to do with me. Therefore, I’d usually be faced with defensiveness or a verbal attack of some sort. This is strange to me considering the amount of times actors are told that their voice matters. Yet when they do speak up in reality, they are confronted with repercussions and backlash. At least that’s what happened to me every time I spoke up for a cause I cared about. It can be very difficult to speak up and call something/someone out when you’re the only one to say it. It’s truly a lonely path. I can’t say that I’ve overcome these challenges because I have and will be confronted by people who will try to take away my agency as well as those of others. But I will continue to stand up for what I believe in and fight for what will serve more people than a selected few. My hope is that, more actors will be inspired to speak up even more and we will slowly but surely be able to gain agency and power that we rightfully should have.
6. What is your favorite musical or play?
My favorite musical is Hadestown and my favorite play is Aubergine by Julia Cho.
7. What is your morning routine?
Depends on the day but I like to do HIIT Workouts in the morning and then having coffee right after! Some days, I’ll just cuddle with my cat as long as I can.
8. Drink of Choice?
I love hojicha lattes. I’m not the best with alcohol, but I do like fruity wine!
9. What is a phrase you are known for saying?
“That’s soy cute” or “That thing you’re afraid of, do that!”
10. What advice would you give to other women in the industry?
First off, thank you for being you, for speaking up, and for continuing on despite the challenges! I’m not sure if this is an advice per se, but I just hope that we can continue to support all the women in this industry. By supporting and celebrating each other, I believe we can open more doors and expand opportunities for ourselves as well as others!
Other Women in the Entertainment Industry:
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