Alicia Hannah-Kim is an Australian actress. She made her US television debut in the Starz series Crash.
She is also known for her roles in Grey’s Anatomy, Two and a Half Men, Hot in Cleveland, Supah Ninjas, Chasing Life, and Hawaii Five-O.
Kim reprised her role as legendary feminist novelist Wendy Mah in HBO Max’s Minx, and she joined the cast of Netflix’s international sensation, Cobra Kai, in season five as the strict sensei Kim Da-Eun.
The actress was born in Australia and moved to America to build a career, but her roots go back to the East. Here’s what she says about her ethnicity and roots.
Alicia Hannah-Kim’s parents are from Korea
Although both Kim and her brother were born and brought up in Australia, both of her parents are Korean, as per her IMBD bio.
They moved to Australia during the late 70s before the actress and her brother was born. So despite being Australian by nationality, Kim’s ethnicity is Korean.
Writing an article for the Salon, she shared, “My parents migrated to Sydney in the late ’70s, had me and my brother in the ’80s, and raised us in a one-sided multilingual household.”
There is no information about her parents and brother as she likes to keep their personal data out of media and the internet.
She learned Korean during the Pandemic
In the article for Salon, she further opened up about how she learned to speak the family language fluently only during the Pandemic.
During the Pandemic, while everybody was confined to the walls of their home and finding new hobbies, the actress learned to speak the language fluently, which she easily understood.
“My parents are both fluent in English and Korean and whilst my brother and I understood Korean, we both always spoke English.”
She also shared that she never really found it necessary to learn the language as she only needed the English language to communicate and find work.
“I was born in Australia and moved to America. English was the only language I needed to work and live,” the actress mentioned.
Alicia Hannah-Kim talks about racism
Kim said that racism was something that did not impact her early childhood. She expressed that although she had a few incidents, she was a typical Australian kid and liked to express herself that way.
“Apart from a handful of Korean families with whom we socialized, my life was dominated by Australian culture – white Australian culture. Racism, I felt, was something that didn’t touch my life,” she wrote in the article.
The actress shared her few incidents, like, a kid pulling his eyes back and singing the ching chong china song, and a white woman asked her to stay away from her kid. But she continued to mention that it wasn’t her daily experience.
But then, Cobra Kai’s actress felt the presence of racism when she started working in the movie industry. She also talked about her article in a YouTube video.
She wrote, “It was only once I became an actor that my identity really became problematic for casting. I was employed in Australia more than once to play the victim who spoke broken English and barely contributed to a scene beyond nodding or crying.”
Kim openly talked about how her fluent English accent didn’t match her looks and was not even allowed to audition for Asian roles.
She opened up about internalized racism in Hollywood and how it makes one believe that the structure cannot change and that it has stereotyped Asian as minority characters.
“In America, Asian actors are often strangled by ethnic restrictions placed on us. So many casting notices indicate that one must match the role, ethnically speaking, in order to audition.”
“In drama school I was Lady Macbeth but in the industry I was Lotus the Massage Therapist,” the actress shared.
And she mentioned that representations matter to those from different ethnicities in Hollywood. She realized it by watching K-dramas in 2020.
She wrote, “Representation matters. You hear it all the time from all the underrepresented groups pushing our culture toward inclusivity.”
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