Gia Kim on Where Yuri’s Story Should Go in “XO, Kitty” Season 2, Beyond the “Love Constellations”
Image Source: Emily Sandifer
Gia Kim was used to “lights, camera, action” long before her big break as an actor in Netflix’s “XO, Kitty.” “I always loved . . . using movies or just pictures in general . . . and telling stories that need to be told,” Kim tells POPSUGAR about what led her to pursue journalism at the University of Hong Kong before she made the switch to acting – her true passion. It’s probably safe to say that, as a college student, she didn’t foresee herself playing a 16-year-old high school student in a hit Netflix series 10 years later – and certainly not alongside her real-life younger brother, Sang Heon Lee.
In her first major television role, Kim managed to cement her character, Yuri – a sophomore at Korean Independent School of Seoul (KISS) using Kitty’s first love, Dae, as a cover to hide that she’s gay from her wealthy, image-obsessed parents – as one of the show’s standouts. Although she and Yuri are totally different, the 30-year-old still drew on her own high school experience to get into the mind of her teenage character. “I just tried to think of me when I was in high school,” she says. “What did I think? What did [my life] revolve around in high school? A lot of it revolved around love for my friends and love for my crushes – love was a big part of it.”
That mindset, plus listening to the music she listened to in high school, did most of the work to capture her uber-cool character. Still, it didn’t prepare her for the most “stressful” aspect of playing Yuri: her DJ-ing gig. “One of the most challenging [scenes] for me was . . . at Rubik where we throw this party for Minho Madness . . . I had to learn to DJ and to dance all for that one episode,” she says, admitting that adding singing and dancing to the acting process definitely threw her off a bit. “I have to be able to DJ and not make it look fake. And dancing to a K-pop song and things that I’m not used to doing really got me in my head a lot.” Still, Kim got through it. “They say fake it till you make it, and I really tried to do that,” she says.
Image Source: Netflix
Surprisingly, one thing that was not on her mind while trying to perfect her onscreen DJ-ing skills was the fact that somewhere else on that Rubik set, her brother, Lee, was making out with Jocelyn Shelfo’s character, Madison – a moment Lee (who plays school hottie Minho on the show) asked her to please “just not look” at when he filmed it. “I don’t know if I blocked out my memory, but I actually don’t remember seeing that scene,” Kim admits with a laugh, adding, “I was just up on the DJ stand, and I was just too self-conscious about myself that I wasn’t paying attention to what was going on . . . I didn’t end up seeing it, and I think he’s very glad that I didn’t.”
However, the comfort of having Lee during her acting debut far outweighed any awkwardness. “It’s such a big, big blessing that I’m reminded of even now . . . that both of us are on the journey together,” she says. “It does still blow my mind.”
Still, what Kim enjoyed most was having the honor of playing a complex and timely character like Yuri. “I think heteronormativity is a thing everywhere, but still more so in some countries than others – especially in a place like Korea,” she says, adding that “younger people are obviously more open and liberal.” She continues, “The more we tell someone’s story, and we see it as a kid growing up, we think that’s what’s normal, you know? I think that is important.”
“Fans will DM me very personally, telling me that seeing Yuri on screen really helped them in their own journey . . . trying to find themselves and their sexuality. That means so much to me.”
Kim says fans have thanked her for portraying Yuri and the positive impact of the character’s journey playing out on screen. “Fans will DM me very personally, telling me that seeing Yuri on screen really helped them in their own journey . . . trying to find themselves and their sexuality,” she says. “That means so much to me because that is literally why I do my job – to have people watch the characters that I portray and the stories I tell through the characters, and that it resonates with them in some way . . . I hope that it continues to do that for more people.”
Well, Kim got her wish. Yuri will continue to inspire, as “XO, Kitty” was renewed for a second season on June 14. Kim obviously has thoughts about where Yuri’s storyline can go. “There are so many unanswered questions in season one that I also want answered,” she says, acknowledging she’s just as in the dark about the show’s many “love constellations and connections” as fans of the show.
Image Source: Netflix
Kim is most excited to see the potential growth within Yuri’s family unit. While her mother may have accepted her sexuality at the end of season one, the feelings of her dad and society at large are another story. “How does her life really change in terms of her being seen out in public with [her girlfriend], Julia, and can she finally do that? Can she finally be accepted by society?” she says, continuing, “The life after she steps out and speaks her truth would be really interesting to see. So I’m really excited about that.”
We’re also excited to see where Yuri goes from here, but we’re even more excited to see where Kim’s promising career takes her. While it may not include any DJ-ing, her impactful performance in “XO, Kitty” suggests Yuri will be the first of many standout roles for her.