Exclusive Interview With NYC Actor, Jinho Woo
How did you start your journey as an actor? Please share:
I started my journey when I was 13 years old during Korean middle school winter vacation...
Contrary to the expectations of my parents who wanted me to study "hard at the time",I slowly began to let go of my studies. Then one day, my mom, who didn't like it, said to me, "What are you going to be when you grow up?" (Korean parent's famous nagging phrase). I didn't usually care about that, but I seriously thought about what I wanted to do later when I grew up.
I always loved to be in front of others, enjoyed making friends laugh, and when it comes to conversations in textbooks in literature classes, I always volunteered to read them.
Remembering that, I started to get interested in the idea of acting and it was off from there!
I joined drama group when I went to high school, and then I went to college to major in theater. I tried to be on stage as much as possible in university. I was able to participate in 10 full productions at school until I graduated, and I loved it!
In my senior year, as many actors experienced, I was deeply concerned about Do I really have enough talent to do this"? While I was still concerned about this, I got cast as "Sorin" in the senior year production of ‘The Seagull’ by Anton Chekhov.
This was amazing! Since I knew it was a difficult role to play at that time of my age, I tried my hardest to understand the role. On the first performance day, when my first scene was over and I was off, I knew I had to do this all my life.
Who has been the most influential person you have worked on?
Perhaps the most influential person I have worked with was Moisés Kaufman from Techtonic Theatre. When I first entered The New School, our class and the Techtonic Theater held a collaboration workshop.
It was a month long process of learning how the Techtonic Theatre creates theatre and putting up our own work through that process. Moses Kaufman came to help organize the work for the last 3 days.
How has your experience been at the New School of Drama? What did you learn most and how?
It was great! Although It was the most difficult three years of my life. But I learned a lot. I used to be a very heady actor before I went to The New School.
But I learned how to get grounded in Grad School. Grad School involved a lot of physical work. Alexander Technique, Linklater, singing, dancing, Michael Chekov, Grotowski… one of my friends once said to me: “I heard grad school for acting is just rolling around the floor for three years!"
And it’s true. It was a lot of rolling around the floor and it is very useful lol! When people ask me about what was the difference between my undergrad and grad school experience, I tell them that I learned the techniques to act in my undergrad, but I craved my instrument in Grad School.
Taking Neutral American Speech for a year helped me with my accent and my Dialects class helped me learn to speak English in different dialects. Learning Shakespeare was intense. For an English speaker as a second language, Shakespearean language did not make sense at all at first.
And it takes longer time to own the language. But thanks to the experience, I know how to speak Shakespearean now.
What makes a wonderful work of art in acting?
I think a good collaborative work makes a wonderful work of art. If a writer, director, actor and production/artistic staff can communicate well, be flexible, listen to each other and bring in their artistic visions with great understanding of human nature in a project, that production will be able to resonate with the audience well.
And always to aim for how to tell the story well. Sometimes people make things about themselves. But everyone’s there to tell one story in ONE production.
If everyone in the production tells the same story alongside a great collaboration, they will be able to truly tell a great story. - Jinho Woo