Tonight’s a big night for JiHAE. When National Geographic’s new show, MARS, premieres at 9/8c, the acclaimed rock musician will be forever known as an acclaimed actor, too. Her scifi-drama and Ron Howard produced show bounces between present day and 2033 as humanity sets out to colonize Mars. MARS is JiHAE’s first professional acting job and she couldn’t be starting off with a more exciting project. JiHAE had the actor’s dream of playing two characters–twin sisters Hana and Joon Seung. She brings meticulous characterization to the roles and her specificity is riveting to watch. In this interview, learn about JiHAE’s experience as a first-time actor and how she made her performances out this world.
MC: You weren’t initially interested in acting. What changed your mind?
J: I was approached to be a part of the project at a time I felt like I could use a break from norm as an indie musician/label. MARS sounded amazing at first glance. I was very familiar with the work of Ron Howard, Brian Grazer, and Everardo Gout and knew immediately the integrity of the project was going to be way above par on every level. And of course to be working with 128-year-old National Geographic was an exciting prospect.
MARS was your first professional acting job. What did you do to prepare for it and what did you learn about acting in the process?
I first tried to cram in a bunch of acting techniques, then wised up to transpose what I do on a live musical performance in evoking emotion to the acting. I researched the dynamics and relationships of many identical twins. [I] learned about what it takes to apply, and train to become an astronaut and a pilot of a rocket ship for Hana’s character as well as ins and outs of ground control for Joon’s character. I learned that acting is an art form that requires deep internal knowledge of self and a ton of research and homework to embody the characters involved.
Film can be a very mechanical and rushed art, especially more than music. How, if at all, did that affect your ability to tap into your creativity?
The entire process felt rushed and the workload was intense but when you have no choice to deliver fast and furiously, you have to go along with it and do the best you can and be okay with that. It was challenging but also great opportunity to learn to adapt to a new pace creatively.
JiHAE in the MARS trailer
Your music often explores social psychology and its effects. How did your innate interest in these things help you better understand one of your chracters Hana Seung, for example, and the time, 2033, she’s living in?
In the MARS story, 2033 is not better off than where we stand today with climate change, wars, natural disasters, famine, and disease. Earth had gone through five near extinction events and the journey to Mars is not for exploration but to find a second chance for humanity. Nations of the world have come together in this joint venture to colonize Mars to save humanity from going extinct. Hana’s driving force is to sacrifice all she has to offer to allow humankind to live on. Everyone in the Daedalus crew is on a one-way ticket to Mars and losing life in the process of colonizing was a likely prospect.
Would you like to do more acting? If so, what kind of project would you like to do next?
Yes, I have to admit I got the acting bug. I’m open to any projects that have brilliant writing, creative vision and team behind it.
Can you talk a bit about the discipline it takes to succeed in a creative profession?
Perseverance—belief in self and taking risks.
What’s something you learned early on in your career that you still live by today?
Hard work pays off eventually. ♦