Arden Cho talks about rejecting ‘Teen Wolf’ and her new show

Hair Stylist: Izumi Sato & 87 Artists; Makeup: Tomoyo Shionome w/ The South James Agency; Stylist: Destiny Joseph
Photo: Nelson Huang

When Arden Cho moved to Los Angeles in 2007 with a few hundred dollars, she didn’t expect to one day be at the center of the equal pay conversation in Hollywood. In fact, the Korean-American actor thinks she’d be lucky if she could get a few roles. “At the time, I thought, ‘Okay, I’m either going to sit down and complain about the perpetual presence of Asian Americans in the media, or I can give it a shot and hopefully maybe I’ll be on TV once, or twice.'”

Cho’s career started with shows such as pretty Little Liars and castleand won the honor of “Korean Sniper” stunt performer in 2013 Fall of Olympus. It’s hard being a young Asian American actor, especially if you don’t want to play foreign stereotypes. She recalls being told, “If you want to be a leader, go to your country. Be a leader where you look like a leader.” But she went on to audition in Hollywood — “I want to tell stories in English. I Wanted to be on other shows that kids like me would be interested in because we were born here.” She got her big break in 2014, when she landed a recurring character in season 3, Kira Yukimura, a half-Japanese-Korean A young man with supernatural powers. Teen WolfAt the time, Cho, who was born and raised in Texas by Korean parents, was one of a handful of young Asian-American actors to land a major role on prime-time television — and played a . asian american character, a lot. When she was promoted to a season four regular, she became the only woman of color in the main young cast.

Kira represents an important step in Asian American representation. Not only is she the love interest of Tyler Posey’s protagonist, but she’s irrelevant to the storyline — she’s indispensable.Of course, her character is the only one explicitly tied to her ethnic origin (her power as a fox comes from her Japanese mother, and her grandmother’s experience in a Japanese internment camp during World War II became a key plot point in season three) ), but Kira herself is a staunch Asian American. “What I like about Kira is that she is very similar to me,” Cho said. “She has a heart that wants to save her friends and fight for good, but she’s so stupid and so embarrassed, she just doesn’t know what to do with herself.”

However, in 2016, Zhao suddenly disconnected from Teen Wolf During the hiatus between seasons 5 and 6. Kira was never seen again. Cho made the announcement in a YouTube video, and while she was careful not to reveal too much of what was going on behind the scenes, it was clear it wasn’t her decision. “Sometimes in a show with so many characters, there’s not always room for everyone and everyone’s storyline, so I guess that’s it,” she said at the time.

Looking back now, Cho admits that when she first got the call, “I was shocked. I couldn’t believe it.” In the end, she says, “There’s no room for Kira.” (However, the three white male characters Lee Yam (Dylan Spreberry), Jordan Parrish (Ryan Kelly), and Theo (Cody Christian) have room.) Since then, she’s appeared on various TV shows program, including Chicago Medicineand Post original music, but she is also picky. In September 2021, Paramount Plus announced a Teen Wolf Reviving the movie, fans hope Kira might finally get shut when comeback cast It was announced in February that there would be no Cho name, and fans were disappointed. What happened next made them angry.

a report from deadline Allegedly, Cho, the only woman of color among the show’s four female leads, turned down the film after “offering half of her three peers’ pay per episode.”At the time, Cho was tight-lipped, passing only a few comments Notable Likes on Twitter“I think I actually got fewer chances,” she says now, smiling half-heartedly, while insisting that the person who leaked the story wasn’t in her camp. “I may never share it.”

Cho is quick to point out that the reality of being paid less than her white (and/or male) co-star is not unique. “I can’t help but think of the 10-odd Asian-American actors I know who are paid significantly less than their peers,” she said. “Sometimes you don’t have the option to say no. Sometimes you just need it. You have bills to pay.” She couldn’t change Decades of pay inequality, but she is expected to have an impact on the next generation of Asian American actors. “I didn’t say ‘no’ to me or because I was angry. I said ‘no’ because I wanted more equality in the future.” Cho declined to say how she found herself being paid less than white people peers, but she does “appreciate artists who are a little more transparent because they realize we all matter.” (For the record, no other Teen Wolf The cast commented on the report, although Dylan O’Brien, who also refused to return, did like Tweets in support of Cho“He’s been very, very supportive,” Zhao said of her former co-star. )

Hair Stylist: Izumi Sato & 87 Artists; Makeup: Tomoyo Shionome w/ The South James Agency; Stylist: Destiny Joseph
Photo: Nelson Huang

Cho is careful not to dwell on past injustices — “that’s not my style,” she says. “I wanted to focus on the good.” Like when she met young Asian-American women, they felt their roles were being seen. “When I meet friends who love my time on the show and they love Kira, I’m happy because some good stuff comes out of it.”

Another benefit is that she is free to focus on her new project, Partner tracking. The law firm drama based on Helen Wan’s book of the same name, set to premiere on Netflix before the end of the year, marks the first time Cho has starred in a series — “I never imagined it would happen in my career. .” (It also marked her first encounter with a female show host at Georgia Lee, and her first with an Asian American show host at Georgia Lee. A Contact.) On the show, Cho plays Ingrid Yun, a lawyer who was originally written as a Chinese-American. “We talked a lot about, ‘Should Ingrid be Chinese-American, Asian-American or Korean-American?’ Cho recalls. In the end, they decided to have her Korean language reflect Cho’s own identity while maintaining the character’s identity. The core is intact. “I have a lot of relationships with Ingrid. Not because she is Chinese, but because she is Asian American. I’m Korean American, but actually, I’m Asian American too. “

Identifying herself as Asian-American was key for Cho, although it took time. Cho grew up in Texas and identifies as an American. Then she went to university, where she met international students from South Korea. The actor called her early twenties an “identity crisis” struggling to find her place. “I was like, ‘Well, if Americans think I’m an outsider and I’m Asian, but Koreans think I’m American, who am I? What am I?'” In Los Angeles, the disparity persisted . “Hollywood doesn’t see value in Asian-Americans. Either you’re from Asia and you’re very successful in Asia, or you speak another language. You’re Asian, or you’re not,” she said.

“I am a firm believer that we cannot make waves or get involved in this business unless we come together as a community and support each other fully,” she said. Twitter page You’ll find hundreds of tweets celebrating other Asian and Asian American artists in Hollywood.That’s why she refused Teen Wolf Revival, and why she’s not interested in dwelling on the past – she wants to see better performances from her young Asian-Americans. “I wanted to fight for a story that I thought could have an impact on young Asian American girls, Asian American boys, teens,” she said. “I want people to see my character and say, ‘This is my story.'”