Ji-young Yoo on Taking Risks

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Ji-young Yoo is not a regular nerd. She’s a cool nerd.


“Frankly, I’m a huge nerd. I’ve always been very good at school and loved learning. College definitely felt like a reward for how hard I worked in high school. I spent so much of my academic career studying things I wasn’t interested in, so I wanted to go to college to really dive deep into the things I love and want to do for the rest of my life,” said Ji-young.


Ji-young is a proud Asian American actress from Colorado. Although it is not uncommon for actors to skip college altogether due to the hectic lifestyle of the industry, Ji-young is currently in her senior year at USC (University of Southern California).


“I also think that majoring in Cinema and Media Studies has given me the tools to engage in conversations of representation and restorative justice in storytelling that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I think it will be really helpful in a time when actors are expected to speak on those sorts of things with eloquence and frequency,” said Ji-young.


She credits her childhood experience for shaping her into the ~trailblazer~ she is today.


“Growing up in Colorado taught me to be bold, and take risks regardless of what other people think, which is a skill that definitely comes in handy as an actor. In an odd way, it taught me to trust and believe in myself.”


As a performer, there is honestly not much that Ji-young can’t do. She dances, she acts, she has done voice over work in movies. One in particular stars Tom Holland and Zendaya. Ever heard of them?


“When you’re filming a movie, you don’t record all of the crowd noise, you just record the dialogue that’s written in the script. I went in with a group of voice actors and added all the screaming and chatter that you hear in the background of most of the scenes in the film (Spider Man: Far From Home). And it was SO cool. I’m a huge comics nerd so I freaked out when I found out I got the job. I got to see clips of the movie before it came out and basically peed myself out of excitement. I still can’t believe I got the opportunity to do that,” said Ji-young.


However, Ji-young and her talents speak volumes and are much louder than just background noise. You can find her shining on stage or on the big screen.


“I think theater has a pretty linear preparation process. You get the script; you rehearse the script; you put it on stage for people to see. Movies are different. I feel like I did all this work to prep for the character, got to set and shot all the scenes out of order, and now I’ll just wait for a year or more before anyone knows what the heck I did for the last few months,” said Ji-young.


As for films, Ji-young is making an appearance in the upcoming A24 and Apple film, The Sky Is Everywhere. The film is based on the book of the same title by Jandy Nelson who also wrote the screenplay. Ji-young told me that the film is a collection of all genres including: romance, comedy, magical realism, and even drama. It is also about grief and loss, which she believes everyone will be able to be able to relate to after this year. That has a lot of meaning to her and her co-star, Grace Kaufman.


“The fact that we (as a cast and crew) were able to make a movie during this crazy time was never lost on us. It was such a beautiful and healing experience to film The Sky Is Everywhere, and I know that everyone is hoping that it can help audiences through grief and hard times in the same way that it has helped us."


Can we all find someone who has Apple + and watch together?


When asked Mud’s signature interview question, what does it mean to be young? Ji-young said, “I like to think youth is a state of mind not a stage in your life that you pass through. As long as you are discovering new things, appreciating old favorites, and enjoying your life to the fullest, you’re young in my book.”


I certainly believe that Ji-young is a new talent that soon all people will, and should, discover. After going on her instagram, I know she is both witty and a fiery racial justice advocate. She is a force to be reckoned with. She can’t talk right now, she’s too busy doing hot girl shit. What is that hot girl shit? Embracing her heritage and speaking up on the causes she’s passionate about by means of her talented work and genuine presence on social media.


This story appears on the December 20 issue of Mud, "Lisztomania." You can purchase a digital and print copy here.