Born in Busan, South Korea, Daniel Dae Kim is an actor, producer, and director most commonly known for his roles as Jin-Soon Kwon, a multi-faceted Korean businessman who re-learns how to live and love throughout, Lost and Detective Lieutenant, Chin Ho Kelly on Hawaii Five-0. Through his diverse roles, Daniel has worked to expand perceptions of the Asian-American Man and transcend historical barriers of race and stereotype.
Clinique, the leading prestige beauty brand, announces a global campaign 2016 (#BehindTheFace) ，featuring Daniel Dae Kim for its men’s skin care brand: Clinique For Men. The brand is inviting Daniel to share about his story behind the face with Kingssleeve’s readers.
Interview with Daniel Dae Kim：
Q：What’s something that most people don’t understand about acting that you wish people knew?
A：That it takes a lot of work to make it look easy. I think that’s true of every skill. For example, anytime you would see LeBron James, Michael Jordan, or Joe Montana back in the day and they look so cool under pressure. It takes a lot of time to master something like that while also looking relaxed and confident. I think a lot of people who watch TV or go to a movie think, “Oh they’re just talking. I do that all day long so I can do that.” However, there really is a lot of hard work behind making something look simple.
Q：How does changing your appearance to get into a character affect the psychology of a character?
A：There are a lot of different ways to work and find your way into a character, but going from the outside in or finding something on the exterior of the character that clicks you into the inner life of the character is something that I actually did in this last role that I worked on in The King and I. This notion of having facial hair, which I never had for a role like this before. Looking at myself in the mirror and seeing this person who felt very differently about his own skin, his face, and how he imagined himself, really helped me every time I was putting on my makeup to do the show because that was not who I see myself as so it helped me get into character.
Q：What is it about acting that you love so much?
A：I love that acting gives me license to be someone that I am not in my regular life and do things that I would never do in reality. In a way, all of the characters I get to play help me understand who I am in real life, because I get to highlight certain elements of my personality. I also love being able to tell stories that can help affect change in the way that I would like to see change accomplished.
Q：How does traveling change your perspective?
A： Understanding who you are in the context of others is invaluable. Not just in your community, or in your neighborhood, but in the world. Travel allows us to understand who we are in relation to other people around the world.
Q：How do you feel you have changed from when you first started in your career?
A：The last three or four years have been a transition for me. I used to feel like I didn’t deserve accolades. But over the past couple of years my perspective has changed slightly to feeling like I’ve earned it. I feel like I’m in the conversation of good things. I may not be where I want to be in my career, I may not have all the things I look to achieve, but I feel like I’m on the right path.
Q：Can you think of an experience that helped shape who you are today?
A：When I first started acting, I was given a very small role in a big play that I thought was really important with a really well known director at the time. I remember not feeling good enough, like I didn’t deserved to be there, and I ended up sabotaging my own performance. When I got bad reviews for the performance I thought, “They’re right.” That stuck with me a great deal.
Q：Is there something you wish you could go back and tell your younger self?
A：I would tell myself that even though things are tough now, it will get better, and you will look back on this and say, these experiences were necessary for me. I do I believe that there’s always something the older you can teach the younger you. I had a tough childhood in many ways, but I wouldn’t change anything because I’m happy with where I am now. I think it took all of those tougher experiences to help shape how I dealt with adversity and all those paths lead me here.
Q：What defines a man?
A： I think what defines a man is the ability and confidence to make choices, stand by those choices, and be able to admit when those choices are also wrong.
Q：Was there a moment when you felt not like a boy but like a man?
A：This is going to sound silly, but it was the moment I no longer thought of myself as ugly. Growing up I was always an outsider. The way I internalized that was that somehow I must not be attractive. I feel like I became a man when I believed I had something to offer. That is not to say that I think I’m a super-hot, hunky guy. That’s a very different thing. But I now have the confidence to say now, “this is who I am, you may not like the way I look, but this is who I am anyway.”
Q：When you look in the mirror, do you see a man or do you see a little boy who has aged?
A：When I look in the mirror I see a man, I no longer see a little boy. I think that has something to do with the fact that I’m working to achieve something. I have a purpose and a goal. When I look at myself in the mirror, the questions are not “do I have bags under my eyes” or “does my face look puffy” but instead, “how am I doing?”
Q：Share your life’s motto.
A：That’s what my father told me，“Honesty” and “Diligence”.
Q：How important to skin care to you?
A：It’s everything. I came into taking care of myself very inadvertently through my wife. I was in my twenties when I started realizing that what you do to take care of yourself and your skin actually does matter. Honestly, I have used that Clinique soap and clarifying lotion for decades. All because my wife said trust me, you’ll be grateful later. I am grateful, because as I get older, I see how my friends are aging, and I see the damage that the sun can do, especially living in Hawaii. I like Clinique because it doesn’t have heavy fragrance, and it doesn’t look like I’m using perfume-y, female stuff, and it works.
Futher Reading：Frederick Lee – 40 and Appreciating Each Step in Life