[TRANS] Yuri Harper's Bazaar interview--
Right before the camera flash was about to go off, I told Kwon Yuri that I wanted to shoot 'her as an actress'. However, a girl who moved as one amongst 9 members on stage, who carried the 'acting-dol' label, worried about whether she'd be strong enough to stand alone. Throughout the shoot, she repeated, "I'm not [a] SNSD [member]. I'm an actress," like a spell, making me choke up. This lady with peculiar eyes went to and from being provocative yet dull, to reaching dangerously alluring extremities. But once the camera would stop, she would giggle and return to being a girl. "Photoshoots are one of my favorite schedules. There are times where freckles are visible, or moments where I make awkward, not-so-pretty facial expressions, and that's fun." Watching her laugh at her own 'embarrassing cut', where her eyes were half open, made me think of her as a person who is not afraid of being broken down or failing.
It would not have been an easy decision of going from SNSD's 'Yuri' to actress 'Kwon Yuri' to play a main role from the get go in the drama 'Fashion King'. Numerous idols have taken their chance at acting, leading to the creation of idol-centered dramas. This meant that Yuri would have to stand on the two-sided criterion. Being a familiar face in an unfamiliar position, the general public's criticism is a lot more sharper and harsher. She's also at the center of the idol wave, and member of SNSD who has been going around the world, so what more would you expect. "I think it would have been easier if I didn't know anything. Either way, I'm a singer, so I'm used to the stage, how the staff treats me, and cameras. But the drama set wasn't entirely unfamilar, but it wasn't necessarily a familiar place either. It was also burdensome because of the expectations people had with SNSD's name. It was hard dropping all of that, but that's actually the right thing to do." These were probably very difficult first steps for her as she started with ignorance, without any courage or strong experiences. It was probably easier to get the chance to appear in the drama compared to rookie actors, but the barrier that needs to be passed as a real 'actress' is a lot higher. "I've wanted to act before debuting as a singer. That's a reason why I chose theater as my major. Because it's something that I've wanted to do for so long, it was like I was missing it more than actually getting to it. I was upset when I couldn't express things as well as I thought. Due to the nature of the work, becuase there wasn't enough time, before I would be able to think about my character, I would have to deal with primary things, like memorizing my lines quickly and shoot right away. I wasn't used to that type of environment and things didn't go how I planned, so I was sad." Every word, pronounced clearly with her expressions showed just how much she wanted and thought about this work, and the weight of that time could all be felt.
By being active early on with the other SNSD members, she was always able to experience the enjoyment and helpfulness working with her colleagues. Her communication with the other actors of 'Fashion King' played a huge part in her being able to cry and laugh as Choi Anna, even in this unfamiliar atmosphere. Rather than putting forth the instinctive act of trying to stand out amongst the other actors, she looked for advice from seniors who were both around the same age and younger than herself, and would ask questions without any hesitation if she did not know or was not sure of something. "It would have been a lot easier if they were seniors who are a lot older than me, but it was more difficult because we were around the same age. Still, once I approached them first, they helped a lot more enthusiastically. I was curious about whether it was right for me to honestly realize the feelings that I feel, or if I was to act skillfully. When I asked, (Yoo) Ah-in oppa said he feels pleasure in expressing his inner feelings and is relieving. You know like, the characters that Ah-in oppa acted all came off as being honest and independent."
Like Kwon Yuri said, she might not have been able to perfect her script from beginning to end. However, she is a girl that knows what she's doing right now, what she wants, and, even when wandering, she knows how to take in any confusion and drop it again. "Ha Jungwoo oppa is my school senior. He told me, rather than hoping for advice or thinking of gaining something right away, to just think of it all as the steps of learning. He said that finishing this one drama alone is a great experience and study for me, so to just enjoy that breath. I could really understand what he meant once [the drama] was over."
Of course, at the beginning, she just wanted to analyze her character. "I tried to dig up her habits and personality in detail. Once I started making up Choi Anna, rather than becoming that person, I kept making things up, speaking in a fake tone, making fake hand gestures and looks, and it made me think of other things. Before expressing sad feelings, I would keep telling myself that I'm sad, and hypnotized myself." After worrying with colleagues and by herself, she ended up starting to find similarities between Choi Anna and herself. While the character of Choi Anna in the drama put her miserable past behind her with a desire to succeed, she was also like other women of this generation who want to do things that they're assigned, and don't give in even after being abandoned by love. Not only was she imitating the surface 'city girl' image, but she started anew by understanding and sympathyzing with the character's history. "SNSD's Yuri has always had a bright, optimistic image, but the person Kwon Yuri actually likes spending time alone, and is an ordinary person who has worries and works hard. During my long trainee period, I felt this wasn't the right path for me, and that the day would repeat tomorrow. But if the next day works out, I would think of it as my responsibility and star running towards [my dream] again. Choi Anna is like that, too. Even after being abandoned by love, she gets up the next day, and it's the same way when failing at work."
Unlike how singers who 'transform' into singers usually continue on with a similar image, her choice was bold and daring. If her trademark was her healthy, frank laughter, it would have been easy for her to take on a bright, cheerful character. So why did she choose a flashy, yet depressed Choi Anna as her first role? "There are probably a lot of reasons, but I wanted to separate SNSD's Yuri from actress Kwon Yuri. Rather than showing a character 'like me', I guess I wanted to show a different image. I wanted to show a side of me, out of the many others within me, for the first time. My first proposition was 'I hope they aren't reminded of SNSD'." Either way, during the entire time I watched 'Fashion King', I was not able to see SNSD's Yuri anywhere from Choi Anna. From the way she walked putting weight on her toes, her bold, coy expressions and way of speaking, the way she would shake trying not to cry to guard what was left of her pride, and even in scenes where she would swallow sedatives after losing her love, it was difficult imagining the lively, cheerful 'Yuri' that is seen on stage. After listening to my words closely, she said she accomplished her primary goal, and added this in her unique way of talking as if she is singing. "Still, next time, I hope I can play a role that is a little more brighter, smiles well, showes aegyo, and is loved. No questions asked!"
Kwon Yuri is brave. No matter what question I throw at her, she doesn't distort it. She knows how to reply to sensitive topics brightly, and is aware of her good and bad characteristics and doesn't try to hide it. She showed off her lucid, fresh confidence as is on the set. She would make pleasant jokes, and would come to the photographer and suddenly say, "I think we have similar taste!" Her life force is due to her having a healthy body and mind. "A healthy person is prettiest. THe reason why I exercise, spend time alone, and go on trips. Your body and mind are all connected, so if your heart is strong, it will naturally be shown on the outside. I think time alone, apart from work, is something that's needed. On days I have off, I just play. I do yoga, swim, and have started to learn martial arts recently. Horseback riding, boxing, kickboxing, and fencing, I do it all. (laughs)" With all the things she does, I think we might be able to see Kwon Yuri being active in a lot more different genres.
Separating life and work accurately, and going to and from both things flexibly, her healthy lifetsyle is shown through her face. Once all that time is gathered, the distinct characteristics create the person's face, way of speaking, gestures, and that person's life and philosophy becomes apparent. "When I look at an actor or singer I like, they don't just have pretty faces, but the traces of life that comes from a person were what made them beautiful. From their general atmosphere, to their choice of words, and every minor thing, just that 'person' [is beautiful]." It seemed she was stacking each of those things and making them ripen. "Before I say what kind of actress I want to become, I want to become a person that is frank and pure, with a healthy energy. A person with an unpredictable charm who acts accordingly regardless of what clothes I'm put in. If I become that type of person, naturally, I should be able to become that kind of actress, right?" Some might compare idols to dolls, but Kwon Yuri is not the case. I imagined an energetic, innocent 24-year old girl, but at this moment, she is a woman who is serious about acting and is working hard to unravel this task at hand. She won't get nervous. She will leisurely complete her dream, and we will be lucky to have gained another actress named Kwon Yuri.