Must-Read of the Week: “Without You, There Is No Us” by Suki Kim

 

Through a strange turn of events, Korean American journalist Suki Kim finds herself invited to join 30 other Westerners to teach English at North Korea’s Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, an exclusive school for 270 sons of North Korea’s elite. During the six months she is there in 2011, Kim takes meticulous notes, saving the documents only on a USB stick and keeping it on her person at all times. The result is the memoir Without You, There Is No Us: My Time with the Sons of North Korea’s Elite, chronicling her interactions with her students, the iron grip of her “minders,” and the constant fear of being watched, of being reported, of saying or doing something wrong.

At times, Kim feels love and compassion for the young men in her charge; at other times, she’s terrified that they are spying on her. She can’t decide if they really believe the things they do (that the Korean language is so superior it is spoken in every country, that their Juche Tower is the tallest in the world) or if they just say they do for fear of retribution. They know of Bill Gates, but they don’t know about the Internet. They play basketball and are familiar with the NBA, but they’ve never heard of skiing. It’s a fascinating — and sad — glimpse into the most isolated country in the world.

 

Details: Hardcover, available October 14, $24, crownpublishing.com.

 


Are You an Asian Female? Then Chances Are, You Have Dense Breasts: Why It Matters

 

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month, and this fact bears repeating: Breast cancer is the most commonly diagnosed cancer among Asian American women, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

But did you know this:

* Asian women historically have denser breasts than other demographic populations.


* Dense breast tissue makes it more difficult to detect cancer on a mammogram.


* Having dense breast tissue is considered a “moderate” risk for getting breast cancer, according to the American Cancer Society. Some studies show that dense breast tissue increases breast cancer risk four to six times.

 

So what are dense breasts and how do you know if you have them? Read on.

 

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What are dense breasts?

Breasts consist of varying proportions of fat and glandular tissue. When there is more than 50 percent glandular tissue, a mammogram looks white and is considered dense. You cannot tell whether your breast is dense by feel or appearance or size. (In fact, more than 40 percent of all women in the U.S. have dense breasts, and women with large breasts are less likely to have dense breasts.) It can only be evaluated by mammogram.

Why are masses more difficult to detect in dense breasts?

Since masses or lumps also appear white on a mammogram, they are difficult to detect in dense breasts. However, that doesn’t mean you should stop getting mammograms if you have dense breasts. Experts emphasize that mammograms regularly find cancers in dense breasts.

What detection method works for dense breasts?

Mammogram remains the gold standard for breast screening for all women, according to Dr. June Chen, medical director of breast radiology at Breastlink at the Breast Care and Imaging Center of Orange County. Two additional screening options for women with dense breasts include a screening breast MRI for women at high risk (family history, etc.), or an automated screening breast ultrasound (ABUS) for average risk women.

Though studies have shown that an ultrasound or MRI scanning, in addition to a mammogram, is a better detection method for those with dense breast tissue, such MRIs and ultrasounds may also show more findings that are not cancer, which can result in more tests and unnecessary biopsies, according to the American Cancer Society.

 

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So why won’t my doctor give me an ultrasound or MRI instead?

You should talk to your doctor. According to Chen, health insurance covers the cost of a screening MRI for patients with a high risk for breast cancer, but may not cover ultrasounds and MRIs for women not at high risk. Additionally, experts do not agree what other tests, if any, should be done for women with dense breasts.

A recent federal bill, called the Breast Density Mammography and Reporting Act, was introduced this summer in the Senate, which would require physicians to notify patients if they have dense breasts and discuss their risk and additional screening options. It would also support research for improved screening options for women with dense tissue. The bill was assigned to a congressional committee, which will consider it before possibly sending it on to the House or Senate as a whole, and is supported by nonprofit and advocacy organizations, including the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, Breast Cancer Fund, Susan G. Komen for the Cure, and Are You Dense Advocacy.

In the meantime, what should I do?

Talk to your doctor about your risk factors and a plan for screening. While new federal guidelines now recommend screening to begin at age 50, most doctors still recommend annual mammograms starting at age 40. Continue to do a monthly breast self-exam, get regular exercise, quit smoking (or never start) and cut down on alcohol.

 

 

This story was originally published in our Fall 2014 issue. Get your copy here. 

 

 


The Newest Asian-Inspired Skin Care Products You Can’t Live Without

 

The good thing about all that competition out there for the latest and greatest in skin care and makeup is that companies are coming up with some pretty amazing advances to help us look our best. Here, the newest innovations in skin care that I can’t live without:

 

 

 

THE DAY MASK

 

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Just out this month, the latest innovation in La Mer’s collection of covet-worthy products is an Asian-inspired day mask. Called the eight-minute miracle, the creamy formula contains the line’s signature algae-based Miracle Broth, as well as a plumping ferment featuring elastic kelp and a purifying ferment with glacial kelp. Just apply a generous amount on the face after your serum, and wipe off the excess after eight minutes. Follow with moisturizer and sunscreen. Call me crazy, but from day one, that niggling line by my mouth all but disappeared. Actually, just call me hooked. La Mer The Intensive Revitalizing Mask.

 

 

 


THE FINISHER

 

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The premier Korean brand Sulwhasoo is leading the way for skin care around the world. Their newest product fits in the soon-to-be mandatory “finisher” category, first introduced in Korea last year. Their Luminature Essential Finisher, launching in the U.S. this month, is the last skin care product you use before makeup to seal in the benefits and effectiveness of all previous treatments. Like a primer, it allows your skin to “eat” (as they say in Korea) your makeup well, so that foundation sinks in for a flawless finish (as opposed to sitting on top and settling into lines and pores). Unlike most primers, its unique green tea-ginseng complex (one bottle contains the equivalent of five ginseng roots and 110 cups of green tea) increases collagen, slows melanin production and enhances radiance, hydration and clarity with consistent use. Sulwhasoo Luminature Essential Finisher.

 


THE V-LINE SERUM

 

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Clarins’ Shaping Facial Lift products, the French line’s top-selling collection in Asia, was created to accommodate the Asian preference for a V-line face shape (a narrow jawline, a pointed chin). Luckily for us in the States, Clarins now has a new V Contouring Serum that not only contours but also relieves the puffiness that comes with a diet rich in fat, salt and sugar. Incorporate the Asian-inspired massage technique (the insert shows you how) for proper lymphatic drainage essential in a tighter, firmer visage. Clarins Shaping Facial Lift Total V Contouring Serum.

 

This story was originally published in Audrey’s Fall 2014 issue. Get it here.

 

 

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Must-Read of The Week: “The Story Hour” by Thrity Umrigar

 

Looking for a good read? We have just the thing. Find out what page-turner you should pick up with our Must-Reads of The Week! 

 


Acclaimed author Thrity Umrigar tells the story of an unlikely friendship in her latest novel, The Story Hour. When Lakshmi, an Indian immigrant in a loveless marriage, tries to kill herself, she is required to go see a psychologist as a condition of her release from the hospital. Maggie, an African American psychologist married to an Indian American man, at first tries to help Lakshmi, who is constantly berated by her Indian husband and treated more like an employee than a wife. We, too, as readers suffer from the “poor Lakshmi” syndrome, shaking our heads at the stereotypical arranged marriage of the helpless wife from the countryside, demonizing the cold brute of a husband.

That is, until stories begin to unfold in these unconventional therapy sessions — stories where secrets are revealed. Before we know it, it is Maggie who is in need of saving and the cold brute of a husband for whom we feel sympathy. And ultimately, it is Lakshmi who holds the fate of those she loves in her hands.

 

Details Hardcover, $25.99, umrigar.com.


Must-Read of The Week: “The Birth of Korean Cool” by Euny Hong

 

Looking for a good read? We have just the thing. Find out what page-turner you should pick up with our Must-Reads of The Week!

There was a time when my American classmates would ask where I was from — Japan? China? When I answered “Korea,” they’d get a blank look on their face and say, “Crayon? Where’s that?” Today, from K-pop and Korean barbecue to Samsung and Hyundai, you can’t not know about Korea. And in Euny Hong’s new book, The Birth of Korean Cool: How One Nation Is Conquering the World Through Pop Culture, I’m getting a crystallized version of my life as a Korean in America — from absolute obscurity to hailing from just about the trendiest place on the planet.

After spending her childhood in Chicago’s suburbs, Hong, at the age of 12, moved with her family back to Seoul’s tony Gangnam neighborhood (yes, that Gangnam; in fact, Hong’s parents went to the same school as Psy’s). In 1985, Korea was still a developing country with regular brownouts, reused vaccination needles and squat toilets. (I remember when I visited Korea in the mid-’80s, I had to bring used clothing and loads of Sanka for my relatives because coffee was difficult to get there; today, Seoul has the most number of Starbucks in the world.) Through an interesting and often funny analysis of corporal punishment in Korean schools, Confucian ideals, that very Korean concept of han and the birth of irony (epitomized by Psy’s hit song), Hong makes the case for a perfect storm of circumstances — along with not an insignificant boost from the government — that eventually led to Korea’s rise as a worldwide “soft power.”

Details: Paper, $16, picadorusa.com, eunyhong.com.

 

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This story was originally published in our Fall 2014 issue. Get your copy here. 

 

 


3 Ways To Upgrade Your Skin Care Regimen, Korean Style

 

Your skin feeling a little … meh? Are you bored with your basic skin care regimen of wash, moisturize, sunscreen? Or have you been fairly diligent about your skin care routine, but feel like the results have plateaued and need a little boost?

Well, look no further than to the skin care experts of the world — Korean women. They’ve nailed the 17-step skin care regimen, made BB cream a household name and mastered the no makeup-makeup look. In fact, they’re so far advanced in their skin care, they make us Americans look like Neanderthals.

Thankfully, we’ve got three easy ways for you to upgrade your skin care regimen. Make these switches and you’re bound to get some of that glow back into your complexion.

 

1. Bored with BB cream? Try the AIR CUSHION.

 

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When Korean cosmetic brand Dr. Jart+ debuted its BB cream to the U.S. market in 2011, it caused a sensation. Every cosmetic company rushed to put out its own version of BB cream and every alphabetic permutation thereof (CC and DD, anyone?). Now there are BB creams at every price point and in a much wider range of shades. But women in Korea are so beyond BB cream at this point; they’re obsessed with something even better (and no, it’s not EE or FF).

Enter the Air Cushion. The first one, Color Control Cushion Compact Broad Spectrum SPF 50+, was introduced by venerable Korean brand AmorePacific last year, but didn’t really take off. This summer, however, with all eyes on Iope (the Korean cosmetic line was featured prominently in the hit K-drama My Love From the Stars), their Air Cushion XP just exploded.

Inspired by a sponge-like “parking stamp,” the Air Cushion solved the problem of having to reapply sunscreen every two to three hours for effectiveness. Press on the sponge with a special ruby cell puff, which holds 1.6 times more water than a synthetic latex puff, and simply “stamp” (don’t smear or rub) on the liquid sunscreen onto your face, on top of your makeup. Since it’s tinted, the product blends in well even if you have foundation or powder. And a bonus: the Air Cushion imparts a perfectly mul gwang (“water sheen complexion” — that chok chok wet look Korean stars favor) look with one application.

Wanna try it out for yourself? Check out some of our favorites here.

 

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2. Toner too tight? Switch to a HYDRATING LOTION.

 

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A hydrating lotion — sometimes called “skin lotion” or just “lotion” — is different from the toner that we here in the States may have grown up with: that harsh, alcohol-based liquid we swept over skin with a cotton ball to wipe off any residual makeup that our cleanser may have missed. Rather, “lotion” is a post-cleansing hydrator, usually applied by sprinkling into hands and pressing the palms over the face to ensure proper penetration. Not only does it hydrate, it preps skin so that subsequent treatments can more effectively penetrate skin’s top layer, allowing all those expensive serums and creams to work more effectively with less.

Lucky for us in the States, we  don’t have to fly to Korea to get a hydrating lotion onto your bathroom shelf. Asian skincare companies available in the States already have a hydrating lotion in their line, and recognizing the brilliance of Asian skincare products, a number of non-Asian companies are coming out with their own versions. With a broad price range, these lotions are something everyone can get on board with. Check out some of our favorite hydrating lotions at all price ranges here.

 

 

3. Mask feeling meh? Go for a HYDROGEL MASK.

 

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When we think of old-school masks, we may think of thick, green-colored goo that we smear on our face while we wait for it to dry into a crusty mess. But that’s so 1980s. In Korea, sheet masks elevated the mask game, with cotton masks made to fit your face, complete with eye, nose and mouth cut-outs, infused with all manner of skin care ingredients. Apply for 20 minutes and your skin is left glowing, plumped and hydrated.

And while sheet masks are gaining popularity now in the States, a true skin care baller forgoes paper or cotton for the next evolution in sheet masks: a hydrogel mask.

A hydrogel mask or gel mask (Koreans pronounce “gel” with a hard “g”), “is made of polymers that are very absorbent and hold water against your skin,” says Jessica Wu, M.D., Los Angeles dermatologist and Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at USC Keck School of Medicine. “The mask traps water more effectively than a sheet mask because water evaporates more slowly from a hydrogel mask.” It feels different, too — like a solidified gelatin that is “more flexible and conforms to your face better than many cloth or paper sheet masks,” says Wu.

A favorite of Dr. Wu’s is Dr. Jart+ Water-Full Hydrogel Mask ($9). We like Korean brand Missha’s Prime 24K gold Collagen Caviar Hydro-gel Mask, about $22 for 3, which has a nice golden hue, so you look a little less freaky as you soak in the benefits. For a real upgrade, try When Mask, $28 for 4, which is made of a more eco-friendly bio-cellulose material — the fit is unsurpassed.

 

Korean Beauty: The Best, Most Wearable K-Makeup Trends To Try

 

Everything out of Korea seems to be hot these days, from K-pop to kimchi to K-dramas. Add to that list Korean makeup trends that are a fun way to switch up your look. Here, easy how-to’s to get the K-makeup look.

 

IL-JJA BROWS

Korean women are all about the dong-an (baby) face, and the quickest way to get this look is with the il-jja brow. Named after the number “1,” il-jja brows are straight across the bottom, without a pronounced arch, and with a shorter and fuller taper at the end. Contrast this with a “western style brow, which typically has a high arch with a skinny tail end,” says makeup artist Christina Choi. “The il-jja brow gives you a more youthful look.”

 

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The color is important, too. Use a brown powder one to two shades lighter than your natural brow color, like Christina Choi Cosmetics’ Chai Eyeshadow. (Korean vlogger Dayomi uses Smog from Urban Decay’s Naked palette for her brows.) “Using a firm angled liner brush, dip your brush into the shadow and start outlining the top part of your brow using feather-like strokes,” says Choi. “Avoid creating a high arch — keep the line straight. Next, fill in your brows and then outline the lower part of your brow.” If your natural arch is too high or you don’t want to look too cartoon-y, do a modified il-jja like Jun Ji-Hyun’s, which has a slight curve.

 

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WATER SHEEN COMPLEXION (MUL GWANG)

 

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Another Korean beauty requirement is mul gwang — that super-shiny, almost wet-looking complexion. But don’t go overboard and look, as one Korean woman put it, like you have Pond’s cold cream smeared all over your face. To get just the right balance, Korean vlogger Dayomi applies a mixture of liquid foundation and a dollop of Vaseline with a foundation brush, finished with a touch of mineral powder. For less over-the-top luster, replace Vaseline with a face balm or try a cushion compact — a BB cream in a liquid sponge compact — that’s currently all the rage in Korea. To prevent slippage, Choi recommends finishing with a light dusting of translucent loose powder, focusing on the outer perimeter of the face, then lightly dusting towards the center.

 

 

GRADATION LIPS

 

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The last step in a perfectly dong-an look is the “gradation” lip. Also called the gradient lip, it’s an ombré effect with the strongest color on the inner lips, gently fading to a soft, blurred effect at the lip line. It’s not as extreme as you see on runways — it’s a more subtle gradient effect that just makes the lips look airbrushed. To achieve the look, apply a matte-ish pink on the entire lip (don’t use a beige or nude, lest your lips look super thin) and then apply a hot pink gloss along the inner edge of the lips. Gently press lips together to blend the color out, almost to the edge of the lips, but not quite.

 

This story was originally published in Audrey‘s Fall 2014 issue — get it here.

Jun Ji Hyun’s Skin Secret? The Air Cushion, Korea’s Latest Beauty Innovation

 

When Korean cosmetic brand Dr. Jart+ debuted its BB cream to the U.S. market in 2011, it caused a sensation. Every cosmetic company rushed to put out its own version of BB cream and every alphabetic permutation thereof (CC and DD, anyone?). Now there are BB creams at every price point and in a much wider range of shades. But women in Korea are so beyond BB cream at this point; they’re obsessed with something even better.

Enter the Air Cushion. The first one, Color Control Cushion Compact Broad Spectrum SPF 50+, was introduced by venerable Korean brand AmorePacific last year, but had a limited following. This summer, however, with all eyes on Iope (the Korean cosmetic line was featured prominently in the hit K-drama My Love From the Stars), their Air Cushion XP just exploded.

 

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The Air Cushion solved the problem of having to reapply sunscreen every two to three hours for effectiveness — I mean, who wants to smear on a thick lotion over your foundation or powder in the middle of the day? According to Iope brand manager Song Jin-ah, parent company AmorePacific’s scientists had been researching for a solution to this reapplication problem for years. They were inspired by a “parking stamp” and created a compact with a sponge-like material. Press on the sponge with a special ruby cell puff, which holds 1.6 times more water than a synthetic latex puff, and simply “stamp” (don’t smear or rub) on the liquid sunscreen onto your face, on top of your makeup. Since it’s tinted, the product blends in even if you already have foundation or powder on. And a bonus: the Air Cushion imparts a perfectly mul gwang (“water sheen complexion” — that chok chok wet look Korean stars favor) look with one application.

And don’t think that just because the Air Cushion is a liquid that it’s less effective or protective than a heavy lotion. According to Song, existing sunscreens were either a “water-in-oil type,” which helped them last and resist sweat and water, but felt heavy and sticky, or “oil-in water type,” which are “much lighter, but have less durability.” What AmorePacific and Iope did was create a “freshwater-in-oil-type” sunscreen for both durability and a lighter feel. 

 

 

All I know is that when our Korean art director raved about it, I had to run out and get one to try it out for myself. It truly is a skin saver — no more worrying about midday or commute-home sun exposure! (It even works brilliantly on top of powder foundation — who wouldathunk?) And with dermatologists insisting that the one thing every single person must do for their skin is wear sunscreen every single day, 365 days a year, the Air Cushion could not have come at a better time.

Though Iope Air Cushion is only currently available at Korean cosmetic boutiques in Koreatown or through smaller sites on Amazon, you can get AmorePacific (they are Iope’s parent company, after all) Cushion Compact at Sephora ($60). For a less expensive alternative, Korean line Laneige, which just debuted in the States this spring, has their own BB Cushion ($34), available at Target.

 

 

Asia Street Style: Do Summer Like These Bangkok Stylesetters

 

If there’s anyone who knows how to stay chic during the sweltering months of summer, it’s Bangkokians. In a crowded city where public transportation is the norm, dressing in Bangkok requires equal parts practicality (walkable shoes are a must) and style. Prepping for my trip there last February (where it was already in the 80s and humid), I — used to air conditioned cars and high heels on a daily basis — fretted over how to look chic while staying cool. These stylesetters could have taught me a thing or two then. Let’s take a few style lessons from them now (and just in time for L.A.’s heat wave).

 

1. Something graphic and short is always cool — make sure you add a sun-blocking hat. Bonus points for studded oxfords (again — all that walking!) and an oversized handled clutch.

 

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2. Wear something mesh — it lets the breeze in while still keeping you somewhat covered up. Wedge heel sneakers keep you comfortable while still giving you a bit of height.

 

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3. A simple oversized tee and a mini are instantly chic-ified with a multi-chain necklace, a pastel oversized bag and the coolest strappy platform sandals ever. (Again, adds height, still walkable.) And how adorable are her metallic mint green toes? That color alone is enough to keep you cool.

 

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4. If you have to commute to work, this look is perfect: a sleeveless jacket worn over a crop top for the perfect peek of midriff. Yes, the heels are high, but the platform make it doable.

 

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5. If you’re a bit more of a fashion risk taker, try a mesh skirt in a pop of yellow worn under a long sports-inspired tank. Triple platform Converse balance the girly skirt and metallic crossbody.

 

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6. When you’re wearing a print dress with a look-at-me clutch, normcore sneakers are not only OK, they’re almost required.

 

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7. And when all else fails, keep the clothes simple and let your accessories do the talking.

 

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Source

“Mistresses”‘s Catherine Haena Kim Dishes On Working with Yunjin Kim and a Surprising Famous Relative

 

Summer can be a television wasteland, full of reality TV and yawn-worthy specials. But one juicy show that will keep you hooked is ABC’s hit summer series Mistresses, based on the successful UK television series of the same name. And to add to your viewing (guilty) pleasure this season is the show’s newest addition, Anna Choi, played by Korean American actress Catherine Haena Kim.

Basically, Anna is a head case who becomes a patient of psychiatrist Karen Kim (played by Yunjin Kim of Lost fame) after a failed suicide attempt. “She’s a bit lost, far from home and trying to find her way,” says Catherine of her character. “Dr. Kim swoops in and takes her under her wing.”

On preparing to play someone who no longer wanted to live, the Queens, N.Y., native says, “It was especially intense for me because I heard about Philip Seymour Hoffman’s death as I was preparing this role. It’s one of the saddest things to me when someone feels hopeless, utterly alone, or feels like they have no one to turn to for support.”

 

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As for working with a fellow Korean American actress, there seems to have been a camaraderie on set. “[Yunjin's] humble, generous and makes it all look so easy,” says Catherine. “She gave me so many valuable pointers on set and always checked in to make sure I was getting everything I needed as an acting partner. She definitely set the bar high for me, and I just tried to meet it each time.”

Here, we get a glimpse into the everyday life of the 30-year-old.

Most embarrassing moment on set: No embarrassing moments on this set, but when I booked my first big role ever, I was probably 14 and got to play Irene in my high school production of Crazy For You. I left my mic on and went to the bathroom. In a quiet, emotional scene on stage, everyone heard the “cha-ching cha-ching” sound of the paper towel dispenser after I washed my hands. At 14, I thought life was over. Ha!

Any hidden talents: I’m really good at arts and crafts, like friendship bracelets, etc.

Go-to comfort food: When I miss home, I sneak away to K-town and eat dol sot bibimbap [rice mixed with vegetables in a sizzling stone pot]. I’ll also always settle for french fries and ranch dressing.

A habit you need to break: Biting my nails

Something about you that would surprise us: I’m related to the former President of South Korea, Park Chung Hee. He’s a distant relative and maybe even by marriage, but I remember my grandparents talking about him growing up. I totally wish I had some secret number I could call a la Olivia Pope: “It’s taken care of.”

Last time you cried: Monday. I had to say goodbye to someone.

Your celebrity crush: JFK, Jr.? A man who can command a room, loves his family and roller skates down the streets of New York in an American flag bathing suit. Awesome.

 

Word or phrase you overuse: “At the end of the day …”

Go-to karaoke song: Joan Jett’s “I Love Rock N Roll.”

Pet peeve: Entitlement.

Favorite quote: I recently heard Johnny Depp say, “With any part you play, there is a certain amount of yourself in it. There has to be, otherwise it’s just not acting. It’s lying.” I think it applies to acting, life, love, everything.

Guilty pleasure I don’t feel guilty about: Staying up way too late talking to my girlfriends about absolutely nothing.

Occupation in another life: Probably a doctor … or a lawyer, right? Ha!

Current favorite song: Ingrid Michaelson’s “Girls Chase Boys.”

Someone who we’d be surprised you are friends with/follow on FB/twitter/Instagram: Vanessa Simmons. We worked together on a little project. She’s such a sweetheart.

What’s cool about being Asian: Especially if you’re first generation born in the U.S. like me, you’re hopefully lucky enough to get fully exposed to two different cultures, two languages, and two types of food. Asians are so family-oriented and community focused in a relatively selfish society. Eating is even all about sharing plates and sitting down with your whole family. We respect our elders. My grandparents helped raise me and my brother. I love that.

Scroll down for more of Catherine on Mistresses.

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Season 2 is well on its way, so if you haven’t been following, now’s the time to catch up. Mistresses airs Mondays at 10 p.m. on ABC.

Main photo by Benjo Arwas. Show photos by ABC/Eric McCandless.