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.”
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.
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.