January 30, 2016 08:06
Hye-ri was just a member of K-pop girl group Girls Day until about a year ago, but after the success of her TV series "Reply 1988," she has become a force to reckon with.
Now Hye-ri commands earnings of W10 billion just from commercials (US$1=W1,206).
"When I went to audition for the role in 'Reply 1988,' the director said he was curious to see if the persona on TV is real me," Hye-ri recalls. He was referring to a reality show about military life where celebrities enter a military unit.
Hye-ri appeared in the show in 2014 and charmed viewers with her amiable disposition. "I didn't have high expectations of the audition, so I was quite relaxed. But the director heard my story and told me that what he saw on TV was what I'm really like."
Though born in 1994, Hye-ri says the world of the late 1980s where the nostalgic soap is set is not entirely foreign to her.
"I used to live in rural Gwangju when I was young, and it was similar there," she said. "I didn't know we were poor when I was little. It was natural to ask for food from next-door neighbors when you didn't have any, and it was a really close-knit community, so I didn't find playing the part odd at all."
Perhaps because of that background, Hye-ri saved up diligently since she debuted with Girls Day in 2011, and has now found a nice apartment for her family. "I didn't care about looking stupid or ugly in 'Reply 1988'," she says.
She meticulously planned how ridiculous she should look and act and how loudly to project her voice, and studied old-fashioned hairstyles and makeup from the era. "I thought when I need to look ugly, I should do it right, because otherwise viewers wouldn't be able to connect with the drama. In any case I had to nothing to lose."
Lately she has only managed to sleep three to five hours a night due to her tight schedule, but she was still one of the liveliest people in the cast. She even kept her diary every day, a habit she started a year after her debut because she realized she did not remember anything in the showbiz whirl.
Already she has filled five notebooks, mostly reflecting on her performances "This is all possible because I keep my physical stamina high. I think staying strong and healthy is the most important thing in my job."
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