An American girl who recently appeared on South Korean TV has embarked on the grueling journey of becoming a K-pop idol.
Maria, 17, fell in love with K-pop after listening to EXO’s “Call Me Baby” a few years ago.
“The first K-Pop song I listened to was EXO’s ‘Call Me Baby.’ It drew me in because it was upbeat and made me want to dance!” she told Allkpop in a new interview.
Soon, she found herself immersed in Korean culture, learning the Korean language all by herself.
“I love the Korean language and culture, so I have self-taught myself Korean via the internet for 2 years. I am conversational and nearly fluent in the language.”
Maria currently attends a training academy called Born Star in Seoul, where she spends most of her time.
She also auditions for entertainment companies.
“I like to busk in the streets of Hongdae once in a while. But most of my time is spent at the academy.”
Maria, who describes her artistic style as “fun, young and charming,” appeared on South Korean TV for the first time last month.
She was on JTBC’s “Hidden Singer,” a variety music show that pits pop stars and impersonators in a voice-only contest.
“‘Hidden Singer’ was very exciting because I was able to meet PSY sunbaenim in real life, and appeared on Korean television for the first time!” Maria recalled the experience.
Maria is only one of the increasing number of non-Asian hopefuls in K-pop.
She appears to take the traditional route to the industry, contrary to experimental acts such as EXP Edition.
For now, Maria strives to develop her talents — one of which is the whistle register.
She tells others to believe in themselves.
“Follow your dream, but more important than that, you have to believe in yourself. Faith and desire is the key.”
Watch Maria’s cover of 15&’s “I Dream” below: