After auditioning for the role several times in the past, Korean actress Sophie Kim is finally playing Mary Robert in the musical “Sister Act”, which opened in Singapore on Tuesday.
Born Kim So Hyang in Seoul, she is the very first Asian to be cast in the role in the American production adapted from the 1992 comedy of the same name starring Whoopi Goldberg.
“Mary Robert has been my dream since forever,” the 36-year-old actress told AsiaOne. “As soon as I saw it [Sister Act], I really want to be a part [of it]. I went for a lot of auditions for this role, but the role has never been taken by Asian before. That’s why it’s a really big dream for me.”
Kim said she was urged by her agent to audition for Mary Robert when casting calls opened. Winning the role, however, had not been a smooth journey for the actress, who could not speak English when she first arrived in New York in 2011.
Sure, she learned how to act and sing thanks to her mother, who sparked her interest after taking her to theater shows from an early age. But doing both in a different language in a different country?
Kim spent 10 years performing locally until she found the need to learn more and moved to the U.S. Soon, she found herself studying in the New York Film Academy, which saw her struggles of building a career in an uncharted territory. “I cried a lot. I cried every single day,” she recalled.
She woke up at 6 a.m. everyday to memorize lyrics and the script. The routine turned her into what she called a “theater nerd.”
As per the NYFA, Kim performed “Mamma Mia”, “Dreamgirls”, “Fame”, “West Side Story” and “Wedding Singer” while in Korea. Eventually, she took on “Miss Saigon”, “The King and I”, “Oliver”, “Spool Girl” and “Month Club”, among others.
Interestingly, Kim resonates with the current role she’s playing, who remains reserved before meeting Deloris Van Cartier, the main character, who inspires her to discover her true self and stand up for her beliefs.
“Mary Robert is just like me in the US. I obeyed what people told me is right to do. But like her in the show, I am gaining confidence and becoming braver in the US,” Kim said.
“Sister Act” runs until May 28 at the MasterCard Theaters in Marina Bay Sands, Singapore.
Feature Image via New York Film Academy, “Sister Act” in Singapore