Soyon An, the Korean American costume designer who won her first Emmy at only 27 years old, opened up about her journey to creative success and how her parents were originally disappointed with her career path.
An impressive portfolio: As a three-time Emmy Award-winning costume designer and celebrity stylist, An’s works appeared on a number of stars and in hit shows.
- Her designs for the reality show “So You Think You Can Dance” landed An her first Emmy for the “Outstanding Costumes for a Variety/Music Program or special” category in 2009. She also won in this category in 2010.
- She was later named the winner of the “Outstanding Costume Design/Styling for a Drama or Daytime Fiction Program” award for her work in the Netflix series “Julie and the Phantoms” at the 2021 Emmys.
- An has worked on “Next in Fashion,” “Hocus Pocus 25th Anniversary Halloween Bash,” “Jem and the Holograms,” “Step Up: All In” and “American Idol.”
- In addition, she has styled and designed pieces for celebrities like Taylor Swift, Mariah Carey, Jennifer Lopez, Cher Lloyd, Selena Gomez, Pink, Carrie Underwood, Kate Bosworth, Avril Lavigne, Becky G and Fifth Harmony. Her work has also been featured in the magazines, Glamour, People, Seventeen, Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) and InStyle.
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How it started: The costume designer told NextShark in an exclusive interview that she didn’t know costume design was a career choice. It was through chance that she “stumbled” on an assistant stylist opportunity in college and “learned that the celebrities and people you see on your TV don’t dress themselves.”
- She began working in the industry at 19 years old after attending the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM) and the Otis College of Art and Design.
- At 24, she became the costume designer for the “So You Think You Can Dance” tour.
- An takes inspiration from her travels, the different cultures she has experienced and the people she has met.
- “I want to be unnoticeably noticed. I want my pieces to tell a story, without being in your face. I feel like costume design is such a visual art that when mixed with actors’ performances, it should pull at your heartstrings because you get to see these characters fully come to life. I want you to feel their happiness, sadness, excitement, anger, everything,” she said.
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Diversity in the industry: In regards to the lack of AAPI representation in Hollywood, An stated that there needs to be more education for our youth and our parents.
- “In our community, we have to get rid of the idea that you can’t achieve your creative dreams or that you can’t make a living from unconventional career paths,” she said.
- An was expected to go into law or medicine and her parents were disappointed when she chose to go into art and fashion. They opened their eyes once she won awards as a costume designer and showed that she could make a living from the career she continues to be passionate about.
- The next step, she said, is to “help educate and inspire the youth to not be scared of freelance or getting into these creative jobs.”
- She wants to see more of the AAPI community support the design industry.