For breakout star Gia Kim, acting is both a passion and a vehicle for global change. “When I think about my role models,” Kim says, “they have always been people who used their status and influence to do good.” Growing up in Seoul, Kim knew she “wanted to use art as a medium to inspire others” and dreamt of becoming a director or actor. But after a period of reflection, she veered toward journalism.
While working as a reporter was fulfilling in many ways, in her mid-twenties, Kim realized that putting aside her true passion for something more “sensible” was setting her on the wrong path. “I realized I couldn’t keep putting off what my heart and soul felt like it needed and wanted to do,” the now-30-year-old says. And this sentiment rings just as true for her character Yuri Kim, the closeted queen bee of Netflix’s global hit series XO, Kitty.
Although Yuri may seem like your typical mean girl, her story subverts the trope commonly seen in Korean dramas as she struggles to balance being the perfect daughter with wanting to be seen and loved for who she really is: a queer woman. As ruthless as she can be, Yuri is also vulnerable and cares deeply about her mother’s opinion—something Kim relates to.
“I’ve definitely had my own struggles with finding my voice and standing up for myself in what I truly want and who I want to be,” Kim says, “especially when it comes to family and the people who I love the most.”
Many viewers also see themselves reflected in Yuri’s journey and experiences. Kim’s response? “This is the whole reason I do my job. This is what I’m meant to do.” Despite the overwhelmingly positive reaction to XO, Kitty, Kim doesn’t let the praise go to her head. While some might get lost in the glitz and glam of the entertainment industry, Kim says, “I don’t take my responsibility as an actor lightly.” She is acutely aware that “we take on a lot of subconscious and conscious beliefs from media and what we consume, especially during our formative years.” With this in mind, she plays Yuri with the ambition to ensure that young viewers today are exposed to romantic queer storylines early on, and to help create a world where “no one is marginalized.”
Photography Henry Kornaros
Fashion Emma Oleck
Makeup Tomoyo Shionome using TARTE COSMETICS
Hair Leonardo Manetti (SEE Management)
Manicure Candice Idehen (Statement Artists)
Photo assistants Tatum Dorrell, Garrison Block
Stylist assistants Natalie Cohen, Fabrice Laguerre
Makeup assistant Shoko Kodama
Hair assistant Mimi Romero