Julie Shin is an exceptional addition to the acting community in New York City. Born in South Korea, but with additional Australian citizenship, the sought after actress has worked on a plethora of movie projects since starting her career at the New York University Tisch School of the Arts, to commit her life to storytelling. Aside from acting, Julie is an incredible screenplay writer, where she finds joy in telling emotional stories built around personal knowledge and experiences. Since she was 16, Julie started to write poetry and developed her distinct voice to contextualize her upbringing with English Korean accounts. Her ability to see / write others and herself radiates a certain transcending experience for a grand audience. We caught up with Julie to chat about all things: movie magic and more!
Welcome Julie! What are some of your early acting experiences?
I was placed in the Playwrights Horizons Theater School for two years as a Tisch undergraduate. I can still vividly recall a moment where one of my greatest acting mentors Jedidiah Schultz had our class perform a “I want, need, am” monologue where we were told to envision a character that resembled us and list out a number of given circumstances that starts with a “I want, need or am” statements. I think this was around the time when my homesickness started to trickle in, and I choked up from confessing that “I want[ed] to go home.” But it was also this moment where I felt the most emotionally vulnerable in front of an audience and the freedom to let go of the walls that I built up. That gift of experiencing my existence for purely who I was helped me understand the importance of finding the balance between vulnerability and staying grounded as an actor.
And I didn’t run away. I didn’t go home. In fact, I refused to go back. I kept going, fought battles with my loneliness, and continued to become the artist I knew I could be. After my two years of primary training, I transitioned to becoming a resident artist at Stonestreet Studios, a film and TV acting conservative, and gained constant screen acting training with fellow Tisch collaborators. I remember being on a film production set for the first time where I acted out a scene from Greta Gerwig’s film “Frances Ha.” The joy of creating lights rigs that emulated a subway inside of a small studio, sitting side-by-side to another actor and going over lines, checking frames, and everything in between served as powerful evidence to me that I was doing something right; I never felt this kind of overwhelming fulfilment. How could I say no to this path?
Congratulations on the project ‘All I Wanted To Say Was’ – can you tell us about it?
Yes so, this movie is about a young girl, soaking in loneliness from moving to New York, who reunites with her mother visiting from South Korea to face the gravity of their broken relationship. The role I play is Sul. She is our lead in the movie and a character strongly rooted from my personal experiences of coming to an entirely new country/city without any family members or established relationships with people.
When I arrived to NY I was truly alone and as much as I thought I could do it, it was harder than I thought it was. In the midst of dealing with this lingering loneliness, I missed my mother and the subtle ways she took care of me when I lived with her. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that the past hurt that always seemed to get in the way of our relationship faded entirely.
I talked about this complex relationship between a mother and daughter with my friends too and I realized how strongly a lot of people could resonate with this feeling of being stuck in between wanting to be better but simultaneously struggling to get out of this habitual cycle of hurt. I think that with both my lived experience and my friends’ experiences, I was able to truly invest myself in a character that embodied a wider community’s experiences from what it means to be a daughter.
I actually wrote this movie. I came up with this concept for the film on my flight back from Houston to New York where I suddenly had this burning urge to make a film with a story that would touch multitudes of hearts. After dedicating significant hours to writing this project, I started to recruit my filmmaking crew as a director and cast myself for the lead role, Sul. It took months to develop, package, pitch, produce, and finally shoot. But that overall experience I gave to myself was truly one of my biggest, proudest accomplishments of 2023.
With all that in mind, did you have to prepare much for the role?
From this project, I realized that curating playlists help significantly when I am trying to build a character for myself. Since this project was a Korean/English piece, I remember adding songs like “Adult” from artist Sondia or K-pop band SHINee’s “Selene 6.23” that emphasize the struggles of growing up and falling apart from relationships. I think with memorization, the lines gradually grew on me because I was the writer of this project as well so I committed a lot of my preparation time to study the variations of subtext that I could play with for the character.
Where did you choose to film the movie?
This project was shot entirely in New York, but we had various filming locations within the area. On our first day, we headed over to Murray Hill, Flushing to shoot at a Korean restaurant called Googong Tan, we went over to May Wah Fast Food in Chinatown, shot across the city from subway shoots to Long Island City for the montage scenes. We also shot the apartment and bathroom scenes at my place, and I think it made them all the more intimate for me in terms of my acting.
If you weren’t into acting what else would you be doing?
If acting wasn’t the medium that I’d be a part of, I think I would be a fiction writer, film photographer, and would commit to starting a business that encapsulates Korean traditional clothing with modern technology. I do at some point in my life want to also start a company that connects filmmakers from across the world in one platform in hopes to encourage the spread of diverse creatives collaborating with their talents for international co-productions.
We love that! What’s the best way to follow you online?