7 - 9 minutes readRX interviews…Jacqueline Kim

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My dear xenites! Here I am with another awesome interview for you! This time, I bring you the woman responsible for playing the part of one of the most important mentors in Xena’s life: Jacqueline Kim, our eternal Lao Ma!

Interviewing Jacqueline was one of the greatest experiences in all these years I’ve been working for Revista Xenite. She’s such a charming and friendly person! And I’d like to say a big thank you to her for being so attentive 🙂

 Also, a big thanks  to Alessandro Chmiel, our warrior translator for helping me out with the Portuguese translation, which you guys can check here:


 That said, enjoy our dear Jacqueline Kim telling us about her career, her musical project This I Heard, Brazilian music and of course, her role in Xena Warrior Princess

Mary Anne: Can you tell us a bit about how you started the acting career? What came into your life first, music or acting?

Jacqueline Kim: Music came first. My sisters and I started studying piano at a very young age, like 4-5. We were also singing. I learned my first harmony in kindergarten, back in the day when there were music programs. When I think about it, I would have felt lost without art and music class. My mother also sent us to music camp in the summers. We were very lucky.

I started participating in performing on stage at the end of 6th grade (!). Eventually, I would study acting and speech at a local community theatre, which became a second home through all my secondary school years. Predominantly, I was doing musicals, but my teacher encouraged me to try ‘straight’ acting. I auditioned for two schools, a musical theatre school in Pittsburgh, PA and a drama school in Chicago, IL and I got into the school in Chicago.


MA: When it comes to acting, what’s your favorite to do – TV, theater or movies?

JK: I’d say it all depends on the writing and the people gathered to do it. Perhaps film has become my greatest affinity. I enjoy very much working with a camera and now, having gone through film school, I have more compassion/ understanding of most of the crew involved. It’s been a while since I’ve done anything big budget, so I would say that I’ve been involved in and a supporter of independent films in general.


MA: What inspired you to write “Present“? Do you see any similar project happening in the future?

JK: “Present” was possible after I earned some income on a short lived tv show, “Threshold”. I made it because I wanted to understand how to shoot on the format of film, as I was contemplating directing a feature and I wanted to know whether to work with film or video. The story was simple in my head and it had to do with this teaching ‘if you want to take care of the future, take care of the present’, which my teacher (Thich Nhat Hanh) and others like Eckhart Tolle have imparted. I don’t see myself making a similar short film in the future, but I’m currently co-writing & producing the feature film version of a short film I’m in, called Advantageous, and that takes place in the future. Here’s the link if anyone would like to check it out: www.futurestates.tv/episodes/advantageous


MA: Can you tell us about “This I Heard”? How did it get started? What musical influences do you have?

JK: This I Heard is a project/ band born out of a lot of encouragement and support from people in the buddhist community (again). I am a shy person when it comes to performing music, but I found myself at these retreats with others and songs were just being written (in me) when I was really quiet and at peace. Soon, I was asked if I would share more of my music. I wrote a song for children at the monastery I was at, who were about to take vows to protect peace and all forms of life, for instance. People liked it so much, they asked me to make a recording. So…based on many sutras, where they start with ‘thus i heard the buddha say one morning…”, the band (and its name) was born. I’d been writing songs here and there for a long time. This request gave me a good excuse to hunker down and focus and make my first ep, which I did with the help of the sound artist, Mileece.

My musical influences are wide ranging. I would say the more early are Rickie Lee Jones and Joni MItchell. But I’ve also been raised on jazz and classical music (love Keith Jarrett and Arvo Part for instance) and was hooked on pop music in my teens, growing up in Detroit. Later influences are singer-songwriters like PJ Harvey and Feist, along with great minimalists like Brian Eno and Aphex Twin. I find Little Dragon’s music to be inspiring in a whole other way, too.


MA: What instruments do you play?

JK: Piano, guitar, flute, oboe (long time ago!), and I like percussion. I have a dream to learn the mridingam, which is an Indian drum.


MA: What does the cd cover mean? It reminds me of Track 6, “Everything Changes”…

JK: The cd cover was made by an artist who specialized in very detailed drawings. I loved its harmony and precision and the depiction of the individual coming out of a beautiful whole.


MA: Would you like to come to Brazil someday? We would love having you here!

JK: Thank you! I would LOVE to come to Brazil. I’ve been invited several times but haven’t found the right time.

MA: Have you listened to any brazilian musicians?

JK: I’m smiling. I grew up on Brazil ’66 and only b/c of my cool parents. Then I had the fortune to sing with a brazilian/ blues band in early college, so we did a lot of the Mendes songs I grew up listening to. A friend in Paris was married to a brazilian lady, so when I would go over there, she would play a lot of music. I was given an album of Tim Maya, and we listened to a lot of Caetono Veloso and Gilberto Gil. My sister also introduced me to Cesaria Evora. Finally, our piano teacher growing up was brazilian, Maria Meirelles!


MA: Now about your part in Xena Warrior Princess…How did you get the role as Lao Ma?

JK: It was very simple. I was offered the part.


MA: Despite the fact Lao Ma appeared in just two episodes, she played a very important role in Xena’s story. What was it like to play a character who was the complete opposite of Xena…I mean, while Xena was all about anger, vengeance, and destruction, Lao Ma was all about peace and serenity, and yet, she had this amazing power over the Warrior Princess. How was the process of bringing Lao Ma out of the script, I mean how did you give life to the character?

JK: I think she was conceived with passion and a lot of foresight on RJ’s (the writer’s) part, which is the most important step. We spent time together, but didn’t talk too much about her. I think Lao Ma worked well for me because I understand what it’s like to live double lives. She was married to an oppressive person and not treated very well. At the same time, because of her awareness through suffering, she’d discovered a lot of freedom. I think actors live double lives, women certainly do and also being Asian American, I have been raised to translate myself through the veil of different cultures. So although Lao Ma appeared peaceful, I think, like Xena, there was fire inside. She worked very hard to keep the positive coming out and controlled her negative reactions to things because she had great motive: to sustain herself so she could be with her son (which is ironic, because he would eventually have her killed). In the end, I think Lao Ma perished because at some point in her past, she herself had wished ill on others. It’s a powerful thing, karma. 😉 

We had such great costumes, the setting in New Zealand was breathtaking, and the other actors were great fun. All of this made it compelling and easy to give life to the character. I wish it had gone on longer.

MA: Was the underwater “kissing” scene difficult to shoot?

JK: Not really. I’ve told this story a few times at cons…I think it’s a favorite. We shot the scene in a filthy jacuzzi. I think the water was cloudy for the lighting to be more effective under water. Lucy was wonderful. Just before we went under, she said, don’t bother opening your eyes in the water – I’ll find your mouth. And she most certainly did. Working with Lucy was a great experience. She works hard and made me feel comfortable from day one to work together.

MA: Do you have anything in common with the character? Are you a vegetarian like her?

JK: Sure. I believe in the power of introspection. And no, I’m not presently a vegetarian, although I believe in it deeply. I think that to sustain the entire process of meat raising and killing, we take tremendous resources away from grain production, for instance, that could sustain many more people than just the precious few. I have tried to be in the past and will probably try again.


MA: Did you get a chance to see the episodes where the twin daughters of Lao Ma appear?
JK: No! Maybe I’ll catch it on Youtube or Hulu… 

MA: Do you practice any kind of martial art, self-defense technique or yoga?
JK: I have studied Iyengar Yoga, for about 13 years and a little bit of Tae Kwon Do. I think one of the most effective self defenses (and nourishments) is awareness of the present moment.


MA: Thanks a lot, Jacqueline, your answers truly made me smile!
JK: Obregado, Mary Anne. May you be well!


To know more about This I Heard you can check the links below:

Facebook Page: http://www.facebook.com/ThisIHeard

 Buy the Cd at CdBaby: http://www.cdbaby.com/cd/thisiheard

SoundCloud: http://soundcloud.com/thisiheard




 Check other interviews:

Adrienne Wilkinson

Jennifer Sky

Renée O’Connor

Steven Sears

Theodora Roglev
English: http://www.revistaxenite.com.br/interview-theodora-roglev-aka-doccovington/


  • Titus

    OMG, she’s so cute and zen! Just like Lao Ma, but in a modern way! And it’s so great to see how much she likes our brazilian culture, I like Tropicália myself too, and I just thought how amazing it would be to hear Jacqueline Kim singing that kind of song. Thank you, Mary, Alê, Jacqueline, and everyone who helped doing this amazing interview! Btw, WHERE IS TRACK ONE? LOL Xx

  • Mary Anne

    Isn’t she? It was a pleasure. Now I’m kinda addicted to her songs. I can’t get “Everything Changes” out of my head. Obrigada, Jacqueline : )

  • ..°Pow°..

    OMG… such a Beautiful human being. I had the pleasure of meeting her at Xenacon 2012. So there I was nervous/anxious waiting to see her on stage, when she showed up and started singing “Two Promesses” playing her guitar and I was amazed by that calming and envolving voice when after a little talk she said she had a confession to make: ” I wish I was Lao Ma”… after witnessing that power she (Jacqueline) had, she made everyone in there find their inter peace… I just had to tell her that SHE IS LAO MA… and that’s what I did… when I finally got to talk to her I could say that and hug her a bear hug. Thank you Jacqueline for that moment and for sharing your light. If you ver get to read this I’m that dance teacher, maybe you’d remember me… I often play your music to my dancers, like I said I would, they love it… always at the end of the class I play so they can get back to the state of calm… Everything changes is their favorite one. Very nice to know more about you through this interview. Always sweet… I wish I can be like you when I grow up! (I’m 26 already hahah). And like you signed in our picture together I wish you the same: “Peace and strength” Much Love…


  • Chapo

    I remember being at XenaCon 2012 waiting for her appearance. I had no idea that she was a singer. And she appears with a guitar and I felt in love with her voice and her carisma.
    My God! She can’t be more sweet than that!
    Hope she remembers what we said to her: She is Lao Ma

  • Brunella França

    Absolutely lovely! A woman of many skills, for sure. Before reading this interview, I loved the character. Now, I’m in love with the person. Jacqueline Kim is amazing. And now I’m kinda addicted to her songs too!!!
    I love you Jacqueline. Thanks for all!!!

  • Mára Núbia da Silva

    Hello Jacqueline

    I would like to say I really loved to know more about your musical career and it would be really nice to have access to your work in this area. Lao Ma was a great character and what impressed me the most in your acting was that she (you) got out of the stereotypical submission and did not fall into arrogance. you were philosophical without being didactic and you were sensual without being vulgar. You passed the idea of having a power and master it to the point of not needing to exercise it.Contratulations on your acting, in which body language, facial expressions and the shine in your eyes say a lot to those who watch the show with an open heart. Thank you!

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