[TRANS] Tiffany Interview
in Pin Prestige, April 2016

“If it’s okay, can I eat while we do the interview?” asked
Tiffany Hwang, as she opened the packaging on bread.

I never thought I’d see this scene in person, so I secretly
really liked it and responded, “Ah, of course”.

I couldn’t believe that a person who always has to show a
perfect appearance in front of a camera, a woman who has an occupation that
requires her to always maintain an S line, and a woman who is called an idol,
star, and goddess by millions of fans was eating bread with jam in front of me. 

What is the big deal about watching a celebrity eating a
mini croissant?

It’s because I’ve heard so many times that many
entertainment companies require its artists to abide by a strict meal plan to
maintain their figure, and I’ve read many pre-debut photos and articles of
Tiffany that talked about how she has maintained her perfect figure.

In the past when I’ve interviewed SNSD, they were wearing
the most beautiful outfits with a perfect smile. Like a living Barbie doll, the
ladies’ beauty were almost unreal. Tiffany, who was eating bread, showed a big
difference. Her two big eyes smiles. “I really like jam. Haha.”

A Smile Hiding Unyielding Strength

The group that Tiffany is in is SNSD, and under their name they’ve
released 8 albums and performed over 100 performances, they are a one top
nation’s girl group of South Korea.

She also has 3.4 million followers on Instagram, and the single
behind cut photo that she uploaded on shooting day received 20,000 likes within
15 minutes. Her popularity alone is explosive.

10 years ago, even before debut, her dream was releasing a solo
album, with her own name on the line.

“Originally, the plan was for me to release my solo album at the
end of last year. But we delayed it to this year. The company gave me permission
to discuss this content, so I’m discussing this topic. The company said that my
album has been prepared well so it would be okay to release it but I did not
agree. It was decided that it was not yet perfect. I thought that there were areas
that were not yet perfect, so I hesitated, ‘Should I push ahead according to
the original plan or should I strive toward my thoughts and beliefs in pursuit
of perfection?’”

Before this interview, I had heard that there were changes to
her solo album plans. So I decided not to ask questions regarding her album. But
the topic came up during the interview, so I decided to probe.

“Right now, I’m pondering over the name of the album. Mmm…. The
way I view myself and the way that my fans look at me is a California girl, who
is full of warmth and sunshine. I don’t want to release the album in the
winter. Winter doesn’t suit my music. So I’m waiting for sunlight to shine
brightly. I was insistent that I want to release the album when it’s warm. This
is the biggest hint I can give, to my fans who are waiting for the album.”

While Tiffany was talking about the album that she has waited 10
years to come out, her words were full of energy, like sunlight. The way she
described herself was like that too. It was optimistic, overflowing with
energy. Her beautiful eye smile and lovable smile told me everything.

“Of course I thought about it seriously. Am I forcing myself
to smile so I can become happy? Or am I pretending to be happy? Honestly, last
year, my heart did hesitate a little. I spent almost 1 year thinking of the
conclusion. I am a happy person overflowing with energy. I love ice cream and I
love cupcakes. I love pink, this is me. Every person has a dark side. But as
long as you have a positive and optimistic heart, even if most difficult times
come, it will end.”

The outfit emphasizes the strength layered on top of her
soft and lovely features. The photographer Woo Kim wants a more serious
expression from her. For a moment, she erases her smile, and transforms into
someone who has absolute control over what she wants.

“It’s really fun. Every shot, lighting, makeup and style is
different. It’s different from photoshoots of the past. It’s a new experience because
the photographer is different from ones I’ve worked with before. I think this
is a precious experience. I’m satisfied with the photos.”  

Trying
New Things as Her All-Time Motivation                        

During the interview, Tiffany repeated
the phrase “I am attempting something new” several times. She is always hard at
work finding new opportunities.

This is only the start of her dream of
releasing an album. If she puts out an album under her own name, she alone will
receive all of the attention and stage that she previously shared with the
group. The meaning of starting anew was underlying in her words.  

“I thought of me when I was younger, my
dreams, thoughts and feelings when I first came to Korea. I was a girl from
America who had the dream of becoming a rising star in Asia. I am thankful that
I never forget that initial goal and I am still chasing that dream.”

“Recently, I went to the US on vacation,
and my brother asked me, ‘When will SNSD do a concert in North America and
South America?’ He asked me, ‘Do you remember wanting to see famous idols who
lived on the other side of the world as you?’”

“At that time, I saw many things very
clearly. More than my dreams, I found strong beliefs. When I flew to Korea at
the age of fifteen and started living there, my future was all uncertain. But I
was not scared. I think I must have been born an optimist. I can’t speak on
behalf of SNSD, but if there are people waiting somewhere, I think they will be
able to hear my/our voice and see us. It’s because they are my motivation and
source of strength.”

“Recently, I got a tattoo that says ‘dreamer’
on my finger. Korean music was the dream of my teenage years, and I am still running
toward my goals. Even though I have grown from late teens to my late twenties,
the one thing that has not changed is that I will keep dreaming. I will always
chase after my dreams.”

She has never forgotten her initial
motives and returned to the mind of a rookie, who has just debuted, and still
looking for her breakthrough. She has never sparkled more brightly than she
does now.

“I’m all about feeling things in my heart
in the moment, and creating something new. One time, I thought that I was
always showing the same aspect of me in every photo. But it’s different now. I
like new things and I started living for that. I go for walks, I drink, I watch
movies, I go for drives. I am learning how to rest, and I am smiling even more.”

(How can you go out freely when you are
famous in Korea?)

“Honestly, I go outside without makeup,
only wearing sunglasses, sport pants and sneakers. When SNSD makes official
appearances, we are well prepared from head to toe. In the past, I didn’t have
courage to meet people without high heels.”

“The last 10 years or so, I’ve been a proponent
of perfection, perfection and even more perfection. But truthfully, I am a
regular person. I love butter, and I like grains. In the past, I’ve felt like I
wasn’t doing anything. But now, I’m a bit more relaxed, so there’s nothing that
will be a problem.”

Stress Accompanying Her Course
of Maturing

If
a force is disrupted, it typically bounces off even stronger. Like a spring.
This is a good comparison to how Tiffany started her journey.

At
the age of 15, when she was barely in middle school, she participated in a competition
that picked trainees in the US. She did not make it through, but she attracted
the attention of an agent, and after that, she had an audition. She got into
the company, and became a trainee. To chase her own dreams and seize this
opportunity, she had to use all of her strength. Despite strong opposition from
her father, she did not wane, and declared that she must become a singer.

She
packed up her life in the US in a matter of 3 weeks, and she came to Korea
alone, leaving behind her only safe place, with her family. To chase her
dreams. In her words, this was the craziest choice she has made in her life so
far.

“After
hearing my father’s opinion, I was even more sure that I wanted to become a
singer. That this is what I want. How many fifteen-year-olds know what they
want? I think it’s really important to believe in yourself and to be completely
honest with yourself.”

(How were you so sure?)

“Love. I really love
music. I respect my current occupation. Showing music is a method of expression,
and it can also heal.  You can tell a story,
but you can also sing it. If you can sing a story, it’s even cooler. When you’re
heartbroken, when you say goodbye, when you feel crazy, when you make a
mistake, when you grow… You can sing these feelings, and when you hear it
through music, it feels very different. Music can touch the bottom of your
heart, and it has the ability to reach the deepest part of your soul. These
days, people share their music lists. That is really about sharing your story.
Like having a conversation.” 

“I know I love it (music
and the occupation of a singer). Love never leaves regrets and it makes you do
crazy things. I didn’t even wish for a reward (of success). But the end result
was more than what I could imagine.”

“After debuting at the
age of 18, I had already become an adult. Of course, looking back now, I know very
well that I was so immature. Growing under flashing lights and cameras gave me
incredible stress. Some things were positive and some things were negative.
Thankfully, I am still holding on to the thing that I always wanted. I still
love music and my current occupation gives me huge satisfaction.”  

“Growing up in front of
the camera gave me perseverance and patience. I learned how to accept criticism
with an open heart. It can be hard to withstand severe words from people. I
learned how to take in new challenges that include things I don’t know well, or
things beyond my control. Things that are unavoidable in this industry like
photographs, makeup, or outfits. I’m thankful that I can work with people in
different fields, and I’ve learned to maintain an open mind so we can work
together comfortably; I am thankful that I can be inspired by them. I think it’s
really awesome when we can create a breakthrough together.”

She expects a lot of
herself and imposes many limitations. She has created in herself a person who
can work even harder. Her punctual and prepared nature is definite proof that
shows her professionalism.

She believes that being
punctual is a basic manner that shows respect for other people. Today’s photo
shoot was supposed to start at 10 am but yesterday, she requested to show up 90
minutes early for makeup and styling. When I came today, she had come even
earlier than the promised time. After she finished preparations, she showed a
side of herself that was well rested and passionate. And she said (in a
friendly tone), “Now we can start!”

Investing in Time Wisely

This
is luck, and also hard work. For 3 years, Tiffany received training from SM,
one of the 3 biggest entertainment companies, and debuted as a member of SNSD
in 2007. SNSD received incredible popularity in a short period of time, and she
became famous overnight. As a star, her trajectory has extended in various
directions, with singing, MC, appearing in variety shows, and acting in
musicals.

“I
can’t deny it. I was really lucky. This luck found me in my career, so it
created good opportunities for me, and I was able to seize every opportunity.”

“I
am a person who abides by time. I spend a lot of time reviewing, and thinking
again, and I don’t think of this as a waste of time, but a form of investment.”

“There
are times when you rush things because you don’t want to lose out on an
opportunity, or because you think you’re not getting any younger. But I don’t
want to waste my time. My friends all think the same way. Especially when their
careers have met a certain peak, everyone tries desperately to find a different
exit.”

“These
days, I’ve taken a step back to think about and find what I really want. I
examine myself well and ask myself honestly. If I think I am ready and sure, I
do it. And I throw myself into what I’m doing. This must be growth. Some people
spend even more time thinking.”

“I
think of various things before I become immersed in something, and I like my current
self who takes that time. For example, when I shoot an editorial, I look at
magazines and study concepts. When I do work with certain brands, I study the
history of that brand. Or when I collaborate with a musician, I need to know
what kind of people they are. It was the same this time, when I worked together
with Singapore and Malaysia magazines for the first time.”

“It
may be that I won’t get the last opportunity. Opportunity is never guaranteed
for anyone. If it comes to me, whether it’s fast or slow, I believe that it
will find me.”

Aside
from her solo album, Tiffany has been active in fashion. In 2013, she
participated in a variety program <Fashion King Korea>, showing her
entertainment wit and excellent fashion sense through multiple challenges, and
ended up placing 3rd. 

“Fashion
has a relationship with my work that can’t be separated. Fashion is a tool that
allows me to show my music. I am also interested in acting in dramas, so I am secretly
auditioning and receiving acting lessons. I might attempt acting next year, you
never know. My personality tends to pursue perfection, so before I take in a
new challenge, it’s important for me to feel confident.”

(You’ve
performed in musicals before that require you to dance, sing and act
simultaneously, is that hard for you to do now?)

“Thank
you for the compliment. Mm… The Korean entertainment industry is very strict
toward its artists. Actors specialize in acting and singers specialize in
singing. If an artist goes into a different field, it could mean that, that artist
is not skilled in their own area of specialty. That it’s not professional. So it
tends not to end well with the media and public.”

“In
the US, it’s very common for artists to expand their careers in various
directions. A musician can incorporate a dramatic element and create a very
impressive music video. If they can sing and act, and can express a story more
effectively, there are many instances of film actors expanding into stage
acting. I would like for Korea to accept artists who are trying to attempt new
fields a bit more.”

Her Name Reflects Her True
Self

After sharing stories
with Tiffany for about 20 minutes, a staff suddenly comes in and lets her know
that there are still 5 minutes left. Tiffany hurriedly packs her things up and
kindly told me that she can respond to few more questions.

For the remaining questions,
I made her predict them. Tiffany is…

“Stephanie. I’m still the
fifteen year old me, who first came to Korea. The California sentiment is still
in my bones (she’s talking about her soul and personality that is as bright and
warm as the weather there). I still love pink, I love ice cream and I love
music.”

“I’m still into rainbows
and unicorns. (She said this in English) I’m still embracing my dreams and
holding hope. My positive energy comes out from ice cream and fashion… There
was a time when I was in a rush, but I’m barely 26, what could I be at this
age? So I’ve concluded, live in this moment. Enjoy this time that I have now.” 

As a Korean American,
Tiffany grew up in Diamond Bar, a suburb of LA. Her given name is Stephanie,
and Tiffany is a name she uses on stage, and it’s also a name that her parents
thought of giving her when she was born. Tiffany is Stephanie. It is her self,
who is now 26 years old.

I want to emphasize once
again how honest she was about herself. I have hope that she will be able to
throw away the luggage of herself as an idol and show her true potential.

Tiffany Hwang is using
time, talent and ice cream that she loves, to create the hot sparks that will
light her dreams brightly.

Korean Translation Source: DCInside