[HERALD INTERVIEW] `It`s Choi Sung-hee, not Bada`

2010-04-04 03:31

K-pop diva Bada is famous for choosing her words carefully in interviews. But she is different now.
The member of the former girl band S.E.S kept on talking and talking -- until even her manager told her it was time to finish the interview and rehearse before the show began.
The singer is currently playing the lead role, Esmeralda -- a seductive but unfortunate gypsy -- in the Korean rendition of the French musical "Notre Dame de Paris." And she had much to say about her new career as a musical actress.
"I want to let my brand `Bada` go. It is time to show the real me, as the actress Choi Sung-hee," said Bada, referring to her real name.
"If I lived my life as a brand called `Bada` until now, I don`t want to make that happen again. I want people to remember me as `Choi Sung-hee,` not the luxurious and glittering image of `Bada` on the stage," said the 29-year-old in an interview with The Korea Herald.
Acting on the stage was what she wanted to do even before she debuted as a pop singer in 1997. She led the three-girl group S.E.S for six years, but she began a solo career in 2003.
<**1>When she was recruited to the girl band, Choi was studying drama at Anyang High School of Arts. It was Lee Soo-man, head of SM Entertainment, who saw her singing at the school`s annual festival and asked her to train as a pop singer. Although it wasn`t exactly what she wanted to do, she took the offer because the company promised to provide her with a living and pay for her university tuition.
"I was only 13 when my father`s business went into bankruptcy, There was nothing I could do about it. But I kept on dreaming while singing and dancing all alone. I didn`t let my dream go," she said.
It took more than ten years for her to play on the stage as an actress, even though she had considerable success as pop singer.
"For a long time, I encouraged myself, saying `I am an actress acting like a singer, and I should be a real actress some day,` Last year was the right year for me. I was totally ready to be on stage as an actress," Choi said.
She said she felt destined to play the role of Esmeralda in the musical based on the novel "The Hunchback of Notre Dame," recollecting her memory of a local church where she lived for six years.
"I lived at a local Catholic church for six years because my family didn`t have a place to live after my father`s business failed. The church was the new home for us as my dad took a managing job there," she said.
The backyard of the church was her favorite place, where she spent the entire afternoon dancing and singing.
"I don`t think that life in the church was miserable. Rather it was a very meaningful time for me because it taught me how to take a look into the bright side of the world," said Choi who is playing Esmeralda four times a week in the musical.
"Notre Dame de Paris" is one of the most successful French musicals, having drawn more than 10 million theatergoers around the world since its premiere in 1998. Korea is the first country in Asia and the fifth in the world -- after Britain, Italy, Russia and Spain -- to transform the French musical into a local version.
Before "Notre Dame," Choi performed in another musical, "Tell Me on a Sunday." She took the role of a young British woman exploring love in New York City and Hollywood in the Korean version of the Broadway musical.
Asked on the difference she feels between being a singer and an actress, she said: "It is really difficult to show all of myself in just four minutes on the stage singing. But I feel more comfortable when acting because I have enough time to reveal my inner self and share my feelings with the audience."
By Cho Chung-un
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