[Herald Interview] After 14 years, actress Go Ara has only just begun

By Rumy Doo

The spirited performer takes acting lessons again for the second phase of her career

  • Published : Feb 23, 2017 - 16:12
  • Updated : Feb 23, 2017 - 16:26

Go Ara’s breakthrough came in 2013, when she starred in the nostalgic drama series “Reply 1994.” Forgoing her previously pristine look, she cut her hair in a frizzy bob to portray the spunky university student Sung Na-jung, in a performance for which Go nabbed praise both critically and with viewers.

The role, to a certain extent, enabled the actress to break free from the prejudice that she was “too pretty” to embody diverse characters, which is in fact her ultimate goal, Go said at an interview Wednesday at a cafe in Seoul.

Most recently, Go, 27, starred in the fusion period drama “Hwarang: The Poet Warrior Youth.” The series, which ended its run Tuesday, left her with much to think about.

“I am never completely satisfied with my performances,” she said, dressed comfortably in a baggy turtleneck. “It’s the same for this show. I still have so much to learn.”

And though the series, which streamed simultaneously on Chinese sites Yukou and Tudou, ended with meager ratings here, it was a “memorable” experience, she said.

Go Ara poses for a photo before an interview at a cafe in Gangnam on Wednesday. (Artist Company)

Go debuted in 2003 at the age of 13 after winning a model contest held by her former label S.M. Entertainment. She has been acting ever since, graduating from Chung-Ang University’s renowned drama program. But only now, 14 years after her debut, does Go feel that her career is beginning.

She recently started taking acting lessons again -- voluntarily. “I think it’s important to keep conversing with people in the acting profession -- teachers, fellow actors,” she said. “The veteran actors at our company have given me so much advice,” said Go, who moved to the label Artist Company this January.

Go says she tries to soak in experiences as part of education for her craft. “When you travel and see new places and meet new people, it’s a form of learning.” 

Go Ara poses for a photo before an interview at a cafe in Gangnam on Wednesday. (Artist Company)

“Hwarang” is a highly fantasized period piece set during the Silla Kingdom (57 BC-935 AD) and tells the story of hwarang, an elite group of male youths who were educated in cultural, religious and academic studies and also highly trained in the art of archery. 

Go plays a spirited young woman who, born to a nobleman and a low-class woman, is unable to fully belong to any group and strives to overcome the limits of class, all the while romantically pursued by two suitors.

Though Go was one of the few female cast members on set, she said she never felt left out.

“I’m not shy. Because it’s a period piece, there were many scenes where we had to film in rural areas and fields. But I adjust really well anywhere, so it was a fun set.”

The actress is sprightly, eager to learn and “open to all different kinds of people,” she said.

“I think meeting people has to be like reading scripts. You have to be open to all ideas and emotions and try to understand them all.”

By Rumy Doo (doo@heraldcorp.com)