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[Herald Interview] Jeong Sun-ah reflects on return to stage after becoming a mom

By Park Ga-young

Published : Feb. 8, 2024 - 15:21

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Musical actor Jeong Sun-ah (Palmtree Island) Musical actor Jeong Sun-ah (Palmtree Island)

Musical actor Jeong Sun-ah burst into tears as she was declared the best lead actor at the Korean Musical Awards on Jan. 15 for her performance in “If/then.”

The award came after a turbulent two years for the actor, who recently became a mom, and harbored doubts over whether she could return to the stage.

"Even as I get older, (and as I became a mom), I wanted to prove that with effort, it's possible to (improve),” Jeong, 39, told reporters during an interview on Jan. 30.

Jeong, whose child is 20 months old, said that the changes of pregnancy were something she had never experienced before.

Jeong said her wrists hurt so much she couldn't even hold chopsticks.

"Memorizing lines wasn't easy, either. After the full rehearsals, I would practice all night in a designated space. I received a lot of help from my family and my manager,” she said.

Jeong's manager of five years would practice with her day and night.

With some help and her own efforts, Jeong returned to the stage with “If/then,” the Korean premier that ran from December 2022 to February 2023. She also appeared in “Memphis” as Felicia Farrell for three months from July 20 to Oct. 22, 2023. "Memphis" received five awards including the Best Big Production award and the Ensemble award.

From Dec. 6 to March 3, Jeong is starring as Mina in “Dracula,” marking her return to the role after 10 years.

“Ten years ago, I couldn't understand Mina's love and emotions as she left her fiance for Dracula. Now, with age comes depth, and it seems like the more I know, the more I see. Ten years ago, Mina was raw, but now she's seasoned,” she spoke of her character.

After becoming a mom, Jeong said she experienced a psychological transformation.

"Before, I lived only for myself. It was all about my voice management, my condition, me, me, me. When I rested, I would sleep deeply and wake up late to exercise. Now, even on my days off, I wake up early in the morning. I make an effort to spend a lot of time with my child, even going to kids' cafes. That's why I work even harder at exercising and try to increase my stamina,” she said.

Jeong said she wants to be a good example for younger actors, just like how she was inspired by Choi Jung-won, a musical actor with a 35-year career. Jeong met Choi during her work in “Memphis." “(Choi) is so humble, full of love, and takes care of others so well. I felt strongly that I should give good energy to those around me,” Jeong said.

Since her debut as Mimi in “Rent” in 2002 during her high school years, Jeong has appeared in numerous musicals including “Dreamgirls,” “Jekyll and Hyde,” “Aida,” “Evita,” “Dracula,” “Gwanghwamun Sonata,” “Wicked,” “Kinky Boots,” “Death Note,” “Anna Karenina” and “The Bodyguard.”

Jeong Sun-ah as Mina in the musical, Jeong Sun-ah as Mina in the musical, "Dracula" (OD Company)