Drew Theatre Alum Makes Professional Debut in New York City
Michelle Heera Kim C’16 stars in Chisa Hutchinson’s “Somebody’s Daughter.”
June 2017 – The seed to Michelle Heera Kim landing a key role in a Chisa Hutchinson play in New York City was planted during Kim’s senior year at Drew University.
In the spring of 2016, Kim met Hutchinson on campus after the playwright wrote “New World Disorder” for the senior capstone production. Kim was cast as Kimber—a digital security specialist in a post-apocalyptic society—and got to know Hutchinson while preparing for the production.
Flash forward a year and Kim is starring in another Hutchinson play, “Somebody’s Daughter,” at the Second Stage Theater in New York. Kim said her senior experience was “pivotal” to landing the part of Alex Chan, a teenager who goes to extremes to get her mother’s attention. In an interview with Drew.edu, the Los Angeles-based actress reflects on her professional debut and the professors who inspired her.
What attracted you to the role of Alex Chan?
Her journey is beautiful and captivating. She starts off as this super shy and tentative girl and over the course of the play, truly finds herself and figures out who she is. I also think that it’s so important that she’s a Chinese-American girl, and that’s an integral part of her identity. The show is about her family and her guidance counselor, who is also Chinese-American. It is so difficult to find stories about Asian Americans that put them at the forefront, so it meant a lot to me.
Did working with playwright Chisa Hutchinson at Drew open the door to landing this role?
My experience working on that show and meeting Chisa was pivotal. If we hadn’t met or she hadn’t seen me work, I don’t think I would be where I am today.
What’s it like to act on stage in New York City?
This whole experience has been a whirlwind. It has been fast-paced and exciting and new, but the entire process has been super smooth and everyone has been amazing to work with.
As an undergraduate, what did you learn about the craft and business that helps you now?
The acting classes—taught by Chris Ceraso—really helped in molding me as an actor. I came in as a freshman with some experience in theatre from high school, but those acting classes were my form of training and I learned a lot.
Who were your mentors and what made them stand out?
Lisa Brenner and Rodney Gilbert. They both introduced me to Chisa, and separately, they helped in guiding and preparing me for life after graduation.
Lisa is the reason I interned at the National Asian American Theatre Company, which was an amazing experience—working in New York theatre. She also had us do a theatre manifesto our junior year, which led to a lot of self-discovery about what kind of theatre I wanted to see and do.
Rodney was my director for “New World Disorder” as well as my professor. He always instilled in us the importance of the work. He always says, “It’s about the work,” and that idea has never strayed for me.
What do you hope to do next?
I would love to continue working as an actor—that’s the main goal. I have no clue what the world has in store for me, but I can only hope for the best.