Krista Marie Yu: An Inspiration to All Actresses

ABC’s “Dr. Ken” stars Krista Marie Yu as Molly. (ABC/Craig Sjodin)

By Ashley Glenn, Informer Media Group

The ABC family series, “Dr. Ken,” has been a big hit since its release in 2015. The show revolves around the everyday life of Dr. Ken Park, a general practitioner, and his loving family as they go through the struggles every family does. Krista Marie Yu plays their teenage daughter, Molly Park, and discusses her journey of what it’s been like coming on set and her acting career since.

“I get this excited nervousness I’ve always had, even when I was a little doing live theater,” Yu said. “I just want to do the best job that I can and to watch the way Ken and Suzy conduct themselves as professionals who can still have fun is just an amazing experience.”

After being told she would be playing the role of Molly, Yu was prepared to take on the fun and eccentric role of Molly. She finds that even though the two have their differences, there’s a lot she can relate to with her character.

“I love being Molly, I get to create the story with the rest of the cast and it’s like I’m living this dual life,” Yu said. “I get to work with all these people that I looked up to. It’s a lot of fun.”

Molly Park is your average American teenage girl with hopes and dreams of getting into college while also being obsessed with hanging out with her friends and crushing on boys at school. Molly goes through the regular growing pains of being young and still figuring out who she is.

“I grew up in the Bay area and Molly grew up very similarly. I’m a fifth generation Asian American and she’s third,” Yu said. “Of course, her ethnicity and culture define who she is but it doesn’t define her morals or any of her choices.”

The show was created, written and co-produced by Dr. Ken Jeong, who wrote the show based on his life as a doctor before becoming a standup comedian and appearances in several movies. Jeong also was recently honored with the Actor of the Year award at the 5th Annual Unforgettable Gala in November. For most, this might seem a bit intimidating, but Yu finds it a learning experience and an amazing opportunity as a fellow actor.

“It’s invigorating and I’m so lucky,” Yu said. “He is one of the hardest working people I know. He recently got Actor of the Year and when we presented it to him as a family, I was just so happy he got recognition.”

Yu discussed the pressures of being a comedian and how much pressure it can be to make people laugh. Not only does Dr. Jeong handle that pressure as the show’s lead actor but, according to Yu, he’s always active in the writer’s room, on set and then being a father at home. To Yu, he’s an admirable person to look up to. But he’s not the only one, she stated, as her whole cast has given her a learning opportunity.

“I learn something new every day, I feel like I’m more mature as an actor. I’ve grown a lot as an actor and a person as well thanks to my cast mates,” Yu said. “They teach me invaluable lessons and I hope I can one day give back to them the way they’ve given to me.”

It’s not just the cast, it’s the entire crew behind the scenes as well.

“We are one big family,” Yu said. “From the lighting crew to the Park family. They’re just an incredible group of people who know how to give a hundred and ten percent of themselves.”

In the last few years, people have grown more vocal about the lack of representation in the media. It’s become a very important topic to discuss as everyone deserves to see movies and shows that represent their lives. Dr. Ken showcases the life of a Korean-American family and has helped to add as well as be a part of diversity within the media.

“I’m proud to be on one of the two network television shows that represents Asian Americans every day,” Yu said. I think [other Asian actors] are so ready to go and the opportunities are right there. And tomorrow and next year are going to be really exciting times for diversity.”

Yu also had some words on what it’s going to be like for other Asian and Asian-American actors out there in the coming times. As the industry grows, Yu feels there will be many more opportunities for diversity and actors.

“It’s exciting to know there are parts out there that normalize these lives,” Yu said. “I’ve been told by someone I’m the only actor representing an Asian teenage girl on network TV but it’s just the beginning for the industry.”

She also had a word of advice for those seeking a career in the acting industry. As an actor herself, Yu feels she is always learning and growing from those around her; fellow actors such as Suzy Nakamura have been huge influences on Yu.

“I would say to know in your heart and never let go of that dream to be an actress. I think there are a lot of opinions and voices and there will always be that outside voice because everyone has their own opinion. Remember what yours is.” Yu said. “You will shine. Follow your dreams and don’t back down on because no one can take that dream away from you.”

For Yu, the key to successful acting has been remembering why she wanted to act in the first place, and holding true confidence in herself and her abilities.

ABC’s “Dr. Ken,” airs 8:30 p.m. (PT) Friday nights with episodes returning beginning on Dec. 30.

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