Tina Jung is an award-winning Korean-Canadian actor, writer, and producer born in South Korea to parents who were actors themselves. Tina grew up being inspired by their work and wanted to pursue a career in this field for as long as she could remember. With a passion for performing throughout her life, she starred in every play in school and community theatre, and danced for over 10 years learning jazz, tap and ballet. This path led her to theatre school where she graduated with a BFA from the Acting Conservatory at York University. Tina is the recipient of the Performing Arts Award and Award in Acting from York University, as well as the Sandra Oh Acting Award through the Korean Canadian Scholarship Foundation.
After graduating with a theatre degree, Tina made the transition to television and film landing her first on-screen role in FX’s MAN SEEKING WOMEN starring alongside Jay Baruchel. To date, Tina has amassed a significant body of work including SUITS (USA), IN CONTEMPT (BET), KIM’S CONVENIENCE (CBC), THE GOOD WITCH (HALLMARK), THE EXPANSE (SYFY), MAKE IT POP (NICKELODEON) NO SLEEP ‘TIL CHRISTMAS FREEFORM), and JIGSAW (LIONSGATE). She has also co-written, co-produced, and co- starred in the short film MEETING MOMMY which has screened in notable film festivals including ReelWorld Film Festival, Reel Asian Film Festival, Asians on Film, The Oxford Film Festival and NBCUniversal Short Film Festival, where it made it to semifinalist.
Most recently, Tina stars as Debra in the new captivating feature film QUEEN OF THE MORNING CALM. The official premiere date is set for Friday, May 29 at 9:30pm on Super Channel’s Fuse. You can also subscribe through Amazon and Apple TV.
We had the opportunity to chat with Tina about Queen Of The Morning Calm, her role and what she learned along the way.
Kat: You play the role of 29-year-old immigrant sex worker Debra, who with her self-aware 10-year-old daughter Mona, embark on a journey of emancipation. Debra attempts to escape cycles of abuse and poverty while learning to become a more nurturing mother and discovering her own self-worth. How did you prepare for your role? Did you find any commonalities between yourself and Debra?
Tina: Queen of the Morning Calm was written, directed and produced by the wonderful Gloria Kim. It took her 12 years to write the script so I knew going into production that I wanted to make sure I would give everything I got into bringing Debra to life. To prepare for the role I did my own research from reading about the sex work industry to visiting strip clubs to chat with the dancers and taking pole dancing classes to embody the physicality of the character. I then started to write journal entries as Debra to make the process more personal. To make your character as authentic as possible, you have to find the similarities between you and the role. I found that the more I began to peel the layers of the character, there were a lot of commonalities between myself and Debra. Going through a personal journey of finding self-love was a big one.
Kat: Was there anything about your role that was particularly challenging?
Tina: The more mature scenes between Debra and Sarge and the club scenes were the most challenging. Since we didn’t have a specific intimacy director for them, we had to make sure that we were choreographing the scenes in a safe way that we all agreed on. I’ve never done scenes like this before so it was a first in terms of learning the process behind that when dealing with more mature scenes. Everything is calculated and done by beat and communication is key in making sure it is first and foremost safe and comfortable for all.
Kat: What have been some of your favorite scenes to shoot and why?
Tina: It’s hard to pick specific scenes as they were all eventful and special to shoot but I will say the more memorable moments were working with Eponine Lee and Jesse LaVercombe. Eponine plays Mona, Debra’s too-smart-for-her-own-age daughter. She is such a sweet and talented actor and she is incredibly professional and brings such positive energy to the set. We had great chemistry together as mother-daughter and each scene was as authentic as it could have been as Debra and Mona. With Jesse who plays Sarge, although our scenes together are more intense and dark, in between takes was complete opposite and we shared a lot of jokes and laughs that really brightened up the mood. Jesse is very funny and made me laugh a lot off camera which I appreciated.
Kat: What do you hope fans take away from the film?
Tina: The film deals with topics of abusive relationships and addictions but with that the overall message of the story is about survival and learning to trust yourself in becoming the hero in your own story. There are many messages from this film like self-love, self-respect, gaining courage and finding your voice.
Kat: Is there a type of character that you’d like to portray, that you haven’t had the chance to yet?
Tina: I’ve been lucky to play various types of characters throughout my career so far but given the chance I would love to do a spy-action-thriller. I enjoy that genre and have always dreamed of playing a strong kick-ass female lead as such. Also, playing a fantasy-action character like a vampire or a witch would be cool. I get excited just by talking about it!
You can connect with Tina on Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tina_jung