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Born in Seoul, Korea and raised in the southwest suburbs of Chicago, I was raised very traditionally where you obey your parents’ wishes no questions asked.  You’ve heard of a Tiger Mom? Well, I had Tiger Parents – actually, a Tiger Family.

I have a BA in Speech Communications, Prelaw from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign & went to grad school for a while in a Master’s program (it was a PhD prep program so you would’ve been half way through your PhD when you got done), but HATED IT! I was SOOOO miserable & wanted to just shut down. I did it for my parents because they sacrificed so much for a better life for us, and I was raised traditionally where you obey your parents’ wishes no questions asked, but after years of trying to please my parents (as well-intended as their intentions were), I just couldn’t do it anymore. I always just wanted to sing. But I was too shy as a kid, had stage fright, had no self-confidence. Moreover, my parents forbid me to major in music and told me I wasn’t good enough to pursue singing as a career, and I always believed them and obeyed them without question. But after years of doing what they wanted, and after being so miserable, I knew I had to try to sing somehow. But I knew nothing about how to start or do this.  All I knew was I wanted to sing, and I knew what it was like being so miserable working so hard for something you don’t care about, living for everybody else except for yourself & who God created you to be.

I never majored in music in school. Pursuing singing started in mid/late 20s when I saved enough money to pay for voice lessons after working normal jobs. I had “normal” jobs working at companies like Arthur Andersen, Motorola, Ameritech, and Lucent Technologies (where I met my husband in Tae Kwon Do club at Lucent so I guess God had a plan for me after all :)).  BTW, I was never athletic. Just coordinated & I’ve just always loved martial arts & always dreamed of being able to do it, especially since I’m the most nonathletic person in the world! PE was my nightmare class in school, but I luckily I am coordinated, so I had that going for me, and I just always loved the martial arts, so hey! I wanted to do it! :)).

I had an operatic voice at age of 8 years old. (I had an Annie-type voice just like many girls at that age, but I also had a whole other voice that sounded operatic & more mature than an 8 years old would have). While I was able to sing operatically since about 8 years old, I only sang at home, in my room, in the car, in the bathroom, in the closet, etc. When I got older I sang in church & school choir but no formal training. I tried drama in high school but was too shy to really do anything. (My fellow schoolmates who have found me on facebook these last couple of years have mentioned to me how they remember me being very shy.) But deep inside, I always wished I could perform even though I had NO IDEA how I was going to be able to do this.

After working in the corporate world, I saved enough money to take voice lessons & even though the voice teacher I had at the time said it was too late for me, I just started auditioning for anything & everything. I had no idea how to audition or what I was doing, but I just went anyway & tried while still working my normal job so that I can pay bills & live & also help my parents w/their bills (I was raised that children should take care of their parents).

I started with community theatre (South Pacific, The Gilbert & Sullivan Opera company) which obviously is volunteer & not paid, but I didn’t care at all because I was so happy to sing & it was fun; Did Mozart voice recitals w/my voice teacher’s students, again, this was part of my lessons so we don’t get paid for singing in voice recitals, but that doesn’t matter when you just want to sing! I got a chance to sing Mozart arias in front of people so it was great practice and experience; Did dinner theatre at Marriott Theatre in Lincolnshire which was my first big gig (Equity scale! :)) that lasted about 2 months, but in that cast, I think I may have been one of the only cast members who had a different career/ a “normal” job (aka, who was not an “official” performer yet like I saw them as but I wanted and hoped to be someday) since I was still working at Lucent Technologies full-time at the same time & worked around the clock going to and from “my regular job” and my “performing job”, but I was very happy because I had a chance to do what I loved to do, which was sing!; I did Light Opera Works a few times (got paid a total of about $200/$300 for 2 months of work, but I was VERY grateful for Light Opera Works. I still LOVED it because it was GREAT experience, and especially for someone like me who did not have any formal training or a degree in music. I was given the opportunity to sing some beautiful music!). There were quite a number of years in between gigs. I think it took about 7 years to get the next singing gig (I got married & focused on building my marriage then several years later I did a musical called Asphalt Beach at Northwestern and performed about 2 weeks & also recorded cast recording which was a lot of fun. They even paid us $75 for the cast recording! Not bad at all, and the coolest thing, especially when you were used to singing for free!   I think it took about 3-4 years to get the next singing gig which was at Ravinia. Whenever I get a chance to work, I am very grateful, so needless to say, when I got Ravinia, I thought I hit gold. I thought I was so lucky because I got to work with some amazing people where I can only dream of being at the level they were like Lonny Price, Paul Gemignani, Patti LuPone, Patrick Cassidy, George Hearn, and Anthony Foronda.

Of course all the community theatre, volunteer voice recitals & theatre once in a while were all at the same time I worked a normal job because we all have bills to pay. 

I was a must join for SAG/AFTRA (i.e., had to join in order to do the job), & even though the job paid way less than what it cost to join the unions, if this was what I hoped to be my career then, I had to join & so I was happy, and honored to join. Besides, since I had a normal job, I had the money to join. Then the decision to join AEA also made sense for various reasons.  I was fortunate to be able to get a couple of roles in a couple of films and get to work with some wonderful people I have watched on screen as a fan for years, and I was fortunate to do a few commercials, and I know while performing off and on over the years while working “my real job” like most people and actually most performers do to pay the bills, and only doing a few commercials and films may be little, but I’m thankful I finally got them.

It has been a struggle, and obviously, the thoughts of wondering whether or not I should just give this up enters my mind many times. I have questioned myself tons of times and wondered if the people who told me I wasn’t good enough or that I was too old were right and maybe I should quit. In fact, NOBODY in my family really believed in me either. They all thought maybe God wanted me to do something else at one point or another. Even I did.  After all, I’ve only sung twice somewhere in the past 10+ years. But deep in my heart, I know just how God gave me this desire in my heart, He will let me know if/when it is time to take this desire out of my heart.

For more than the past 10-15 years, I practiced singing by listening & singing to my old lesson tapes that I taped from my lessons from years ago (getting laid off, owning your own business, and having to answer and be accountable to your spouse – being the best wife I can be to my husband is my top priority –  gave way to other priorities besides taking voice lessons). I know practicing and listening to tapes doesn’t compare to actually taking lessons, but it was what I had at the time. It was better than nothing, but singing is like exercising. If you don’t use it, it can be easy to lose it.  I am very happy and grateful that now I have been able to go to a lesson if I need to, especially if there is an audition coming up and my coach and I are able to meet in time beforehand.

So here’s to getting back in vocal shape however long it takes, never giving up, & still dreaming that someday I will be who God created me to be.


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