Reel Asian Interview: Rosalina Leigh of SEOUL SEARCHING

Image courtesy of Reel Asian
Image courtesy of Reel Asian

Before the screening of Seoul Searching as the closing film at the Toronto Reel Asian International Film Festival (Reel Asian), I was lucky enough to meet up with the lovely Rosalina Leigh for a coffee interview. Rosalina plays Kris Schultz (I’ll let her introduce the character) in the film. Keep reading to hear what she had to say.

The Interview

Can you please introduce yourself to our readers?

Yep, my name is Rosalina Leigh and I’m an actress from the movie Seoul Searching.

So you play Kris Schultz in Seoul Searching.

Yep.

Can you tell us a little bit about the character?

So following like 80’s TV clichés and tropes, she’s a heavy metal rocker. She’s a little bit of the outsider in the group because she was actually adopted by a Caucasian family when she was a baby so she comes back to Korea for the first time to learn anything about her culture and with the help of a friend, she goes in search of her birth mother.

I saw your audition video on YouTube, what made you want to try out for the part of Kris?

Yeah, well I just decided I wanted to start acting and my dad actually saw the audition call in the newspaper, the Korean newspaper, and he said ‘why don’t you try this out and if you really like acting.’ Kris Schultz, from the get go, her character seemed the most relatable to me and I think anyone who was a teenager once can relate to that kind of feeling uncomfortable in yourself and not really being, like feeling like an outsider. She just spoke a lot to me.

There aren’t a lot of Asian American or Asian Canadian films, so why do you think films like Seoul Searching are important for North Americans to see?

Well, I think it’s important because there’s such a large population of people in America and Canada that are of Asian descent and it’s not represented at all in mainstream media. I think what’s great about Seoul Searching is that it has an all-Asian cast, it’s in English and just everything that happens in the movie and all the lessons; they’re very relatable to you regardless of what country you’re from.

What was your favourite scene in the film?

Wow, that’s a hard one. [laughter] I think the ending scene is really great. I don’t know if that would be spoiling the movie but you know, the clichés of the 80’s, you know the guy doesn’t have the chance to say I love you before the girl leaves so he starts running after her. That was definitely a funny scene. If you watch it, I don’t know if I can explain it because I don’t want to ruin it for you.

Speaking of 80’s film clichés, you obviously are old enough to have watched them in the 80’s but have you watched any John Hughes films like The Breakfast Club?

Yeah, I watched The Breakfast Club for this movie, I hadn’t watched it before but I have watched a couple of 80’s films, probably not as much as the director because he really loves John Hughes films. Other ones I watched are Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Ferris Bueller’s Day Off. They’re great, they’re relatable in any decade so they were fun to watch.

Seoul Searching was your first acting job, did filming it spark a passion in you and will we be seeing you in other films?

I definitely hope so; I’m going to continue trying. Yeah, I really enjoy acting and Seoul Searching was a great first way to experience everything about it. You know it was filmed overseas and right off the bat you’re totally immersed in everything. To be on location and filming a full feature like the film, I’m very fortunate to have gotten such an amazing experience on my first one. It definitely continued the spark of acting in me.

Excellent. People are always curious what it’s like to be on set, can you tell us any funny stories or interesting things that happened on set?

Yeah, to be honest, a lot of time on set is spent waiting around. You know, they want to have you around and ready in case they get through everybody else’s scenes but it doesn’t always happen so a lot of us just sat there with our phones most of the time. But I know there was this one moment in filming the movie that I really felt like ‘wow, I’m filming a movie, I’m an actress.’ It was a really hot day and we were filming outside and I had this huge 80’s hair and this one girl is kind of lifting it and fanning me in the back while this other girl is touching up my makeup and this other girl is fanning me too. I was like, wow. [laughter] I feel like a star. Great moment.

Seoul Searching premiered at Sundance, it’s played at other film festivals and it’s the closing film for Reel Asian, what’s it like attending the festivals and seeing the film you’re in playing there?

It’s really fun. First of all, I get to visit all these different places; I’ve also gone to New York and L.A. for their film festivals. Sundance was an amazing one to start with because I got to run into such big names there. With every festival, what I think is great is the reception to the movie, it’s really been pretty positive. We always get, the director’s pretty good, he’s all about riling up the audience and get them to do the wave before the movie starts. Yeah, it’s been great. It’s the kind of movie you can cheer for and get into like that.

So when you’re not acting you’re a university student, what was it like returning to school after filming?

Actually I haven’t returned to school yet. I was at school and then I went to film it but I’m actually still taking time off, I’m working. I’ve always had this notion that school will always be there for me but I want to try acting right now while I’m still young. I feel like school is always an option for me.

Finally, is there anything you’d like to share with our readers about the film?

I would say, don’t let the 80’s and all-Asian cast make you think that you can’t relate to it because it’s a coming of age, teenaged film. I feel like anyone can relate to, you know, teenagers finding out about love and finding out about themselves and it’s really relatable to anyone.

Okay, thank you very much for your time.

Thank you for coming here.

Final Thoughts

It was lovely chatting with Rosalina and her character in the film, Kris was one of my favourites (and one of the ones that made me cry). If you have the chance, check out Seoul Searching, it’s a fun, funny and at times poignant coming of age film set in the 80’s (with a fantastic soundtrack).

Cindy Zimmer

Live life to the fullest everyday – this is a the philosophy I try to live by and it’s taken me on many adventures. I write about Korean culture from a non-Korean perspective as the editor/founder of ATK Magazine and I’m the Chair of the Board of Directors of the Toronto Korean Film Festival (TKFF). Previously, I ran a Korean-English language exchange group (in Toronto) for 3 years to stay connected to my three years living in Korea as an English teacher. I love music, film, food and sports and write about 3 of the 4.

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