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Around a year after I booked my first acting job, I finally landed a commercial agent.  These agencies strictly handle commercial auditions, no television or film work.  I was waiting tables and some customer said she had a high school friend who was an agent at a pretty big commercial agency.  It’s one of those fortunate things that happen.  Kind of a Hollywood story.  Anyway, her friend signed me.  Sent me to a whole bunch of commercial workshops to learn the tricks of the commercial trade.  Then it was non stop auditions for about a year.  Sometimes three a day.  But never booked a single job.   My self esteem started to waiver.  What the heck!?  Not even one.  I decided to take as many classes on commercial acting as possible.  I was going to beat this bad streak.  I must of spent at least three grand on the workshops.  In one workshop I stayed after class and with tears in my eyes I asked the instructor for the secret answer.  Why couldn’t I even get one job?  His answer was so simple.  “Have fun and commit?”  That was so simple.  I decided the next commercial audition was going to be mine.  Several days later I was sent out for a new Snapple drink that wanted to make a commercial with the theme of Benetton colors around the world crap.  They wanted a rainbow of colors to represent their consumers.  I decided it was time to commit.  The casting director wanted native looking ethnic people.  I am of Korean decent, so I went as a native Korean.  I borrowed traditional Korean clothes from a friend and went into the audition.

INT.  ROOM FULL OF ACTORS, WHITE, BLACK, LATINO, ASIAN.

Casting Director.  “I’m going to take in five at a time.  You two and you and you two.  So one at a time tell me your name and what country you are from.”

ACTOR 1.  Tom bla bla, Holland.

ACTOR 2.  James blab la, Nigeria

ACTOR 3.  Eric bla bla, Guatemala

SUNG.  My name…Kang Sung Ho….and Uh…I am…prum the Korea.

CASTING DIRECTOR.  What is your name?

SUNG.  I am prum the Korea.

CASTING DIRECTOR.  How long have you been in LA?

SUNG.   I prum Korea, anddddddd….Korea iz….I’m Korea.

I felt so authentic, felt so committed to my work as an actor.  Now that’s Method Acting!

Around 6pm I was hanging out at home feeling good about myself when the phone rang.

“Hello may I speak with Sung Kang.”  ‘Yes this is he.’  “No Sung Kang.”  ‘Yes, this is he.’  “Did you come in for a Snapple audition today?”  ‘uh, yes’  “You speak English?”  ‘yes’  “That’s not funny!”  She hung up…  My commercial agent called me the next day and said they were not happy with I did and maybe best we parted ways.  She said what I did was very unprofessional.  So the lesson from all this is balance.

Adios Party people.

18 Comments

  1. Crap. Great story. Damned if you do, damned if you don’t. The pendulum has swung way off course. Our predecessors weren’t American enough and now we’re not Asian enough. If you had played it straight and busted out with English in the first place, they never would’ve called you. But just because they found out you were American, suddenly you weren’t Asian enough. Who knew Hollywood cared about authenticity? (Ha! They don’t.)

  2. dude, commitment is 24/7. Hahah…regardless if I see you in another movie or not man, you’re still alright in my book.

  3. Whoa! You didn’t get the commercial AND your agent dropped you!?! Harsh! Not to mention seriously ironic; I mean, you’re an actor, and you were acting… If they can’t tell the difference, it means you’re good.

    And good for you, for being able to pull off authenticity. I got cast in a national commercial, speaking Japanese (which I had to LEARN, during the audition, callback, and into the actual shoot…) I pray that if/when it airs, I don’t become an embarrassment to the Japanese American community.

  4. Haha that is sad and funny at the same time. I hate professional people!

  5. lol ~ Thank you for sharing your great story as always! After all, have you done any commercial job at all?

  6. Great story.
    That Casting Director should move to Arizona so he can check everybody’s ID/passport.

  7. Oof, harsh yet hilarious. In 5 years when you are the first APA star you can tell this story to James Lipton.

    I’ve been surrounded by broken English speakers my whole life but couldn’t pull off a convincing accent to save my life.

  8. LOL. 😛

  9. good to know that Puppy Crate Training Tips is using Sung’s experience to better the world of canine incontinence

  10. Sung, you make me laugh…one of the most important characteristics a person can have. Storytelling at its best.

  11. Kudos for having the balls to have fun and completely commit yourself to a commercial audition. I think there are probably tons of casting directors out there who, when they found out, would have just laughed, thought you were brilliant and liked you even more. Everybody’s different. A friend of mind did something similar once (though not so extreme, plus he’s a white guy) – pretending he was Australian for a soap audition, got a “talking to” by his agent, but then booked the role and now he’s a series regular. I find myself tangled in the whole Am-I-Asian-Enough or Too-Asian? web of Hollywood too. I don’t get called in for “any ethnicity” parts – only specifically Asian parts. And the majority of the Asian roles “fit-for-me” these days are for prostitutes – it’s the whole Asian fetish thing, or something. And I’ve played that role – more than once. I’m kinda over it. Unless there’s good money and good exposure, I don’t even bother submitting myself anymore. I appreciate seeing roles out there for Asian-Americans that are, well, Asian-AMERICAN. Especially since I’m such a twinkie.

  12. hahahahahaha..very funny Sung..love 🙂

  13. Way to sock it to ’em. I just love it when people don’t have a sense of humor.

  14. Good story and so fanny 😉 I still have tears in my eyes xD This is your first article which I read and now I know it wasn’t last xD
    Greetings from Poland

  15. I agree, tyvm for sharing this..