An Interview with Arden Cho

MV5BMTc0MzQ4NTE4OV5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwODg3NjAwMw@@._V1._SX332_SY500_Although fans are barely halfway through Season 5 of Teen Wolf, the show’s production has actually been on hiatus for quite some time, and Arden Cho – who plays Kira Yukimura on the MTV show – has taken full advantage of her “down” time from being on set.  Cho has had a busy few months traveling across the globe, though not for what would certainly be a hard-earned vacation, but to promote her music, film projects for charity, and, of course, interact with fans.  On Friday afternoon, the actress and singer/songwriter took some time to chat with us about all of those topics, answer some questions you guys tweeted, and also give us some information on what’s coming up for Kira on Teen Wolf.  Unfortunately, technology (on which I was clearly too reliant) failed, as my call recorder missed the majority of the conversation.  However, the discussion that did manage to make it was too good not to share.

Please note that the summary below includes information that may “spoil” readers who haven’t seen tonight’s episode (Season 5, Episode 7: “Strange Frequencies”).  Skip down to the bolded sentence if you want to avoid potential spoilers.

Having just seen MTV’s newly-released clip showing Kira’s dad Ken Yukimura (Tom T. Choi) leading Kira into a fight with her mom Noshiko (Tamlyn Tomita) just a couple of hours before the interview, it made the most sense to kick off the interview talking about that.  This, of course, led us into @plaidsmile09‘s question regarding the dark path Kira is headed down this season.  Arden told us a few things about the seriousness of Kira’s situation, particularly when it comes to her parents’ way of “teaching” their daughter about her kitsune spirit.  (They definitely know more about Kira’s kitsune than what they’re letting on.)

“We see Kira get angry with her parents because they are trying to bring out her kitsune.  Kira’s scared, so she yells at them, and she’s like:  “I could have killed you guys!  I could really hurt someone!””

Scared and worried as Kira may be, it can’t be denied that she has excellent command of the katana, her weapon of choice.  Seeing Arden’s fighting skills onscreen, we thought she’d be a pro in her own right at wielding a katana.  Though her previous experience with wire work and her background in martial arts help sell the fight scenes the Teen Wolf fans love so much, the katana wasn’t one on which she’d received training prior to signing on to Teen Wolf.  She credits her two stunt doubles for working with her throughout the fight scenes, along with the production team’s editing abilities, to create the magic that translates so well onto the screen.

I asked if she was nervous when she found out Kira’s storyline this season — as on many shows, a character that goes dark often doesn’t survive the season — but Arden admitted that she was more excited than nervous, as she wanted to explore that side of Kira.  She talked about how much she enjoys seeing “good” characters get a little “bad” — and, of course, we talked about how she and Stiles might end up having something to bond over, though Arden does add that Kira’s troubles regarding her kitsune aren’t really the same as Void!Stiles.

“I think for Teen Wolf, at the time, I just wanted to work.  And I just got really lucky that the role I was able to book in that situation was so positive.  I think I can really thank the writers and the creators for that as well, because that might not have been the intent with Kira.  Jeff [Davis] recently said – either at Comic Con or in an interview – that Kira wasn’t meant to stay for so long.  Initially when I booked the role, it was sort of a “guest star for a few episodes” situation.  But then that changed, and I do believe some of that sort of goes with the choices the actors make as well, as in: “this is the type of character I want it to be”.”

Arden praised the Teen Wolf’s producers and writers for their willingness to incorporate the actors’ ideas into the characters and take their suggestions into consideration when developing story arcs for them.  This is a topic that we returned to more than once, as can be seen in the quote above, as well as both when we asked her @chiara_pisanu‘s question about her dog Chewy’s likelihood of ever making a cameo on the show, and later when discussing her music and whether or not Kira would ever sing on Teen Wolf. (Short answer: Arden would be up for both, but only if it could happen organically, such that it would make sense for her character.  Right now, it sounds like we might see Kira sing before we’d see Chewy join the pack.)

On singing: “We do have some ideas, and I don’t wanna spoil it — but we have talked about the possibilities of that, and it would be something… a little different.” 

On Chewy: “That’s so funny because I just brought Chewy with me to work the other day and I (jokingly) told [the producers] that she was ready to be a star!  But… I don’t think Chewy is the kind of dog Kira would have.  I don’t know that Kira would be a dog kind of person.  But I would love to have Chewy on the show just because she’s the cutest!”

Also something that would have to happen organically?  The Yukimura family spinoff that was mentioned back when Kira and her family were first introduced on Teen Wolf.  When I asked about whether it was a possibility, Arden, like many of us, was enthusiastic about the idea of being able to see more kickass females leading on television.  However, I think most fans would agree with Arden’s caveat that, at this point in Kira’s storyline, she is probably too entwined with the Beacon Hills pack to “pack up” and move on to a new town… and a new show.

“I think that’s more of a Jeff Davis question, but for me, as long as it made sense, that Kira’s story was finished on Teen Wolf, I would love to see that.  I think it would be great to see a spinoff with a strong female lead, because we really haven’t had anything like that since Buffy the Vampire Slayer or Sabrina the Teenage Witch. I mean, I grew up wanting to be Buffy, so I would love to see more females as leads – but I do think that’s something that would have to make sense story-wise [for Kira to leave the Beacon Hills pack], and of course, be a decision that would have to come from higher up [in the network].”

For our final Teen Wolf question, the cast members who attended Comic Con this year were asked what their characters’ senior quotes would be, and @burtmackln wanted to know Kira’s as well.  If you check under Kira Yukimura’s picture in the BHHS yearbook, that quote just might be:  “It wasn’t me.”

“It wasn’t me.” I feel like that’s something Kira has been saying a lot, especially this season. That, or “I didn’t do it.”

At this point, we switched gears a bit to talk about her music.  Arden has been an active member of the YouTube community for several years, and during that time has also released an EP entitled “My True Happy”.  (Android users can download “My True Happy” here, and Apple users, follow this link.)  Arden describes her music as “acoustic and light; very chill,” and after listening to the album a few times, I have to agree.  Even when listening to a song about an unrequited love, as in “With You,” you sort of feel like you’re floating.  That said, a couple of the songs, like “Better Off,” for example, are more of a Hayley Williams’ “Misery Business” type of acoustic.  In all, I think the album has sort of an Ed Sheeran and Paramore (if Paramore ever had a more low-key percussion sound, that is) vibe to it.

“A lot of them [the songs on the album] actually weren’t even songs I ever intended to share.  Songs like “I’m the One To Blame,” which was sort of just a letter that I wrote – just for me – to get over somebody, and I never thought I would end up sharing it in a song.  But I wrote it out and had some chords and a sound in mind, and I got together with a friend of mine who is a producer, and a really good musician as well, who helped me pull all the pieces together to make it [a song].”

As for how she writes a song?  For Arden, it’s has a lot to do with spontaneity:  “I just have to be in the right mood, if that makes sense.  It has to be – at least for me – it has to be authentic… and it has to feel right.  Even if I have the perfect environment and I’m in an amazing studio, and there are all these tracks that sound great, if I am just not inspired or not in the right mood to write, I can’t get anything to come out.  There will be times when I’ll be walking around and see or experience something, and I’ll think: “Oh my gosh! I need to write this, right now.”  And I’ll just start singing random lines into my phone, and later go back and work with that.  And sometimes it’s terrible, sometimes it just doesn’t work, but you have to try — and I know, for me, it has to be spontaneous and in the moment.”

Check out the title track of “My True Happy,” linked from Arden’s YouTube channel.  (And, if you’re so inclined, let the playlist continue while you finish reading this interview.)

As for when you can hear new music content from Arden, she had this to say:  I’ve been writing some original music, but I probably won’t have time to put out for a while.  I think some people are really great at putting out content regularly, but that’s just not how I work.  For me, I consider my YouTube channel and my music as my creative outlet, so I don’t wanna force it into a system where I say: “I’ll upload a video every week, on this day, at this time”.  For me, I love that my channel is a thing where I sometimes have vlogs, and sometimes I talk or do fashion or sing; I just consider it like my playground.”

What she does regularly make time for is communicating with and responding to her fans.  Arden has and admirably strong social media presence, and it’s hard not to be impressed by her ability to not only promote her music, devote time to building her acting resume, and contribute to charitable projects, but also make time to read and respond to tweets, comments, and messages throughout her many social media accounts.

“I try to connect with my fans because, to me, being a part of this industry isn’t just about acting or music or performing — as much as that is the root of it, and I do love performing so much — I love even more that it gives me an opportunity to connect with people, and hopefully inspire people to go after their dreams and go after the things that scare them.

I love that my career has really opened the door to connect with young girls. I always grew up wanting an older sister, to have that relationship in life. I have a younger brother, and… I think I’m a pretty cool sister to him [laughs] — I think he’d quote me on that.  But I’m all about girls, and I love that I get to connect with girls all over the world and realize that, in the end, we’re all the same.  We all struggle with the same things, in different sort of exteriors, but I think the heart of it, or the interior of what we struggle with, is very similar.  So, I love just being able to connect and, hopefully, encourage.”

As for what’s coming up for the second half of Season 5, Teen Wolf fans, Arden had this to say: “We’re starting filming in about 3 weeks, and we’ve been meeting with the writers and producers to discuss storylines.  I’m really excited about what’s coming up for Kira.”

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