PHOTOGRAPHY BY TINA TURNBOW
INTERVIEW BY MICHAEL WILLIAMS
Imagista talks with the enthusiastic and insightful Nicole Kang who plays Mary Hamilton on the CW’s Batwoman. Nicole also appears on Netflix’s hit series “You”.
Imagista: What are you most excited about right now?
Nicole Kang: In Batwoman I play Mary Hamilton. Mary is Kate Kane’s aka Batwoman’s step-sister. Traditionally Mary is a blonde haired blue eyed character in the comics. And casting me (a Korean American human) is super exciting especially in a superhero TV show. DC is allowing all of us to challenge the ideas of who is allowed to be a superhero through this particular show, Batwoman being gay first and foremost. And I’m honored to be apart of telling that story.
I think the beginning of making significant changes in peoples’ perspectives can happen within these imaginative worlds. They give us the opportunity to imagine a different one. For me, the weight feels heavier stepping into such an iconic character (one that hasn’t been played by an Asian person in the past) and to do so unapologetically. I hope we will be able to examine these characters/superheroes in the future without being hung up on their race at all.
Imagista: What was your life like growing up in the heart of America (Virginia) with Korean parents?
Nicole Kang: The immigrant journey in America can take many forms. It’s complicated. We are faced with wanting to hold onto the culture we left behind while embracing the new one we’ve chosen to join. My father fell in love with country music and a sense of Americana. And so begins the shaping of my own American identity. I grew up desperate to learn American customs while living a pretty culturally Korean life at home. I remember constantly looking for acceptance and always scared I would be called an imposter even though I was born in the US. It took awhile for me to realize that this battle was the Korean American first generation story.
Imagista: What gave you the sense of permission to become an actor then?
Nicole Kang: I remember seeing Michelle Kwan on TV and she gave me permission to become an ice skater so I did. I was a full on figure skater haha. I trained really hard. As far as acting, I was always circling around it. You have this drive in life and you’re not quite sure what your job description will be but all you can do is continue on in that direction full force. I was always into theater in high school and choir. I was always singing and acting for as long as I remember. Looking back at it now, it’s not surprising I ended up here.
Imagista: Family and friends are obviously very important to you in your life. Can you talk about some of the friendship you’ve forged through work and how they’ve impacted your life and career?
Nicole Kang: I don’t know how I’d be able to live life without allies. In my time in New York, I have been lucky to be surrounded by the most supportive women. After filming “You” on Netflix, Elizabeth (Lail) and Kathryn (Gallagher) became two of those women. Funny to think back that we were cast as best friends. I think a powerful thing about female relationships is that we can be so different and yet be able to accept each other without compromise.