HalfKorean.com recently had the chance to interview Mia Crowe, a multi-talented actress/model/musician. Mia has appeared in many projects including, most recently, TNN’s POP! Across America, as well as many other independent feature films (such as: Being Ron Jeremy and That Darn Punk). We spoke on many different facets of her life, background, career and goals in a fairly simple question and answer format. Enjoy!
Please note that HalfKorean.com comments/questions are in BOLD.
Background: The Basics on Mia
Where were you born/raised?
I was born in Georgia, but grew up all over the world from Texas to Tokyo, from Louisiana to London and everywhere in between!
What is your ethnic mix?
My mother is from Seoul, Korea. My father is an American Caucasian mix of Swedish and other European ethnicities with some Native American blood thrown in the mix.
From what I have read about you, you mention that you have lived in many places. Which was your favorite?
I loved living all around the world. Getting to see how people in other places live. I don’t think I had a favorite but I did love living in Tokyo. Having the freedom to just jump on a train or a subway and go shopping 2 hours away or go hang out with friends at such a young age was great. My friends and I would go to Hirajuku the hip shopping district and come home with the coolest clothes. I had a lot of freedom when I lived in Tokyo because I was mobile! That’s a big deal for a 13 year-old!
So do you speak Korean at all?
I speak Korean like a 4 year old. I can talk about the basic bodily functions, understand any orders that your mother might give you like “GO Brush your teeth” and I can talk about food. After attending the Yonsei Summer program and getting a scholarship to study there the Fall semester, I came away from that experience with the ability to read and write—the only drawback is that I don’t always know what the words mean.
Do you eat Korean food and what is your favorite dish?
Of course I eat Korean food! I love Kimchi chigue, especially with tuna fish thrown in. I love omalrice (the egg omelet with ketchup over rice.) Of course I always eat kalbi and bulgogi. I’m a huge fan of sangetang too.
Were you raised “Korean” or influenced by Korean culture?
Sometimes I’m not sure if you want to really hear how I was raised “Asian” or raised the way my mother raised me “her way”—which arguable could be the “Asian way” because she is Asian or just the way her personality as a woman and a mother influenced me. I can talk about the “stereotypical influences”— I go crazy if someone wears their shoes in my house, I believe in working extremely hard for what I want, I play a musical instrument, like many Koreans I’m very direct when I speak to you, when I have a party I never run out of food (very different from “Caucasian” parties and you know you know what I’m talking about!!!) I could go on and on. Other influences which can be viewed as “Asian” just because my mother is Asian or influences from my mother and she happens to be “Asian” are that — I believe in expressing myself in every way. I rarely hold back what I’m thinking or feeling. I’m very loyal. My mother taught me to Karate chop anybody who was bothering me… that is a joke.
Have any brothers and/or sisters?
I have one brother. I was the bossy big sister and he was the annoying little brother. I terrorized him and he drove me crazy! The good part of that is that I was the big sister that protected him from everybody and made sure that when he was a freshman that there wouldn’t be an “initiation” or anything like some of the other kids had to go through.
Have you experienced any racism and/or prejudice growing up?
I did experience some racism… but I wouldn’t say that it was something that I experienced a lot of. I moved around every year or two of my life, I was born in Georgia but moved 2 weeks later, so I wouldn’t say I’m from Georgia or anywhere specific. I lived in places like Louisiana, Texas, Tokyo, Seoul, Washington, Paris, and California growing up. Except for when I lived in Asia, my brother and I were usually two of like 3 Asians at our schools. But when you are half Asian, the Asian kids think you are not “really Korean” and then the Caucasian kids don’t think you’re “white”. So I always felt like my own thing. Like “The Island of Hapa” or something. When you are ½ Asian you can spot other ½ Asian’s from across a crowded room and for the first time you think “this person is like me”. As for racism or prejudice… I got it more from Asian people than from Caucasians… I remember when I was in Korea and I heard someone say in Korean, “She is really cute for an abomination of her blood lines.” I didn’t know the word abomination and had to ask someone… As for Americans, I rarely got picked on because I was the type of kid that didn’t take any shit. If someone dared to say something that even seemed racist or prejudiced they would be in for a swift ass kicking. My mother taught me that if someone hits me to hit them back so I really didn’t have a victim personality or anything. My mom said that when I was 3 I came home and asked her what an “oriental” was… and she told me that I was Oriental (At the time that word was okay…) I told her that somebody in the neighborhood had said to me, “Chinese, Japanese, Dirty Knees… look at these.” She told me to go tell them that I was Korean and born in the United States and therefore all American. I went back outside and told the kid that and then punched him in the face. That kid nor any other ever bothered me again and it was all peace and harmony in the neighborhood.
For those that aren’t familiar with your work, what is some of your past/current/future work?
I’m currently in pre-production for a TNN television pilot tentatively called Skirtz (a sort of spin-off of POP! Across America) and I just finished working on a movie called Selwyn’s Nuts. It’s the third project I’ve done for Kung Fu Films. It’s so funny. There’s a spoof of Iron Chef called Bakers Of Steel and I play a Japanese supermodel that speaks French, complete with dubbing. I also just finished my first season on TNN’s Pop! Across America. Recently, I starred in an indie film spoof of “Being Jon Malkovich” called Being Ron Jeremy with Andy Dick, Ron Jeremy, and Brian Berke. In San Francisco, you can see me in the San Francisco Chronicle commercials. These have been running for a year or so. I’m also the voice on a national radio campaign for Washington Apples… I play an obnoxious radio DJ.
How or why did you choose acting as your occupation?
I don’t know if I chose to be an actor or if acting chose me… to be honest it is a hard life making it as an actor. Basically you are constantly going on job interviews “auditions” to try to get your next job. I love acting. I love getting to be different people and characters. I think that the freedom to express myself is one of the biggest reasons I love acting. I also enjoy the lifestyle of working really hard for long hours when you are doing a job… and having the time to not have a 9-5 when I’m not working.
Since you have done quite a bit of acting now, have you, by chance, met any other Korean/Asian Hapas in the industry?
I have met a few… I met Jennifer Tilly in the women’s restroom once. I like her a lot as an actress! It was interesting that her regular voice is not at all like the soft baby voice she uses when she is acting on camera. Hmmm…???
Do you think that your ethnicity has helped/harmed you in the industry in any way?
I like who I am and I feel very confident that being of mixed ethnicity is part of who I am. In my own mind, my ethnic background helps my work in that I’m very open to many different cultures and ways of life which helps me understand the different roles that I play as an actor. Maybe other people have a problem with my ethnic background because it is not easily “categorized”—there are very few times people are looking for a hapa actress. When they are looking for an Asian American actress they say that I’m not “Asian enough”—however it is not like they are going to audition me to play the white girl… so if I don’t work hard to get auditions and let people see what I can do I can easily fall through the cracks.
You know I have to ask this, how was it to work with Ron Jeremy (for those that don’t know, he is probably one of the most well known male adult movie stars of all time)?
He is the nicest man and a professional actor. He has an MBA and is an extremely well educated man. He was great to work with.
Are there any actors that you would like to work with (or have enjoyed working with)?
Probably Jennifer Jason Leigh. Every movie that I have seen her on, she plays these multi-dimension characters. She’s an amazing actress and I never get tired of watching her movie “Single White Female”. She redefines herself in every role.
I have read about your charity work, how did you get involved?
I live off of Melrose where I see a lot of homeless teenagers. I also live near Santa Monica Blvd where there are a lot of teenage prostitutes. I saw them and wanted to help these kids but didn’t know how I could. I remembered that as a teenager I was very rebellious and I always thought I knew what was best for me. I thought about it and I realized that the only way I may be able to get to help these kids was to show them who I am and what I’m doing and maybe inspire them to follow their dreams. When I was growing up, one of the people that influenced me a lot was this woman named Kirie Pederson. I was in an accelerated program in school called GIFTED AND TALENTED where kids from different schools were bussed to classes once a week to learn at a more accelerated rate. The teacher’s assistant was Kirie and she was this bohemian type woman who read us poetry, taught us Spanish and told us about her experiences traveling in Spain, and encouraged me to do creative writing assignments and stretch my imagination. She was the best! She was not like the other adults I had met- she was hip and cool and talked to me like I was an adult. Even the way she spelled her name was cool and different! So I thought that if I could volunteer my time to these teenagers at CHILDREN OF THE NIGHT, and not preach to them or tell them how to live but just SHOW them who I am and how I live, I may inspire somebody to follow whatever dream they might have-to be a nurse, a painter, or whatever. I followed my heart against the odds and I thought if they saw that a girl like me could do it- they could do what they want too.
With all of the work that you do, what do you do to un-wind and relax?
I like to play Playstation. Right now I’m heavy into SYPHONFILTER 3 and WU-TANG: Shaolin Style. I also read a lot of books. I’m a huge Larry Niven fan (sci-fi) – FLATLANDER is my favorite book of his. I also talk on the phone way too much, watch way too much TV, and love to rent movies. I love futuristic fantasy and Sci-Fi. GAMEPRO MINUTES is canceled now (the review show I did for GAMEPRO MAGAZINE.) However, I still love this kind of stuff and I’ve been shopping my own tournament style video game show that I created—- I call it THE neXt LEVEL and it is like ROBOT WARS meets IRON CHEF but with video games. I love taking naps. 3pm is the best time for the perfect nap. 1 hour—no less.
I read that you are into Kung Fu San Soo, how long have you been practicing?
I have been only doing it about 8 months…..I love it. I hope to get really good!
Well, since you live in Southern California, do you hang out and/or visit Koreatown in Los Angeles much?
I am there constantly! I love the restaurants! I always go to the Korean bath house at least once a month to get my dead skin scrubbed off!
Okay, since you are part Korean, you know I have to ask how well do you handle your liquor? Have you tried soju, and if so how do you like it (if at all… haha)?
Well I don’t get red like some people do, but I have a really low tolerance for alcohol. I am buzzed after finishing the neck of a beer! I’m not fond of hard liquor but I have drank my share of Crown Royal and Hite Beer.
I’m sure a lot of people will want to know this (especially guys), what kind of men are you attracted to (Korean? Half/Mixed?)?
I’m attracted to all different physical types of men—-if you lined up all the guys I have dated so far in my life the only common denominator is intelligence and an amazing sense of humor. I’m also very attracted to people who are really good at whatever it is they do in their career—success is attractive.
You have a cool website (miacrowe.com), how long has it been up and do you maintain it yourself?
I started it last summer. Later a couple of fans from Canada volunteered to redo it. Now I maintain it myself – as you can see I’m just a beginner. I vow to get more dedicated to it but it is really hard to find the time.
That’s Cool! I hear you on the time issue. I haven’t had much time to work on HalfKorean.com as much as I would like to. Do you have any words and/or thoughts (hopefully kind… haha) about HalfKorean.com?
I love this site and think it is an awesome idea! I remember a few years ago a friend of mine Debbie May from San Francisco who I met in the Yonsei Progam emailed me to tell me about it. I went there right away to check it out! Not a lot is dedicated to half Koreans so you have to support anything that is!
Wow! What a small world! I know Debbie as well, met her and her husband a couple times in 1998 when we had Half Korean meetings in California. Well, I would like to thank you for your time and I wish you much success in your endeavors! Do you have any parting words for HalfKorean.com?
One more thing about racism… My mom always taught me to be proud of who I am. When people act racist it is usually out of ignorance……so it is good to be patient and try to educate these people about who we are. If they are Caucasian people who are giving you a hard time, take the time to explain to them that we are not the negative Asian stereotypes that are out there—for example: Korean people don’t eat dog, and that Korean food is different from Chinese which is also different from Japanese, and to educate them that we are not the “stereotypes” that are out there but real people. Asian people have thousands of years of history where they invented amazing things and created amazing works of art. Share this with them! If Asian people are being racist against you because you are hapa, let them know that this is not any kind of treatment you are going to put up. You don’t need to feel like you have to “prove” how Asian you really are. You are what you are. You don’t ever have to be ashamed of being mixed with different ethnicities. There is no such thing as a “pure blood”. If your patience runs out after you have tried to make somebody understand that humans of every race bleed red—-then don’t let somebody make you feel bad, call you names, or make you miserable—stick up for yourself! If you are child, tell your teachers, tell your parents. Don’t suffer any kind of racism or any kind of degradation by anyone. Being of mixed race or being something other than just “Caucasian” is something that makes us special and unique and different from the ‘average’ whitey! (I’m totally kidding but you know what I’m trying to say!).
Be sure to check your local television times to catch Mia on TNN’s POP! Across America. And for more information on her, please check out her website: miacrowe.com
Interview by: David Lee Sanders