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Singer Jihae on Her Acting Debut in National Geographic’s ‘Mars’

South Korea-born Jihae is a singer and multimedia artist who has collaborated with accomplished musicians such as Michel Gondry, Lenny Kravitz, and Dave Stewart. She makes her TV acting debut Nov. 14 in “Mars,” a National Geographic Channel miniseries executive produced by Ron Howard and Brian Grazer.

What attracted you to “Mars”?

It’s no ordinary piece of work. The story is set in 2033 and is based on the first group of astronauts who travel to Mars to colonize it. The timeline is nonlinear and goes back and forth between scripted drama and documentary footage [with] all the scientists and people who are working toward the technology of sustaining life on Mars. Getting there is one thing, but living there is quite another. It’s science meets entertainment.

This is your first professional acting role. Will you continue with it?

I’ve had opportunities to pursue acting in the past, but I wasn’t interested. I felt like when you’re an actor, you don’t get to fully creatively express yourself — most of the time, it’s not your own writing or direction. Music is my first love, and it’s not something I’ll ever stop. But after reading the script for “Mars,” as well as some other auditions I’ve done recently, I realized that when the writing is amazing — and when the director and production have high value — then I’m happy to surrender to any project.

Describe your introduction to music.

I grew up in a very musical family — both my mother and grandmother were trained opera singers, but circumstances didn’t allow them to really fulfill their profession and dreams. I’m the youngest of three girls, and my mom learned that I had “the voice” out of my sisters; she hoped I could fulfill their dreams for them.

What was your first major success in music?

I would say the release of my second EP [2008’s “Afterthought”]. But I feel like a bigger breakthrough for me was being awarded a co-writing credit with Leonard Cohen and Dave Stewart on the song “It Just Feels.”

What is one thing you are interested in but haven’t done yet?

Eventually, I would love to direct, but not anytime soon. I just love the storytelling aspect. When you make an album, you have a team of musicians you work with; when you’re a director and you’re creating a motion picture, it’s a much bigger animal. But there’s a lot of freedom and a lot of different ways you can storytell.

What you didn’t know about Jihae

AGE: 27 BORN: Seoul INSPIRATIONS: Leonard Cohen, Marina Abramović, Gloria Steinem FAVORITE BOOK: “Memories, Dreams, Reflections” by Carl Jung
FIRST INSTRUMENT LEARNED: Piano FAVORITE COMPOSER: Elliot Goldenthal

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