It was King’s beautiful mix and Asian heritage that made her take the step to move to Singapore which ended up being the best decision she says she has ever made. King had a vision, pursued it and is currently living out her very own vision board after landing her dream job working for E! News Asia, and achieved a career that’s seen her interview everyone from Chris Hemsworth, David Beckham to Charlize Theron.
I was in Taiwan on a work trip when King and I first connected over Instagram. After I saw some of her interviews online and read about her backstory, I instantly wanted to interview her. King kindly agreed, making a joke about us mixes having to stick together! In between another set of whirlwind travels that King regularly makes for work, one of which included a trip to LA and sitting down with IT girl, Alexa Chung for chats and coffee (Brunch with Buro) she was still able to find time to answer all the questions I had about her career, her feelings towards social media and of course as a fellow Asian mix myself, what being of mixed heritage means to her and just how she found her true identity.
I've been blessed and cursed by the fact that I've always known what I want to do. I knew from a very early age telling stories and interviewing was the job for me - I was fascinated by news anchors on TV and wanted to be one someday.
You’re Korean / Australian, how big a part was the Korean culture for you growing up?
It was huge. Even though I was living in Sydney, I ate Korean food everyday and would watch Korean dramas with my mum. My mum has made a huge impact on the way I think about life, so I guess it was inevitable I would be influenced by Korean culture.
I read that you couldn’t converse with your Australian dad and your playgroup friends when you were young as Korean was your first language. How was that for you and did it effect your feeling towards being half Korean?
Yes my first language was Korean as my parents went back to work quite quickly, so my Korean grandparents took care of me during those working hours everyday. I then went to America to spend time with my mum's family for 6 weeks or so and came back speaking fluent Korean and no English! I remember distinct feelings of being frustrated and the kids in the playgroup left me out and teased me - I obviously didn't like this, so I refused to speak to mum in Korean. I regret that so much now! If only I could go back in time and talk to that stubborn little girl!
Did you spend any time in Korea growing up?
We went there for holidays but not often. We mainly went to the US as my Korean family all immigrated there - in fact, we have no family left in Korea. I love going there though - it feels strangely familiar and comforting to be in Seoul. I still know enough Korean to order a meal, which is fun!
I’m also mixed, and often find people never know where I’m from! Have you had the same experience? Do people perceive you as Korean or Australian?
Oh I've had everything from Thai, to Russian, to even Arabic?! But I've come to realise that I don't truly fit in anywhere - Aussies take me as Asian and Asians see me as Ang Mo (basically meaning white with red hair in Singlish!). Oh well, who wants to fit in anyways? That would be boring!
How has being mixed played into your career do you feel, if at all?
Let's face it, TV is a visual medium. I never felt like Australia was my market. Whereas in Asia, I noticed that most people on TV looked Eurasian so I thought perhaps I should give it a go. Best decision of my career.
What made you move to Singapore in particular? Did you already have a job lined up or did you get it once you had moved there?
Being half Asian, I've always felt like I needed to live in that part of the world at some stage in my life - for cultural reasons. I also thought Singapore would be a great place for work opportunities as it was the location of many international TV networks and of course the home of E! News in Asia. I was speaking to an agent while I was in Sydney and they thought I could get work so it all started from there.
You’ve had such a variation of work experience, amongst them, working for Fox Asia, interviewing people in the fashion industry, and now E! What is the most interesting or enjoyable topic for you to discuss or interview someone about?
I do enjoy the variety of my work and the challenges of dealing with people from all walks of life, but I guess what comes most naturally is probably chatting about entertainment as I'm passionate about pop culture and always have been. I majored in Film Studies in my Media degree at University and I spend way more time than I should reading the Daily Mail Online (please don't judge!) I'm a serious journo I swear! Haha!
There’s a lot of talk in Hollywood about how much harder it is for women to be in the entertainment industry than men, would you agree with that?
I don't know if it's harder but I see there are challenges specific to women. I think there is an emphasis on women to be forever youthful, whereas it seems like it's completely acceptable for a guy to age and still be considered viable for the part. In terms of the journalism field, that's why I feel so lucky to be working for a channel like E!, who's female reporters like Giuliana and Catt have been with the network for over 10 years. No small feat regardless of sex! If only I could be so lucky!
How did you feel doing your first ever interview?
Funnily enough I can't really remember what it was. One of my early ones was a model on a shoot in Sydney doing a look book for a local label. I remember being really nervous and feeling like I needed to overcome my shyness. I learnt a lot from playing that back even though it was torturous to watch!
As well as your busy career, you have a blog. Do you enjoy writing?
I do enjoy writing! Right now my focus has switched from blogging to my column for Buro247.sg - I'm their entertainment insider. I contribute articles doing what I do best, sitting down and having a coffee with people! It's called Brunch with Buro and my latest was with IT girl Alexa Chung.
Social media has become so huge in today's society. How do you feel about the explosion of it?
I have a love / hate relationship with it. There was something so sincere about going on a holiday and enjoying yourself without curating the perfect snap for sharing - it was more about a private memory, or the days when taking a camera out meant that you could only develop the pictures later so you focused on being in the moment. Now there is a certain pressure of keeping up appearances like never before. But then again being active on socials has allowed me to feel so in touch with everyone back home.
How do you balance family, your work, keeping up with your blog and social media?
I just always commit to making time for things that are important. It's something I had to be disciplined about initially as I can get very caught up in my job and it's something I'm still working on, but balance is really important to me. I am a Libra after all!
Do you feel a pressure to constantly update your blog, and social media outlets?
I had a brief moment when I was highly strung about it all, but I realised it's just an extension of what I'm already doing. So now, no I don't feel pressure at all.
What is the hardest part of your job?
The occasional unglamourous hours. 3am walk up call? Ew! NO makeup or studio lighting can help you at this point. Nothing!
What is the best part of your job?
The opportunity to meet inspiring people and be given time with them. This is something I will never take for granted.
Do you spend a lot of time researching people you are going to interview?
Journalism 101! Yes totally! Preparation is key!
Yes I do! But I embrace this feeling as it means I'm hyper switched on and focused.
Do you find it hard asking celebrities personal questions?
Well I'm there to ask the questions people want to know about - I'm there to inquire but I also understand it's balancing that out with the shop talk as well.
What do you think is key in creating a great interview?
Making your subject feel relaxed and having rapport with them. You've often only got 5 minutes to get content, so if you can do that quickly, even better!
Follow Yvette on her travels on Instagram
Keep up with Yvette King on her website