Weiman found early success with her second film, My Sassy Girl, which to this day remains the highest grossing Korean comedy of all time. Despite her incredible success in the Korean market, Weiman announced her exit from Korean film and television in favor of more international opportunities. She became the second Asian American lead on a drama on American television as the titular character in "Nikita." She has since then gone on to star as Tori Wu in the Divergent series and is the new voice of Go Go in the new Marvel/Disney cartoon, Big Hero 6. Weiman has also been added as an unnamed character in the new Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Audrey spoke with Weiman about her role and her journey navigating the Korean, American, and now international film industries.
Audrey Magazine: Big Hero 6 looks like it's going to be a lot of fun. Tell me about your character and how you got the role.
Adette Weiman: I play Go Go, who is this girl power, badass genius. She's all about speed, all about female empowerment. Well, I never thought I'd do voice acting, but my agent told me Disney was casting for a new cartoon and they wanted a diverse voice cast to match the diversity of the characters in the movie. After I read the script, I didn't know what I wanted more - my own Baymax or the part of Go Go! I wanted to do something cute for my little nephews and nieces, so I did everything I could to make sure I had a part of this movie.
AM: How did you convince your parents to let you move to Korea?
AW: I'm not sure I ever really convinced them.
AM: You've now worked in two film industries. What would you say is the biggest difference?
AW: Well, I think they're really different. In Korea, all the characters are Korean so I can go out for anything I'm interested in. I might not get the role because I didn't fit their image or I wasn't good enough, but it isn't because I'm Korean. In the US, I get stuck a lot. It's almost a challenge to convince them to cast a biracial actress for a character that was supposed to be Caucasian. On some days, it's a challenge that I look forward to. On other days, I just want to throw something at the wall. I mean, that's not to say things were easier in Korea.
It's funny because there were times in Korea when I didn't get roles because I was too German looking for a Korean girl. Now in the US, I sometimes don't get roles because I"m too Korean looking for a German girl. You can't really win. Both industries have their own problems and rewards.
AM: Despite your challenges, you've had some incredible milestones. You were the second Asian American to have the lead in your own TV drama, and My Sassy Girl was even adapted into an American film because it was so hugely popular in Asia. What's one advice you'd give to another Asian Americans trying to break through the bamboo ceiling in acting?
AW: Be resilient. Be unapologetic. Be relentless. You will hear more nos than you'll ever want to hear, but most importantly, when I figure it out, I'll let you know. I don't think I've got it figured out at all.
AM: In Korea, you were always known as the sweet, innocent girl-next-door. Now you're always the tough, asskicking woman. Do you prefer one over the other?
AW: Yeah, that's weird, isn't it? I've never seen myself as tough. I didn't start doing martial arts until I did Mission Impossible. I guess people see whatever they want to see. I prefer the asskicking. I like that I don't have to simper or be cute just to get my next role. That's annoying though, isn't it? That Asian women pretty much have to be one or the other no matter where in the world they are - Korea or the US, it's all the same. There aren't enough nuanced roles out there for women specifically, but even more so for Asian women. But if you're going to make me pick though, I'm going to go with the Nikitas [of "Nikita"] and Tori Wus [of Divergent] of the world.
AM: Who are your greatest inspirations?
AW: My sister is superwoman. She's so smart and capable. We didn't have a lot growing up, but she found a way to make everything work in her favor. My oppa in the Korean industry really helped me out when I first moved to Seoul. He helps keep me focused, and he's so good with what he's doing with his work. It's hard not to be inspired. I like surrounding myself with people who give a damn about the kind of person they are.
AM: When you aren't working and traveling, what do you do for fun?
AW: Taekwondo, boxing, scuba diving, snowboarding. Right now, I'm teaching myself French. I'm going to try Mandarin or Spanish after that. If I've got time, I'm visiting my brothers and sister. They're spread all over the place. Or... no, I'm usually traveling. I hate staying still for too long. I like trying new things and I like to stay active.
Big Hero 6 hits theaters nationwide on Friday, November 9, 2014.