How Kim's Convenience Helped Andrea Bang Feel Validated as an Actress

Kim's Convenience has meant a lot to fans over the years, and its star Andrea Bang shares the same sentiment. Bang knew there was something special about the CBC Television series from the very first time she auditioned for Janet. "I remember reading the lines and memorizing them pretty quickly. I just find that for those type of auditions where it just goes into my mind right away, there's something that connects me to it without even trying to think too hard about it, and that's what happened with Janet," she told POPSUGAR. "When I was prepping, it was not as hard as other roles have been where it does take a bit more time to be like, 'Oh, where's the motivation?' Prepping for Janet, it came really easy."

Bang also felt a strong connection to the character from the get-go. "I remember seeing the description and it saying that they're looking for a Korean-Canadian person, and I was like, 'That's me!' and can do comedy, 'That's me," she shared. "That was a time too where I was like, 'Oh, I'm never going to get to play a lead role in anything,' and I kind of talked myself into being OK about that at the time — unless it was something that I wrote myself. So when that role came out, I was super excited." Of course, the incredible cast was just another bonus, adding, "It just had all the ingredients of everything that I wanted to be a part of."

Though Bang knew there was something special about the series, she never could have imagined it would become as big as it has when she first signed on. And for that, she's grateful. "I think I would feel a lot of pressure," she admitted. "So in the first season, I honestly didn't know if there would be a second or a third, fourth, fifth, and just coming on to the project, being like, 'Oh, we're making something that is important, that is fun, and has a lot of really good people involved.' At that time, when we finished the last episode of the first season, I was like, 'Oh, if we don't come back, I mean, I want to come back, but if we don't, I'm happy with this too.'"

TORONTO, ON - MARCH 11:  (L-R) Simu Liu, Andrew Phung, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Jean Yoon, Andrea Bang and Nicole Power arrive at the 2018 Canadian Screen Awards at the Sony Centre for the Performing Arts on March 11, 2018 in Toronto, Canada.  (Photo by Isaiah

The series was also a monumental moment as it marked the first Canadian comedy starring an Asian-led cast. "It's huge," Bang said about being part of something that impactful. "On the one hand, it's amazing. It's an honor to be a part of that, especially someone who grew up not getting to see that on TV. It was just super cool to get to do that and get the opportunity to learn from say Paul [Sun-Hyung Lee] and Jean [Yoon] who've been in the industry a lot longer than me . . . Then, on the flip side, there's a lot of pressure that comes with it as well. Especially, I think when we first came out, a lot of the articles were talking about how Kim's Convenience is the first Canadian comedy starring an Asian cast. To be a first of anything, it's a lot of pressure. Because even when I think of for myself not getting to see a lot of Asian representation on screen, you expect a lot of that first. There's a good and a bad to it, but it also goes to show that we need more."

While the show has helped a lot of fans feel seen on screen, it inspired Bang in her own life as well. "It was my first TV experience," she said. "I never did theater school and there was a part of me that always felt inadequate or like, 'Oh, maybe I shouldn't be allowed to be an actor because I didn't go to theater school.' Being on the show and playing Janet has helped me be like, 'No, you are allowed to be an actor.' Like taking ownership over that title. When I would go to functions, people would ask me what I do for living and I'd be like, 'Eh, nothing.' Now I'm embracing [it] saying, 'Acting,' and I have [Kim's Convenience] and Janet to thank for that."

"We put so much blood, sweat, and tears into this show, and a lot of love."

Naturally, with the series being so close to her and many fans' hearts, the news that it was suddenly coming to an end earlier this year was super upsetting. "I was sad and angry for multiple reasons," Bang admitted. "When we filmed the fifth season, we were under the idea that we'd be coming back the next year, I guess this year now. [Because we filmed during the pandemic], we didn't get to see three-quarters of the crew and people that we've been with since the beginning. So on that level, we didn't get a proper thank you and a proper goodbye to the crew. I remember saying, 'See you next year' to people. So on that level, I'm like, 'Ugh, nevermind.' I'm from Vancouver and we film in Toronto, so technically I may never actually see them again. So that part's actually very sad." Bang added that she's super disappointed the beloved characters won't get any closure either. "That part makes me really angry," she said. "Especially for a show that we put so much [into], like I've gotten stomach aches, I've gotten body aches. We put so much blood, sweat, and tears into this show, and a lot of love, and for it to go down like this, it's just super, super disheartening."

KIM'S CONVENIENCE, from left: Andrea Bang, Paul Sun-Hyung Lee, Jean Yoon(Season 2, 2017). photo: CBC / courtesy Everett Collection

As for the closure she would have liked to have given her character Janet, she always envisioned her story would end with a poignant moment with her parents. "I felt like we were just starting to get a glimpse of where she was going," she said. "I would have loved for her to be able to explore more of her sexuality. I think for me, her endgame was her parents saying that they're proud of her. Because throughout the show, a lot of what she's done was for her parents. And when I was looking back, I'm like, 'Oh, they've never said, I'm proud of you.' They've said it to Jung, and they said it to each other, but they've never said it to her. I think that's something I feel like every Asian child wants to hear and especially in Janet's, like the way she was brought up, I think that's what she wants to hear. It would have been such a wonderful, beautiful, ending moment for her."

Even though Kim's Convenience has come to an end, Bang still hopes people "get inspired and entertained" by it. "When it first came out, someone asked me what do I hope from the show? And I was like, 'Eh, I hope people watch it as a family.' Because I feel like that's something that doesn't happen as often. And I've been told that with this show, a lot of people have been watching it as a family. It's kind of like the show that spread through word of mouth . . . So I hope anyone who's interested in creating their own stuff, I hope it inspires them to think that it's possible and anyone who wants to get into acting to realize that anything's possible and to just put yourself out there."