At MTV’s culturally-defining prime, SuChin Pak was in the center of it all. As the first Asian correspondent, SuChin created tidal wives for generations of young women who looked up to her. She’s covered the MTV Movie Awards, the MTV Video Music Awards and as a correspondent for MTV Daily News, she’s interviewed everyone from Mary J. Blige to *NSYNC. And if you think the voice on MTV Cribs sounds familiar, that’s because she narrates it. Currently, she’s the on-air news correspondent for Daily Candy in New York.
After immigrating from South Korea, SuChin and her family moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. Throughout her career, SuChin has spoken at length about her experiences as an Asian-American woman in the spotlight. In SuChin’s documentary series, My Life (Translated), she talks about struggling to fit into the Western standard of beauty, and particularly her battle with non-creased eyelids. You may not hear about it often, but as the number one plastic surgery in all of Asia, it’s an issue that significantly affects the Asian community.
What advice do you have for other young girls struggling with self-acceptance?
I think struggling with self acceptance is a completely normal thing that every girl deals with…it doesn’t matter if your Korean or Guatemalan. I did a documentary called My Life (Translated)for MTV which told the stories of American teens in immigrant families dealing with universal issues…dating, body image, college and every culture has their own set of values that create a different standard of normal. For me, my standard of beauty was Cindy Crawford and I couldn’t be farther away from that, but does any girl feel like they can live up to a glossy image of supermodels? I was terribly self conscious about my body, the shape of my eyes, the straightness of my hair and it kept me from every trying out for the cheerleading squad or running for school President. I think when you’re young, living at home, going to school every day, being judged is a big part of the schedule…out in the real world, as your world begins to expand, you see that humor, intelligence, talent are often times more valuable than the way you look. So my advice would be to cultivate the 99% of you that has nothing to do with your looks. You ever been around someone really beautiful who had an awful personality? It doesn’t take long to figure out what’s important and what really counts.
What can we do to further ensure that Asian Americans and other underrepresented groups, continue to break through in the media?
So much of the world, because of technology, has opened up for minority groups. We have more of a voice than ever before and not only that, turns out America is not the center of the Universe. The world is shrinking and the voices are more diverse than ever before. However, look at mainstream TV or movies or magazines and you’d never know that this multicultural, multilingual world exists. I think the biggest obstacles we face continue to be in positions of power. Getting more producers, writers, executives from diverse experiences is the only way we’ll see that reflection on screens and print. I think, as consumers, we also have a degree of power and responsibility to reward companies that take these steps and not support those that continue to operate as is.
h/t: Anna at Feministing
SuChin Pak is sitting, Zen-like, on a plush chair in a whimsically decorated office in New York’s trendy SoHo district. It’s almost superhuman that she is so calm and collected after the whirlwind 24 hours she’s just had.
First, she moderated a morning roundtable discussion with successful female CEOs. Then immediately after, she filmed MTV Iggy’s “Best New Band in the World” special, playing host to a concert that starred K-pop sensation, 2NE1. After wrapping that, she made her rounds with the media, doing interviews in her role as the talking head for Daily Candy, the trendsetting email newsletter and website.
With her brown locks swooping over her left shoulder, Pak is wearing a slouchy gray United Bamboo top paired with YSL stilettos. Her nails are decorated with stickers—black and white, Zebra-striped. “They’re just Sally Hansen, but aren’t they cool?” she quips, brushing off any presumption that she may possess even a hint of haughty sensibilities.
After all, this is the same Pak—once a face of the Girl Scouts—who organically became a role model to thousands of young girls. Through the affable personality she displayed on MTV News and the grounded sensibility she demonstrated with other shows like My Life (Translated)—a series that delved into themes of immigration—the 37 year old became a trailblazer for Asian Americans in entertainment television.
From the red carpet to the Planet Green Network, she’s tackled interviewing the likes of Jay-Z to washing her hair with floor soap for a TV segment.
You’ve been at MTV for over a decade and have become an entertainment icon among Asian Americans. Do you ever miss the thrill of going live every day?
It’s like, I’m a sixth-year senior. College is amazing. You want to stay there. You don’t want to get out in the real world, you don’t want to deal with adults. But at the same time, at some point, you have to graduate and as you’re getting older, it’s like, it gets a little weird. Do I miss it? No. I have such amazing memories and so much of my life and my identity is wrapped up in that time in my life, but you know you grow up. I mean, do I miss being 23? Not really. Did I love it? Yes. But if somebody were to give me a pill and I was 23 tomorrow, I would not take that. And I don’t miss it because I still have so much of what I loved about it in my life.
What did you love most about MTV?
I loved MTV because I got to go to a job that was different every day. I got to be on camera, I got to pitch stories, and I got to do reporting and hosting, and I’m still doing that. It still looks the same, only today I might not be talking about ‘N Sync, I’m talking about young female entrepreneurs.But that’s also what I want to talk about. When I was 23, I think I was really into talking about ’N Sync and Justin Timberlake. It just wouldn’t interest me in the same way. I’ve been really lucky that my career has grown up with me. I think a lot of people fall into that trap of starting off at such a really big place, an iconic place, at such a young age, and their career never grows up as they grow up, so it’s almost a curse. It’s a gift and a curse.
What do your immigrant parents think of your career?
I think that more than anything they were really confused as to what I did for a living and how I got paid and how one builds a career doing this because obviously doctor, lawyer, engineer is the Korean trinity, and I was sort of outside of that. I think, my mom would have loved to see me become a lawyer. But now they find it to be completely and utterly miraculous that I somehow did this on my own. As an immigrant and living in another country, you do everything on your own. Your parents would love to help you, but they don’t know how to do that.
What did you learn from being a child of immigration?
I think I identify myself as an immigrant before I identify myself as a Korean. That is at the core of the essence of who I am. I’m always on the outside looking in. I’m always trying to fit the pieces because it never makes complete sense to me, so that curiosity of how everything works is really a huge asset to being a journalist.
You’ve been a role model to so many Asian Americans. Do you find it important to act a certain way?
I don’t live my life trying to act a certain way for the sake of being good. I think that everyone should live a life as a role model—just making good decisions and being responsible for your own actions.
When did you feel that you felt like you made it?
I think it’s been the last couple of years. Successfully transitioning out of MTV—at least what I was doing at MTV—because that was a worry of mine. I think being in a very stable relationship [helps]. I think I’m OK with being OK with whatever happens. [In the past] when I didn’t have a job or a contract, that would send me into a complete panic attack. Now I know I can take advantage of it, now I think it’ll all work out. I don’t know what I’ll be doing next year, but I’m OK with what’s to come and not knowing. And I can truly say that; I’m not pretending and going home and eating chocolate ice cream in the dark and crying. That’s happened, that’s most of my life. Now I’m OK.
H/T: David Yi at KoreAm
Flashback: Pak was also featured in KoreAm in November 2006.
One of my TV crushes and one of the best things about MTV back in the day. Can’t believe she’s turning 36 this year. <3
MTV announced on Monday that singer and actress
Demi Lovato will make a live appearance in the network’s Time Square studio in New York City on Tuesday at 11 p.m.
Lovato will share her thoughts on the one-hour documentary, Demi Lovato: Stay Strong, which premieres earlier that night at 10 p.m.
Hosted by MTV News correspondent Suchin Pak, Lovato will do a live Q&A, share some deleted scenes from the documentary, and give viewers a first look at her appearance on MTV’s candid camera prank series, Punk’d.
Demi Lovato: Stay Strong follows the teen in recovery and as she returns to touring after canceling her tour with the Jonas Brothers in 2010 and seeking treatment for “emotional and physical issues.” Viewers will also watch her spend Thanksgiving 2011 with her family and revisit the Dallas treatment center.
Apparently, SuChin Pak is still on MTV.
h/t: Hollywood Reporter