Unstoppable: Advocate and Actress Dominique Kang Has Persevered With Her Disability and Now Pays it Forward

Yitzi Weiner @ Authority Magazine

Authority Magazine
Representation matters. I am fighting for diversity and inclusion. Though we are already fighting a good fight in these movements, I’d like to continue with these movements. It is imperative especially at a time we are living in that we see ourselves being represented truthfully on the silver screen & small screen. Creatives in the entertainment industry possesses a powerful tool to influence the world. I believe It is our responsibility as an actor(storyteller) to represent it truthfully & authentically.

I had the pleasure to interview Dominique Kang. Dominique is an Asian- American actress. She was born in Korea and moved to United States as a teenager and had to overcome disability and a limp. She’s hard at work to break the barriers in an entertainment industry. Dominique is an advocate for performers with disabilities. She plays guitar & sings as a hobby.

Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I started to limp at the age of 6 but I never felt any different ’til kids started point out to me that I walk with a limp. I was fine with it…. It was my normal now ’til I got a little older I felt excluded and bullied at times but, most of the times they’d include me depending upon mood they were in…. like nasty mood or lets be nice mood, but I was my own person playing by my own rules. Then I came to states when I was teenager when my mom who I had last seen briefly when I was 7 suddenly sent for me one day and my grandparents felt that they were only getting older and It would be in my best interest to live with my own mother. Though I didn’t want to leave my grandparents who I cared about the most and who cared for me my entire life they didn’t want to let me go but they knew it was what was best for me. So I was sent here to America right after an interview at an American Embassy in Seoul. I was able to get on the next day flight — the ticket had already been bought before the interview landed in SFO lived in Travis AFB, CA. Yep, I was an air force brat with step-dad being in the air force there my new life began as a freshman in high school.

It never dawned on me to be an actor ‘till I met this guy while I was living in Sacramento Ca. He and group of people were planning to go to Actorsfest held by Backstage West. I was skeptical about it due to the fact that I had disability and had not seen anyone that looked like me on TV or anywhere being represented so I really didn’t think there was any room for someone like me. But, I did end up going to Actorsfest and had fun there. Months later I ended up moving to LA and about 9 months later or so, after moving to LA I got my SAG card. But then right after that I got married and ended up moving to British Columbia where I was offered to do a print job. But had to turn it down cause I didn’t have the work permit. Anyway we decided to come back to States. Now here we are in Las Vegas. Now I drive to LA and back for any opportunities auditions or jobs or even just to network.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?

Yes, when I first started I felt alone cause I never met someone like me. I mean by that actor with disability on the set. But now thru network, casting and social events I’ve met other actors with disabilities…I feel like we have community full of a support system now and no longer feel alone. Just knowing I’m not alone…. that itself is most interesting and exciting to me.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

We went to Actorsfest and I was to go into a commercial workshop. But we went into the wrong room ended up in a wrong casting director’s workshop. Lesson learned? Pay attention to details. :)

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

I am in the middle of developing my own content called “SUNNY”. Who knows when it will be done, maybe in 2yrs+.

Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?

In my first year I had just become SAG and was on the set of FIRST MILLION IS ALWAYS HARDEST with ADAM GARCIA who starred on ”COYOTE UGLY”. During lunch he was in front of me and he handed me some food for me & put some on my tray. I couldn’t believe star like him could be so sweet. Later on I got to take pic with him during the night scene. There were no picture cell phones then. I just happened to have disposable cam :)

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world? Are you working on any meaningful nonprofit projects?

Wow! Important question. I am passionate about fighting for an equal opportunities for performers with disabilities. I’m taking my time but I’m creating content that will hopefully pave the way for everyone to be included. Diversity and inclusion is so important right now as we are living in such a dark time for minorities. I want to make sure our stories are told.

Can you tell me about a person who was impacted by your cause?

I was talking to this person who I met briefly in Vegas while waiting in a long line…..She saw the Sag-Aftra shirt I was wearing. She happened to be in the same industry and we struck a conversation.

I mentioned how I was creating my own thing & how it’s taking time and I have no desire to rush especially the writing portion of it…..that I haven’t given up.

She had given up due to the fact that she was a person of color with disabilities. I believe now she has more courage to do the same and maybe actually doing it.

I’d like to encourage everyone to just go for it, NO IFs OR BUTs. life is too short for what ifs, no matter where you come from or your disabilities.

If you have the desire I think it’s being persistent. I tell you, especially in this industry, persistence is the key that will open the doors to your dreams.

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Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

Create a happy place to go, even if it’s just in your mind. Go there, meditate spend some alone time.

Maybe a little time with family too :) Do something spontaneous, fun.

You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Representation matters. I am fighting for diversity and inclusion. Though we are already fighting a good fight in these movements, I’d like to continue with these movements. It is imperative especially at a time we are living in that we see ourselves being represented truthfully on the silver screen & small screen. Creatives in the entertainment industry possesses a powerful tool to influence the world. I believe It is our responsibility as an actor(storyteller) to represent it truthfully & authentically.

Yes, we hear this all the time as an actor, but as an actor with disability I see disability roles go to non-disabled actors all the time. The same thing being an Asian as well. We are rarely represented. Like the time Scarlett Jo played an Asian in the movie (Ghost In the Shell) … things like that take away the opportunity for us to represent ourselves and tell our own stories.

It's a risk for the real people living in it if creators get the story wrong, especially for the people with disabilities…not just due to the stigma that comes with it, but accuracy and authenticity can educate others on how to deal with situations. For example in medical dramas….people that live thru in real life can see themselves and connect which that is the ultimate goal & job as an actor to connect with audiences.

When a story is told authentically audiences with similar experiences can tell and go yep! that’s me. Others may learn what it’s like through that story. Also it gives them confidence to follow the same dream that they can do it too.

What are your “5 things I wish someone had told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

  1. Before doing anything work on your craft. Doing homework will be hardest ’til you can have fun doing it and learn to do correctly & automatically. Take acting classes, get involved with theater whenever possible; it’s the best training.
  2. When it comes to craft, you will feel stuck at a same level sometimes but, don’t give up. Plough through. Whenever you’re not feeling the growth it’s frustrating to feel just stuck, but you are growing, it’s likely that you are about to have a breakthrough.
  3. As an actor with all the rejections and pressures….It’s very important not to forget to take care of yourself so you don’t feel burned out. Learn to relax.
  4. Next would be-Work hard now & play later. Be diligent in your homework,then once you get to audition or set it’s playtime.
  5. Lastly- Always stay hungry. Always want more. You can’t stay comfortable, especially in this cut throat industry.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote’’? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite quote is “ REPRESENTATION MATTERS” I believe everyone deserves to be represented at work or wherever. However possible their stories should be told so that we can learn from each other and co-exist together peacefully. Especially now, this is so important to me as a minority.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there particular person who you are grateful grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

Yes, There was time I thought no way I was going to book the job due to my limp…. but, thanks to the casting director I was booked and was able to become a SAG actor.

Some of the biggest names in business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a particular person who in the world, or in the US whom you would love to Have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. :-)

Yes, that would be Keanu Reeves. He just seems to be humble and has that genuine care for people. He’s one of the actors I’d love to have an opportunity to work with someday.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

Twitter: @kangdominique IG:@iamdominiquekang though I tend to be on twitter more :)

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Yitzi Weiner is a journalist, author, and the founder Authority Magazine. He is also the CEO of Authority Magazine's Thought Leader Incubator, which guides leaders to become prolific content creators. Yitzi is also the author of five books. In 2017, he created the popular, “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me” series that highlights the empowering lessons learned from the experiences of high-profile entrepreneurs and public figures. This series has inspired a mini-movement among writers, with scores of writers worldwide profiling inspiring people to share their positive, empowering, and actionable stories. A trained Rabbi, Yitzi is also a dynamic educator, teacher and orator. He currently lives in Maryland with his wife and children.

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