Attention all you
aspiring actors, actresses, directors, and just plain
"entertainers"! Meet one of our friends, Derek D.
Kim. We are happy to share his story with you, because 1) it
contains a great message, 2) He used to live here in Hawaii and works
with a lot of our local actors, and 3) He's a nice guy with a good
heart who loves to help people! He left Hawaii in 1991 to pursue his hopes and dreams and has
succeeded. Currently a film producer, director and actor in
Hollywood, Derek also has another mission - To help the aspiring
entertainer achieve his/her dreams.
is his story.
Derek was born in
Seoul, Korea and grew up in Singapore. His family moved to
Cleveland in the mid seventies, then went to San
Francisco a few years later. Derek moved to Hawaii back in September of
1990 with $300 and a one way plane
ticket that his father bought him. He was to study Oriental Philosophy/Chinese Horoscope under a
master teacher, Mrs. Jung Sook Kim. He became a student disciple,
living on Kanunu Street across from Holiday Mart. To earn a living, he got a job at Kauloa Ranch,
working at a small gift store called HINODE from 9am to 3pm.
After finishing there, he would study Eastern philosophy and
practice Oriental/Chinese Horoscope with his teacher and her clients.
He loved it here in Hawaii but felt that studying Eastern philosophy
would not be his future. His heart yearned for more.
On July 6th 1991, with just a suitcase full
of dreams and just $50 in his pocket, Derek headed for Hollywood to make it in the entertainment
industry. Life was extremely harsh in L.A. since he didn't know anyone
...He didn't even have a job or a
place to stay. Finally, he got a job at a local swap meet just
to get by,
working as a vendor selling junks. In January 1994, fate
stepped in and Derek met Jim
Carrey through a common friend. After receiving some advice on
how to make it in Hollywood from Jim Carrey himself, Derek decided that he would pursue acting.
His luck started to turn around in November of 1994, when he just
happened to walk on to a Warner Brothers Studio lot. They just
happened to be casting a small role for a Korean Seaman, Chulso
Lee. The movie? Outbreak starring Dustin Hoffman, Kevin
Spacey, Morgan Freeman and Rene Russo! They had already cast a much older
and experienced Korean actor, but
they felt that he looked too old.
Believe it or not, they replaced that established Korean actor with
Derek! Impressed with his attitude and willingness to contribute, Dustin Hoffman and
director Wolfgang Petersen helped him out and gave him a crash course acting right
there on the set (a Korean Vessel out in middle of the ocean in San Pedro.)
His scene took three days, but most of the scene was cut during editing.
His part as the Seaman who takes in the infectious monkey was Derek's
first big taste of a major Hollywood studio movie.
In June of 1995, Derek received a call from his agent, who asked if he
would consider auditioning
for the role of a Korean Newscaster in the $75 million dollar sci-fi
movie blockbuster, Independence Day. He was up against some of
best newscasters around the world, including some reporters, anchor,
announcers from Entertainment Tonight, Extra, Channel 4 News, and
even Sharon Tay, a famous local newscaster. Despite his lack of
experience, he managed to land the role.
Derek began to work for production companies as an intern and a production assistant. He
learned how to direct from Hong Kong film director/actor James Nam,
and started to produce his own movies. In 1999 Derek produced a
film called Impact Zone, and he is currently concentrating now
producing theatrical release feature films.
His work has
brought him in contact with many of our local stars. He's
interviewed Brook Lee (Miss Hawaii/USA/UNIVERSE 1997). Traci
Toguchi (Miss Hawaii 1995) starred in one of his movies (remember her
in Karate Kid II?). He met Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa (who currently
resides in Kauai!) and began to co-write
a script called "Camp Ninja" along with a local Hawaiian
screenwriter named Tony TL Young. Mr. Tagawa remains a very close
currently heads his own production company called DerekO
Entertainment. He also is on a personal crusade to help aspiring
actors and actresses, because he was tricked by a lot of people in the
entertainment industry while trying to make it. If you need advice,
Derek is the one to ask, since he has been there before!
His websites are at www.derekdkim.com
Take a tour of the sites, especially if you are thinking of getting
into the Hollywood scene. You can also check out this
link which gives a very comprehensive listing of Derek's many
Though he isn't a local boy, Derek Kim is a local boy at heart.
He misses Hawaii and speaks of his days here fondly. Most of
all, he misses the food! His inspirational story reminds us that
you can do anything you put your mind to. Derek teaches us that
if you follow your
dreams, you'll someday achieve them.