André Dae Kim

On finding identity as an artist

Words: Victoria Kwan

Talent: André Dae Kim @andredaekim

Photos: Storm Santos @stormsantos

Fashion: Luca Kingston @lucakingston

Groom: Andrea Pezzillo @andreapezzillo

From watching movies like Indiana Jones and Lord of the Rings with his parents, to attending a high school rooted in the arts, André Dae Kim grew up around film and developed a deep interest for the craft. After graduating is when André began his journey to becoming a professional actor by auditioning for local roles in Toronto.

His first big break was in the Canadian drama series, Degrassi: The Next Generation, where he played fan-favorite Winston Chu. Since then, he went on to land roles in Schitt’s Creek, Salvation, American Gods, Northern Rescue, Whistleblower, The Hardy Boys, Locke & Key, and, most recently, Star Trek: Strange New Worlds.

Currently, André stars as Christian Ozera in Peacock’s original series, Vampire Academy, based on the bestselling books by Richelle Mead. Christian is guarded, independent, kind, deeply thoughtful, and always there for people in need of help. As someone who is independent, sometimes to a fault, André finds he and his character have more things in common than not. “Besides the Strigoi parents and love story with a princess, I think we do have many similarities, which can be kind of tough as an actor. You don’t ever really want to feel like you’re just being yourself.”

Finding identity as an artist can be challenging. Despite André’s 10 years of professional experience as an actor, he still struggles with this. “There’s no playbook on how to [act]. You don’t have a counter over your head telling you how much experience you’re getting and how much more til you level up. It’s a constantly morphing thing.” Reminding himself to trust in his values, believe in himself, but also remain open to change has been helpful in forming his identity.

Stepping into a role that’s already been imagined by so many fans comes with a lot of pressure. André feels this pressure to meet certain expectations even now after the show has already been released. However, he has tricks to help him get into a scene. “When I need to ground myself, you can usually find me in a corner before we start rolling. I’m usually saying something that my character would say before the scene starts and I’m furiously repeating it to myself over and over again.” All in all, he views it as an honor to have the opportunity to bring his interpretation of Christian to life and to star in Vampire Academy.

“There [has been] tons of ‘pinch me’ moments working on Vampire Academy. The fact that we were filming in a castle in Spain was epic!”

When reflecting on his acting career thus far, André recognizes how much he’s grown. He shares, “I think one of the biggest lessons I've learned is that life is more moments than it is a state of being. We think we'll be happy when we reach a certain threshold, but the truth is, happiness comes in moments, and the thing that kills happiness the most is when we try to clutch on to it, instead of just enjoying it.”

A simple moment André looks forward to every morning is getting coffee and going on a 5-minute walk. “Just little things like that can be a good start for a whole day.” He also enjoys gaming, playing volleyball, watching anime, and following UFC in his free time.

So much is ahead for André. With an open mind and a drive to find meaningful work, André wants to always find pleasure in his career as much as possible.

“I’ve been doing this for 10 years professionally, but I’m still so green. I think my career is still quite a blank canvas, and I’m just excited to see what colors I can collect along the way.”