Amalia Emma Lola Yoo, also known as Amalia Yoo, is an American actor of Korean, Puerto Rican, and Greek descent. Netflix series Grand Army is her TV debut. She attended Fiorello H. LaGuardia High School of Music & Art and Performing Arts in the Drama studio and has also studied drama at GoodCapp Arts since 2016 and has traveled across the United States performing in Katie Cappiello’s “SLUT: The Play” in the role of Joey and “A Day In The Life” in the role of Eve.

We had the opportunity to chat with her about her past experiences in serious drama roles she’s portrayed, her view on feminism and her journey as a young actress living in New York City.

What brought your interest into acting ? 

Despite being really shy as a kid, I loved performing and being on stage. I took my first acting class when I was in elementary school and have loved it ever since. There’s a rush of adrenaline right before you step out onto a stage or before the director says “action” that’s addictive. It’s also so amazing when you feel like you’re giving a voice to someone’s story through the character you’re playing. 

Who do you look up to (as an actor/director/etc.)?

Katie Cappiello’s drive and compassion have always inspired me. I look up to her ability to craft such amazing stories and to change the way people think through her art. 

You have traveled around the world incarnating Joey in the 2013 play : SLUT: the Play. The main character’s story revolves around interviews of her sexual assault. We know how rape culture impacts and damages the lives of young women around the world. Tell us a little bit about your experience in the character and what it means to you or to others ? 

I learned so much through my involvement in SLUT. I truly came into myself as a feminist and understood what it meant to be a feminist while working on the play. Playing Joey on stage was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. It’s like running a marathon because Joey is on stage for the entirety of the 90-minute play. Playing Joey was also extremely rewarding. As we traveled around the country we would have people, most often girls my age, come up to us after the show. They would tell us how grateful they were that their peers saw the show and how relatable it was and how they found solace in knowing they weren’t alone. The fact that my performance and Katie’s storytelling helped other people means everything to me. 

Tell us a little bit about Grand Army and your audition ?

One night as we were all hanging out and eating pizza, Katie told me and a bunch of her other students about how she was writing Grand Army. Since I didn’t have any representation, was under 18, and truly unknown in the industry, Katie had to fight for me just to be able to audition. After the audition, I got a callback. After my callback and some more of Katie being my advocate, I got the part! 

What was your own experience in high school and do you feel it is well portrayed in Grand Army ? 

I went to LaGuardia, a public performing arts high school in Manhattan. Even though Grand Army is in Brooklyn and not a performing arts high school, there are so many parallels between my high school life and the show. There are certain feelings and experiences that so many people go through in high school, and the show encapsulates them in such an authentic and nuanced way. 

What was challenging about bringing the script to life ?

I put a lot of pressure on myself to do right by my character, Katie, and the rest of the cast. Also, I had never worked in front of a camera, so I had to learn as I went. Besides that, the script was so well-written that it made my job as an actor much easier. 

How is the character like you or different than you ?

Leila is extremely insecure and feels lost and out of place. I definitely experienced those feelings as a freshman, and they still come back to me in certain moments now.  I think through growing up I’ve become more sure of myself than Leila is at the current moment, but I have no doubt that she will get there with time. 

Without giving anything away, what’s your favorite line of the show ?

It’s so hard to choose just one! Ok, one of my favorites is definitely “But I’m like, drowning in APs right now, I don’t have time to deal with a f*cking fetus!”  

What would be your ideal role and why ? 

There are so many kinds of roles that I would love to play, and they’re all so special and different in a unique way. I would love to do a classic Shakespeare play or a period piece. I would also love to play a role where I can sing or play the guitar. 

What’s next for Amalia Yoo ?

Enjoying the fact that the world can finally see the show that I love so incredibly much, and then getting back to work! 

Photography @wolfe_and_von
Styling @itsamandalim
Makeup @elienmaalouf
Hair @guiniushair
Team @platformprteam