Creativity Spotlight: Jessie Baek
Our Creativity Spotlight series features advice on artistic practice, inspiration, and a glimpse into the worlds of artists working in a variety of disciplines.
Meet Jessie Baek, an actor, performer, and theatre maker who is passionate about diversity and tackling stereotypes in her work.
"I am passionate about diversity and representation within the arts because it’s what I wish I had more of growing up, and it’s what I feel is still an important issue, especially for the younger generation today."
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m an actor, performer and theatre-maker. I graduated from drama school in 2017 and have since worked mostly in theatre. I was recently in Wild Goose Dreams at Theatre Royal Bath, a play about cross-cultural connections and finding love in the digital age, and also The Visit at the National Theatre, until it closed early due to Covid-19. I also have played a small role in CBBC’s Secret Life of Boys, which will be out later this year.
I was born in South Korea and grew up in New Zealand, Korea and the UK, which unquestionably shaped who I am. I wanted to act since I was very little, so I’m very grateful to be where I am today. I don’t think my younger self - or even myself two or three years ago - would believe all the things I’ve done so far!
I am passionate about diversity and representation within the arts - especially in film, theatre and TV - because it’s what I wish I had more of growing up, and it’s what I feel is still an important issue, especially for the younger generation today. And when I mean representation, I don’t mean just having a face that looks like mine onscreen to “feel seen” (although that is important too) - it’s about having diverse people on centre stage, as main characters, being unapologetically ourselves and with proper character development and storylines, without always having to refer to racial stereotypes or having an accent that marks us as “foreign”, or being the secondary/best friend character to support the main character.
We’re allowed to be loud and individual, have different tastes and occupations and ideas and not always be what all these stereotypes and expectations placed on us as a group make us out to be. So I’m trying to help make a difference with the roles I get, in big and small ways.
What keeps you inspired?
Hope - there is always something to look forward to, and if you’re not in a good place at the moment, to remember that things won’t always be like this. Finding the joy and excitement in little things, as you’d do when you were a kid, whether it be your favourite ice cream, a sunny day, or sharing a smile with a stranger.
How do you approach your artistic practice?
Realistically, lots of time and realising that your resources are finite - you often won’t have the time, energy, or money to do everything you want, so never feel guilty about prioritising your health and your needs first. You don’t have to, and can’t, do everything at once. Especially when dealing with emotions within your work (and your personal life too) - you need time to recover.
What advice would you give to other creatives?
Your work doesn’t have to be perfect. Stop looking for perfect - it doesn’t exist.
Trust your gut instincts. If it doesn’t feel right or if you feel someone is making you uncomfortable, don’t ignore it. This applies for not just your creative work but most aspects of your life, too!
Be happy for others strengths and accomplishments - it doesn’t take away from yours.
If you ask someone for help, especially for free, thank them for their time and work, and be sincere in showing that their input is highly valued and appreciated - and offer to pay when you can; creatives deserve to be paid for their time.
PLUG TIME! What have you been working on lately?
I’m part of an organisation called The New Works Playhouse, which is taking in new writing submissions from playwrights and gathering actors from all over the world to perform them. We sell tickets and make sure that those involved with our projects get paid and we’re currently accepting new writers and performers.
For more details about The New Works Playhouse, check out their website and social media:
To stay up to date with Jessie's work, follow her on social media: