Irene Choi talks about her "mean girl" role in Netflix's 'Insatiable' and why we should be rooting for her
In an exclusive interview with Meaww, Irene Choi, who plays Dixie Sinclair in Netflix's 'Insatiable', talks about how misunderstood the character is and why she played the villain
Netflix's 'Insatiable,' has been renewed for Season 2 and if you are wondering about the fate of its unsatiated characters, then Irene Choi, who plays Dixie Sinclair is here to give you more insight on the show, an in-depth view into her character's emotions, besides sharing details about her own personal life and love for cats.
While Dixie may not have been the brightest character we have encountered, Irene Choi, on the other hand, is a graduate of Harvard, who quit her 9 to 5 corporate job to pursue her career in acting. The 25-year-old actress, who plays opposite Debby Ryan, humbly puts it that her career breakthrough has been very gradual, from being cast an extra to being a mean girl, who is far from popular, after all Dixie is the kind of villain you secretly root for, isn't it? Irene Choi knows that too.
How would you describe Dixie Sinclair and do you think she is a misunderstood character?
Dixie's the mean girl of the show. She's out to make life a living hell for Patty, who is Debby Ryan's character. She's quite misunderstood and doesn’t really have any friends, except for her adoptive mom, who isn't the best parental figure. She’s different from traditional TV and movie high school mean girls because she’s not really the most popular girl, but rather far from it. Like everyone else in the show, she hasn’t established her true identity. On paper, she's insatiable to win, but on a deeper level, she's insatiable for acceptance.
In the fictional plotline, there's a visible competition between Dixie, Magnolia, and Patty. Do you think that translates to real life as well?
Definitely not! I actually can’t think of any time we would be competitive.
Dixie is not very bright so she's constantly failing the pageants. You're a graduate from Harvard. Is there anything about Dixie that you identify yourself with or are you completely opposite of her character?
On paper, we are vastly different and I hope so given that she has virtually zero moral backbone, but I definitely started to discover parts of Dixie similar to myself throughout shooting the first season. Something that Dixie and I do have something in common is that we are pretty blunt with our opinions. We have a poor verbal filter and while that can be viewed as candid honesty, it can often get us into trouble. We’re also both quite into fashion, although her and my personal styles are very different. You will almost never catch me in a miniskirt with heels, especially not going grocery shopping.
What do you think will be the fate of Dixie's character in season 2?
We just heard that season two is happening! I have no idea what will happen to Dixie. Last we know of, she kind of ran away and no one in the 'Insatiable' world knows what happened to her. That definitely leaves it ripe for anything to happen. And in this kind of show, ANYTHING can happen. I mean, for all we know, she could’ve ran off to Mars and joined a traveling circus of space clowns.
Please tell us about your audition process and your reaction when you bagged the role.
My manager got me the audition the night before I was to go in. The day I auditioned, I found out I got called back to test, which is usually the final process for casting series regular roles in a pilot, or a new show. The test day was a crazy busy Friday. It was right in the middle of pilot season, which is when all the auditions happen for the new upcoming fall shows, and that day, I also had a few callback sessions for other pilots. I actually ended up showing up to the 'Insatiable' test late because the appointments prior were running really behind.
After I was done, I had no idea how it went. It’s hard to gauge these things sometimes. There are times when I think an audition went splendidly and I never even get a callback and there are times when I think I did miserably and I end up booking it, so I’ve learned to just not even dwell on it. That Friday evening, I was so mentally and physically exhausted from that day and week, I treated myself to Thai food and dropped into a massage spa next door where I turned my phone off for an hour and zen-ed out. When I got out, my manager called and said something like, “Pack your bags. Find a sitter for your cats. You’re going to Atlanta.” I think I let out a HUGE breath of relief before I said anything.
What was the biggest challenge when you were playing Dixie?
I think finding moments to ground her and to make her a little relatable somehow. Even though she’s the villain, I would hate for people to want to see her die and never come back. Of course, there is a selfish career perspective to that, but I also think that the most interesting villains are the ones you secretly kind of root for.
How was it working alongside Debbie Ryan? You obviously don't get along on the show, but what was your chemistry like off the screen?
She’s great and such a top-notch professional — both on and off set. She’s unlike anyone I’ve ever met and is definitely in a league of her own. Our relationship in real life is very different from what is on the show. No punches, just hugs. Lots of laughs and cerebral conversations.
You have your degree in psychology. How did you venture into acting? What was your first major big break?
I first started acting as a kid doing a little bit of local community theater during summers, and while it was never serious nor consistent, it was enough for me to know that acting was something I really enjoyed. But I didn’t do any of it in college and focused mostly on music and student government as my extracurriculars. I enjoyed psychology as a major, although it was never something that I intended to pursue as a profession. I moved to LA for a job offer I had in a corporate 9 to 5 setting and I just wasn’t feeling it. It wasn’t for me. So I quit without having anything lined up and figured I should finally give acting a real professional try. I mean, I was already living in the city and had a lease on my apartment and wasn’t quite ready to go back to surviving East Coast winters yet. It was a now-or-never kind of thing and although there have been times where I felt like it wasn’t going to work out, it was the best decision I ever made.
It’s hard to say what my first major big break was because my career has been so gradual, that each step has been a “mini-break” on its own. I started with extra work, then I booked a 3-word part on a show, then a one-liner, then a few lines, then a guest star of an episode, then a recurring guest star, and so forth. If I had to pinpoint a time though where I thought to myself, “Wow, I can do this. I’m a real actor now,” it was probably booking 'Community,' which was my first recurring guest star role. That was really exciting.
Who would you like to work with next and why?
This is such a difficult question. It changes every day. I guess today it’s Aaron Sorkin. I love the way he writes dialogue and I think he’s an excellent storyteller.
What are your hobbies and how do you like spending your weekends?
I love crafting and playing video games in my free time. I’m also active with animal rescue, specifically cats because LA has an uncontrollable stray cat population. For my part, I foster kittens when I can because the local shelters just don’t have enough room.