Arden Cho Knows What She Wants, TYVM

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Arden Cho isn’t new to the industry, but there are still things that delight her. Especially now as she taps into the dark side with her latest role as June in Avatar: The Last Airbender, the long-awaited second remake of a beloved animated series that was just renewed for not one, but two more seasons.

After the cancelation of her gone-too-soon series, Partner Track, walking away from what seemed like one of the biggest reunions in recent TV history, and a major stop in the industry after multiple strikes, Arden Cho has kindled her passion for acting once more in Avatar. And amid the success, for the first time in a long time, Arden is simply having fun. “There are just no rules for June in the way she is,” Arden tells me with glee over the phone, days after season 1’s release.

The actor is working on another soon-to-be revealed project that similarly has her buzzing, so really Avatar is only one part of her continued domination in Hollywood. Cosmopolitan spoke with Arden about joining the Avatar legacy, wisdom she gleaned straight from set, her Buffy the Vampire Slayer-coded dream roles, and why Partner Track continues to surprise her.


Congratulations on Avatar: The Last Airbender‘s success! It seems like you had so much fun on set based off of your recent TikToks. Were you a fan of the series before signing on as June?

I’m such a big fan of what the show means for us, as Asian American actors in this community. I feel like it’s so exciting to have a project that is predominantly Asian. It feels like the first, especially in this sort of this kind of fantasy world. It also is such a fun project that involves a lot of different generations of actors. There’s a lot sentimental value in getting to work with people that I’ve known for 20+ years, as well as support a lot of these really young actors, and seeing just how the industry does feel like it is growing and changing for the better.

It’s really exciting for a lot of my friends who grew up on this show. They’re watching with their kids or spouses, and it has a little something for everyone. I binged the original and it was fun to see how it all comes together because the show is very hush-hush show. We didn’t have all the scripts. I only had my two episodes. I’ve seen the pilot three times and it makes me cry every time. It’s just so beautiful.

arden cho corsets

Kendall Bessent

How did you approach a project like this? The fanbase is so huge and passionate, there must’ve been some kind of pressure in taking this role.

There’s always so much pressure when you are recreating something or bringing something to life that already has a fanbase. There was definitely a lot of pressure, especially in the whole audition process. Obviously I was doing my best to bring out as much of June as I could. I got really lucky working with showrunner Albert Kim. He was very clear in what he wanted to stay true to the original and bringing out little bits of myself as well. We just had fun. I feel like that’s why I love playing June, because it is probably the most fun I’ve had as an actor in a really long time.

I feel like sort of sat into my career a bit and am more comfortable as an artist. There are just no rules for June in the way that she is. I love that they’ve made slight tweaks like her saying, “Hey, Iroh, you’re cute.” Uncle Iroh is actually one of my favorite characters. He has the greatest loss and such a big heart, and I just love what he does for Zuko. There are some small tweaks and changes and surprises for the fans, because it’s boring if it’s perfect cookie cutter version, right? I tried my best to stay true to the original source while also having fun.

It’s pretty evident you found a spark in this series.

I literally tell people, it made me be like, This is all I want to do. I just want to go on shows and be villains. Even though June’s not even really a villain. Maybe that’s what’s more fun about it; She doesn’t consider herself bad guy. She’s just existing and doing what she needs to do.

There was so much care for all the characters and all the actors on the show. It took a long time for us to get in all the hair, the makeup, the wardrobe. I mean, I can’t even get dressed as June on my own. When everyone loves a project, it just creates such a fun environment. The leads are so young but so humble and so happy to be there. They’re so adorable. It all made it such a fun experience.

Having been in the same position at one point in your career, did you share any advice with them?

I was coming in episode 5 and 6, so they already had their groove. I know they’re kids, but they were so mature, so grown, so poised. I’m always an open book and happy to talk about everything. I’m a big fan of Paul Sun-Hyung Lee and Kim’s Convenience as well, and I got know him and hear hear his story as well. It was my first time working with him. I don’t know if I can take any credit for anything other being there and having fun.

Everyone always has this idea of what set is like, but I always joke and tell people, Oh, no, I mean, most of the time we’re just waiting. It was a very refreshing project and it was really nice working on this after Partner Track, because when you’re number one, there’s so much pressure. Having to be on 24/7. You don’t get any breaks. You’re working day and night. You go home and you prep, you’re in every scene. To now be on a show where you’re a very clear guest, it was like my dream vacation. It was so wonderful.

arden cho corsets

Kendall Bessent

I want to talk about Partner Track, because so many people truly love it. What is it like looking back on it now, almost two years later?

Because we sort of shot the show and the scripts were written in a way that there were definitely going to be multiple seasons, we didn’t even finish the story. I know Georgia Lee, the showrunner, would always talk about how season 2 was going to be Ingrid and Z, the underdogs taking over, and it was going to be very redemptive for Ingrid. Season 1 wouldn’t have ended that way if we knew we were only getting that. Partner Track sort of got caught in a tough time. A lot of really fantastic shows were canceled. The business has taken such a big shift where a lot of great shows are just not getting season 2s.

I still get a ton of messages when people are binging it. We have this minority-led show, but it’s also a woman’s story about being in this world. It gave a small glimpse to the silent uncomfortable moments that are very hard to capture and explain for women. Even my friends who are in the hospital or the business world, not just the legal world, will say they related to the show so much, a lot of those very silent, awkward moments for Ingrid where she almost says nothing. You just feel for her, and because of that show, people got to see it. Some friends who were watching as couples were like, Oh, wow, I like felt for my wife who has to deal with this kind of stuff.

I’m just bummed that we didn’t get to explore season 2 or have this redemptive arc for her and find out what Ingrid, Rachel, and Tyler could do. Z comes into all this money and power, and it would’ve been really cool to see this amazing Asian-American power couple on TV, which I feel we don’t often get unless it’s, like, a very Asian show. I also absolutely adore my cast. We still chat, and I miss them so much. We all hope to meet again in some other TV or film world.

It was also pretty significant that it came to you during a time when you were also going through something in your own career, especially as news of the Teen Wolf reboot came out.

Oh, for sure. To be honest, after Partner Track, I took a very long hiatus because it was such a heartbreak. On one end, it felt like it was such a success. It was a win to have a show like this and to have this world created. But then it felt like such a failure and such devastation for it to die so soon. It’s a double edged sword. We see the wins but we also see the loss. At the same time, I’m so thankful for the experience. I’ve learned so much and I feel, honestly, better than ever. I’m in such a fun and healthy place.

For me to even be able to say no to things that I felt were not fair or things that were unjust, I think a lot of that bravery came from stepping into Ingrid’s shoes. I was always a yes person and I didn’t know how to stand up for myself in some ways. I always say that’s one of the best things about acting, because we always give a little bit of ourselves to these characters and we learn something as well. And then, again, stepping into June right after that was so exciting. Being in a fantasy world is always different.

arden cho corsets

Kendall Bessent

It’s a very real experience that so many people have, even separate from the corporate world.

I think the hardest thing about Ingrid was—as much as we know it’s acting and I’m not much of a method actor, I’m very in and out—you’re still living it. We still had a lot of really tough scenes to film. There were days I would go home and just feel terrible, because it sucks to have to relive these really tough moments that I’ve experienced in my own life. Moments where you just know that you’re invisible or that it is clearly discrimination. To experience it over and over and over while you film is is quite tough. I remember when I was filming with with Bradley Gibson and we had our tough scenes, we’d hug each other after every take and be like, I’m sorry. I love you.

We know it’s not real, of course, but there’s still this pain you feel and this intimacy of these small little cuts. There was so much pain and love that went into it. I think once that rug got pulled real fast, it was one of those moments where I was like, Oh, man, what’s next now? Now I’m like, I just want to do some fun villain stuff. I’m gonna play a vigilante. Sometimes it’s tough being in these very real life situations in shows where it hits a little close to home. Ingrid and I are very different, but some of the scenarios were very close to home.

Along with villain roles, what kind of projects are you looking for now?

I’m working on a project now that I can’t quite share yet, but I’m having a blast doing it. After this, I would love to do something in a superhero world. I don’t even know if it’s still happening, but they were developing Cindy Moon as Silk. I want to do that so bad, but it’s also one of those shows where they’re gonna have to make it quickly before I age out of that project. I think I just want something with a female character who is questionable. Is she a villain? Or is she a good guy? Maybe she’s doing morally bad things, but it’s good. Like a Dexter type. Growing up I’ve always loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer. So I feel like a modern-day Buffy, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be vampires. I definitely want there to be some kind of slaying.

I like shows that have that realness where you get relationships and a character who is struggling with identity, love, friendship, all those real moments. But maybe there’s some magical fighting happening or some superpowers. I’ll always love Kira Yukimura

from Teen Wolf for just the spark she had. On the days we’d film a lot of supernatural stuff, I wished I had Kira’s powers. I wish I could just like blow up some light bulbs or turn lights on. Or please let me, like, jump off a building and then walk away without a scratch. There’s this part of me that would love to continue in that kind of world, whether it be film or TV. I’m so down as long as it’s a badass female character who gets to slay.

arden cho corsets

Kendall Bessent


Stylist: Cassie Anderson. Hair: Seiji Yamada. Makeup: Jonathan Wu. Manicure: Elle Gerstein. Creative director: Mallory Roynon. Visual director: Scott Lacey.

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