(ATTN: ADDS photos)
By Lee Haye-ah, Jung Ahran
SEOUL, July 20 (Yonhap) -- For Minah, a member of girl group Girl's Day, eyeliner was her "life" until she was cast as the ugly but sweet female lead in the TV series "Beautiful Gong Shim."
When she gave it up to play the part of Gong Shim, the "lesser" of two sisters in terms of looks and brains, a new sense of acceptance and confidence began to grow within her.
"I once read an online post that asked how I became a celebrity when I'm even uglier than non-celebrities," the 23-year-old told reporters in a round table interview Tuesday. "That hurt, even though I knew I didn't have a pretty face."
One thing she learned while playing her character -- a 24-year-old bum who's losing her hair due to the stress of looking for a job -- is that it's OK to not be pretty. Once she realized that, she stopped blaming herself for something she couldn't change and regretted the times she spent wallowing in sorrow.
"I decided to become a celebrity who's not pretty," the idol singer said, now wearing dark eyeliner, a leather skirt and high heels.
The SBS TV series concluded Sunday night with a nationwide viewership of 15 percent, delivering a rare strong performance for the channel in that time slot.
Despite a predictable plot, the story charmed viewers as Gong Shim went about her daily business of making ends meet without trying to look attractive. Namgoong Min, who played the softhearted human rights lawyer Ahn Dan-te, is also thought to have successfully changed his image from the "villain" to the "good guy."
"I think Gong Shim was adorable because she had dreams even though she lacked confidence," Minah said. "The fact that Ahn Dan-te loved her probably made her more endearing."
Gong Shim was Minah's first major role in a drama, which initially caused concern among her co-workers and critics that she wouldn't be able to deliver.
But as Namgoong said in a press conference last month, her talents were on full display and she did "500 percent better than I expected her to."
Asked about her acting ambitions, Minah said she wants to take it one step at a time and practice characters she's familiar with. She could relate to Gong Shim, which made it easier for her to look natural.
There was a lot of hard work involved, though, when she had to express Gong Shim's feelings as she was compared with her older sister and discriminated against by her parents.
The actress said she grew up in a completely different family environment.
"I have a lot of doubts and blame myself a lot, so I'm constantly thinking about whether I have the talent to continue acting," she said. "I think I don't know enough to be able to say whether I'm good or bad at acting."
If she continues, though, she probably won't be given a "pretty" role, the actress said.
"I felt like I could do anything when I removed my eyeliner, which is my life," she added with a laugh.
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