We had the good fortune of connecting with Lyena Kang and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lyena, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I believe I’ve always been a risk taker, it’s just in my personality. I lived a very sheltered lifestyle growing up, but the minute I learned how to be independent I became a rebel in my own way. Taking a risk meant making my own decisions and seeing them through no matter what. It may not sound like a risk to you, but when you come from an Asian family that risk of pursuing anything other than business or the medical field is extreme. Especially because I chose a creative path that no one in my family has ever done. Maybe that’s why it was exciting to be on my own, I felt that taking this risk meant finding out who I really am as an individual and sadly not enough people in this world take that risk. They choose a career path of safety or stability, but my life has never been stable. I moved a lot, we were rich and poor in different phases of our life. We never truly had it together and I think that’s what pushed me even more to create my own value. I’ve always wanted to help people and naturally I got into Psychology. It has been the driving force as to why I create. I learned early on that it was only going to be up to my mindset and perception to create a world that I want to live in. I took every risk possible when I first stepped foot into this industry. I was alone and I didn’t have the initial support I wanted from my loved ones. I had to do everything by myself from starting my own Instagram account and creating my own content. Back then Instagram wasn’t a big thing and I didn’t look at other peoples work, I just focused on my own and expressed myself the way I wanted. It was crazy, but my self portraits started to draw the attention of LA photographers and even designers. That risk paid off because as soon as one person said yes to create with me, it was nonstop. Although there were situations where I was taken advantage of, that risk was worth it early on because it taught me how to be mentally strong. It taught me what kind of artists I wanted to work with and what it means to truly find authentic creatives who would help you with your path. I learned what community was and how to discern whether or not someone had good intentions for me. But most of all I learned how to make my own decisions and how to carry myself, honestly that’s the most important habit that I developed because I took risks and said yes to myself and others. When I look at who I am today I’m honestly proud that I never let go of my love for psychology and I used it as a driving force to help heal not only myself, but to empower others too. I got my bachelors in Psychology because I knew this education would somehow create my own path for me, and that was one of the biggest risks I took. I listened to my intuition and there were many points in my life where I questioned my journey, but I have never once regretted it. I am who I am because I was a rebel in my own way, all 5’2 of me and I have accomplished so many milestones by being independent, believing in others, and building a community where artists support each other. When you create a space where risk is a natural habit, people feel drawn to you because you’re doing something that not most people can do and you’re showing the world that you can be successful. It’s not superficial at all either because when you openly share your struggles and vulnerabilities you build bridges instead of walls. I became not only a model, but that gate opened up to me becoming also an actress, writer, photographer, creative director, and now a designer. Taking a risk means saying “fuck it” to societal standards and starting your own. If I didn’t stay independent as a model booking my own work I wouldn’t be who I am. If I didn’t try new things such as acting and writing I would never have the opportunities that I have now. If I didn’t believe in my photography or creative directing skills I wouldn’t be able to create the synergy that I do with the creatives I work with. Lastly if I didn’t value the meaning of my own work to heal people there’s no way I would have created my first graphic shirt or work on collaborations with other designers. My best advice is to use all your gifts, no matter what. Who says you have to stick to only one? Our identity is ever changing and in life you have to learn how to just flow, trust the process, and take a risk on yourself!
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I just want the world to know that choosing a creative path means choosing an honest one. There’s a chance to start over and to reinvent yourself the way you want to. I started from nothing, but throughout the years I have built something truly amazing. It was something I never expected for myself, but it is who I am to the core. I am proud to be able to represent what it means to be true to who you are, how to express yourself regardless of society, and how to rewrite your story. These may sound like little things to someone else but these attributes helped me become known in this industry and developed every dream opportunity for me.
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
In a busy city like LA, if you want to escape the bright lights I would suggest going to explore Little Tokyo. That place is my safe Haven, especially the Kinokuniya bookstore where I can spend hours just reading beautiful healing books and learning about legendary artists. I also love exploring the little shops such as Popkiller and Midori Matcha. These small places make me feel that I’m in another world where I can rest, be inspired, and eat delicious foods to treat myself after a long day of work!
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
Every artist I have ever worked with whether it was a good or bad experience, I appreciate. Honestly it’s crazy to say but the most supportive people who have really kept me going is my Instagram community. A lot of the people I created with became my real life soulmates and bestfriends that have been there for me since the beginning of my journey! My supporters are the most kindest, most caring, baddest creatives, and die hard lovers to me.
Facebook: Lyena Hironaka
Other: Design https://everpress.com/lyena-chan
@Kitsuneghost, @Lamontphoto, @Smallerocean, @Vinceaung, @litsuneghost, @Honnnhoang, @Kaitlynvitug, @Sarahpardini @Offtherailsmag