We had the good fortune of connecting with Sopharra Sophie Kim and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sopharra Sophie, any advice for those thinking about whether to keep going or to give up?
Ooo, that’s a tough one. I was pretty close to giving up breaking in the animation industry. I had applied for jobs and emailed recruiters for years and didn’t hear a peep. Finally, after years of radio silence, I finally got an email back from a recruiter. But not just an automated email, a personal rejection. I was like okay, I’m getting noticed. I later finally saved up money to take storyboard classes and continued to meet people. After that I kept getting rejection emails, but they were all personal responses from recruiters. A part of it is that recruiters would hear my name from teachers I took classes with or other classmates. My network was slowly growing. I made a habit to email recruiter every 3-4 months. Rejection was hard at first but then I got use to it, it was a part of the process. I felt like it was bonus points when the recruiter addressed me by name and gave out a well thought out response. To this day, I thank the recruiters who responded to my emails. It was part of the reason I kept going.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
I am a story artist! So, I pretty much work with a director or supervisor that makes sure that what you see on screen the story is coming across clearly. For some shows story artist are sometimes the writer as well.
Hmm I’m not sure what sets me apart from the others. But I do know I love to draw nonsense. I love working on comedy. In the future I would love to work on more action comedy, it’s such a fun combination. Shows like SpongeBob, Rocko’s Modern Life, and a lot of standup is what attracted me to the comedy genre.
I still make sure that I have time for myself to draw. That’s when I allow my silly ideas come to life. No one can tell me no. I think by doing that, other people can see what kind of stuff I like to work on. A project that I’m really excited about is Centaurworld, it will be dropping on Netflix. It’s the most perfect combination of action, comedy, and all the feels. It was really exciting to work on because I got to work with artist I admired before breaking into the industry. Many artists on the show influenced a lot of my personal work before breaking into the field. I feel like this show allowed me to draw all kinds of styles. In some ways it gave me permission to fully express myself.
It took me awhile to break into the industry. But after my second show, I was fortunate enough to keep getting work. A lot of the shows I have been on has been a fantastic experience. I been fortunate to be on shows where the crew is kind, supportive, and have a wicked sense of humor. When I see my friends pitch their boards I’m always inspired and in awe. Sometimes I get excited and just want to pick at their brains for how they come up with this stuff. Its pretty amazing.
There are a couple things I learned along the way; art isn’t everything, be genuinely kind, and have hobbies outside of work. A lot of my ideas I get are from my hobbies like cooking, lifting, and reading. It’s odd, I know I draw for a living but it’s different from the drawing I do as a hobby. I’m always inspired by the interaction I have with people or the silly conversations with my family and friends.
I want the world to know that simple acts of kindness can really make a difference in people in ways you would never expect it. True kindness is not expecting anything in return. I am only where I am now because of it.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Oh man that’s really tough. There’s so much to do in LA! Okay, so I would recommend a nice hike in La Canada at the Los Angeles Crest. It is absolutely beautiful. There is a steep hill so just a heads up. I would then recommend getting breakfast at DISH in La Canada right after. I love their Eggs Benedict.
Or I love hanging out at the cliffs in San Pedro. Driving across the bridge still terrifies me to this day. There’s a fish market in San Pedro and you can eat at the waterfront. But if you want to go a little fancy Sugar Fish is one of my favorite sushi spots it’s located in a couple of places. But if I’m in Long Beach I stop by Kashiwa that serves up a fantastic omakase. It’s low key and I sometimes like going there by myself.
I would definitely recommend catching a show while being in LA. The Troubadour is always a fun place to go. Or for a very intimate concert I enjoyed the The Theatre at Ace hotel a lot. They also serve wonderful cocktails. Also, this venue has seats haha.
If you want to see art LACMA and MOCA are always the go to. But if you want art more catered to feature films or tv shows Gallery Nucleus in Alhambra is the place to go. The Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver city is another fun place to pop by too! There you can see all kinds of funky stuff. There’s also the Long Beach Museum of Art which is always fun and you’re literally next to the beach. To grab lunch nearby I would recommend Portfolio café that’s next to the record store Fingerprints. That store is also super fun to pop into. Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
There are so many people in my life that helped me on my journey. A huge shoutout to my partner Sam Julius. He has been there for me through thick and thin and was there to see all the good and bad. He would listen to me while I was dealing with PTSD. He would stay up till 1am and make dinner for me when I came back from my classes. He has been my rock. My family for their love and support. A huge thanks to my parents for all the sacrifices to put me where I am. I honestly cannot thank them enough. My little brother Anthony who was and still is my hype man. He helped me start lifting and working out when I felt like life was unbearable. My teacher and mentor during college Ricardo Delgado. He’s an amazing artist and overall amazing person. I pretty much thank him for helping me get a second chance at life. Olga Ulanova, my first mentor out of college. I thank her for her patience and going through all of my awful storyboards. Ben Juwono, an amazing but tough teacher. I met him in Concept Design Academy. He pretty much gave me the greenlight of “yes you can make it as a story artist”. This was during a time when I was really struggling because my dad was in the hospital and I was working a dead-end job and felt like I had no way out. Tron Mai and his amazing class, I still talk to people from his class to this day. A huge thanks to Aliki Theofilopoulos for giving me a chance on my first job. I was literally pushing a coffee cart a couple weeks before I started Dreamworks TV. My friend Bijou Karman, who did not look down on me when I was struggling. I used to be embarrassed to hang out with her because we were at different places in life. The only two friends I keep from high school Julie Bullock and Jen Kuon, the kindest and most hardworking people I know. Esther Gonzalez Murray, Lauren Krieger, Katya Bowser. Fantastic people I met on The Rocketeer. I love their nonsense and can talk to them for hours. Quintin Puebla, David Cardenas, Preston Do, and Ty Jones. I also met them on Rocketeer but they’re also people that I would play Smash Bros with. Thanks to The Rocketeer crew for letting me be myself and helping me the with healing process. Allen Zhang, overall, just a cool dude and great listener. He’s never made me feel bad for not seeing certain movies or shows. Sarah Soh, an amazing person and supervisor. She has helped me grow as an artist and as a person. Maha Tabikh, an amazing artist overall super kind person. She helped me normalize therapy and I love talking to her about lifting. There are so much more people I want to thank. I been very fortunate to meet people who are kind and supportive throughout my journey.