K-pop is a genre of music that is finding its way into the world of music and most non-Asian fans love it because of its catchy tunes and enormous talent.
As its name suggests K-pop is basically Korean pop music and by default will be dominated by East Asians.
That notwithstanding, Alexandra “Alex” Reid became the first African-American musician to break racial barriers to become K-pop’s first ever Black idol in 2015.
More about this
Her love for the genre made her take that giant leap and the former BP RaNia band mate enjoyed her time in the Korean music industry.
Being an idol came with its own demanding work schedules and challenges of working in another country were not absent but the fame, glitz and glamour gave Alex the needed platform to showcase her talent.
“I got into K-pop when I was scouted at a recording studio in LA and flew to Korea about a week or two later,” Alex told NextShark.
“I had been a longtime fan of K-pop but didn’t pursue a career in it because I didn’t see any idols who looked like me, so it seemed like an impossible dream.”
With everything that she had going for her, she jumped at the opportunity to make a name for herself in Korea’s competitive music industry.
Once she zoned in on what she wanted to do she went all in, but it came at a price. Her personal life and relationships had to take the fall for her dreams.
“I mean it literally was not even a question whether or not I should do it. I love hard work, getting better, and am always striving to improve,” she said.
“That’s how I knew it was more than a dream for me — because I love even the struggle of this business more than the security of a ‘normal’ life,” Alex said. “I am just as passionate about the sacrifice as I am the payoff.”
There is more to meet the eye when it comes to being a K-pop idol. According to Alex, it takes a lot of mental, physical training and sacrifices.
“A lot of respect you become accustomed to as a human gets at the very least overstepped and at times completely trampled over when you’re an idol.
“You start to accept things you would never accept in real life because you are so passionate about what you are working towards… and that can be a slippery slope.”
Working in a foreign country and not speaking the same language can be daunting on anyone, especially because communication tends to be distorted and you are easily misunderstood. Also, the culture shock may take time to sink in.
“It was more than not knowing my schedule or what people were telling me to do. It was the ostracism of not being understood or felt,” she recalled.
“I knew that I was being misunderstood and even misjudged a lot of times, and it was a struggle feeling like I was powerless to change that.
“No matter how hard I studied or how fast I learned, it was always too little too late. I had to find a way to be okay with being alone and develop a figurative force field around my heart to protect my happiness… and I did that.”
She added that studying Korean is one thing all aspiring non-East Asians should look into before venturing into a career in Korea as it will help with the transitioning much faster than she had.
With regards to being in a predominantly racially homogeneous environment, Alex said the hospitality of Koreans was second to none.
Her fan base were very supportive as well and may sent well wishes to her encouraging her and urging her on when she felt like crumpling in to the pressure of her new role.
Being the first black K-pop idol meant she was a pioneer on that front and many non-East Asians now had someone to look up to if they ever dared to venture into the world of K-pop. Her win sparked conversations in the Korean entertainment industry.
“I definitely think the world of Korean entertainment is warming up to the idea of opening doors for more racially diverse talents.
“With its recent spike in international success, it only makes sense that more races are represented,” she commented.
“I am cheering on everyone who auditions, so I hope they really get out there and go for it.”
Today, she is focused on making a name for herself with her solo career in the United States blending both American and Korean pop and penning her experiences into a book.
“Since relocating, I finished my album, much of which I wrote while in Korea. I have mainly been focused now on writing a book about my struggles as a Black, non-Asian K-Idol.
“It is completely honest and sheds a lot of light on what really happens behind the scenes. I plan to release the album and book together because they give context to one another, and the emotional place I was in while creating the music.”
Nothing good comes without the needed work it requires. Alex mentioned that having a great work ethic balanced with the passion and drive for the work will eventually feed into the much desired success any aspiring idol hopes to get.