Why K-Pop Star Jennie’s Role May Start a Hollywood Trend

It is impossible to have lived these last years without hearing passionate cries about game of thrones and Euphoria. These two shows defined the current era of television, and with their new show, The idol, HBO is no doubt hoping to replicate their success. From what we’ve heard so far, what makes The idol unique is that it is written by and features singer-songwriter Abel Tesfaye (better known by his stage name The weekend) and is led by showrunner Sam Levinson, the creator of Euphoria.

The show will follow an aspiring pop star (played by Lily-Rose Depp) who gets involved with a self-help guru and a cult leader (played by The Weeknd). Judging from the two short trailers we’ve seen so far, it looks like a number of pop star hopefuls are lured into a commune by The Weeknd’s character and coerced into wild parties, to drug use and orgies. On-screen text in the first teaser promises that “the most sordid love story in all of Hollywood” will come from “the sick and twisted minds” of its co-creators, Tesfaye and Levinson.


In addition to Depp, the show features an ensemble cast, many of whom are actual singers: pop singer Troye Sivan, singer and actress Debby Ryan (Insatiable), Rachel Sennot (Baby Shiva), Steve Zissis (bag head, Unity), Hari Nef (Transparent), and beginner Juliebeth Gonzalez. However, one of the other actors in the series is the subject of particular buzz. Jennie Kimmember of South Korean pop mega-group BlackPink, is confirmed to play a major role.

Who is Jennie and what is her role in the idol?​​​​​​

Jennie Kim (who sometimes goes by the name Jennie Ruby Jane) is one of four members of the South Korean pop group BlackPink, one of the most popular groups in the world. At the time of writing, BlackPink has six songs with over a billion views on YouTube – more than The Weeknd, which has just five. BlackPink has broken multiple world records for song views and record sales, won more awards than can be counted, and has the most subscribers of any musician on YouTube – nearly three times. more than The Weeknd.

So it should come as no surprise that Jennie’s role in idol, its premiere in a dramatic television series, is causing a stir. However, since there have only been two short teasers for the series so far, we don’t know much about her character. It looks like she’ll be playing a recurring role as a member of The Weeknd’s aspiring popstar cult. As such, she’ll likely get a decent amount of screen time and can be seen in multiple scenes throughout both trailers.

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Despite the lack of information about his character, if you go to YouTube and read the comments on The idol, you’ll see that more than half of them are about Jennie. Not about the show’s co-stars, Lily-Rose Depp and The Weeknd, but about one of its supporting characters, played by Jennie. For this and other reasons, The idol could very well mark a turning point in the American and Korean media.

Popularity of K-pop in the United States

For South Korean musicians, breaking into the US music market (the largest in the world) has long been a dream. Since the early days of modern K-Pop, groups have attempted to break into the United States. In 2012, Girls’ Generation became the first Korean group to perform on television in the United States when they performed their single “The Boys” on The Late Show with David Letterman. In the decade since, it has become increasingly common for bands to travel to the United States to appear on talk shows like The Late Late Show with James Corden and hello america.

K-Pop record sales are increasing every year, their television appearances are becoming more common, and they are winning more awards at US-based award shows. Probably the highlight of K-Pop on American television was when boy group BTS held a press conference at the White House in May 2022. Because the group is so large (with seven members), they are gave the whole scene, humorously appearing as if they had taken over the presidency.

One of the unique aspects of South Korean music and TV culture is that idols are meant to be jack-of-all-trades. Not only do they sing, but they are also expected to be world-class dancers, actors, television personalities and models and sometimes have other talents such as drawing, practicing musical instruments, making impressions, gymnastics, etc. This is because the idol management studio wants them to become culturally ubiquitous. They have to perform at concerts, of course, but they also have to appear on talk shows, variety shows, fashion magazines, TV commercials, and often in movies and TV shows, so fans keep talking about them.

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It’s not uncommon for K-Pop stars to appear in big movies or TV shows. For example, this year’s acclaimed Korean-Japanese film Broker, which will be a major contender for Best International Picture at the upcoming Oscars, features pop star Lee Ji-eun (better known by her stage name IU) in a major role. In fact, it’s relatively common for high-profile movies and shows to feature pop stars as a marketing tactic.

For example, two of the most popular Korean TV series this summer, Extraordinary Prosecutor Woo and Minamdang Cafeformer star singers Kang Tae-oh (from 5urprise) and Kang Mi-na (from IOI and Gugudan).

How The Idol Could Be The Start Of A New Trend

What is unique The idol is that a K-Pop star has never played a role in an American drama television series. Because the show is literally about pop stars in training, Jennie’s involvement seems natural. However, this could very well be the start of a new trend. The overwhelming fan response to Jennie’s presence, which comprises the majority of all online chat about the show, is sure to grab Hollywood’s attention.

Whether The idol is a success, other American productions will probably follow. In today’s era, major Hollywood properties are designed for international audiences as much as they are for domestic audiences. For example, over the past decade, Hollywood films have often placed Chinese characters in flattering roles to open doors to the huge Chinese film market. In movies like Arrival, The Martianand of course, The great wall, China comes to the rescue and saves the protagonist when everyone else has abandoned him. Considering the huge global popularity of K-Pop stars, it’s only a matter of time before movie studios start co-opting them as well.

And given the nature of K-Pop, that would be a natural fit. It is common practice in the South Korean music industry for management studios to choose band members based, at least in part, on the languages ​​they speak. Nowadays, each group has members who can speak English, Japanese, or Chinese, in addition to Korean, so that the group can promote themselves overseas. Of the four members of BlackPink, three are fluent in English. Finding idols who speak English and can star in a TV show would actually be quite easy. There’s probably at least one in almost every K-pop group.

Clearly throwing Jennie in The idol has already proven to be an incredibly successful marketing choice and will greatly increase the show’s viewership. In all likelihood, then, The idol will be the start of a new trend in Hollywood. It may take a while, but it’s inevitable that more K-Pop stars will start appearing in American movies and TV shows in the future.

The idol debuts on HBO Max in November 2022.

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