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Actor Jang Da-ah plays the role of Baek Ha-rin in Tving’s original series “Pyramid Game.” Courtesy of Tving

By Lee Gyu-lee

Rising actor Jang Da-ah generated considerable buzz even before she kicked off her acting career, when she was revealed to be the older sister of singer Jang Won-young, a member of K-pop group IVE.

Actor Jang Da-Ah / Courtesy Of Tving

Actor Jang Da-ah / Courtesy of Tving

Landing her debut lead role in the series “Pyramid Game,” the actor has proven herself to be more than just a K-pop star’s sibling, playing a psychotic antagonist.

“[Being Wong-young’s sister] was disclosed when I was first gaining attention. Regardless of my intention, I felt it was something that I could not avoid and accepted it,” the actor said during an interview with The Korea Times at a cafe in Jongno District, Seoul, Thursday.

“My dream of acting was so strong and certain, and I came to achieve that dream [with the series]. So I didn’t pay much attention to nor was swayed by any accompanying external factors.”

Adopted from the popular webtoon of the same name, Tving’s teen thriller series follows a newly transferred student, Sung Su-ji (Kim Ji-yeon), to Baekyeon Girls’ High School, where the class collectively plays a brutal ranking game called the Pyramid Game, orchestrated by Jang’s character, Baek Ha-rin.

Under the system, the class takes part in a popularity vote every month to rank each student from A to F, allowing those with higher grades to lord over those with F until the next vote. After becoming the target, Sung soon realizes Baek, the class’ “princess,” is the creator and manipulator of the game and goes against Baek to destroy her nice-girl facade as well as the social hierarchy she controls.

The 10-part series, which dropped all episodes on March 21, was directed by Park So-yeon, who previously led the 2023 rom-com series “The Heavenly Idol.”

Jang shared that this series was a dream come true for her as she has always wanted to portray such a multi-layered character, adding she tried to not get distracted by the buzz about her and her sister.

“The moment that I’ve been dreaming of for a long time came true with Baek Ha-rin from ‘Pyramid Game’ … What worried me was whether I would be lacking in portraying my character since this was my debut in acting,” she said. “I wanted to reach the standards I set for myself. So I focused on achieving those standards rather than putting my mind to other things.”

A Scene From The Series 'Pyramid Game,' Starring Jang Da-Ah, Left, And Ryu Da-In / Courtesy Of Tving

A scene from the series “Pyramid Game,” starring Jang Da-ah, left, and Ryu Da-in / Courtesy of Tving

“I wanted to portray a two-sided character like Baek. At the same time, this character has both sweet and villainous traits. So I thought I could handle it well if I took the challenge and it came to me like a gift right from the start. As it was my dream opportunity, I studied harder and took time to struggle to prepare myself.”

Baek grew up in an unfortunate background, getting bullied as an orphan and being adopted into an indifferent wealthy conglomerate family. Her twisted upbringing has turned her into a manipulative and psychotic person who enjoys systemic bullying.

Although it was difficult to fully understand the darker aspects, Jang tried to find common ground with the character.

“There were more nonverbal cues than verbal ones to Baek. I personally enjoyed expressing the moments she was internally going through raging emotions … She’s firm and organized, which I thought was similar to me. I felt how she is not easily influenced and has all the plans in place in her mind is somewhat in sync with me,” she said.

“Humans have different sides to themselves so I created her considering what I would do if I were in her shoes. I feel this role has made me widen my spectrum. It wasn’t easy to portray Baek but the process was fascinating and I learned a lot through it.”

Jang expressed her acting ambitions, taking this debut project as a significant stepping stone.

“‘Pyramid Game’ was the first experience for me in every aspect. The experiences I gained from this will surely serve as a foundation in whatever projects I take moving forward,” she said. “I want to use this opportunity as a stepping stone to improve and fill in any gaps to become a skilled actor.”

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