K-Pop icon on life, music, and obtaining happiness…“Success is not the answer,” says Minzy, one of K-pop’s most revered performers, during a Zoom call with Clash. She knows this adage firsthand. In 2009, at only 15, she debuted as the main dancer of 2NE1, a powerhouse girl group who revolutionized the industry, and whose influence is still felt today, five years after their disband. Under YG Entertainment, the group surged to popularity with bold looks and confident lyrics. Hits like ‘Fire’, ‘I Am The Best’, and ‘Can’t Nobody’ brimmed with 2NE1’s attitude and charisma, inspiring millions to dare a little further in their lives.
But all the awards, global tours, and public acclaim don’t matter if there’s not a solid ground behind you when the lights go out. In previous interviews, Minzy openly discussed her struggles with depression at the peak of 2NE1’s success, and how lonely she felt without anyone to confide in. “Success can’t help you find happiness,” she reflects today. “The people who are near to you, they are the ones who can.” Those words were her advice to all the debuting idols in K-pop’s constant delivery of novelty — but they fit anyone wondering how it truly feels to be at the top.
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Now at 27, Minzy, with her easy smile and thoughtful words, feels much more stable. She developed the tools to handle her lows and seize her highs, and a support system that doesn’t let her down. “When you are having a hard time, you want to be alone, but that’s when you need to mingle with others, with your close friends, your family,” she shares. “And you have to express your hardships to those people. That’s how you can get help from them, and through this communication you can survive.”
The hard times she went through are part of her identity now — a resilient structure that enables her to thrive. “If you don’t struggle, you can’t learn from it, and if you can’t learn, you can’t recover from those hardships. You cannot compete with them, and you cannot prepare for the struggles to come,” she reflects. “Now I can respond to them better.” A technique that helps her these days is self-praise. “I say to myself that I’m pretty and that I’m doing great. In this way I have control over my mind.”
When thinking back to the times she was suffering, the singer says that the young Minzy had a lot of worries. “I want to tell her to just put them down. Your existence is special itself.” That’s a mentality she brings to her life in general. In 2015, she opened her own dance studio, Millennium Dance Academy, with the goal to help young people become professional dancers. “I wanted to help. I wanted to be right in a good way, and I wanted to teach them. I feel a lot of responsibility in this,” she says.
MIinzy’s entrepreneurial skills didn’t end up there. Last year, she founded her own music company, MZ Entertainment, and is in charge of managing her own activities and releases. “Before [MZ Entertainment], everything was controlled by my [former] company. There were representatives who handled those things, but now I have to do everything,” she explains. “It’s really hard, but I’m glad that I can give my ideas and do what I want to do. That’s a benefit for me.”
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Minzy released her first solo EP, ‘Minzy Work 01: Uno’, in 2017 through her former label, Music Works, followed by her first English single, ‘All Of You Say’ in 2018. After leaving the company in 2020, she released the ballad “Lovely” as an independent artist.
Her latest endeavor is the Latin-influenced single ‘Teamo’, released last month. With lyrics written by Minzy, she says the inspiration came from an online fanmeeting with Brazilian fans last year. “They gave me really enthusiastic responses, so that’s why I wanted to give my heart to them, to give my sincere love,” she says.
When Brazilians love something, they love it with all their heart. And Brazilian Blackjacks (2NE1’s fandom name) have a history with the group that makes it all more intense. Back in 2014, the group launched a Facebook event called 2NE1 Welcome To My Country. The country who gave the most ‘likes” to the event post would receive a special surprise from the group. Brazil won, and 2NE1 recorded a video promising a visit soon, but that encounter never happened. Despite the heartbreak, Brazilian fans kept the passion for the group, and still rejoice at any chance of getting closer to CL, Sandara, Bom, and Minzy.
Reminiscing about her time with 2NE1, Minzy admits that there is some pressure in being a solo artist. “During 2NE1 times, four people were on stage, but now I’m alone. It’s a little hard, but I enjoy my stage,” she reveals. Once again, it’s all about the people close to her. The ones who make everything worth it. The fans, the choreographers who helped her finetune “Teamo,” the peers she meets at music programs while promoting — and dancing.
“Dancing is like my friend. When I’m having a hard time, it gives me relief. My stress just goes away,” she says. “I feel alive through dancing.”
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Words: Tássia Assis // @_tassia_a
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