After watching Jung Ho Yeon’s memorable portrayal as Kang Sae Byeok or Player 067 in the hit Netflix series Squid Game, it’s hard to believe that the model-turned-actress was once insecure about her acting.

Jung revealed that she was in New York to model for Fashion Week when she was asked to send an audition video “as soon as possible”. She had never filmed an audition tape before, so she poured all of her energy into the script for about three days.

According to Soompi, Jung actually forgot about her audition tape until they told her they wanted to see her in person so she quickly caught a flight back to South Korea.

When she was told she got the role after the in-person audition, she said felt a huge pressure being lifted. Since she was still so nervous, she had to stop drinking coffee because it made her heart pound too fast.

During the shoot, her anxiety did not subside, so she had a talk with the director over a meal. She wanted to know why the director chose her for the role.

“I picked you because you’re already perfect as Sae Byeok,” the director told her.

Thanks to that one line from the director, she gradually managed to overcome her fear and nervousness. She said it was still a challenge to act well but she put a lot of work into her character and spoke to her seniors on set to learn more from them.

“I focused on studying Sae Byeok’s inner thoughts. She’s an interesting person in that she lives for the sake of others, rather than herself. But I think my research was lacking in terms of methods of expression. I was also slow at absorbing the director’s directions,” she said.

“Then, I experienced actions coming out of me even when I wasn’t thinking about it, which made me feel like I had grown closer to Sae Byeok, and that was cool. I figured that’s what it felt like to live as a character. Because I’m lacking, what I focused on most was being sincere.”

Supporting her all the way were her boyfriend Lee Dong Hwi, and her best friend Jennie of the Kpop group BLACKPINK.

Jennie even sent a coffee truck to the Squid Game set, and even dropped by to cheer Jung on.

Jung’s hard work and diligence has definitely paid off, as she is the show’s clear breakout star. Her follower count on Instagram has increased thirtyfold since the debut of Squid Game, growing from over 400,000 to a whopping 12.6 million over a space of two weeks!

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