Before she became an actress, Arden Cho was a college student eyeing a career in law. While she veered from that initial track, she’s finally getting the chance to try out lawyer life on screen with Netflix’s series “Partner Track.”
“When I first started reading the script, and then reading the book [that the show is based on], I was like, ‘Oh my gosh — this would’ve been my life If I’d actually gone to law school,’” says the actress, who stars in the show as Ingrid Yun, an ambitious lawyer with her sights on making partner at her firm. “And then once we started filming the show, I was like, ‘Oh thank god I didn’t go to law school or become a lawyer. I wouldn’t have made it; I just wouldn’t have been cut out for this.’”
Cho has made it in a field that’s arguably more competitive: entertainment, and “Partner Track” marks her first leading onscreen role.
“There are not many shows like this — I can’t think of really any show with an Asian American female lead going through this relatable career experience, but also managing friends, love, family, all of that,” she says. “I love a show that allows an Asian American woman to be bold, to be fierce, to be strong, to be going after what she wants and figuring out life, making mistakes, falling in love — and looking glamorous while she does it.”
The series is based on a popular book by Helen Wan, a lawyer-turned-author who tapped into her own experience working in corporate law. The Netflix rom-com hits many of the marks that appealed to fans of “Emily in Paris”: an ambitious and fashion-forward young woman, played by Cho, navigates career and a love triangle in a big city, with her supportive (and stylish) friends in tow. From the office to galas at The Plaza, her character’s tailored looks include a Christian Dior suit, a white Gucci jacket and pink Oscar de la Renta coat, and Prabal Gurung gown.
“She’s got some great shoes,” Cho adds. “I am just the worst at stomping around in these heels. But boy, did I get good at walking down the sidewalks in Louboutins,” she continues. “No one will know that the toughest part of shooting this show was walking and talking in stilettos.”
At the moment, Cho’s back home in Los Angeles after spending two months in Australia and Singapore — a “very long holiday,” with some press for the show mixed in. Cho notes that her last time in Singapore was several years ago, as a singer, and the trip marked her last big concert before she had to put her music career on pause in favor of acting. In 2014, she starred in the popular teen series “Teen Wolf” for two seasons, which marked a major breakout for the actress. Earlier this year, it was reported that Cho passed on the opportunity to join the film reboot of the supernatural teen series when she found out she’d be paid less than her costars who were white and male.
It’s a theme that shows up in “Partner Track,” too. Despite its bright aesthetic, the show also tackles heavier topics including racism and misogyny in the workplace.
“I love that we get to see what it’s like being an Asian American woman in all the different microaggressions that she experiences and the assumptions made, and how so many situations are unjust,” Cho says. “And I love that our show went there in a way that felt very real and unfair, as it is in reality. Sometimes TV will make it all seem so cushy and easy and nice, and you’re like, well, I wish it was like that in real life. In ‘Partner Track,’ a lot of those moments leave you feeling terrible. And you’re like, oh yeah, that’s what it must be like. And a lot of these things happen every single day, all the time.”
“Partner Track” premieres on Friday. With a long vacation behind her, and summer coming to a close, Cho is ready to get back to work. The actress notes that she’s developing a film, but is most excited about heading back into the office.
“We will all be crossing fingers that everyone is binging ‘Partner Track’ so that we hop into season two,” she says.