TV & Movies

Gilmore Girls Star Keiko Agena Was In “Survival Mode” Playing Lane Kim

“What it was for people was different than what it was for me.”

Gilmore Girls' Keiko Agena Says She Played Lane In "Survival Mode"
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Keiko Agena played Lane Kim over the course of Gilmore Girls seven seasons and revival series. While her character may have been introduced as Rory Gilmore’s best friend, Lane quickly became a fan favorite in her own right — a spirited teen who bucked against her religious upbringing and forged an independent path as the drummer of Hep Alien.

But during a recent appearance on The Ringer’s Dear Felicity podcast, Agena opened up about the complexities of being associated with the character.

Lane Kim’s Legacy

“What it was for people was different than what it was for me,” Agena explained in the June 19 episode. “And so, in a weird way, I feel like I want to honor what the experience that people had from the show, what it meant to them, especially young Asian people — because I get that comment a lot, about what it was like for them to see someone like them on screen.”

Playing the character, however, “was such a survival mode situation,” Agena said. She added that she is grateful for the role but reached a point where she can move away from the expectations of playing Lane.

“I think I’m at a transition point in my life where I have to let go of the pressure that I put on myself to be the best version of who it is that I think that you love,” she said. “Because I love her, too. I can tell, when I meet someone who knows Gilmore Girls or who loves Lane, it’s like, I recognize that love.”

Agena Is “Protective” Of Her Character

This isn’t the first time Agena has spoken about her character’s legacy. At Entertainment Tonight’s 2021 panel, “A Conversation of Culture: AAPI,” she explained that she feels “much more protective” of Lane looking back on the show.

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Agena pointed to Lane becoming a wife and mother so young and being “subservient” to her mom as storylines she thinks differently about today. “I wasn’t thinking about anything [back then], but now, when I think about her, I sort of wish something better for her,” she said.

She also noted that had the show been made today, she and Emily Kuroda (who played Mrs. Kim), who are both of Japanese descent, wouldn’t have played a Korean American family.

Looking Ahead

While Agena has been open about the mixed emotions stirred by Lane’s legacy, she still has love for the Gilmore Girls world and would return to it, should the opportunity for a revival follow-up arise. “I do think that there is story left,” she told Entertainment Tonight in 2018. “I mean, especially with Rory's storyline. So, I mean, I would love to work on another installment of Gilmore Girls.”

Series creator Amy Sherman-Palladino would like to focus more on Lane in a theoretical sequel, too. “There were a couple of things [I wanted to explore], but we just didn’t have the time. I really never liked the way Lane’s life shook out,” she recently told Rolling Stone, adding that she “would have liked to have spent more time on her.”