How to Let Go of Idealism & Create More Freely with Keiko Agena

Hola heroine,

This is your host Majo. Welcome back to a new season of Heroine!

Do you want to create more freely? If so, you might wanna shift your relationship to mistakes, and let go of some of that idealism. That’s the central topic of today’s show with actress Keiko Agena. You might remember Keiko for her supporting role as Lane Kim – the punk rock obsessed daughter of strict Korean-American parents on the show Gilmore Girls. I know I was pretty obsessed with Gilmore Girls back in the day. Recently, Keiko has been recurring on SWEET/VICIOUS, COLONY and the new Netflix release of 13 REASONS WHY.

She’s also the author of a new Artist workbook called No Mistakes: A Perfect Workbook for Imperfect Artists.

In today’s episode, we talk about Keiko’s experience as an Asian American woman in the world of acting and Hollywood, why you don’t have to call yourself an artist, and the one thing she recommends you do to bring more creative freedom into your life.

As a heads up: For the next eight weeks, there will be an episode dropping every Thursday – alternating between interviews and minisodes. The minisode series is all about boundaries, my favorite topic, so stay tuned for those too.   

Subscribe and listen to the full episode here (you must subscribe to receive latest episode).

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Highlighted Excerpt:

Majo: Circling to the book, “No Mistakes: A Perfect Workbook for Imperfect Artists”, but the word ‘Perfect’ is crossed out, I wanted to get your take on something. I worked with women in my coaching work and I noticed when it comes to creativity, even our creative side projects, we can take it so seriously. We can think of it as another goal to accomplish instead of something that is full of exploration and play and I just feel like so many of us have lost our sense of play and I wanted to get your ideas on that. Why do you think that is? And I noticed your book is so playful, and I really appreciated that about it.

Keiko: Yeah, I think that that’s true. I don’t know why it is, but it definitely feels like we can get into this habit of rating ourselves against some perfect ideal. And even if it’s not worldwide perfect ideal, but somehow, we’ve gotten into this habit of an imaginary perfect ourselves and we’re like, “Oh, if I were my perfect self, it would be this and it would have all these elements.” And what I’ve found is that, for me at least, a lot of the ways in which I’m creative or only hurt by that idea of having to be perfect or having to have so many rules set on myself, it’s not to say that you don’t work hard. I think that a lot of us do work hard. It’s more that all of the self-criticism and the self-judgment gets in the way of us even figuring out what it is that we want to say – what is it that we want to create in the first place before we go back and put our editing hat on and then kind of carve out something in more detail.

I think the very first step is to get used to the imperfection of it all and reinvesting in the joy of the full-fledged, happy, amazing, incredible joy that can be in something, which our aura of the criticism kind of like stirs.

Show Notes:

  • On childhood, acting, auditioning and landing a role on Gilmore Girls show. [02:23]

  • Transitioning from Hawaii to the mainland and realizing how being Asian American would impact her acting career moving forward. [06:06]

  •  The ease of temping in contrast to her discomfort and anxiety while on Gilmore Girls. [09:50]

  • More on Gilmore Girls and newfound interest in drawing, arts, and creativity. [19:44]

  • About her new book, “No Mistakes: A Perfect Workbook for Imperfect Artists”. She also talks about how what you do will label you eventually. [22:21]

  •  Her advice for creative women who want to unleash or discover their creativity. [30:50]


Learn more about Keiko Agena and her upcoming book No Mistakes


by Carolyn Pennypacker Riggs


Bianca Wendt, an award-winning art director and graphic designer based in San Francisco and London. Learn more about Bianca and her work here.

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