Karrueche Tran: Focused and Living

Many knew her face before understanding how to pronounce her name. She was simply reduced to “Chris Brown’s girlfriend” and tied to a headline-grabbing romance that keeps social media addicted to what’s next.

Newsflash, Karrueche Tran is over the drama and on to a positive being and progressive career in acting.

At 26, the born and bred L.A. chick has had her share of exploration from restaurateur aspirations to a stint in graphic design, thoughts of interior design and landed in a career where she has the opportunity to portray all of those roles on the digital and small screen.

From hosting gigs that take her around the world to booking an ongoing role on the Daytime Emmy winning web-series, The Bay, and now onto a fashion-based drama with StyleHaul’s, Vanity, alongside Denise Richards, Karrueche is working to make her name stand out sans the chaos.

And that just covers the web scene.

In July, Karrueche will co-star in the movie 3-Headed Shark Attack for Sharknado Week on the SyFy Channel.

JET caught up with the chill Misses to discuss her upcoming ventures, channeling her locked emotions through the art of acting and being brown in Hollywood.

JET: I want to definitely give some background as to who you are. So let’s take it back to childhood. What were the aspirations of a young Karrueche?

Karrueche Tran: I was kind of all over the place (laughs). I wanted to be a hairstylist, a restaurant owner. I wanted to be a graphic designer, interior designer. I had a lot of different interests. Some kids grow up and know what they want and stick with that. I really didn’t know. That’s kind of the beauty in life — figuring it out. Not many people know, but I did go to school for graphic design which I love. But unfortunately, I am not a school girl. But I love the creative aspect of it. I’ve been able to test out everything I’ve wanted to do and landed here somehow.

JET: It sounds like you’ve always had a connection with the arts and entertainment. What is it about acting that drew you in?

Karrueche Tran: Honestly, I never thought that I would be an actor, at all. I’ve always been shy and reserved. I think it was just me not taking off my shell yet. Everyone expected [for me to] be an actor and when my manager presented it to me and said let’s try it out, I said OK. It never hurts to try and…acting is not easy. It takes a lot of emotion and there’s a lot to process…it’s hard work. There are people out here who have been acting since they were kids, so for me to step into it now at 26, it’s a different story. But working with my acting coach and doing more projects, I absolutely love it and I’ve been growing as an actor and as a woman. To me, it’s a bit therapeutic because if you know me on a day-to-day basis, as far as my emotions, I’m very locked in. I don’t like to express myself and be emotional. And through acting, I’m allowed to do all of that naturally. I’ve been able to, thank God, tap into my characters. I love it. I just want to continue to learn and master the craft.

JET: Nice. You’re a Taurus right?

Karrueche Tran: Yeah, I am.

JET: I am too and what you said about locking in emotion and letting loose with acting, I can relate to that freedom of transformation and being anything other than self.

Karrueche Tran: Yeah! Exactly and it’s fun. Sometimes, I’ll do a scene and sometimes surprise myself because I didn’t know I had it in me and would be able to bring out that emotion.

JET: You’re stepping into the acting realm at a time where so many eyes and the topic of conversation is heavily weighted on diversity. Going through the auditioning process, what has that experience been like for you? What are your thoughts on being Brown in Hollywood?

Karrueche Tran: I’m all for diversity and anything multicultural. I’m half Black and half Vietnamese and grew up very diverse. I had an Asian godmother and Korean best friends, so being a Black actor and being involved in the industry is amazing. I would love to be able to contribute to the community of African American actors. We need more of them out there, just period. People look at me and ask “What are you?” and I tell them Black and Vietnamese and they think that’s really cool. I love and am happy that I’m able to bridge these two cultures and even the Asian culture because it’s not that many out there.

JET: Diving into some of your upcoming projects – first congrats on winning a Daytime Emmy for The Bay Series. Who comes into a new profession snagging awards?

Karrueche Tran: Yeah! It’s such an awesome feeling. I just started my career in this and to be a part of a cast that’s Emmy-winning is really awesome and sets the bar for me to keep pushing and working hard. It’s a very warm feeling and I’m very, very blessed. We just wrapped Season 4, so we have more stuff coming out!

JET: The most recent addition to your acting resumé is the StyleHaul web-series, Vanity. Can you talk a bit about your role and the set-up of the series?

Karrueche Tran: Vanity is one of those roles that I really love! It’s on StyleHaul and sponsored by Maybelline and it’s set in a fashion-based world. It’s like a take on Devil Wears Prada and my character would be like the Meryl Streep…the B—h. I’m happy because I’m able to bring [a] bitchy side (laughs) and that’s not me in person. It’s so cool to tap into this character. I have a lot of anger and emotions built up so, again, I’m able to use that as therapy and really get it out with my character. It’s a lot of fun and I love playing her.

A lot of times, I just sat back and watched Denise Richards as an actor and as a woman. She is very ambitious and strong. She knows exactly what she wants — what she’s talking about. She’s a vet and not afraid to voice her opinion. So I was definitely able to learn from her — a woman who has also been through a lot. So we are kind of in the same boat as far as dealing with this drama and the craziness in our personal lives and having it also be public, you know.

JET: Without spending too much time on the Chris Brown situation, do you feel like those experiences and the timing of it all has given you more drive and focus in your pursuit of acting and channeling the craziness?

Karrueche Tran: It does. Just to keep working and focusing on myself. It helps to block out all the noise. When I have all this drama going on in my personal life and unfortunately, it’s all over the media, I can just work and put my time and energy into that. You can’t go wrong with working hard. So, if I can just continue to focus and work on that, then, hey, I’m Ok. I’m breathing, I’m fine, my bills are paid (laughs). And with things going on and with me being emotional on the inside, I can reverse that and let it out in my acting.

JET: In your exploration stage of acting, have you yet identified what attracts you to a script?

Karrueche Tran: Not necessarily. I’m open to trying anything. If I see a script and they have nudity in it….I don’t know if I’m really ready for that, yet! (Laughs) I have to work my way up.

JET: In this moment, with all that’s happening in your career, how would you describe this time in your life?

Karrueche Tran: Honestly, I’m just really happy and blessed, living in this moment and embracing it. Because I was at a point in my life where, I guess you can say, I was lost and didn’t really know what I wanted to do and now I’ve found something that I love for a career — modeling and acting. I’m really just happy and I can only go up from here!

Keep up with Karrueche’s grind via social media: @KarruecheTran and catch her on Vanity every Thursday on StyleHaul.