Daniel Kim, a high school junior from the Orange County School of the Arts (OCSA) in Santa Ana, CA, has combined his love for history with his burning passion for performance. For his achievements, he has won this year’s Legacy Award for the Humanities, a prize given annually by the Creativity Foundation.
In 2013, Daniel entered in the performance category of the National History Day (NHD) contest with a drama on “The Korean Stalemate: Shift in American War Ideals.” By creatively playing both Douglas MacArthur and President Truman, Daniel performed a hypothetical debate between two political giants representing two equally compelling war theories that still prevail: total war vs. limited war. With his work, Daniel has raised the curtains on both a segment of history and on his own aspirations.
Daniel’s NHD experience started in his eighth grade year. His first project was a documentary video based on personal stories from families like his own during the Korean War, which was selected as a finalist at the California State competition. On his second and most recent project, he delved deeper into The Korean War, compiling hundreds of accounts from Truman, MacArthur, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and other notable government officials. With the support of his middle school history teacher, Meridean Mieres (to whom he is “grateful beyond words”), Daniel developed his project, which examined the effects of military policy during the Korean War on policies for the Vietnam, Iraqi and Afghan Wars in a one-man play. Daniel’s performance of “The Korean Stalemate: Shift in American War Ideals” won him second place at the National level of NHD, and the Creativity Foundation’s Legacy Award for the Humanities. He continues to remain active in NHD and has founded an NHD club at his school, and showcased NHD at the Orange County Department of Education for parents and teachers.
Along with history, Daniel shares a number of other passions and hobbies. From the third grade Daniel has been enamored with the stage and telling stories in front of an audience. Over the past three years, Daniel has been in numerous musical shows and theater productions including Thomas Andrews in Titanic, Billy Crocker in Anything Goes, and Rooster in Annie. He still recalls the thrill of his first performance onstage, and strives for that thrill in his current work.
The process of developing a character is what he loves the most. When he was in Annie, his character, Rooster, was a completely different type of person than he is. As Daniel delved into the psyche of that character, analyzing his past, his intentions, and his physicality, Daniel reveled in how different he could become as Rooster. Because of this passion, Daniel now attends the Orange County School of the Arts, where he develops his craft and dreams of becoming a professional actor.
His love for acting and music bleeds into other areas. Daniel takes his talent and love for acting and teaches underprivileged students around his community new ways to express themselves creatively. He founded an A Capella club at school, which will be performing at various nursing homes, as well as raising money for charity organizations. He has played the piano for eight years the guitar for four, and regularly sings at hospitals, senior homes, church, and other venues. Daniel has also competed nationally as a 2nd degree black belt in TaeKwonDo. Daniel desires to impact his community with his talents, and share them with others around him.