It has now been almost a year since Tiffany left girl group Girl's Generation, one of the most successful K-pop groups ever, and moved to the U.S. to start from scratch late last year. She signed a contract with major entertainment agency Paradigm Talent Agency and released her debut album there under the new stage name of Tiffany Young in January.
"I feel like I've become a trainee again," she said. "I wake up at 6 a.m., go to drama school at 8, take lessons from 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., and practice by myself at home before going to bed at 1 a.m."
Her abrupt departure from Girls' Generation, which remained successful amid the arrival of a slew of younger girl groups, sparked rumors that the singer had conflicts with other members and her agency.
But Tiffany said her activities as a member of Girls' Generation had made her dream of working in the U.S. Along with Big Bang and Wonder Girls, Girls' Generation were K-pop pioneers that made inroads into Japan, the U.S. and other countries before the international success of Bangtan Boys, also known as BTS.
She had many opportunities to perform on big stages around the world like Staples Center in Los Angeles and Madison Square Garden in New York, and that only inspired her to dream bigger, she said. "I really felt the influence of K-pop [touring around the world]. I wanted to take advantage of that."
Tiffany was born and raised in San Francisco, California. At the age of 15, she was recruited as a trainee by SM Entertainment after participating in a singing contest at a Korean-American festival in San Francisco. She moved to Korea in 2004 and debuted with Girls' Generation in 2007.
Working as a singer for a major entertainment agency was hard, but it provided career stability. In the U.S., she had to start all over again. Living in a studio apartment, she has attended auditions while taking acting lessons but failed to get any good results.
"I was so confident when leaving Korea, but just a week later, I was thinking, 'What am I doing here when I have a good house in Seoul?'" she said.
But she may be starting to see some fruits of her efforts and determination. She was recently recruited as the face of global fashion group H&M's Divided Music Campaign for autumn 2018, which aims to support and empower young music talent.
To coincide with the campaign, she released her second U.S. single, "Teach You," which she wrote herself.
Tiffany is currently taking vocal lessons from Eric Vetro, a vocal teacher who has trained Ariana Grande and Katy Perry.
She said she chats with her former bandmates online almost every day. "I'm telling them that I will invite them all if I am nominated for any awards in the U.S. So I have one more reason to work hard."