Rising Stars: Yoonj Kim On How Playboy Is Breaking New Ground In Video
Yoonj Kim’s career in media began with a tweet. Currently a producer and correspondent at Playboy, she’d just graduated college when an op-ed she wrote on race in the media industry was picked up by The Washington Post. The story was sent out on social media and producer Mitch Koss saw it on Twitter.
Koss, who’d previously mentored Anderson Cooper and Lisa Ling, reached out to Kim about working on a team to develop news shows. Soon thereafter, she began her career; first as a producer and then as an on-camera correspondent. She was 22.
Her first experience as a producer was on a docu-news show called Disrupt on Participant Media’s TV channel, starring Jacob Soboroff. Eventually, she landed her first talent role hosting an hour-long documentary on open defecation in India.
Kim, now 26, created and hosts Playboy’s Journalista series. She admits, however, that she never expected to be working in magazine media since her emphasis had been on broadcast.
“Playboy’s head of video reached out to me when he saw my work because the company was just newly launching a video department and he wanted to start a doc/news division,” Kim says.
This was almost two years ago and Kim tells us that she initially thought that the email was a scam, because she had no idea Playboy was going in this direction. “Obviously, I warmed up to the idea. Since Playboy has always had a strong journalistic and literary reputation, it was helpful to be able to work off of that established history for our short docs,” she says.
“It’s an exciting time to be at Playboy right now because we’ve had a recent rebranding and refocusing on stories and content for Millennials, a much younger audience than Playboy’s traditional one has been. The entire company has been taking on a more youthful bent ever since Hugh Hefner’s 25-year-old son Cooper Hefner has become the CCO.”
A few highlights this year for Kim were the NewFronts, the digital Upfronts, where she was the lone female presenter for Playboy’s debut, as well as the release of the mini-series Dope City. The latter is a project that she worked on for over six months, based on exclusive access she had to negotiate with Los Angeles’s drug task force LA Impact.
Kim says she’d “love to bring my immersive style of exploring new worlds and underreported human interest stories to multiple, global platforms, digital to TV and beyond. I’d also love to bring more doc/video pieces about sex to a wider audience in a sophisticated way.”
In 2017, Kim will be featured in a new series called Playboy Short Docs. The first video in that series, on the Dakota Access Pipeline, has already been released. She believes these videos will set a new dynamic in how people perceive Playboy’s visual storytelling.