Keiko Agena Doesn't Think She'd Play Lane Kim If 'Gilmore Girls' Were Made Today

Keiko Agena has mixed feelings about her “Gilmore Girls” legacy.

From 2000 to 2007, Agena ― who is of Japanese descent ― endeared herself to a generation of viewers as Lane Kim, the best friend of Alexis Bledel’s Rory Gilmore, on the beloved comedy-drama series.

Appearing on the “Dear Felicity” podcast this week to reflect on the experience, the actor acknowledged that playing the role was a “survival mode situation” ― though she’s grateful to have had the chance to bring some much-needed Asian representation to the small screen.

“For myself, it was such a survival mode situation, and I didn’t kind of think of it that way at the time,” she said.

At the time of her “Gilmore Girls” casting, Agena was 27, more than a decade older than her 16-year-old character. The Hawaiian-born actor also said she doesn’t think she’d be considered for the role of Kim, who was Korean American, if “Gilmore Girls” were being produced in 2024.

“The best thing is to have a Korean American writer [and a] Korean American actor,” she said. “I don’t think that that role, cast that way, would happen today. But at that time, in 2000, it was such a different time that I definitely know I wouldn’t have said no or pulled myself out of that situation at that time.”

“When I meet someone who knows ‘Gilmore Girls’ or who loves Lane, it’s like, I recognize that love,
“When I meet someone who knows ‘Gilmore Girls’ or who loves Lane, it’s like, I recognize that love," Keiko Agena said. Rodin Eckenroth via Getty Images

Still, Agena said, she appreciates the love “Gilmore Girls” fans have for Lane “because I love her, too.”

“When I meet someone who knows ‘Gilmore Girls’ or who loves Lane, it’s like, I recognize that love,” she added. “I see that you love that person.”

“I think what [the character] was for people was different than what it was for me,” she explained. “So, in a weird way, I feel like I want to honor the experience that people had from the show, and what it meant to them, especially young Asian people, because I get that comment a lot ― about what it was like for them to see someone like that onscreen.”

Since “Gilmore Girls” went off the air in 2007, Agena has gone on to appear on “Private Practice” and “Scandal.” From 2017 to 2018, she had a recurring role as Pam Bradley on Netflix’s “13 Reasons Why,” and a year later, returned to network television as Dr. Edrisa Tanaka on Fox’s “Prodigal Son.”

Listen to Keiko Agena’s ‘Dear Felicity’ interview below. Her comments on ‘Gilmore Girls’ begin around the 1:05 mark.