'Gilmore Girls' Star Keiko Agena Says She Was in 'Survival Mode' While Playing Lane Kim

Keiko Agena played Rory Gilmore's best friend, Lane Kim, for all seven seasons of 'Gilmore Girls' and in the Netflix revival.

Keiko Agena is reflecting on her years playing Lane Kim on Gilmore Girls, and the complicated feelings she has surrounding the character. 

The 50-year-old Japanese American actress played Lane, a Korean-American teen, who wants to obey her strict mother while also pursuing her passion for music and becoming a drummer. She is the best friend of Rory Gilmore (Alexis Bledel) throughout the series, which also starred Lauren Graham, Scott Patterson and Milo Ventimiglia.

In a recent episode of the Dear Felicity podcast, Agena opens up about her conflicting emotions when it comes to the hit Amy Sherman-Palladino show. 

Keiko Agena as Lane Kim on Gilmore Girls. - The WB

"I'll be totally honest. So for me it's this separate thing a little bit because I think what it was for people was different than what it was for me," Agena admitted of the show, noting that she wants to "honor" the "love" fans feel for Gilmore Girls. "For myself, it was such a survival mode situation, and I didn't kind of think of it that way at the time. And so now it's just a mix of having gratitude for having gone through that experience and having that experience." 

One important element for Agena of her time on the show was the representation of an Asian-American woman on TV. But Agena also said she doesn't think she would have necessarily been cast if the show was taking place in present day. 

"I thought about that a lot at the time and a lot more since then, because I don't think that it would be cast that way now," she explained. "I think they would, if they had two Japanese American actors that they liked, I feel like they would have switched the characters to be Japanese American, even if the writer is Korean American, which is another challenging thing because it's Helen Pai's story who my character's based off of." 

Keiko Agena as Lane Kim on Gilmore Girls. - The WB

Agena also shared that she often feels a responsibility to fans to actually be her character of Lane when they meet her in person. 

"I have to let go of the pressure that I put on myself to be the best version of who it is that I think that you love," she shared. "Do you know what I mean? Because I love her too… I'm only a shadow representation of that thing."

As for her relationship with the rest of the cast, Agena said she's closest with co-stars John Cabrera and Sean Gunn, who played her Hep Alien bandmate, Brian Fuller, and Stars Hollow everyman, Kirk Gleason, on the series. 

This isn't the first time Agena has been candid about the show not exactly being representative of the experience. In 2021, the actress was a guest on co-star Patterson's I'm All In podcast where she lamented about not having a closer friendship with Bledel, who played her on-screen best friend, Rory. 

Alexis Bledel and Keiko Agena as Rory Gilmore and Lane Kim on Gilmore Girls. - The WB

"I wish we had more of a friendship," Agena admitted. "That was probably a lot to do with me not making as much of an effort as I should have." 

She noted that Bledel and Graham (Lorelai Gilmore) had such busy schedules that she wanted to be respectful of their time. 

"I also think I was so -- worried is the wrong word -- but, you know, they worked so many hours that their off-set time, I thought, was so precious to them and I didn't want to insert myself into that time of their lives," she explained. 

In 2021, Agena spoke with ET about her take on Lane years after playing the musician. 

"She did everything for everybody else," Agena said. "She was very subservient to her mom, and she became a wife and a mother very early, and she was the best friend. She was the selfless-- someone else's best friend. I don't know. That's how I feel about her now. It's not how I felt about her then."

Gilmore Girls ran for seven seasons and returned for the revival, Gilmore Girls: A Year in the Life, on Netflix in 2016.