Stephanie Young Hwang (born August 1, 1989), known professionally as Tiffany or Tiffany Hwang, is an American singer based in South Korea. Born and raised in California, she was discovered by South Korean entertainment agency S.M. Entertainment at the age of fifteen and subsequently moved to South Korea. After four years of training, Tiffany debuted as a member of girl group Girls' Generation (and later its subgroup TTS) in August 2007, who went on to be one of the best-selling artists in South Korea and one of South Korea's most popular girl groups worldwide. In 2016, following her contribution to several side projects during the early part of her career, Tiffany became the second Girls' Generation member to release a solo debut album, I Just Wanna Dance.
Tiffany was born Stephanie Young Hwang on August 1, 1989 in San Francisco, California. Her family consists of her father, an older sister named Michelle, and an older brother, Leo. Her mother died when she was at a young age. Growing up in Diamond Bar, California, Tiffany’s childhood hobbies included dancing and singing. She started becoming inspired to be a singer by listening to K-pop artist BoA–a figure whom Tiffany would later go on "look[ing] up to [her] entire career". Encouraged by her brother, at the age of 15, Tiffany participated in a singing contest, held by an L.A.-based Asian-American talent show called "Kollaboration", at a Korean festival. Although she was not chosen at this event, her potential was spotted by a local S.M Entertainment representative, who invited her to audition at the company–she was accepted as a trainee. Her father, at the time, opposed the idea of his daughter becoming an entertainer. Tiffany was adamant with her decision, however, recalling telling her father that he could have "ruined her life". He gave in, giving her the permission to move to South Korea three weeks later.
In an interview, Tiffany recalled she did not go back home for at least two years after the move, in fear she would want to quit, thinking she "would walk [her] own path without blaming [her] parents." She reflected that her relationship with her father inevitable drifted for some time as they could not talk or spent time with each other. Tiffany attended Korea Kent Foreign School and was trained at SM Entertainment for almost four years. She officially debuted as a member of South Korean girl group Girls’ Generation in August 2007. The singer adopted the stage name Tiffany, in honor of it being the name her mother initially wanted to name her at birth. The group gained significant popularity after the release of their hit single "Gee" in 2009. Besides Girls' Generation, Tiffany’s early solo work mostly involved songs recorded for side projects and original soundtracks. Throughout her career, she also participated as the host for several television programs. In early 2008, Tiffany was diagnosed with vocal nodules and had to receive medical treatment. The symptoms relapsed in 2009 and 2010 in which the singer had to take a short break from her activities. Tiffany acknowledged her voice became "huskier" and "more mature" as a result.
"I respect my current occupation. Showing music is a method of expression, and it can also heal. You can tell a story, but you can also sing it...When you’re heartbroken, when you say goodbye, when you feel crazy, when you make a mistake, when you grow… You can sing these feelings, and when you hear it through music, it feels very different. Music can touch the bottom of your heart, and it has the ability to reach the deepest part of your soul."–Tiffany
In December 2011–January 2012, Tiffany debuted as a musical actress through a lead role in the Korean adaptation of musical Fame. She played a character named Carmen Diaz, a performing arts student who has an ambition to achieve success. In April 2012, a Girls' Generation subgroup named TTS was formed with Tiffany and fellow members Taeyeon and Seohyun. Their debut EP, Twinkle, met with much success and became the 8th highest selling album of the year in South Korea. The subgroup went on to release two more EPs: Holler (2014) and Dear Santa (2015). In November 2013, Tiffany participated as a contestant in the SBS’s reality program Fashion King Korea–a program where South Korean celebrities team up with the nation’s top designers to compete in fashion challenges and missions. The singer was paired with a designer named Ji Il-geun and finished the program in third place.
During the summer of 2015, Tiffany began work on a solo record, having the mentality of it being the "transition into the next chapter of [her] music career." She started participating in writing music since 2014, calling it "nerve-wrecking to put out music [she’s] written on [her] own." Tiffany named Girls’ Generation’s Taeyeon as "a big part" that helped her throughout the preparation process for the album. The two singers have been known to be best friends since Tiffany’s arrival in South Korea in 2004. The album, titled I Just Wanna Dance, was released in May 2016, making Tiffany become the second Girls’ Generation member to have a solo debut. Her album met with mixed, but generally favorable reviews. Tamar Herman from Billboard called the album an "audible canvas to paint a new image for [Tiffany]", elaborating it "showcases [her] range as an artist." The album, having a more American influence than typical K-pop, debuted at number 3 on both Billboard World Album chart and South Korea’s Gaon Album Chart. It has sold 61,409 physical copies and was chosen by Billboard as the seventh best K-pop album of the year. The titular lead single debuted at number 10 on both Billboard World Digital Song Chart and Gaon Digital Chart. In June 2016, the follow-up single "Heartbreak Hotel", featuring Simon Dominic, was released through SM Station digital music platform. To accompany her solo releases, Tiffany held a series of small concerts titled Weekend during the same month.
Using her social media accounts to interact with fans, in August 2016, while Tiffany was at a SMTown Live concert in Tokyo, she posted a couple of photos that involved the use of the Japanese flag and Rising Sun Flag, indicating her whereabouts. Though there was no evidence of ill-intentions, this caused heavy criticism from the Korean public as the timing coincided with Korean Liberation Day, stirring a historical war wound sentiment. This event caused her to step down from Sister's Slam Dunk, a KBS2 variety show that she participated at the time. Tiffany expressed regret for her action in two handwritten apologies, acknowledging her lack of history knowledge. After the controversial blunder, some spoke out in defense of Tiffany, while others questioned the misogyny within the Korean society, arguing that they can be "unforgiving" towards a female artist while a male counterpart wouldn't have received the same treatment if the same event has occurred.
In October 2016, Tiffany was featured in the single "Don't Speak", taken from Far East Movement's album Identity. In an interview, the hip-hop group has said that working with Tiffany has "really opened [their] eyes", commenting on "how versatile [Tiffany's] range is as a singer."
^Jeong Ji-won (November 23, 2011). "티파니 눈물 "가수 활동하며 아버지와 멀어졌다" 마음고생 고백" [Tiffany tears up "While promoting as a singer, I became distant from my father" confesses hardships of her heart]. Newsen (in Korean). Retrieved August 20, 2016.
^Lee Seul-bi (June 7, 2011). "티파니가 26세? '나이논란' 종결…2007년 졸업 영상 '시선'" ["Tiffany is 26 years old? 'Age controversy' ends…2007 graduation video draws attention]. The Dong-A Ilbo. Retrieved August 19, 2016.
^"소녀시대 티파니 목 상태 호전 "26일 '음중' 참여 가능할듯"" [SNSD Tiffany throat condition improving, participation in 'Music Core' on 26th seems possible]. Newsen (in Korean). September 21, 2009. Retrieved August 20, 2016.
^Yan, Qiu (April 1, 2016). "Tiffany Hwang 少女时代等到现在". Pin Prestige (in Chinese). Burda International. Retrieved August 18, 2016.