Stephanie Young Hwang (born August 1, 1989), known professionally as Tiffany, Tiffany Hwang or Tiffany Young, is an American singer. Born and raised in California, she was discovered by South Korean entertainment agency SM Entertainment at the age of fifteen and subsequently moved to South Korea. After two 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.
Life and career
1989–2012: Early life and career beginnings
Tiffany was born Stephanie Young Hwang on August 1, 1989 in San Francisco, California. Her family consists of her father, an older sister, and an older brother. Her mother died when she was 12 years old. She grew up in Diamond Bar, California, and was inspired by K-pop artist BoA. Encouraged by her brother, at the age of 15, Tiffany participated in a singing contest. She was spotted by a local SM Entertainment representative, auditioned, and was accepted as a trainee. She moved to South Korea three weeks later.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, the name her mother initially wanted to name her at birth. 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.
2012–2017: Girls' Generation TTS and solo debut
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 eighth 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' 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 magazine 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 three on both the 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 the Billboard World Digital Song Chart and the 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 in 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."
2017–present: Departure from SM Entertainment and solo career
Tiffany left SM Entertainment in October 2017 and her future activities with Girls' Generation remains in discussion.On March 14, 2018, Tiffany released a digital single "Remember Me" under the stage name Tiffany Young. In June 2018, it was announced that she would be debuting in the United States under Paradigm Talent Agency, through a single album titled "Over My Skin".