by Erin Chew, AsAmNews Staff Writer
Ashley Park’s star is rising with the success of the Netflix original series Emily In Paris. The show is a romantic comedy that follows the life of Emily Cooper (Lily Collins), an American college graduate with a Master’s degree in communications who moves to Paris for an unexpected job opportunity.
Park plays Emily’s best friend Mindy Chen, a charming, heiress-turned-nanny ‘who wants to pursue music. The Korean American actress spoke with AsAmNews about the show and her Asian American identity ahead of season three’s release on Wednesday, December 21.
Park was born in California, but grew up in Michigan to Korean parents. She participated in youth theater programs during middle school and high school. Before she became a television star, she acted on stage for several years, including several Broadway appearances. According to CNBC, she received a Tony Award nomination for her performances as Gretchen Wieners on Broadway’s Mean Girls in 2018.
Acting appears to run in the family. Park’s cousin, Justin H. Min, has been in a number of films by Wong Fu Productions and is in the currently streaming Netflix series The Umbrella Academy.
“Even though my second cousin Justin H. Min is only a year older, watching his career flourish under Wong Fu and in other projects has really inspired me to work hard in my craft. His energy and passion for acting are definitely infectious,” Park said.
It has been a journey for Park to embrace and feel proud of her Korean identity.
“It has taken a long time for me to truly understand what being Korean American means to me. I am now proud of who I am, my family, upbringing and how I am able to fly the flag on screen and stage as an Asian/Korean face.”
Park shows her performing talents in Emily in Paris, singing, acting and walking in very fashionable stilettos on the cobblestone streets of Paris with ease. The triple threat has been a part of Emily in Paris since season 1. She never imagined how successful the series would become and how unexpected it was that her opinionated and eccentric character ‘Mindy Chen’ would become an iconic character from the series.
“Filming season one, was an interesting experience as I wasn’t sure how well the show would do, but it’s such a wonderful surprise seeing how successful the series has become and how it has formed part of the current pop culture environment.”
Park provided a few snippets of what to expect in this new season from ‘Mindy Chen’. Park mentioned that Mindy’s understanding of who she is and her identity becomes clearer as she explores her past and the fractured relationship she has with her family.
“In season three you will expect more music and different performances from Mindy as well her embracing parts of her past such as romantic and family relationships,” Park said.
“You will see Mindy becoming more grounded, unapologetic, figuring out what she needs in her friendship and stepping into some of her own power.”
In the series, Mindy’s storyline has a broader and it is this scope that has made the character iconic. It is also what makes the role in impactful for Park.
“For me personally, it has been really super impactful for me to be Asian on screen but not just play a character because she is Asian, but because she is fashionable, funny and loves living life,” Park said.
“Coming from the world of Broadway this conversation comes up a lot, and when I entered Broadway was when colorblind casting was really starting. I think color-conscious casting is not just about having color for the sake of it, but it about treating us Asians and POC as part of the regular fabric.”
“Emily in Paris” season three will be released on Netflix on December 21.
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