Ashley Park, things happen anyway

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This article is published in number 49 of Vanity Fair on newsstands until December 6, 2022

LJoy can be war. A war against fate. And, mind you, joy has nothing to do with smiling but with the desire to start over. Again or again, it doesn’t matter. Get up and use the joy. It’s the only thing that will allow you to become who you are.” 31-year-old American of Korean descent, actress Ashley Park has all the exuberance of Mindy Chen, the co-star of Emily in Paris, famous Netflix series filmed in Paris, now in its third season. We meet her in Lisbon, in the few days of break from filming as she allows herself a bit of relaxation after the Max Mara Resort fashion show.

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How is this new season of Emily in Paris?
“Very good. Especially after the second one, filmed practically in lockdown, with the French capital deserted. It seemed all for us, but it was sad. Now, fortunately, the world is back to normal.

His exuberance, his sympathy are very reminiscent of the character he plays in the series…
“I’ve always been like this since I was little. I was a restless child, I liked to dance, sing, be with people. Let’s face it: a mess. From my parents’ videos, you can see this pest who talks to everyone, who never wants to go to bed.”

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Ashley Park, 31, with Lily Collins in a scene from Emily in Paris (Netflix season three arrives Dec. 21). The actress made her Broadway debut in the musical Mamma Mia! But it’s her role in Emily in Paris that made her known around the world: she’s Mindy Chen, an energetic undercover Chinese heiress who supports herself by singing on the street.


In his childhood, however, there was also the disease…
“Yes, it’s true. When I was fifteen, a diagnosis of cancer suddenly fell from the sky. I was a teenager who didn’t have the slightest idea about her body, let alone a disease like that. I had chemotherapy, I was in solitary confinement for eight months. For a year the world collapsed around me. It’s hard to say, especially after some time, when you are no longer inside that experience… But perhaps that episode made me who I am, it made me love life and my passion even more: singing and to act”.

Where did you find the strength to face the disease?
“I have not the foggiest idea. I know that in certain moments of my life it always comes as an illumination, something that makes me change the way I think. It’s as if my mind refuses to be defined, to be shaped by the things that happen to me. There’s like a voice that intimates me: face the obstacle, try to learn what you can. And above all, keep going. It’s a form of joy. Sure, there were days when it was all fog and clouds. But then there are days when you reach the top of the mountain and see the sun beyond the clouds. Joy, happiness are inside the light of those days. And then you know what I tell you? If you don’t learn to celebrate life, then you don’t even understand your place in the world.”

Women today, even in TV series, are carving out a whole new place for themselves, all their own, all due. What do you think?
“I think it’s the minimum. And I think it is the result of a struggle waged by entire generations. My generation today has the task of taking the whole pot, without fear or fear. Today women write, direct, act. And they no longer want to hear their stories told only by men.”

Double-breasted blazer, turtleneck, shorts and mules, Max Mara Resort 2023.

But men continue to decide for women, especially in terms of rights, such as abortion…
‘Oh yes, it’s awful and sometimes I feel like I’m slipping back into an old nightmare. The truth is, there is no turning back. And they won’t be able to get us back. Because it’s not about what you think. It’s about what we are free to do with our bodies. Our body is ours. What’s not clear about this sentence?’

Its origins are Korean. Have you ever had racist issues in your career or have you ever been a victim of racial hatred?
“But you keep making me talk about trauma! So, yes, I suffered from it. In my life. And also in my career. If I think only of ten years ago, of what I heard myself say at castings, of the sentences that were pronounced, well, today one would not believe it. I must say that the attitude of insiders has changed a lot and the climate of inclusiveness has improved. Sometimes, I put myself in “survival mode”, I didn’t breathe, I didn’t react. Instead we must learn to speak, to bring problems to light, as is the case today. The real conquest, however, remains education. And empathy. Understanding the privilege you have and what you don’t have.

Wool and cashmere top, silk longuette and mules, Max Mara Resort 2023.

No more trauma. Let’s talk about fashion, the great protagonist of Emily in Paris. Do you like fashion?
«I was so basic in terms of fashion, so ignorant. The serial made me appreciate not only the beauty of the clothes. It made me understand the storytelling power that a dress has in creating a character, but also in everyday life. And fashion on set is similar to fashion in the theatre, where I’ve acted and sang for many years: in a costume there is history, creativity, care. And then there’s also another thing, a magical thing: in fashion there are sometimes the seeds of the future».

What was the most fun thing about filming the series?
“Oh, that’s easy! Friendship with Lily Collins. You know the colleagues on set who don’t get along? Well, it can happen, it’s true. But with Lily it was like taking a vacation with your sister. Then there is another thing…».

«It wasn’t written that I sang, that I performed on stage. We improvised. In one weekend we arranged a song, then recorded it and finally created the choreography. In short, all done at the last minute for a performance that would then be seen by the whole world on Netflix. I was crazy to accept that. But it went well.”

Draped technical jersey top, Max Mara Resort 2023.

What makes her happy?
«Food, friends, a nice bag, the sun, the ocean».

What makes her fall in love?
“Oh, and who knows! Certainly not something, I don’t know, like eyes, hands… Rather the energy of a person, the aura that emanates. There is a word in Korean that describes a person’s aura, his beautiful soul. It is a word that also includes the sense of care you must have for that beautiful thing. Well, maybe that’s what makes me fall in love with it».

Future projects?
“Many. A movie I really care about just came out, Mr. Malcolm’s List. I will take part in a project written, directed and performed by female artists of Asian origin. My career is still to be written. And I want to live it like this, without too many projects, without too many strategies. You see, we’re in Lisbon now, last night I was sitting in the front row at a fashion show, tomorrow I’ll be back on set. Who would have thought that ten years ago? I think life is like one of those trips that you haven’t been able to organize down to the smallest detail: you have to be ready to change your plans, to look for another panorama, to venture elsewhere. I don’t care so much where I’ll be or what I’ll do.”

What interests you then?
“To grow up. And learn. Because if I stop growing and learning then the joy ends. In fact, even as I look back, I don’t feel sadness or resentment. And do you know why?’

“Because the only thing I reproach myself with is that I got too little sleep. I was so hungry for life, so eager to meet people, to see new places that I lost sleep and energy. Growing up I realized that it doesn’t matter how much you run but how you live. And that things happen, they happen anyway. My mother always told me: sleep always brings wonders. So, I said to myself, relax. Because in any case, in fact, things happen anyway ».

Photo Tom Watson

Service Ramona Tabita

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Source: Vanity Fair

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