About this time last year, Ashley Park was living her best life amongst Parisians. While filming Netflix's newest series, Emily In Paris—available for streaming October 2—the actress and Broadway performer made the City of Lights her own. “I just had plans to kind of roam Europe for the summer, then I got this job,” Park tells Byrdie the night of her (digital) press event for the show's release. “I actually went to Paris with just a carry-on!” The upcoming Darren Star-produced series follows Emily Cooper (played by Lily Collins), an ambitious 20-something marketing executive from Chicago, who moves to Paris for an unexpected job opportunity. Park stars alongside Collins as Mindy Chen, a bubbly au pair and fellow expatriate, who helps Emily navigate her new life abroad. If you're wondering if the show is bingeable in one sitting (and will make you wish you were in Paris eating a croissant at a cafe), the answer is simple: yes.
We recently caught up with Park ahead of the premiere to discuss her quarantine lifestyle, her skincare secrets, and even how her character's aesthetic relates to her own. Keep scrolling to get to know Ashley Park.
On Building A Relationship With The Cast:
“Lucas Bravo, William Abadie, Samuel Arnold, and Camille Razat. They were all very much my guides since it was my first time ever in Paris. Lucas and Samuel basically lived with me the last month of shooting—they're two of my best friends and they both actually flew to New York to visit my world a little bit. Lily and I are friends now, too. We talk almost every day and she's just the best."
“[Lily and I] spent a week quarantined together about a month ago, and we love to use face masks. We kind of realized how much we love just not wearing makeup. I love how effortless and natural Lily looks on a daily basis. I think it's so funny the one thing I don't know how to do is my brows, and that's so natural to her.”
On the Difference Between Glam On Broadway vs. On-Screen:
“A lot of times there's a makeup designer for a [Broadway] show. I remember having specific makeup plots, and they provide us with different palettes, colors, and different designs that they want us to use. We do our own makeup most of the time. I used to be almost late for my cue just putting [lashes] on while I'm running. In the TV world, I'm like, 'Oh, I can do my own lashes. I can do my eyeliner.' They're like, ‘No no, we do it for you.' I'm just so used to doing it myself and it's one of the things that the Emily in Paris French hair and makeup crew was like, 'Wait, this is crazy that you can put on your own eyelashes so well.’”
On Her French Wellness Secret:
“The wellness secret I learned while in France was that wine can cure anything! What I love about the French aesthetic is that it's very, very raw, and natural. I think that during my time in Paris, I realized that I got used to makeup that was much stronger than a Parisian would wear. I used to think, 'Oh, I need to have powder, I need to not look sweaty or shiny.' I've really come to appreciate [the dewy look]—the Parisians taught me that.”
On Her Personal Style:
“My personal glam has actually changed a lot during this time. Seeing myself with full lashes and full foundation all the time, I got very used to that. My daily makeup now is more bronze and natural where it looks like an elevated version of how I woke up.”
“Mindy, whether she is singing at a drag club or whether she's just meeting a friend—even when she's nannying—[her style] is always elevated. I think it's because she grew up as an heiress with a very wealthy background, and had to look a certain way. I love that it's not even something she focuses on, it just kind of comes effortlessly to her. She'll just come in and be in a designer gown or a designer suit and that's just her casual. My casual [style] is definitely more casual than Mindy's.”
On Representation In Hollywood:
“I think that in Hollywood and on Broadway, there are a lot of archaic systemic institutions that are kind of being re-evaluated and overturned. For me, I grew up loving and relating to characters in shows like Sex in the City, and I didn't even realize until a few months ago, I equated being a woman dating while conquering a city and a job with being white.”
“What I love so much about Mindy is that Darren Star and the team allowed me to portray how being Asian is part of her narrative, but also being American, which is why she recognizes Emily right away. That is so much more realistic to me as an Asian-American and what I relate to. I'm really excited for people to watch the show and love these characters as much as they do the ones we grew up watching.”
“I think that when I entered the business, we were doing a really good job at trying to find diversity. My goal as an actor and as an artist was always to earn the job because I was best for the part. I didn't want a job just because they wanted someone ethnic. I didn't want to lose a job because I was ethnic or not ethnic enough [...] My hope is that the amazing stories created by really great people continue to be made and that we can be conscious of ethnicity in the narrative. It's not just about being Asian-American. I want diverse people in every genre.”
On Her Beauty and Wellness Routine:
“[During the quarantine] I started taking a lot better care of my skin and my lashes, actually. I found vitamin C serums, and I used the jade roller. I found things that I like to put on my skin and I saw a difference. I tried to use different products, smells, and formulas that made me feel relaxed. I also drink a full glass of water with lemon in the morning and have a glass of tea.
“Coming from the theater world, doing eight shows a week, your physical body doesn't have a lot of rest. I've been doing yoga two or three times a week over Zoom with my friend Paige Faure—she's such an amazing teacher. Yoga has really changed my life, and I had never done a private session before. I was so scared of doing private lessons. I feel such a difference in breath for the rest of the day when I do yoga and I think that health really plays into beauty.”
“In terms of beauty and fashion, I've been super inspired by creativity. I think that this is a time, when we're alone, to experiment and learn what makes you feel the most beautiful. I always thought I had to have a certain look in order to feel beautiful going outside, but as soon as you figure out, 'Oh, this actually feels really comfortable to me,' then it's like, I like the way I look this way.”
On Finding Clarity In Charity:
“I got to teach a lot. I spent the first part of the quarantine donating, and giving virtual lessons to kids who were interested in musical theater. I donated all the money from those lessons to the Actors Fund and a few different organizations since Broadway is completely shut down. It really changed my life and inspired me.
“I started a little handle called @GiveWithAsh. [A student and I] worked together for the summer and then he got this really amazing scholarship to go to school in New York. I have always loved my work and it just made me love it all over again.”