To kick off SHAPE’s first digital issue, The Motivation Issue, Ashley Park told the publication that beating cancer as a teenager became her constant and central motivator leading to her current successes, including her role as Mindy Chen in “Emily in Paris.”
On the iconic fashion of Emily in Paris: “The fashion world isn’t one I grew up in, but I love it now,” she says. “I’ve learned that it’s about way more than vanity. You can use it as a tool to express how you’re feeling that day. When you wake up, you can say ‘What version of myself do I want to broadcast today?’ There’s a certain bravery in showing your personality in that way.”
On the impact she’s made as an Asian American in Emily’s central role of Mindy: “I am, of course, honored,” she says of the feedback she hears from fans. “It’s been a journey for me. If I am being candid, there was a time when I thought I had done my job if people walked away from a scene forgetting that I’m Asian. But, then I realized, people can acknowledge that I am Asian and still connect with the character.”
“With Mindy, I am proud that people get to see this really great character on this very popular show who is Asian — that’s not something I got to see growing up,” she explains. “And for that to be more familiar is important.”
How her views on health and wellness were shaped by her time on Broadway: “When you’re performing so much, you realize that your body is your vessel — it’s your instrument,” she says. “So, you have to treat it as such and really take care of it.”
Why she occasionally cheats on her primarily plant-based diet: “I am highly anemic because of what I went through with my cancer,” she divulges “So, I do like a nice steak every once in a while.”
Interestingly, Park says when it comes to dairy and gluten, it all depends on where she’s eating these foods. “When I’m in America, those things don’t sit that well with me,” she says with a shrug. “But, for some reason, when I am in Europe, I can eat an entire bread basket and so much cheese, and it’s fine.”
On setting boundaries to protect her well-being: “I’m such a people pleaser and always want to make sure other people are okay,” she admits. “But as my life gets crazier and crazier, I’m understanding the value of my time and space. I have been trying to set more boundaries to make sure I’m making my well-being a priority.”
[Photo Credit: Leeor Wild for Shape Magazine]
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