Tuesday, October 10

Grace Park Is More Human Than Human

Source: SDAFF

Interviewed by Lee Ann Kim, SDAFF Executive Director

Tell us a little about your background. How did your parents raise you, and did you always know you were destined for stardom?

I was pretty much raised with my lil sister by my parents in Vancouver by very modest means, high expectations, heaps of love with encouragement to learn, Korean and western meals, and to respect my elders...which meant them.

Well considering that I wanted to be a chef or research scientist, was shy, abhorred attention and would've been mortified to be on stage, the idea of stardom was somewhat non-existent.

Did you have any idea that Battlestar Galactica would become such a phenomenon? How has the success of the series changed your life?

Battlestar Galactica is a phenomenon? The success of the series makes my life worth living. No, it has been a thrill to be a part of something that has a cult following and wins awards and critical acclaim yet still allows for anonymity and people laughing inside at me as I try to convince them the show is more darkly drama than scifi and I play a robotic android clone of the cylon race. I get to do more of what I love.

Did you watch the original Battlestar Galactica series when it first aired? Are you a fan of science fiction?

No I didn't watch TOS ["the original series"] when it first aired. I appreciate you trying to date me though. I'm a fan of certain science fiction, but I'm rather selective.

How did you land the role of Sharon "Boomer" Valerii on Battlestar Galactica?

I worked my butt off taking classes and when the role of "Dualla" on Battlestar came up, I did my work on it. After the audition I was told to come back for "Starbuck." I did. Then after going to L.A. for the screentest alongside Katee Sackhoff, I was offered the role of "Sharon Valerii."

Boomer was not originally written as an Asian character. However, as an Asian Canadian actor, do you consciously try to bring an element of "Asian-ness" to your character?

Funny cuz Boomer is still not written as an Asian character! I do not consciously try to bring an element of "asian-ness" to my character, especially for the sake of that. I bring what I know, explore and imagine and, well, I am Asian.

On Battlestar Galactica, you get the opportunity to play an extremely complex character that is actually more than one character. Not only that, your character is a machine who can feel human emotions. Can you tell us about some of the special challenges involved in playing such a complex role and about any special preparations you undergo to "get into character?"

Well besides the challenge of playing "more human than human," then the next second [playing] "No, Grace, she's a ROBOT," the special challenges of this character are to keep the two main versions psychologically, viscerally and cognitively true.

What was the most difficult scene you've done during the first two seasons of BSG and why does that scene stand out?

Scenes are difficult for different reasons...looking back the 2 seasons are awash with trauma. Not one scenes sticks out, I think I'm still in PTS...

Two other Asian Canadian actors, Sandra Oh and Kristin Kreuk, have also become high profile stars on American television. Is it a coincidence that many of the top female actors in American television are from Canada, or is the environment in Canada more favorable than Hollywood for actors of Asian descent?

All this time I thought it had to do with hard work and talent! I can only guess if the environment is more favourable in Canada than Hollywood, but then how would you explain away the fact that we have a minute fraction of the amount of production in Canada than in the States? Logically Asian actors would succeed in Canada but not in the American market.

Now that you have a major hit television series under your belt, are you interested in getting back into movie roles again? If so, can you tell us about any upcoming projects?

I've always been interested in movies but have never spoken a line in one...until last week. I just worked on "West 32nd" with John Cho, by Michael Kang who most recently did "The Motel." Fantastic. Itching to explore all things Korean now.

Can you give us some hints as to the direction your character will go in season three?

I would not even if I could. Okay just one: more trauma. Darker. With a small ray of hope.

Anything surprising you can tell us about yourself?

I eat. Is that surprising? To some. Karaoke scares me.

Finally, how do you feel about film festivals — and particularly Asian film festivals?

I enjoy them and think they are paramount to discovering, sharing and spreading ideas, identity, culture and life. This is my first Asian film festival. Thanks!!

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