Saturday, May 19

Battlestar's Grace Park: From Warrior to Cylon to Asian Excellence Award Nominee

As befits one of Battlestar Galactica's hotshot pilots, Grace Park (aka Lt. Sharon "Athena" Valerii) got to fly solo as she announced the nominees for the AZN Asian Excellence Awards, even though she's co-hosting the May 28 broadcast on AZN with Lost actor Daniel Dae Kim. And as she revealed the nominees for Outstanding Supporting Actress in the TV category, Park encountered a familiar name on the list: Grace Park.

""That would be me, in Battlestar Gallactica," she said with chagrin. "I think they just had to put that in there because I'm hosting.""

Park sat down at a lunch table at Beverly Hills' Le Meridien Hotel for a post-announcement chat with, accepting congratulations with modesty. ""It's kind of funny,"" she said. ""I was feeling that they'd probably feel pressured to put me on there…I think they probably won't let me announce that section because I'm just going to read my own name no matter what.""

The AZN Asian Excellence Awards honors significant Asian and Asian-American achievements in entertainment and the arts. As a successful Asian-American actor, Park never lost touch with her community.

""It's such a part of my fabric and who I am, just in my everyday living that I don't really see a group of Asian-Americans and go, 'I'm a part of that group.' [I asked] my cousin's daughter, 'Oh, you're half Korean and what's your other half?' And her parents were like, 'No, no, we don't like to say half and half because to them, they don't see it split up. It's just all mixed together.' In that way, growing up in Vancouver, I didn't really strongly identify with the Asian community necessarily but maybe more the Korean community because my parents were always like, 'Well, what are they going to think of you' – that kind of thing. They're always worried about that, but not necessarily the Asian-American community so much.""

With her Korean-by-way-of-Canadian heritage, Park also has unique insight into American culture. She has determined to start a family with her husband in the near future to avoid falling into some distinctly American social traps.

""I don't think I want to wait forever. I think there's such the allure of just staying single [or] without kids, because we're sort of spoon-fed in America and really encouraged to stay youthful and have a lot of toys and buy stuff and eat what you want. There's so many things to keep us interested and distracted but then all of a sudden one day you wake up and it's like, 'Wait a second, I'm in my mid-30s and either still not married or something like that.' I have lots of friends who want to be with someone but we're not really encouraged to settle down and have a family. So I think before it runs away on me, I'd like to do that.""

With Battlestar Galactica gearing up to shoot what may be its last season, that would leave Park time for such pursuits. If the show continues, being a working mummy could be tough. ""I think it might be difficult but that's one of the things I've started thinking about, how to really balance that. I don't know. One of my acting teachers is always like, he always loves to say that relationships are ships and ships sink. He says it all the time and the other day I thought, wait, ships are supposed to float. Ships aren't made to sink. But he's kind of encouraging us not to do that. 'Don't get married or don't get in a relationship that brings you down, and then five years you're gone and then you come back.' So we'll see.""

Before any babies come, Park still has the figure to show off some edgy fashions at the awards show, as the white, leggy dress from Visionary Award honoree Vivienne Tam she was wearing demonstrated, and she's excited about the glam aspect of her hosting duties.

""I was in New York so I went to her studio to pick out some stuff. There's this one dress that just came out in her fall collection, or it's going to be coming out: I feel it's like a kind of Chinese style dress. They have buttons up here with a certain kind of collar. There's two of them, one is red but it has big, almost cartoon-y dragons on them, which I feel is not as safe as some of the other dresses, so I like that. But the other one looks like she's going to war in it. It's pretty full on.""

The prospect of mid-show costume changes does not phase Park. ""I was like, 'How many outfits should I get?' Because this is so new to me. She was like, 'Bring three, two extras.' It was daunting at first but it seems like there are a lot of people that are really supportive. Everyone else seems to be quite used to it so I just followed their lead. [I'm] not trailblazing or anything, you know."" Any other day, Park claims, we would catch her in jeans and a tank top.

Galactica's Final Journey

Park goes back to work on Sci-Fi's acclaimed series in mid-May with a two-hour episode. Finally, on year four, she feels relaxed. ""I think I was pretty stressed the last few years on the show and I'm really looking forward to doing something different, and not really being so producer-, writer-, director-focused. I think I really thought, and I think this is a pretty common thing for a lot of people growing up but especially so in Asian communities, trying to please other people. I think I was doing that but I think as a result, it was probably hampering my acting. I hope it doesn't take four years all the time for me to relax…Why did it take four seasons? I don't know to be honest but I've been doing a lot of personal growth hopefully, because I'm just at a new place and finally realized: I'm not going to get fired.""

The opening episode of the upcoming season is a flashback to a point midway through Season Two, providing a light workload for Park and most of the series regulars. ""It's actually more about a new character coming on board. I've heard rumors of who it might be, but to be honest, I don't know who they've cast, I shouldn't say. I looked at the days, I have one day out of the entire month and this new character has like 24. I think it's pretty much going to be about the Pegasus and about this new character who for some reason we didn't see back then. I think in a way, they would like all the regular cast to have a little peep in the two-hour special, but really it's about this person. I don't even know who the heck you are, but you better be good.""

Like any television show with ongoing mysteries, the actors have no idea what is coming. But based on series creator Ron Moore's indications of where he wants the show to go, Park has some ideas. ""I have no authority to say this, but I'm speculating that it's going to be our last [season], especially since we got 22 [episodes]. And I've heard Ron Moore say a few times that we're coming into the last two chapters of Battlestar."

"With that in mind," she continued, "I think instead of having more and more loose ends unraveling, we're just going to see more of them becoming tied together finally, and where that'll lead us – probably to Earth. What time is it going to be when we get there? No idea. We'll probably end up on the set of Blade Runner. We get to Earth and it's Blade Runner.""

A 22-episode season would be plenty of time to answer most – if not all – of the series' lingering questions, Park thought. ""I certainly see us coming to certain conclusions. Does that mean all the questions will be answered? Not necessarily. But I think hopefully we'll find out what is the purpose of what's Starbuck's destiny? What's really the Cylons' plan? Because they always say, 'We have a plan.' To date, I've got to tell you, none of the people who play Cylons actually know what that plan is, so hopefully there'll be some answers.""

The AZN Asian Excellence Awards will be broadcast on AZN Television Monday, May 28 at 8:00 PM EST.

No comments: