A southern girl from Arkansas, Ashley Park now lives in Los Angeles. Growing up in Little Rock, where her multi-ethnic background can easily take a backseat to the southern world of football, grits and gravy, Ashley keeps it alive through language, food and travel with her mother, a Pusan native.
She is also this year's Miss Korea USA 2015 in the Miss Asia USA Cultural Pageant. Ashley entered the world of athletics at a young age, becoming a competitive athlete for many years. As an award-winning swimmer and 9-time state champion in cross-country and track, training was her top priority. She went on to run for the University of Arkansas, successfully competing as a Division 1 athlete for one of the top long-distance running schools in the country.
An avid writer and foreign language enthusiast, Ashley received her bachelor's degree in journalism and Spanish, graduating early with honors and the title of an All-SEC Academic Athlete. With aspirations of acting since childhood, Ashley transitioned into another competitive environment soon after graduating, waltzing off to the bright lights of Hollywood. Now a working actress in Los Angeles, Ashley has studied under the watchful eye of many teachers, keeping her focus on film and television. After a brief stint on the soap opera Days of Our Lives, Ashley has been fortunate enough to star in four feature films set to be released in the U.S. and internationally over the next year, and has many other projects in the works.
Never one to back down from a challenge, Ashley aspires to make her mark on the world of indie filmmaking, with stories that inspire hope, self-confidence and courage. A true believer in the power of storytelling to make an impact on society, she is determined to create more films that will send positive messages to young people.
Question: What inspired you to set your sights on Miss Korea USA?
Ashley Park: I was actually approached by a former Mrs. Asia USA titleholder. She thought I would be a good fit for the Miss Asia USA competition. I had never considered pageantry, so I was hesitant from the very beginning.
However, after speaking with the pageant director, Virgelia Villegas of Virgelia Productions, Inc., I decided to accept the challenge. I was fortunate enough to be granted the title of Miss Korea USA 2015, and had the privilege of representing South Korea throughout the past year and at the 2015 Miss Asia USA pageant.
Question: What is involved in being Miss Korea USA?
Ashley Park: As delegates, we go through a rigorous weekly training program to prepare for the competition. Like I said before, it was my first time to compete in a pageant, so I had a lot to learn! The attention to detail required in a pageant is truly indescribable. The coaches and staff at Virgelia Productions were instrumental in helping us all prepare properly for the night of the competition. As Miss Korea USA 2015, I was also fortunate enough to represent South Korea at many prestigious events this year, including red carpets, runway shows and charity events.
Question: Can you tell us about your acting career?
Ashley Park: Absolutely! I was fortunate enough to get my first TV role on Days of Our Lives a couple of years ago as Diane, a candy striper. One of my films was recently released (All American Bikini Car Wash), and I have two that will be released in early 2016 (Day For Night and Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter). Day For Night is a film noir starring incredible legends such as Peter Bogdanovich, Lin Shaye and Sally Kirkland. I am so excited to see this incredible script by Guy Jackson come to life! I am preparing to shoot another desert sci-fi feature film in late January, which I am very excited about. I have also been working on a few web series recently, and am currently in pre-production for one that I am producing and starring in as well. I will hopefully be announcing that very soon. I'm definitely working on growing as an actress every day, and trying to cherish every moment.
Question: When did you first become interested in acting?
Ashley Park: Like many young girls, I dreamed of becoming a movie star, but I set my sights on what seemed like more realistic goals at the time. Always a competitor, I participated in many academic competitions before finding what seemed like my calling in the world of competitive long-distance running. I focused on training, championship meets and the potential of a college scholarship. Once I had that, I realized something was missing. While interning at Seventeen Magazine as a journalism student in NYC, I stumbled upon an acting school one day. I have no idea what drew me inside, but I haven't looked back since.
Since then, I have been focusing on studying the craft and continuously finding ways to do what I love.
Question: Can you share with us your upcoming acting projects?
Ashley Park: I am gearing up to shoot Trapdoor, a female-focused thriller in the vein of movies like The Descent. It's a desert sci-fi that blends the excitement of action sports with the horror of a creature film. My character is Kat, a curious, fearless and thrill-seeking individual with an aptitude for speaking her mind. We will begin shooting in late January. The web series I mentioned before is also in pre-production.
The project is still in its very early stages, so I will definitely elaborate more in the near future!
Question: How would you describe Rogue Warrior?
Ashley Park: Rogue Warrior: Robot Fighter depicts the overthrow of humanity by Artificial Intelligence, and is essentially a character-driven story about survival and self-discovery. The film was shot in iconic locations filmed in some of the same locations as Return of the Jedi.
Question: Are you able to relate to your character of Rhianna?
Ashley Park: Yes, absolutely! Rhianna is without a doubt both a fighter and a survivor, and I consider myself to be both of those things in many ways. She is intelligent, perceptive and strong. Rhianna might be a bit more assertive than I am as a person, so that was fun to explore!
It's always fun when you get to play a character with a few different quirks and qualities to play with, but I found Rhianna and I had a lot in common from the start!
Question: What is your favourite thing about acting?
Ashley Park: I'd have to say getting to basically step into someone else's shoes.
It's you, but living the life of a character created in the writer's imagination, and in the writer's given circumstances. I enjoy every aspect of my journey as an actress. I have learned so much through every heartbreak, as well as through every joyous moment, and I am excited to continue growing.
Question: Do you find it weird, seeing yourself, on the big screen?
Ashley Park: Definitely! It's like watching a horror film for me. I throw my hands over my eyes every time I see myself. You'd think a ghost was appearing on screen!
Question: What's a typical day like, for you?
Ashley Park: Every day is different, so I would say that I have very few days that are typical! I am going to be settling into a new, undetermined routine now that the pageant is over. Come 2016, I have quite a few shoots and other events scheduled, so I will definitely hit the ground running very soon!
Question: What are your goals for 2016?
Ashley Park: I just wrote my New Year's resolution list today! I have quite a few personal goals, but one of them is to definitely read more often. I am such a bookworm, and I had to take a break from reading as often as I'd like recently, so I'm excited to delve into books again! I will be focusing on quite a few projects come 2016, so I definitely have some serious goals when it comes to my acting and producing career as well.
Interview by Brooke Hunter