Awards Daily’s Megan McLachlan talks to your favorite gal pal you met in the park—Ashley Park (it’s in her name, after all!)—about playing Mindy on Netflix’s Emily in Paris.
Obviously, one thing no one did in 2020 was travel a lot, which could be why one of the biggest bingeworthy shows of the year was Netflix’s Emily in Paris, which allowed everyone to live vicariously through Emily (Lily Collins) and her friends like Mindy (Ashley Park). Mindy quickly becomes Emily’s shoulder to cry on, laugh with, and drink with, just as fast as she became one of our favorite supporting characters of the season.
“What’s been cool for me is that people have said, ‘I wish I had a friend like Mindy,’ from every country around the world,” said Park. “It kinds of goes to show everyone needs and desires the same thing, which has been very helpful for me throughout this time. Mindy is fun. I’d love to be her friend, too.”
Usually, to see Park perform, family and friends would have to hike it to New York to see her on stage in musicals like Mean Girls, but doing a Netflix show means that everyone can see her perform any time they want to. As a performer, doing something so permanent brought about some wistful feelings for Park.
“Coming from the theater world, I’m so used to the final product being eight times a week, live theater, with a different audience every night,” said Park. “The point of theater is to be in the moment, and I’m a very nostalgic person. It’s been wild for me to see something that I was a part of go global. It’s almost like a time capsule or scrapbook to share with the world.”
Ashley in Paris
The joke on set was that Ashley was actually Emily, since she was the naive American who’d never been to Paris.
“What was really funny was that it mirrored my life exactly. That energy was brought onto set. Even our first table read, I walked across the set and said, ‘Is this really the Seine?'”
The friendship between Collins and Park was genuine, as they leaned on each other during the shoot and even offered inspiration for each other’s characters. “Lily would say, ‘Whenever I needed inspiration for Emily’s wide-eyed discovery of the city, I would literally look at Ashley sitting next to me.'”
But given Mindy’s eclectic backstory—born to rich parents, scandalized on international television—what would a Mindy in Paris show look like? And why don’t we get any romances for her in Season 1?
“Oh, she’s definitely sleeping around!” Park laughed. “We only see the parts of conversation of her and Emily talking about Emily’s stuff.”
“La Vie En Rose”
You can’t have a Broadway actress on a show without making them sing, something that Park was down for, especially when she realized how it fit in with the character.
“There were only three episodes written when we got there, and [series creator] Darren [Starr] called me to ask if I would be okay with them writing in some singing for me. I thought that was really sweet of him. For me, I love singing, but I’ve also never sung as myself. I’ve always sung as a character in different voices. I was so down for it, to propel the story and the relationships forward.”
When Park first received the script for Episode 6, all it said was, “Mindy stands up and sings ‘La Vie En Rose.'” On top of that, she was singing the most French song ever, in France, in front of a bunch of French extras.
“If this is a song that she’s singing like the back of her hand, this needs to feel like her comfort song. But I had learned it in English, and a couple of days before [we filmed], they said, we only have the French rights. I’m so glad I ended up singing it in French; it’s just so much more meaningful. But I had to learn it and be able to lay it down and do it on that day.”
Of course, fans know that Mindy previously had a horrible experience singing publicly, in an epic fail on a singing competition show. When Park rehearsed that scene, one of the French drivers who had heard her sing with a cracking voice in that flashback clip asked, “Is Ashley okay? I thought she was good!”
Season 2 Emily in Paris
One of the things Park is looking forward to for Season 2 is for the merging of worlds, especially since Mindy has moved in with Emily.
“Mindy hasn’t met any of the characters in the office yet. This is a big moment. I’m sure she’ll throw a party in Gabriel’s apartment. I think the merging of the worlds is going to be really fun.”
And maybe we can count on more iconic musical moments involving pop songs. “I’m sure she’ll have more singing since she works at a drag club.”
Season 1 of Emily in Paris is streaming on Netflix.