Cover Rising Hollywood star Sydney Park (Photo: erry Maestas)

Rising actress Sydney Park stars in Netflix’s There’s Someone in Your House. Tatler catches up with the actress about her role, growing up biracial and what’s next for her

Her first venture into the limelight is on America’s Got Talent as Syd the Kid, followed by appearances in various Kid's shows. Then The Walking Dead and Moxie but her big break came when she starred in the Pretty Little Liars spin-off. Rising actress Sydney Park is making sure that she's on your radar.

Recently, she headlines Netflix’s new horror movie, There's Someone in Your House. But there’s also an upcoming movie in the works. Park is booked and busy. Behind her recent dark roles, the Korean and African American actress is all smiles, a charming, talented woman who has captivated many hearts. Coming from a multi-cultural background, she’s not only determined to showcase her acting skills, but also to become a voice of her generation.

Tatler catches up with Park, who looks back at her childhood and experience growing up between two cultures, her notable roles, her newest movie and what’s next for her.

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You have such a multi-cultural background being Korean and African American based in Los Angeles. Did you ever have any identity crisis growing up?

I think for me, it was more challenging being in school with other kids who didn’t fully understand my background, on top of the added pressure of growing up in the entertainment industry where they didn’t get me either. Not necessarily being “Black enough” or “Asian enough” was weird. I’ve always been proud of where I come from though. I love how the world around us is changing and growing to be more accepting.

Do you have memories or have spent time in Africa or in South Korea?

I haven’t been to either. My goal is to travel to both places as soon as I can! I’m so excited to go home.

Did you ever feel like you have to conform to one part of your culture, like you had to identify being one or the other?

My father, who is Korean, really embraces Black culture and was always drawn to it when he was a little boy. When he married my mom it was a big deal for his family but not a surprise to him. I’ve always identified more with being Black, but both of my parents made sure to include Korean culture in the household, even though my dad lost most of it when he moved to New York as a baby. I’m on this journey to reconnect with my Asian side and it's been an enlightening journey for me.

Being biracial, what were some of the challenges that you faced growing up and how did that shape you to be the person you are today?

It was tricky being physically ambiguous to other people. I’ve learned to embrace peoples’ confusion! I don’t get offended when someone tries to guess my race. I actually love it. Every culture has a place here and has something to offer. This life has taught me to hold my head high, despite the setbacks. I see myself as a force, not someone’s checklist!

What moment in your life did you decide that you wanted to pursue acting?

This is kind of crazy but there is a video of me at three years old that my dad recorded on our VHS. My mom and I would do these hilarious “mock interviews” and I’d pretend to be various musicians, including my favourite Alicia Keys. In this particular video, I was just being my sassy self. I turned to my mom and said, “I want to be on that TV”. I was always charismatic as a kid! I couldn’t sit still.

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You started off on shows on popular kids’ entertainment networks such as Disney and Nickelodeon. Other than being much older now, how much different are you as an actress?

I think starting off doing sitcoms was really fun and stimulating for me starting out. I’ve always loved performing and being in front of a live audience was something special. Now, as I delve into deeper roles and more dramatic, single-camera projects, these experiences teach me to honour my craft more.

You then went on to star in a big show like The Walking Dead. How was that like and what were some of the things that you learned in your time there?

I’ve loved being a part of the TWD family! It is still so surreal to me. I get to work with the most creative, smartest, and funniest people I’ve ever met bonding in those Georgia woods. From the cast to the crew, to the writers and the producers, everyone is so unbelievably kind. They are my friends and they not only uplift me as an artist but also help me to grow as a person. It’s a very special show.

Your big break came when you were cast in the Pretty Little Liars spin-off. Just like the TWD, PLL has a big fandom. Was there pressure taking on the role of Caitlin Park-Lewis?

Caitlin Park-Lewis is forever in my heart! Again, it’s such an honour to have been a part of the PLL world. I read all of the original books when I was in middle school. The warmth that Marlene King, Sasha Pieterse-Shaeffer, and Janel Parrish showed me right away brought me great comfort. I was blessed with the most perfect cast so I felt no real pressure! I was just so excited. I will always cherish the memories we made filming in Portland.

It’s difficult to talk about you and your career without mentioning representation. How important is that for you especially since you're from more than one culture?

Being Black and Korean has only made me love myself and my fellow mixed kids even more!! This is all such a blessing. I love having these awesome, unique opportunities that enable me to open up peoples’ minds and share our valuable stories with the world.

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You’ve just starred in Netflix’s There’s Someone In Your House, similar to the horror/thriller genres you’ve played before but this is also your first starring role. Like the other projects you’ve been part of, this is quite a big one, from Netflix, based on a book and then produced by James Wan and Shawn Levy. How did you prepare and what should we look forward to?

During prep I created a playlist for my character, only listening to that while I was filming. I did my research on the novel and made it a point to create some more intimate details of my own describing Makani’s backstory. There’s Someone Inside Your House came into my life at a very pivotal time. Months before we started filming, I had gone through probably the most horrible breakup of my life. It completely rattled me.

When I had read the script, understood the story, and fell in love with my character “Makani”, I had this feeling that this project was going to be bigger than me. I was right. I made some of the best friends ever! And we are seriously a very close cast.

What new element did you bring to playing this role?

Makani Young has a lot of weight and sadness for her. I wanted to utilize some of my own trauma and create a character that was passive, caring, but darker than any other role I’d done before.

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I’ve always been proud of where I come from though. I love how the world around us is changing and growing to be more accepting.
Sydney Park

Being a slasher film, there’s a lot of killing and blood. What were some of the most challenging yet memorable scenes of doing the film?

I would say the scene with Makani, Caleb and the masked killer in the school hallway is in my top three favourites. Those types of stylized scenes are incredibly technical but also require a higher level of emotion. In my head, I had imagined it would turn out rad after all of the moving parts came together and it really did end up being dope. Our director, Patrick Brice, and our DP, Jeff Cutter, make an excellent team.

Your character here is an achiever which is similar to your role in PLL: The Perfectionists spin-off. In what ways are you similar or different to your character? What role do you identify with the most?

Makani Young and I are definitely the same when it comes to being good students as well as being observant. Caitlin Park-Lewis however has a type-a personality and quirkiness that I identify more with than I do with Makani. Most people upon meeting me wouldn’t be quick to say I’m Type-A though. I’m loud, clumsy, and super goofy. I do have this other side of me that is really disciplined, stubborn, an excellent planner, and I can be hard on myself. Not to mention I have a little bit of OCD!

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You’re starring in your first romantic drama First Love which is a big departure from the other roles you’ve played. What should we be excited about?

First of all, Hero Fiennes Tiffin was an absolute joy to work with. Getting to know him in the process and developing the trust in each other to create something really special was awesome! My character, “Ann”, is sweet and strong. I think First Love is a true coming of age story about what it means to celebrate love and how that intertwines into our lives as humans.

You said in a previous interview that you’re working on your original music. How’s that going?

It’s surreal. I’m currently seriously pursuing music now. It feels so right! I’ve always known it was a huge creative outlet for me but tearing down my fears and actually going for it has been super healing for me. I’m excited to learn more and grow in that arena.

Being a voice of this generation carries a lot of responsibility. How do you feel about that?

I’m so humbled. I would say I can only hope to be a small beacon of light in this big world for others. I mostly just want to continue to make people think, to make them smile, and to help uplift our young girls.

What’s your advice to young people looking to break it in the industry?

The biggest advice I have is to find a life of balance. Self-preservation is key! Deepen your friendships, travel, and have fun! Pouring more love into myself and into God has helped me keep my sanctity in an industry where I’ve received a lot of rejection.

You’ve already starred in a Netflix movie and is currently considered some of the rising and breakout stars. What else should we look forward to?

Original music is another piece of my heart I’m really looking forward to sharing.

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