Ashley Park: American bread & cheese ‘don’t sit that well with me’

Ashley Park is best known to me as Mindy on Emily in Paris. Mindy was pretty one-dimensional in the first season, but after that, they did a better job of fleshing out the character and making her more than just the one-note “Asian best friend of the lead.” Ashley is actually a Broadway actress, a real song-and-dance lady, and she seems pleasantly surprised that stardom has come to her on this cheesy Netflix show. She covers the current issue of Shape, and I enjoyed learning more about her.

They had no idea EIP would become this hit: “When we were filming season one, we had no idea how much a part of the pop culture zeitgeist it would become.”

She loves fashion: “The fashion world isn’t one I grew up in, but I love it now. I’ve learned that it’s about way more than vanity. You can use it as a tool to express how you’re feeling that day. When you wake up, you can say ‘What version of myself do I want to broadcast today?’ There’s a certain bravery in showing your personality in that way.”

Skincare as a self-care ritual. “I’m a huge skin care person now, and I love FaceGym [a facial exercise studio and line of skin-care products]. I have a face massager from them. The face is full of muscles and we never think to work them out. So, now I use a gua sha tool to massage them. It makes your face feel so much more relaxed.”

The EIP makeup team knows what to do with an Asian actress: “As an Asian person, to have people who really hear and see me and want to enhance my features? It’s very special.”

Being Korean-American actress: “I am, of course, honored,” she says of the feedback she hears from fans. “It’s been a journey for me. If I am being candid, there was a time when I thought I had done my job if people walked away from a scene forgetting that I’m Asian. But, then I realized, people can acknowledge that I am Asian and still connect with the character. With Mindy, I am proud that people get to see this really great character on this very popular show who is Asian — that’s not something I got to see growing up. And for that to be more familiar is important.”

She dealt with acute myeloid leukemia in her teenage years: “Once cancer physically left my body, I made it my mission to not let it affect my life. I didn’t want it to define me. People were so worried about me, and I became the person that was like, ‘I’m fine. Don’t worry about me. I am going to go after what I want and just do it.’”

Workouts: “I’ve done everything — I had a big yoga phase, a big cycling phase, a big running phase. And I’ve always loved dancing.” Recently, Park says she discovered Pilates and absolutely loves it. “It feels very athletic, but it’s low impact. I sweat a ton and feel much stronger when I am done with it. Similar to dance, you use a lot of different muscles and there’s a real mind-body connection that happens with it.”

She doesn’t like group fitness classes: “When I’m in group class situations, I feel like it’s easier to cheat. You can hide behind other people.” But in one-on-one sessions with her trainer Brandon Perry, she feels “held accountable.”

She has a plant-based diet but she’s not strict about it: “I am highly anemic because of what I went through with my cancer. So, I do like a nice steak every once in a while.” Interestingly, Park says when it comes to dairy and gluten, it all depends on where she’s eating these foods. “When I’m in America, those things don’t sit that well with me. But, for some reason, when I am in Europe, I can eat an entire bread basket and so much cheese, and it’s fine.”

[From Shape]

Many Asian people have lactose issues, and I’m one of them – most kinds of cheeses make me sick as a dog, although now I’m curious if that’s specific to American cheeses and the way Americans put too much f–king cheese on everything. Hm. I also don’t like group classes, but it’s not because of hiding away – I would feel too exposed in a class full of people, when I work out, I like to be by myself, in my own little world. As for her EIP character… something I noticed about the shift between season 1 and after is that not only did they give Mindy more characterization, her styling improved too. Say what you will about Lily Collins, but she really heard the criticisms and she used her position as executive producer to bring in new people starting in the second season and you can see the difference.

Photos courtesy of Cover Images, cover courtesy of Shape.

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22 Responses to “Ashley Park: American bread & cheese ‘don’t sit that well with me’”

  1. Ameerah M says:

    A LOT of people say this: that they can’t eat dairy in the States but in Europe it doesn’t bother them at all. As someone who is lactose intolerant I would love to go to Europe on a cheese tour! Lol.

    • NotTheOne says:

      I don’t want to rain on your parade but this is a food-science myth. For both dairy and gluten sensitivities. Yes, there are certain strains that have less lactose/gluten, but it’s still there.

      • Arpeggi says:

        When it comes to cheeses at the very least, there are types of cheeses that have very low lactose because of the way they are made and aged. Very hard cheeses like mimolette and (real) parmesan have little to no lactose in them so those would probably be easier for people who are lactose intolerant.

        I’d believe “real” bread that is made from non-bleached flour without a lot of sugar added to the dough (ie not wonderbread or similar stuff) might be easier to digest, but ultimately, yes, gluten is gluten.

    • Mrs.Krabapple says:

      My sister swears she BECAME lactose intolerant after spending a summer in Europe, because their cheese was so delicious, she ate too much of it! I know that’s just a single anecdote and doesn’t mean anything, but she still blames European cheeses (for being too tasty).

  2. therese says:

    I have stopped eating gluten, and I feel so much better. I have a friend who’s daughter travels quite a lot who gets sick when she eats gluten in the states, but in europe, she’s just fine. I’m just thinking that maybe it is the genetically engineered wheat, because I don’t think they do that in Europe. Also, a lot of American cows are jacked up on hormones to beef them up. Haven’t been able to give up dairy yet, though.

    • equality says:

      It has to do with the aging of the cheese and how it’s processed. Bread in the US and the UK supposedly has higher gluten than in some European countries. Use of the Round-Up product is also part of the problem so buying organic can help. Some think because bread in some European countries is made with buttermilk that is the reason. The lactic acid in buttermilk breaks down the gluten. That’s why some people can eat sourdough bread without a problem. If you cook at home and carefully select your products, sensitivities are more controllable.

      • Lily says:

        What, what? Granted, I haven’t lived in every country in Europe, but as far as bread goes, you don’t normally add milk to it. Unless it’s some kind of sweet bread, meaning pastry, like brioche, for example. Which is baked in the shape of a loaf sometimes, but nobody considers it bread. It’s a pastry.

        And I’ve only seen buttermilk in recipes by American cooks/food bloggers. Goop had one for pancakes, I think? But in Europe, I’ve only seen (elderly) people in the Netherlands drink a glass of buttermilk (karnemelk), but I’ve never heard of a traditional recipe with it. Do you know any?

    • Normades says:

      Exactly this. I have American friends who are gluten intolerant and find they can eat the bread and croissants in France

      • Fran says:

        Buttermilk is used in recipes for (Irish) sodabreads. If you will, it’s the catalyst needed along with the soda for the bread to rise. The recipe for pancakes in my Irish cookbook also includes buttermilk.

    • Shoshone says:

      European breads are generally “proofed” or allowed to rise for much longer periods of time which gives the yeast time to utilize the gluten. That, plus their wheat blends which have been developed over centuries to compliment this slower style of bread making, leads to a more digestible bread.
      American industrialized production bread baking does not want to waste time on proofing since that time is considered a money loser. Our breads are generally proofed for minutes versus several hours. Therefore, we have developed higher gluten recipes/grains ect.
      Anyway, that is how the difference was explained to me. I’ve never tasted French bread in Europe but I consumed plenty in French Polynesia where it is produced in the same style and I believe it is more delicious and definitely more digestible.

  3. Concern Fae says:

    European food is much more strictly regulated. Did you miss the whole Twitter thing over Irish butter last weekend. If America can produce something cheaper, even if some people have reactions to it, they will. Also, different regions have different kinds of wheat, so that probably makes a difference.

  4. Emily says:

    American dairy must be different. In Canada, for a long time we didn’t import milk from the US because of the hormones used on cows and the processing. Now that it is in Canada I still watch out and don’t buy it.

  5. Normades says:

    I also have a gua sha and a jade roller but I just prefer my hands to facial massage with. I feel like it helps relax the muscles and soften the nasolabial facial lines.

    • tealily says:

      Thanks for saying this. I’ve been considering buying both of those things, but wondered if it would really be worth it or better than my fingers. Although I have to admit that I probably will end up getting that ice roller that comes with the gua sha posted in the recommendations yesterday. I have jaw disfunction and I feel like the ice would feel really nice!

  6. girl_ninja says:

    I don’t like group classes cause I feel like I’m competing with other people and feel inept. I don’t know what to do about my diet anymore. I don’t know what to eliminate or keep.

  7. Normades says:

    I stopped watching after the first season but I’m glad they developed her character better. She seems cool and I hope she goes on to have a good career.

  8. theotherViv says:

    Some of the fashion of EiP has improved and they did make Mindy a more defined character but some of Mindy’s outfits have been awful to borderline slutty. She is too beautiful for that. And then they pretend she went to Le Rosey in Switzerland, as if anyone from Rosey would dress like that unless it’s Halloween. She is a stunning woman with a super model body and she deserves some real Parisian clothes. I am weirded out how much she does NOT dress like a filthy rich Asian in most episodes. I always feel her personal style would be far more superior than the fictional Mindy they serve us.

    • Margot says:

      Agreed. I enjoy her on the show but she is always dressed like a showgirl. Seems like they do her dirty in the wardrobe department, but Emily’s clothes are mostly ugly, too.

  9. SpankyB says:

    I think Mindy is my favorite character on EIP. While her outfits are sometimes a bit odd, she wears them really well. She has killer legs.

  10. The Voice says:

    I’ve noticed a big change in EIP from s1 to s3, mostly improvements. Ashley’s role got bigger and her character got fleshed out. I enjoy her storylines. She’s a gorgeous women with a dynamite body and I agree that her outfits are borderline slutty. They can make her fashionable without revealing so much. I can definitely see the results of Pilates though. I’ll never understand why they had to give her such a complicated backstory. Why explain her ethnicity? No other character has to do that so quit doing it just for the Asians.

    I also love that more a French is spoken. Now it’s starting to feel like a real show set in France with an 80% French cast in that regard.

    I have thoughts on why Emily got bangs in s3. Lily Collins doesn’t appear to have much Botox (aka she’s aging naturally with a lot of forehead wrinkles) and the producers wanted to cover it up. I long for the day women can age naturally and it’s normal.

  11. Sshark_29 says:

    I believe most European countries ban gmo products, wheat etc. I think some of this comes from that. I have a family member who is a farmer and he grows non-gmo wheat & sells it to Japan, & a few other countries, they will not buy/don’t allow gmo.

  12. Abby says:

    American cheese isn’t cheese, it’s blasphemy. As someone who grew up on traditional farm cheeses from Eastern Europe, what they eat in the US isn’t even food to me. Bread is also horrible. I laughed at the fact people were “discovering” sourdough bread in the pandemic, wtf, that is normal to me, and the basic type. We got so many different types of bread baked daily in the local bakeries. When I first discovered the toast bread type thing they sold in US stores I was revolted.

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