Here is an interview Grace Park conducted for her show, The Secret Life of the American Teenager (Mondays on 8/7 on ABCFamily). Megan Park plays Grace the smart, controlled cheerleader that believes in her values.
Moderator Our first question comes from Kenn Gold with Media Boulevard. Please go ahead.
K. Gold Hello Megan, thank you of taking the time today. It’s really great to talk to you.
M. Park Thank you; you too.
K. Gold So my first question for you is, I wondered if you could talk about the success of this show, I mean it is so wildly successful on ABC Family and what does it mean to you as an actor or as an actress having that kind of success?
M. Park I think it’s just every actor’s dream to not only be on a show that they’re really proud to be a part of, but have people actually see the show. I mean we couldn’t be happier that people are responding the way they are and the numbers keep getting better every week, and it just gives us so much confidence and we’re just so glad kids are liking it and families are liking it and everybody is really understanding the show, and we just couldn’t be happier.
K. Gold Great. In terms of the characters on the show, who would you say you’re the most like? Are you anything at all like Grace or like maybe one of the other characters? Who’s the most like you?
M. Park I’m probably a lot like Grace in real life. I mean we’re both confident people, I think and bubbly and outgoing. I think Grace and I both like to see the good in people. But I’m very different than Grace in a lot of ways too. I’m a little bit of Amy sometimes; I can be a little bit of Adrian sometimes. You know I can definitely see myself in all the characters, which I think is one of the reasons why everybody responds so well in the show is you know there is a bit of everybody in every character, I think, so that’s really appealing to people. But I think I’m probably the most like Grace, but there’s definitely a bit of me in everybody else too.
K. Gold That’s great. Now do you see yourself as a role model or do you think it’s important to have kind of a strong Christian character on the show that’s really not portrayed as a caricature? I mean sometimes … as a joke.
M. Park Yes, exactly. And it was so important to me that from the beginning Grace was more than just a Christian girl. And I think it’s wonderful that there is a Christian character on a primetime show and that she isn’t just portrayed as that – that’s not just the main thing about her. And I wanted from the very beginning to make sure that she was Christian but she made mistakes, and she struggled with her religion and she questioned it and she went through her teenage years with that at her side type thing. So I think we’ve done a pretty good job of portraying that. And Brenda Hampton, it’s so important to her too that she’s a normal teenage girl but she’s also Christian, and I think that has come across really well so far.
K. Gold Just one more question for now. I guess we’re going to kind of see the character of Ricky maybe moving — I guess the two characters are almost like dark and light, Grace and Ricky, and we’re seeing … moving towards the light side, with his involvement with you and the situation, are we going to get to see maybe Grace kind of, I guess going the other way and getting into trouble at all?
M. Park Going to the dark side?
K. Gold … couldn’t figure how else to put it, but yes, going to the dark side.
M. Park I think that definitely Grace isn’t as naïve as she once was and I think she’s dating Ricky now and there’s going to be temptations and there’s going to be questioning and stuff and she definitely struggles with some things this season. But you know she’s a good girl at heart and she always does have good intentions. But you do see Ricky kind of trying to be a good boy to be with Grace, but you also see Grace kind of struggling with being perfect and being good and the responsibility of that and maybe wanting to take some risks a little bit. So you definitely see her struggle with that throughout the season.
K. Gold Great. Well, I’m really loving the show and I’m loving your character, so thank you for you time.
M. Park Thank you so much.
Moderator Our next question comes from Jamie Steinberg with Starry Constellation Magazine. Please go ahead.
J. Steinberg Hello Megan, it’s good to speak with you.
M. Park Hello Jamie, you too.
J. Steinberg What made you want to be a part of the show originally?
M. Park You know I read the pilot episode, my manager sent it to me, and right away I was like “Oh my gosh, I really want to try out for this show.” And I actually tried out for the role of Amy first and then they were like, “You’d be better as Grace.” And I always kind of felt a connection to Grace, so I was really happy when they wanted me to read for her. And I just really responded to the material, I thought it was so realistic and real life issues and I would want to watch it. And I think when you read a script of something that you would want to watch, that’s a great sign of something that you should be involved with. So I think I just instantly responded well to the material and connected with the character, especially. So that’s what made me want to do it.
J. Steinberg What has been the most challenging aspect of the role for you?
M. Park I guess as an actor I really want to make sure that Grace comes across as a real person and not just super bubbly and not just a cheerleader, and she is bubbly and she is a cheerleader, but I wanted her to be real and have depth and stuff. So it is trying to take her naiveness and her bubbliness, but ground it a little and also show her troubles and her dark side a little bit. So I guess that’s been the biggest struggle so far.
J. Steinberg What has been your most memorable moment you’ve had from filming the show?
M. Park Oh, that’s a good question. I think the most memorable was in the pilot episode of the first season we shot all of this stuff at the school dance first, which is when I see Jack kissing Adrian and we’re having the little dance sequence and stuff. So we shot that the first two days of filming, and none of us knew each other and we were all really nervous and shy around each other, but we were all just so excited to be there and we had a blast and we were all playing our guitars in the trailer in between takes. Basically it was like the first day of school and the first day in the cafeteria when we all had lunch, like who was sitting together and stuff. So it was just really fun to look back, because now we’re like a family and it’s so funny to think of us those first couple of days. And it was also so surreal, because it was so exciting. So that’s probably my fondest memory.
J. Steinberg What would you like to say to everyone who is a fan and supporter of you in the show?
M. Park Well thank you, because if it weren’t for the people who watched we definitely wouldn’t be here and I wouldn’t have this amazing opportunity to be Grace and to be on this show. So thank you to everybody who watched us and supports it and is faithful. So thank you so much you guys.
J. Steinberg Thank you so much for your time.
M. Park Thank you.
Moderator Our next question is from Michelle Laumb from secretlifesource.com. Please go ahead.
M. Laumb Hello Megan. How are you?
M. Park Hello Michelle, how are you? I’m good.
M. Laumb I’m doing good; I’m glad we finally get to talk since last time.
M. Park I know, I know, thank you so much for doing so much work on the site, that’s so cool that you did that.
M. Laumb Thank you. It’s a lot of fun and fans like it too. It’s a good way — by interviewing you guys too and everything it gives them a better look at what you guys are like too.
M. Park That’s awesome. Thank you.
M. Laumb Thank you. And also, congratulations on the premiere, getting so many viewers, I mean more than Gossip Girl, that’s crazy.
M. Park I know it’s insane, we’re all so excited.
M. Laumb If you were a fan watching this show, who would you want Grace to end up with?
M. Park That’s a good question. If I was a fan and I was watching, I think I’d be tempted to see her end up with Ricky, because I think there’s just a connection with them and they do have so many differences and they are kind of going to struggle and stuff, but I think ultimately they have a connection that maybe Jack and Grace don’t have. So I think there’s that passion there and I think it would be interesting to see that play out. So that’s who I’d pick.
M. Laumb And Francia said in the past that you guys wanted to start an advice Web site of some sort, is that something that you guys are still planning on trying to do?
M. Park Yes, you know it’s something that we’ve thrown around, we haven’t really solidified anything yet, but we were talking, we always have these great girl chats in our trailers, you know me and Francia and Shae and Renee and Camille and we get talking about these great issues and stuff, a lot of times that are brought up by what we’re filming, and so one of us, one day, we were like, we should totally do a Web site where we can talk about these things to kids who are probably going through the same thing that we’re going through or we’ve gone through.
So it’s something that we really hope to do, kind of setup a site where we can maybe have some professional people onboard helping us out as well, but maybe once a week or something we could do a response to a question that we’ve gone through or something. And I just think we’re in a great position with the show to help kids out. And I already get so many letters from kids already asking me questions on things they’re going through and stuff, so it would be a great way to kind of help kids out. So it’s definitely something we hope to do, I’ll definitely keep you updated on that.
M. Laumb Yes, I know ABC Family recently — I think this week is their first try with having an advice column on there. But having cast members from the show, I think fans would really respond to that.
M. Park That’s a great idea; I’ll definitely talk to someone from the show with that, I didn’t know they were doing that, so maybe we could use that as a way to do something; that would be so cool.
M. Laumb And what is going on with your music? You official Web site said that you and Cody started a band.
M. Park Yes, well you know I’ve been playing guitar for two years now and I’m good friends with this girl Cody and she’s a really talented musician, she went to Berkley School of Music in Boston and we just became friends and we were hanging out one day and we were like let’s write a song, just for kicks. So we ended up writing this song and then some people heard it and really liked it and so we’ve been songwriting and doing some open mikes in little shows and stuff. So there’s some interest from some people, it’s all very new, so we’re going to kind of see what happens. But it’s something that is a passion of mine and it’s a hobby and I hope to pursue it on the side. So we’ll see what happens.
M. Laumb Great. And one last question, you worked in London, right?
M. Park I worked in London?
M. Laumb Yes.
M. Park I grew up in London, Ontario in Canada.
M. Laumb I know there was an interview once with you where I thought it said you were in London. Did they make it sound like maybe London?
M. Park Maybe they made it sound like London, England, but I worked a lot in Toronto, because I lived in London and I would always do movies and stuff out of Toronto in Canada. But I’ve never been to Europe yet, I hope to go.
M. Laumb Oh, okay. So what’s it like being in LA, is that different from Canada, a lot?
M. Park It is so different. I’m actually like totally jet lagged right now, because I flew in yesterday from the East Coast. But I love LA, I love the weather, I come from a place where it snows like ten months of the year. So I definitely love the heat. And it’s just so nice to be close to where there is so much opportunity for work. And I’ve made some amazing friends out here and I live in a nice little apartment and I’m really settling down, I love it here. I can definitely see myself staying here for a long time.
M. Laumb Great, well it was good talking to you and thank you for answering my questions.
M. Park You too. Thanks so much.
M. Laumb Thank you.
M. Park Bye.
Moderator And our next question comes from Troy Rogers with deadbolt.com. Please go ahead.
T. Rogers Hello Megan.
M. Park Hello Troy, how are you?
T. Rogers Not too bad. Thanks for taking the time.
M. Park Oh of course, thank you.
T. Rogers What would you like to see happen for Grace like in the course of season two?
M. Park You know I’d like to see Grace kind of come out of her shell a little bit and take some risks. You know she’s been known to kind of play it safe in the past. And she’s such a good girl, and I think that’s great, but I’d love to see her kind of just come out of her shell a little bit and take some chances and see what happens, especially just with her boy situation, with Ricky and Jack and all that. She deserves a good guy who treats her really well, so I hope that she finds somebody who does and I hope that she just makes some good friends, because she struggled with that in the past and just really comes into her own.
T. Rogers Okay, actually with that being said and her Christian upbringing, do you think that has a major influence on why she’s with Ricky?
M. Park I don’t know, you know I think it has definitely been a struggle with her relationship with Ricky because I think they are so different in their upbringing and their past. And I think she definitely has a tendency to see the good in people, which I think is wonderful. But I think she definitely wants to try to help Ricky and her religion has been such a great thing in her life and she wants to open that door for Ricky and see if he’ll take it. So I think definitely it has something to do with her wanting to try to help him and stuff.
T. Rogers Actually I’ve been scouring a lot of the blogs and stuff too and I just wanted to know, what do you say to all the critics out there who keep calling this a Juno knockoff?
M. Park You know there’s always going to be that, because Juno was such a big success and it was a similar theme, but I think that really Juno maybe opened up some doors for our show in terms of the interest in that topic, but I think they’re so different and I think that there’s always going to be comparisons to something, but I think people who actually watch it and stuff will see that it’s very different. And it’s not just about a girl who is pregnant, I mean it’s about what’s going to happen after she has it, what’s happening before, it’s about how it affects her family and it’s about all these other kids as well. And I think there’s just so much going on that it’s hard to really compare it to Juno, in my opinion.
T. Rogers Fair enough. How close is it in realism to when you were in high school, as a teenager?
M. Park Frighteningly close. There are so many storylines that I read when I get the scripts and I’m like, oh my gosh I totally went through that. And I think that’s why everybody loves it so much. I think that there is a storyline that everybody has gone through and knows somebody who has gone through. And the way they deal with it on the show is just so true to life, nothing is buttered up or anything, it’s very true.
And I love too that there are so many storylines with the parents and the family, because you don’t really often see that on a lot of shows. And I love that they show the struggles that the parents’ relationships are going through and kids finding out things about their parents’ past. Like my character in the first season finds out some things about her parents, you know she thought that they saved stuff for marriage that they didn’t and then it kind of shatters a little bit of this picture that she had about her parents. And so it’s interesting to see how that affects teenagers’ lives too, because I think it does, more so than people think.
T. Rogers Okay. Actually I wanted to know, what is it like having Josie Bissett and John Schneider as parents?
M. Park As my TV parents?
T. Rogers Yes.
M. Park It’s really cool, I mean they are so sweet and John is actually directing the next episode that we start filming on Monday, so I’m really excited, because he’s never directed our show before. So it will be kind of cool to act with him and direct. I don’t know how that’s going to work out, so that will be fun. And Josie is just the sweetest woman and I get along with her so well, and we have great talks about things and she has so much great advice, because she’s been through doing a show before on Melrose Place and stuff, so I really love them and I’m learning from them and they’re great.
T. Rogers Cool. I just have one more quick thing and then I’ll let you go. Speaking of directing, what was it like to have your fellow Canadian Jason Priestly up there?
M. Park Jason, I adore Jason, he’s so cool and we bonded over our Canadian heritage. Everybody made fun of the way we say pasta, because I guess you guys say pasta and we tried to fight that. But no, he’s really great and I just loved working with him, I think his episodes are amazing and it’s so great to have somebody who is also an actor directing, and he definitely brings that to the table. He’s just such a sweet guy; I really hope he comes back this season.
T. Rogers Nice. I’m actually talking to you from Vancouver.
M. Park Oh you are? That’s awesome, is it cold there?
T. Rogers Yes, it’s rainy and wet, as always.
M. Park Typical, I guess. That’s so cool.
T. Rogers And I also know there is a Paris, Ontario as well.
M. Park There is, it’s not far – I’m from London, Ontario, it’s a mini London, England, and I live next to a Thames River in London. That’s awesome.
T. Rogers That’s all I really have, Megan, I just want to thank you again.
M. Park Yes, nice to meet you.
T. Rogers Alright, thanks.
M. Park Bye.
Moderator Next we’ll go to the line of Sarah Fulghum with totallyher.com. Please go ahead.
S. Fulghum Hello Megan, it’s great to talk with you today.
M. Park Hello. How are you?
S. Fulghum I’m good. I just want to tell you that I love your character; I definitely identify with her the most.
M. Park Oh really, that’s so cool.
S. Fulghum Yes, I was wondering, what is a typical day in your life like?
M. Park A typical day in my life. Well if I’m filming, usually I have to get up at like 5:30 in the morning and then I go to set and I sit in hair and makeup for about two hours. And usually there are lots of other girls in there with me getting ready and stuff, so we gossip and we talk and we listen to music and dance around and we go over our lines together. And then we film all morning and then at 1 o’clock we have a lunch break, usually for an hour and then we film until about four or five at night and then usually I come home and I’ve got a bunch of phone calls to make and I call my family back home and say hi.
And then actually a lot of the times I end up hanging out with my friend Cody and writing some music, because I love to write music and I play guitar, so I like to spend some time on that or I go to see a movie sometimes with my friends. So I have a few hours in the night where I get to hang out and do some fun stuff and then I have to come home and look over my lines for the next day and then get to bed pretty early. So it’s not that exciting, really, but that’s usually a typical day.
S. Fulghum How has your life changed now that you’re a star on a hit TV show?
M. Park It’s kind of bizarre, I mean I didn’t really realize how huge the show was until I went to the mall after the show started airing and I couldn’t go into a store without somebody coming up to me and saying how much they loved the show. So it’s very surreal and you kind of are in a bubble when you’re on a set, because you don’t really get out that much, because you’re so busy working. So when I do go out to a movie theater or a mall or something or an airport even, I was just in the airport yesterday and it was pretty crazy. But it’s great, because nobody ever has anything negative to say, it’s just people telling me that they love the show, and that’s awesome, I couldn’t be happier about that.
S. Fulghum The clothes on the show are great. I was wondering, do you have any input on the clothes that your character wears?
M. Park You know I do actually. They are so awesome, the wardrobe people, they really want us to feel comfortable and have a say in how our character looks and they love to hear about where we like to shop. And a lot of times I’ll come to set wearing a shirt or something, and they’ll go, “Where did you get that?” And they’ll go out and get the same thing for my character, which is kind of cool.
But it has been interesting, because my character started out wearing a lot of sweaters and very conservative things and it was great, because that was kind of the place she was at in her life – that very kind of naïve place. But then since the show has been going on and especially in season two she kind of gets a bit more edgy with her clothes, which I really like. And she has an awesome leather jacket this season, which I don’t think anyone has seen yet, but it’s really cool. Definitely as her character is changing, the clothes are changing too, which I think is really cool.
S. Fulghum Wow, that is really neat. Now for a tough question, do you think the show is discouraging or encouraging teenagers to have sex?
M. Park I don’t know that’s it’s doing either, really. I think, hopefully, kids will just see what happens when you make either decision and they’ll see the consequences of both sides of it, and maybe that will help them make a decision that is best for them. I think obviously teen pregnancy will scare some people away from having sex, which is a good thing.
But I think that it shows that there are characters, like my character, Grace, who is a very sweet girl and very confident and well-liked and she doesn’t have sex, and maybe that will influence some kids to say, “Well, she doesn’t do it and she’s saving herself for marriage, so I can do that too.” And then there are characters who have made mistakes and are dealing with the consequences and so kids will see, if I make a mistake there could be really, really big consequences. So hopefully it will just open up their eyes to the reality of that.
S. Fulghum Oh, I agree. That’s such a good answer. Thank you so much for talking with me today.
M. Park Thanks so much.
Moderator Next we’ll go to the line of Chelsea Wiley with sugarslam.com. Please go ahead.
C. Wiley Hello Megan.
M. Park Hello. How are you?
C. Wiley I’m good. How are you?
M. Park Good.
C. Wiley I was just wondering, I know there are a lot of actors who have like dream roles, whether they’re on stage or in film or even musicals. Do you have a character like that, that you would just love to play?
M. Park Well actually, I think right now I’m obsessed with the movie Mamma Mia, because I really want to do a musical, because I love music so much. So I would have loved to be in Mamma Mia, either onstage or the movie version, I think that would be really fun and something I’d love to do. But Grace is a great character to play and it’s a dream role for me. I mean, I love the character, I think she’s very sweet and a good person and she’s funny and I love playing her. So I really feel like I’m playing a dream character right now.
C. Wiley That’s so cool. Do you ever think that they’ll incorporate your music into your character?
M. Park I don’t know. Brenda said maybe we’ll get you playing the guitar or singing a song or something at some point. But you know I don’t mind keeping them as two separate things, because I don’t know, acting is just something that’s very close to my heart and I love it and I never want to really — I don’t know if I want to be seen as the actress/crossover musician, I don’t mind keeping them separate for right now. But eventually I think it would be really cool, or it would be cool to do maybe a movie musical or something. So we’ll see what happens, I don’t know.
C. Wiley If you could work with any other actor or actress on a project, who would it be and why?
M. Park I would work with Seth Rogen, I think, my fellow Canadian. I think he’s so talented and hilarious. And Michael Cera, I love that whole like Jed Apatow crew, it would be my dream to work with those people, because I love comedy and it’s something I really want to explore and maybe do a comedy movie like that would be amazing. I just think they’re so funny and it’s so different from some of the stuff that’s out there right now. I’m just big fans of theirs, so I would love to work with them. It would be so cool if they did something on the show.
C. Wiley It would be. I just have one last question. On other teenage shows you always hear about backstage drama and this person is fighting, and I never hear about that with you guys. What is your relationship like with Shailene and Francia?
M. Park You never hear about it because it just isn’t there, to be honest, I mean we’re so lucky. Shae, I was just talking to Shae like 20 minutes before I got on this call and Francia, I was talking to her last night, we were going to watch Grey’s Anatomy together. And we really all just love each other and we’re all friends, there’s no drama, there’s just no jealousy or anything. And I think it just comes with everybody being happy to be there and nobody having egos. We’re just so lucky that we don’t have a cast full of egos, because I’ve definitely worked on movies and shows like that and it just changes the whole experience.
And we just all love hanging out together. Seriously when we’re not filming, we’re all sitting in our chairs laughing and joking around or we’re all in a trailer, especially the girls, we all just like love each other. And I don’t see that changing, to be honest, I think we’re all just so happy to be there and so proud to be on the show and stuff. So we love each other, we’re sisters.
C. Wiley Very cool. Well, thank you so much for you time.
M. Park Thank you. See you later.
Moderator We’ll go to the line of Troy Rogers with deadbolt.com, please go ahead.
T. Rogers Megan, I’m back again.
M. Park Hi.
T. Rogers I just have two more quick things. How rewarding is it to know that the show is right up there, keeping pace with Gossip Girl and 90210?
M. Park It’s beyond anyone’s expectations, I think. It beat Gossip Girl by I think like 47%, I was told, in the ratings on Monday. I mean it has just been insane and I think that those shows are wonderful too, but I think people are really watching Secret Life and that’s exciting for us. And we just hope that kids keep watching and that it keeps its pace, and everyone is just really excited.
T. Rogers Yes, you guys are doing really well.
M. Park Yes, really, really well.
T. Rogers The other thing I wanted to know is, do you ever go into like the forums and blogs and kind of look at what people are speculating about with upcoming episodes? Do you get a kick out of that?
M. Park To be honest, when the show first stared airing, I did, I went on a couple of times and just read, but sometimes you read things that you don’t want to hear and sometimes it kind of messes with your head a little bit. So I try not to read them any more, just because — you know there are negative things on there that sometimes aren’t great to hear. So I just kind of, I love when people come up to me on the street and say something and I love when people send me really nice letters about the show, and I know there are always going to be positive and negative things about everything, but I just try to focus on the positive part of it and not to let it affect me, the other part of it.
T. Rogers I was just wondering, because I always find it funny that people are in there going, this is what’s going to happen, like they know, like they think they know what’s going on.
M. Park Yes, well I love that people are passionate, like talking about it and speculating and that part is really cool. And sometimes we hear — you know some people are like, oh I heard that people think this is going to happen and that’s always really cool to hear that kids are so excited about it.
T. Rogers Excellent. Yes, I just want to thank you again, Megan.
M. Park Thank you. Bye.
T. Rogers Bye.
Moderator We have a question from Michelle Laumb with secretlifesource.com. Please go ahead.
M. Laumb Hello Megan, one more question.
M. Park Sure.
M. Laumb You were talking about fashion earlier and you didn’t really answer, because for the Web site I’m trying to get up a style section, since the fans really love what you guys wear on the show …. So can you just name some places that you shop at?
M. Park Like for my character’s stuff or just for me?
M. Laumb For you.
M. Park I love Urban Outfitters; it’s probably my favorite store. I love American Apparel, I love going to a lot of vintage stores and finding stuff. But I also like going to places just like, I love Free People, it’s another favorite line of mine, Theory, I love, but Urban is probably where me, Shae and Francia all spend a lot of time at Urban, that’s where a lot of our stuff comes from.
M. Laumb Cool. Thank you so much.
M. Park No worries. Bye.
M. Laumb Bye.