Screenwriter Spotlight: Finalist – Ashley Park

What’s your name? Where were you born? Where do you live? And what’s your hobby?

Hey there! I’m Ashley Park, and I am an actor and comedian originally from San Antonio, Texas. I quickly became one of those UT Austin grads that hung around Austin after earning my degree. Although I consider it more than a hobby, I live and breathe anything comedy; from standup to sketch, performing on stage is one of my greatest passions….but I am contemplating taking up pottery as well.

Where did you come up with the concept that just placed you as a Finalist in the screenplay contest? How long did it take you to develop it into the screenplay it is now?

I watched a documentary on art forgery called Made You Look on Netflix and was so fascinated by this art con that spanned over a decade. I wrote the entire pilot in less than a week after mapping out and creating characters. The character development brings depth to this Upper East Side backdrop.

From concept to finished draft, can you take us through your screenwriting process?

Although it’s both a blessing and a curse, I am one of those writers that have a feast and famine dynamic with writing. I’ll hit something that inspires me and then I can’t think about anything else but the concept. It’ll start with that spark of inspiration and then I roll into the main characters, the drivers of the script outline. As an actor, I particularly enjoy writing characters that I would want to play; that sounds more selfish than I mean it to be, but I love to create strong female leads that you don’t see on TV every day. Once those characters are created, I map out my acts of the episode, particularly paying attention to the hook that lures you in at the top of the pilot.

When did you realize that you wanted to become a screenwriter?

This is the third pilot that I’ve written, but I’ve been sitting on a few writing ideas for years. I’ve always been told I was a good writer, especially with my sketch comedy, but I never thought to execute on screenplays until the pandemic hit and I was home so much. I think doing improv and pushing myself as a comedic performer these past few years got me to that headspace to ask myself ‘Why not? What are you waiting for?’ Once you’ve survived bombing on stage, you realize failure is a ladder, not a closed door.

Who are your biggest filmmaking/screenwriting influences? What about their style do you like or borrow?

Phoebe Waller-Bridge is a huge inspiration to me, as well as Michaela Coel. There is brutal honesty and rawness that I love about their screenplay structures.

Have you ever been obsessed with a movie or TV show? If so, which one? Why?

Piggybacking off of my previous answer, I stand firm that the second season of Fleabag is perfect television. There is an honesty and vulnerability with the antihero of that series that completely draws you into that world. I also respect that Waller-Bridge decided to end the series on a high note. From a writer’s perspective, that must have been incredibly difficult to walk away, but hey, it’s best to walk away on top.

What’s your favorite moment in cinema history? Why?

I’ll preface this by saying I’m a 90’s kid, but there is nothing more iconic than watching that water ripple in that cup while a T-Rex prepares to chase down that SUV in Jurassic Park. That was honestly the first movie I became obsessed with, and I still think a large part of my personality was influenced by Dr. Ian Malcolm.

Who’s your favorite character in cinema history? Why?

This is a hard one, but I’m going to go with my MVP, Barbra Streisand as Fanny Brice in Funny Girl. A true master at work, highlighting a groundbreaking comedian with iconic songs and also some incredible physical humor (I mean, have you seen that roller skate scene)!? And don’t get me started on that leopard outfit. Masterpiece.

If you could talk to anyone from any era, who would it be and what would you ask them? 

This is probably cheating on this question, but can I just have lunch with Tina Turner? I’d finally get to the root of the universe’s greatest quandary: What’s love got to do with it?