Sydney Park talks “The Perfectionists” – the “Pretty Little Liars” sequel everyone’s been buzzing about

Sydney Park is kind of living every 20-year-old’s dream life, not for a lack of trying.

Way back when, Park and her family moved from their home in the Bay Area to Los Angeles to get their start in the biz: and let me tell you, they did not skip a beat.

From doing stand-up comedy since she was six (can six-year-olds even physically stand up?) to auditioning on “America’s Got Talent” (stand up at six? no shit, she’s got talent) and starring on some of your favorite shows (okay, I’ll speak for myself but I know you love them, too) like “Hannah Montana” and “That’s So Raven,” Park has had a pretty outstanding time, especially given the fact that she’s only 20.

Now, Park joins her fellow cast members in her role as Caitlin in “The Perfectionists,” the sequel to cult fan-fave “Pretty Little Liars.” Park was, of course, a PLL fan herself, so she’s super stoked on her newest role.

Though Park is already somewhat of an industry vet, she’s had her share of struggles: Park has found herself at odds with the industry at times, especially with regard to her half Asian half African-American identity, her gender, or even her age. But, she clearly isn’t letting anything anyone holds against her stop her.

Read below as the actor talks about her new role on “The Perfectionists,” her life, and of course, what the future holds for the bright young star.

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Were you a PLL fan? Who was your fav character and why? 

I’ve been a fan of PLL ever since I was in middle school! I read about eight of the books and was so hooked. Sara Shepard (the author) really did an amazing job telling the story of these misunderstood young women and I loved that. When the series came out I was blown away with how well the cast matched the character descriptions from the books!

Can you tell us a bit about your character on “The Perfectionists?”

My character Caitlin is driven, sporty, and incredibly smart.  She’s the type of girl who excels at everything she puts her mind to and knows she’s the bomb! Caitlin is sort of a mix between Spencer and Emily from the previous series. I really think the fans are going to be able to relate to Caitlin and be intrigued by her storyline!

How will the show differ from PLL while still giving the loyal PLL fans their fix?

“The Perfectionists” is set in college which adds a more sophisticated edge to the plot. We also have our PLL veterans Sasha Pieterse and Janel Parrish with us on the show and I know the fans are looking forward to seeing how their characters have grown since we’ve last seen them! Also, the show films in Portland, Oregon – the scenery really adds to the dark tone of “The Perfectionists.”

How’d you first get into acting? Was it always something you knew you’d do? 

Ever since I was a little baby I was an entertainer – always ready to give a performance. There’s a tape of me at the age of three where I told my mom, “I want to be on that TV!” My parents moved us to Los Angeles from the Bay Area originally for themselves!

I just so happened to get into the industry first. I started doing stand-up comedy when I six years old and did my first performance at the Hollywood Improv. Shortly after I booked “That’s So Raven” and knew I wanted to keep working on set.

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How is shooting for “Santa Clarita Diet” been different than shooting for The Perfectionists?

I’ve loved working on “Santa Clarita Diet” because I get to show my comedic side and be a part of a very funny, quirky show. In “The Perfectionists,” my character is definitely more serious. I honestly have a lot of fun doing both projects because the people I work with make it an awesome experience.

You’re so young and have already accomplished so much in your career. What advice might you have for the countless girls who look up to you or want to make their mark in the industry as well? 

Thank you so much I feel incredibly blessed to be where I am. The biggest advice I have for our young girls is to never be afraid to speak up and ask for what you want. Nothing will be handed to you and if it is, you don’t want it. Work hard and be bold!

Did you face any major obstacles on your way to where you are today? 

I have and continue to face hardships in this industry but its always fueled me, never stopped me. Me being a half Asian and half African-American woman can stump people; I’ve gotten feedback like “we love her, but she’s not Black enough” or “she’s too pretty to be in a funny role like this one.” I’m extremely honored to be able to represent minorities and be a force for our young people.

Though you auditioned for America’s Got Talent and made it to the semi-finals, you had to drop out to pursue your acting career, right? How was that process? 

Doing “America’s Got Talent” was an unforgettable and life-changing experience for me in the best way. I was able to be seen by America and make history! I made my parents extremely proud of me, so yes, it was all worth it.

Wait so you’re my age, and have lowkey made appearances on some Disney and Nick bops like “Hannah Montana” and “That’s So Raven.” Was it wild being on those shows so young? I would have all but freaked out. 

Being a Disney and Nickelodeon kid honestly made my life. I grew up being a fan of both networks and having the opportunity to work with some of my favorite stars was truly incredible! I will always miss that time in my life and never forget it.

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What about pursuits outside of acting? You were on an improv comedy show once, right? Is that still something you pursue? 

I’ve actually been wanting to get back into stand-up! There is no better feeling than being able to make a room laugh like that. I’m also a writer and singer. I look forward to using my new platform and have it open doors to my creativity!

Any upcoming projects you’re excited about?

Look out for me in Season 9 of “The Walking Dead” coming out this October and “The Perfectionists” next spring! “Santa Clarita Diet” Season 3 will be out soon as well.

Photography and styling: Valheria Rocha

Makeup: Hajja Barnes

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