Randall Park: ‘I Would Never Sign Up to Play a Stereotype’

By Jamilah King Feb 04, 2015

Ahead of tonight’s premiere of ABC’s new comedy "Fresh Off the Boat," actor Randall Park chatted with Jean Ho from the Center for Asian American Media about the new show. The sitcom, based on celebrity chef Eddie Huang’s 2013 memoir by the same name, is the most visible representation of Asian-Americans on television in two decades, though it’s been met with controversy over its fidelity to the book and racist digital marketing. 

For his part, Park, who plays the main character’s father, does feel the burden of representation. As he told Ho:

Yeah, for sure. It is who I am, so it’s something I keep in mind. Especially with these roles that have come up lately, it definitely plays into my choices, and my approach to things. How I approach the characters. I always think of the community, for sure.

Park, who’s Korean-American, also talked about his decision to play his character, who’s Taiwanese,with a faint accent.

It was something that I definitely thought a lot about. I even talked to the producers about it, like does he have to speak with an accent? And the fact of the matter is, Eddie [Huang]’s father speaks with an accent. It’s not a strong accent, so my character doesn’t speak with that strong an accent. But he has an accent. It’s true to the person. As far as the accuracy of the accent, that’s something I worked really hard on. I feel like I’ve gotten more confident with is, especially as the season progresses.

I feel like because the character speaks with an accent, it’s important to me the character not be stereotypical. I never want to play a caricature. I would never sign up to play a stereotype. Because the character speaks with an accent, I’m even more sensitive to that. 

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Watch the trailer for the show here:

An earlier version of this post incorrectly identified CAAM contributor Jean Ho as CAAM content manager Momo Chang.