Sydney Park talks teen horror, scary movies and her new film Wish Upon
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Actress Sydney Park has been performing for as long as she can remember, acting in the kid’s TV show That’s So Raven, working her way up to a role in the massively popular The Walking Dead. Now she takes on horror in her latest film Wish Upon.
Speaking to The National Student about her first time acting in a horror film, Park explains that despite this being her first venture into the genre, she has always been a big horror fan. “I’ve learned to be a horror fan”, she says. “It used to terrify me as a kid…and I was fascinated at the same time”.
Having a birthday that falls on the spookiest night of the year, Park’s Halloween birthdays meant that horror was pretty much unavoidable for her. “The horror genre and the horror costumes has always been a part of my life, so I’ve learned to love it”. And she didn't hesitate to identity her favourite horror film, “It’s definitely The Shining, I love it”. Also being a fan of Silence of the Lambs, she hopes to work on a similar psychological horror one day.
Working on Wish Upon, a scary teen horror about a mysterious Chinese wish box which requires a blood payment for every wish that is made, she explains that this type of acting is where she wants to be. “Working on horror films and the horror genre, that is definitely my goal”.
In Wish Upon, Park plays Meredith, the sassy, cynical best friend of Clare (Joey King). Clare is the new owner of the wish box, who soon discovers that it has a dark element to it which is not to be underestimated. Being Park’s first venture into the horror genre, it’s actually quite surprising that her role in the film is much like that of any normal teen film.
Meredith hears of the disturbing events taking place due to the menacing wish box, yet does not experience the effects first hand for most of the film. While Park explains that there was a “mood” over the set due to the “foreshadowing of different scenes”, she insists that the reality on set was “just so fun”. She explains that “there were a bunch of laughs, and we were so goofy but everyone was so professional at that same time, and it was a lot of fun to work on”.
She also highlights that this meant that watching the film for the first time was certainly scarier than shooting it. “There were parts of the movie that got added in and I didn’t know were gonna be put in”, she says. “I was watching with my parents…so I’m sitting there with my popcorn and some scenes I had to bury my head”.
And she wasn’t too happy with director John Leonetti either, “I was like ‘John, you didn’t tell me this was gonna happen!’”. But she still insists “it was very fun and entertaining to watch and definitely scary for sure”.
Park’s role as a secondary character and Clare’s best friend meant that there was a lot of pressure on Meredith to talk some sense into Clare who becomes blinded by the wish box’s power, and is too careless about the consequences. Park emphasises that Meredith is the kind of friend that everyone needs. “I definitely think everyone needs a friend that is going to tell you exactly what they feel and exactly what is going on truthfully”.
She continues, “someone like Clare…she is a complicated character and I understand where her frustration comes from…but she’s going about it all wrong…and the fact that Meredith speaks up and Clare doesn’t really listen to her…is very sad for my character”.
Being the sass queen that Meredith is in this movie, Park is certain that if the wish box had gotten into Meredith’s hands, she would not have made the same mistakes. “Once she had seen maybe one wish come true and seen the consequences of it, I don’t think that she would have messed with it”. She goes on, “she’s kind of wild and funny and silly but, same time when it comes to stuff like that she’s so serious and…I don’t think she would have messed with it”.
However, just because Meredith maybe would have had a bit more sense than Clare, doesn’t mean Park didn’t ponder what her character would have wished for in that position. “Meredith would have wished for probably a better wardrobe for her and her girlfriends…she would have wished for the popular group to not exist at her school…probably would have wished for her own amusement park”.
While being a scary teen horror which Park says has a “classic and timeless” feel to it, Wish Upon does actually carry an important message. In the film Clare wishes for popularity and material possessions, but these don’t truly fix anything. Park explains that the core message in the film is “to be grateful for what you have and maybe aspire to be something different”.
The film has several positive themes as Park explains that “you don’t always have to be liked by the popular kids at your school in order to think that you’re worth something…being a teenage girl especially is so hard, but that is definitely the big takeaway - be grateful for what you have”.
Park also looked back at her career and reminisced about her time on the hit TV show That’s So Raven. “When I got That’s So Raven when I was seven, I was just so over the moon obviously, it was my favourite childhood show growing up, and I had just admired Raven Symoné for years”. The actress explains that Symoné “took me under her wing and showed me the ropes of the set…and I remember just thinking to myself this is what I wanna do for the rest of my life”.
Looking forward to the future, Park explains that film is where she’s focused on now. “I’ve always loved film, film is definitely like my first love, so as I progress and get older and work on more projects, I’d love to be in more films, for sure”.
Being a child actress herself, Park finishes by giving her one big tip to breaking into the industry. “One big tip is to learn how to connect with yourself”, she explains. “I know lots of young actors and actresses go through training and acting classes, and sometimes those techniques aren’t very specific to you personally”.
She stresses that if you can “look within yourself and find those places where you can bring yourself into a project, I think it makes it so much more real”, and that will make the acting experience better for you and for audiences.
Wish Upon is due to be released Friday 28th July through Vertigo Releasing. You can read our review here.